From a Teen’s Perspective: Lessons from my dog

by Dylan Lanier on March 13, 2023

I have a dog named Tucker (pictured).  And yes, he is undoubtedly the cutest creature to ever exist. I spend a lot of time with him; we walk together, play together, snuggle together. And so I decided I would use this week’s column to share all of the lessons I’ve learned from him.

1. It’s not that serious: A couple years ago, Tucker ate a grape, which all dog owners know can be deadly. We immediately rushed him to the vet and paced around the lobby as we anxiously awaited news of his condition. Out he came, trotting along with his tail wagging. They had made him vomit it all up, and yet he was happy as a clam, wandering around the clinic to say hello to all the new people.

To this day, he always gets excited to visit the vet, even though that’s where he’s had bad experiences before. I’m convinced that Tucker genuinely lacks the ability to internalize negative emotions. To this day, I remind myself that in the eyes of my dog, one bad thing doesn’t need to ruin my mindset.

2. Nothing’s better than a good snuggle: Tucker loves nothing more than to give and receive affection. Everytime I sit on the couch, he leaps up and settles in right next to me. You can rarely find him without a cuddling companion around the house.

He jumps on every new person he meets, begging for pets. His unfettered displays of affection and constant petitions for it have taught me that it’s okay to want affection and that I should take more time to show the people in my life that I love and appreciate them.

3. Keep chasing that squirrel: Tucker spends hours in our yard trying to catch furry-tailed invaders. To this day, he has never once come even remotely close to catching one, but I don’t think he’ll ever give up. While his squirrel-chasing efforts may be a rather futile effort, I admire his commitment. He has his goals and sticks to them.

While I don’t necessarily condone spending the rest of your life chasing squirrels, I think there is certainly something valuable in dedicating yourself to a specific purpose and never giving up, even when the odds are against you.

4. Be that dawg: Tucker has never been anything but himself. Everything he does, he does authentically. He never hides his feelings, like when he barks at the neighborhood dog for peeing on our mailbox or when he taps my arm to signal that it’s time for ear scratches. I respect him immensely for his constant commitment to his true self.

I hope that I too can be my true self as much as possible. As I’m sure Tucker has already learned, there’s no point in living to anything short of the fullest.

Whether you’re a pet owner or not, I hope you can take these lessons and reflect on how they can help you. My summary: live with joy, with love, with purpose, and with authenticity.

Got any topics you want me to cover? Email with your request!

From a Teen Perspective is a weekly column contributed by Menlo-Atherton High School Junior Dylan Lanier, who has lived in Menlo Park since he was two.

One Comment

Jim Lattin March 13, 2023 at 5:25 pm

I really enjoyed this article. Human (and canine) interest!

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