Life Lessons From The Z Meister
Last Thursday, my wife and I had to make the most difficult decision we have ever made, to say goodbye to our best friend and companion of the last 10 and a half years, our Greek Rescue Dog, Zippo.
Zippo loved everyone and indeed, was loved by everyone who knew him, whether they had met him in person, or had read about his adventures and seen his photos on social media.
He was my Creativity Companion, as on our regular walks, I would invariably get an idea about team-building, Team DyNAmics, or the book I am writing.
Whilst our world has suddenly imploded, due to an accident, that has taken him from us earlier than we would have wished, I felt moved to write and share some of the useful and important things that Zippo taught me, over the last 10 and a half years, that I think can help us all and act as a legacy and celebration of his life.
So, with huge sadness and tears running down my cheeks, however many many wonderful memories, below are some important life lessons he taught me, that have helped me and I hope may help you.
Live For The Moment
Do not waste time worrying or being bitter about what has happened to you, it has happened. Instead, learn lessons from it and move on.
Equally, do not spend too much time worrying about what may happen in the future, especially, if it is outside of your sphere of control.
Zippo: I loved every day, as there was always something to be positive about. I was not bitter about being abandoned in Skiathos, as it got me to my forever home in the UK. Nor did I worry about not being able to go on long walks as I got older, this is part of life.
On my daily walks it would be, “Wow, grass to sniff. Fantastic, a park to run off lead around. Squirrels up the tree, time for a bit of barking. The beach, I LOVE SAND.
I lived to enjoy the present moment, which I think that you human beings call mindfulness.
Zippofact: I came to the U.K. on a pet ambulance, with 12 other dogs and 1 cat. It took 10 days for me to get from Skiathos to the U.K. due to the regular stops for food and exercise.
Zippo used to become overjoyed every time he met people and dogs, and over the years he met lots. He always trusted everyone and treated them like a long-lost friend.
With people, it did not matter who they were, what they looked like, their age, their job, their ethnicity, their gender, as long as they showed affection to Zippo, he showed his affection to them.
Zippo: Being kind, inquisitive and friendly towards everyone, came as second nature to me. I did find it strange how humans were not able to do the same with some of the people that they met.
You never know what someone else is going through, nor indeed, when you may need them. Appreciate others and be there for them, as your love and kindness towards them may make all the difference to them, and the great thing is, it costs you nothing.
I loved people without expecting anything in return. I think you humans call this unconditional love, which is something that some of you struggle with. Connecting with it can be so liberating.
I would however say to humans, do not think that you need to greet people in the same way that us dogs do, as you may get strange looks.
Zippo always had a smile on his face and a waggy tail, from first thing in the morning, to last thing at night. We have control over our attitude. We and we alone decide on whether it is positive or negative. As humans, we often focus on the things we have not got, rather than appreciating what we have got.
Zippo: I had food, water, a roof over my head, regular walks in the fresh air, and family and friends that loved me, everything else in my life was a huge bonus.
I noticed that some humans overlook the simple joys of life and instead are always chasing dreams and that often, when those dreams become reality, they are still not happy.
Remember and appreciate the simple things that make your life positive, and whilst you humans do not have tails to wag, it costs nothing to smile. One of the things that made me smile was when I went to the groomers and then immediately got dirty on a walk.
Zippofact: When he stayed overnight with us, in a treehouse at Deer Park Country House, near Exeter, he had a Canine Menu to choose his breakfast from (he had sausage and scrambled egg, his favourites).
The thing that keeps us warm and bring us joy, are invariably memories of good times and not possessions. The new car, after a few weeks, is just a car. You never spend an evening enthusing, over your 42-inch TV, when you have friends around or indeed share in detail, the comfort of your new sofa.
Instead, we talk about concerts or musicals we have seen, meals out that we have enjoyed, the sporting event with friends, the holidays we have been on and the good times shared with others.
Zippo: Some people think that pets, such as me, are a tie. It is quite possible that these people have never had a pet. Whilst my parents went on holidays abroad, during which I enjoyed being looked after by family or friends, I also had many adventures in the U.K.
City breaks, stays in the countryside and my favourite ones, holidays on the coast. I was fortunate to have been to many places in the U.K., more than some people. In fact, I had so many happy memories over many years, that if I wagged my tail for each one, I still be wagging it this time next year.
Zippofact: On a stay in Brighton, we came across a couple getting married at the Brighton Royal Pavilion. The bride was so taken with Zippo, that he appeared in her wedding photo.
So thank you Zippo, Zipzaps, Furball, The Zee, Zipadedodah, The Cloud, The Sheep, Plodapus, Donald Doubleback and The Z Meister, for bringing so much joy, unconditional love and pleasure into our lives and the lives of everyone who knew or met you, and for teaching me some invaluable lessons in life.
We look forward to seeing you again someday and enjoying a walk with you, along the beach, as we watch the sunrise or sunset, hear the waves lapping the shoreline, smell the fresh sea air and see your paw prints next to our footprints in the sand, before you run off at full speed, as you bark loudly, which as we know, means, in human, I LOVE LIFE.
Until that day, keep smiling, keep happy and keep enjoying life, one day at a time.