I recently read an anecdote that went like this:
"If you can sit quietly after difficult news; if in financial downturns you remain perfectly calm; if you can see your neighbors travel to fantastic places without a twinge of jealousy; if you can happily eat whatever is put on your plate; if you can fall asleep after a day of running around without a drink or a pill; if you can always find contentment just where you are: you are probably a dog."
It make me laugh at first, then think this really is a true statement - and could apply to cats as well, with the exception of eating whatever is put on their plates as I know they can sometimes be finicky. I considered the thought behind this; perhaps we all need to practice being like the dog. Generally speaking, of course, dogs seem to be alive in the present moment nearly all the time. They are a great and mysterious paradox - they can experience pain and suffering and still find joy in things, no matter how small. You can see this if you go to an animal shelter, or if you have ever rescued or fostered a dog or cat. These are the ones who love the most deeply, who are our constant companions, and closest "friends".
Can we be like the dog? It takes a lot of practice, to be sure. We need to learn to be patient - with ourselves and others; and to be calm in the present moment, even in times of difficulty and challenge. Everyone on this earth faces joy, sorrow, happiness, loss. We have that common humanity; yet we can all be like the dog - transcending those difficulties to see life's joys. Find joy in everyday things, be in the present, experience contentment just where you are - be like the dog (cat, bird, hamster, etc.). I think they just might have it right.