Lessons From Dogs

I joined Toastmasters recently because I want to get comfortable speaking in front of an audience. I’ve become a little addicted to writing speeches. I think it’s because they’re short and that’s appealing after writing 50K – 60K word novels for the last ten years.

I’ve decided to compete in the HUMOROUS SPEECH contest with this speech, but it’s not until next month. I’d love for you to offer comments and stories that might make my presentation funnier. Don’t hold back. Feel free to interject your pet antics in the comment section! I’d love to hear them.

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Lessons from Dogs

Ben Williams said, “There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.”

I say, “Only if that puppy hasn’t licked the toilet bowl first.”

How many of you own a pet? I bet you have a few squeaky toys around the house, don’t you?

A survey found that 69% of the people asked considered their pet a family member.

Fellow Toastmasters, honored guests and awesome-looking judges, how many family members do you have who drink from the toilet, drool on your leg, scoot their bums across your carpeted floor and roll in dead carcasses?

Pet owners are funny people. Some are kookie about their animals. I’m one of the kookie ones. We schedule spa dates for our dogs– cute bouffant hair-do’s with large bows and painted toenails. We plaster their photos on coffee mugs, sweatshirts and our FB profile pages. We dress them as princesses, pirates and pineapples and walk them in baby buggies. We throw birthday parties with cone-shaped hats, streamers, and doggie cookies, and we buy toys, flavored treats, and peanut butter flavored doggie bones.

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Costume compliments of AnniesCostumes.Com

Americans spent $61 billion dollars last year on their pets.

One of the newest pet devices is the chew-proof pet cam. It’s a two-way system with a built-in speakerphone, camera system and can be plugged into any wall outlet. So while you’re at work you can have this kind of conversation, (Talking into my iPad.) “How’s Jetta today? Are you being a good girl? Mama loves you.” (Kiss my iPad with big smooching sounds.)

I hope your boss doesn’t walk into your office and catch you kissing your iPad.

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Yeah, I’ve spent thousands of dollars on pets, but I love them. They’ve taught me a lot. Mostly, they’ve taught me that I’m an idiot and a sucker.

But seriously, they’ve taught me patience, selflessness and commitment.

Let me explain.

By patience I mean this: If I have to get up in the middle of the night I need to take my time. It’s important to sniff before I set my foot on the floor. If something smells like dog doo it probably is dog doo. Even if it is in the middle of the night. Even if it’s in the middle of our bedroom. There’s nothing worse then dog doo squishing between my toes.

By selflessness I mean that if the dogs go to the door I have exactly 30 seconds to let them out or there will be consequences. It doesn’t matter if I’m in the shower, the bathroom, or rolling pie dough. It’s not about me or what I want to do. I need to think of them first.

I must stay committed to my house cleaning.

By committed I mean this:  If I leave the soiled laundry basket out my husband might have to wear crotch-less underwear for a while. I guess we should be happy that they don’t try to eat his underwear while he’s wearing them.

Before I leave the house I must remove all objects from the countertops. My dogs are counter surfers. They’re quite skilled. They eat everything edible and some things that aren’t edible—like a tub of Vaseline. Did you know that Vaseline can make a dog’s bum leak for twelve hours?

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One time Angel, our snow white poodle, slurped left-over red wine out of a glass. I knew what had happened the moment I came home because her mouth was stained red… and she couldn’t walk a straight line.

Garbage is a buffet to my dogs. Once, I came home and found Jetta walking around with the garbage lid on her head. She was bouncing into the walls and furniture because she couldn’t see.

If I don’t raise the miniblinds before I leave for the day, I’ll come home and find one of the dogs hanging between the slats, suspended in mid air.

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(Photo from DumpaDay Funny Dog Photos)

Studies also show that pets can be a stress reliever. Seriously? The only time I’m not stressed with my dogs is when I leave the house. Without them.

Yes, I’m a sucker for my pets. I admit it. Who else will lick my toes, keep me company in the bathroom, and listen to my Toastmaster speeches again…and again…without interrupting or giving me harsh criticism?

My dogs have made me a better person—more patient, selfless and committed. But it’s a really good thing that they’re cute, or I might have killed them by now.

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Dean Koontz, one of my favorite authors, said, “Human beings can always be relied upon to exert, with vigor, their God-given right to be stupid. ”

He also said, “As long as I have laughter, I am not without hope”

So while I’m laughing at their antics, my hope is that some day I will teach my dogs a thing or two. But until then, I’ll exert my God-given right to be stupid and love them anyway.

What lessons have you learned from your pets?

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  1. Unconditional love, that’s what I’ve learned. Loved your speech!

  2. Judy Pencek says:

    I loved your comments and pictures. We are currently petless but I could identify with your speech. It certainly made me smile.

  3. Seriously LOL!!! You had me from the second line about the toilet bowl and I kept on laughing all the way to the end. I hope you’re going to include the slides in your humorous speech – they add a lot. I also cracked up over the Vaseline.
    Good luck with the contest. I’d definitely vote for you 🙂

  4. Paul St.Germain says:

    Michelle – Very good! I’m sorry it took me so long to respind, I’ve been busy with work, Joe and preparing to go on vacation. Oh yea, and we bought a 2 door convertible car…gotta have time to drive that too.
    But, seriously, I loved your speech! Did you give it already? What were the crowd and critic like? Nice job!!!

    • Hi Paul! Thanks for stopping by. I gave the speech last Thursday to my group. They critiqued it and added a few details. I compete September 15 for the local areas. Gulp. It’ll be good for me. Ha! Congrats on your new car–that sounds fun.

  5. Michelle, great piece! I can leave the house, realize I forgot something, and walk back in the door 5 minutes after I first left and my dog is tail-wagging thrilled to see me.

    • Hi Peggy Sue – Thanks for that idea and for the compliment on this speech! Dogs are such happy creatures.

  6. This is one of my favorite topics. I can’t write a story without including God’s gift to mankind.

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