I’m really struggling in coming up with the right words to say right now. How does one start an article about the recent death of a best friend on a topic that seems so foolish? A tough Army Infantry guy talking about life lessons from a dog named Bandit sounds completely crazy and absurd. But this is where I’m at and guess I don’t really care.

More than a dog.

Bandit was a blessing who came to our family when he was just 8 weeks old. A friend bought him as a gift for us after we closed on our house in 2006 because I had mentioned wanting a Jack Russel Terrier, thanks to the sitcom Frasier. As he got older, he did have behaviors like Eddie in the series. LOL

Bandit was supposed to be my son’s dog but he actually became MY dog.

Every morning he’d cry and I’d let him out of the crate and lay on the floor with him for an hour because we didn’t want dogs on our bed. How quickly that changed! I guess because of our morning routine he “imprinted” with me more than the rest.

People said Jack Russels are hard to train or supposed to be ultra-hyper. Our experience was the complete opposite.

Bandit learned quickly and was an absolute joy to spend time with. He loved to play ball or hide and seek. He would “sing” Happy Birthday, snuggle with us when we were sad, or give neck hugs in the morning. There were so many great things about this dog.

But Bandit was more than a dog. He was a close family member who was always loyal and lovable. He was also a best friend who taught me so much. Here’s what I learned from a dog I miss.

Life lessons learned from Bandit.

It’s amazing to think we could learn anything about life from an animal but it’s true. We just have to stop long enough to realize how much they can help us. It is possible to learn life lessons from a dog.

Love should be unconditional.

Regardless of what I did or who I was, Bandit was always there for me. It didn’t matter if I was having a bad day or irritated at him, the love he had was unconditional. I know dogs don’t have the brains like humans but wouldn’t it be awesome if we all practiced unconditional love to the people closest to us?

If we were able to forgive and forget more quickly perhaps our lives could be happier.

So many of us hold onto painful memories or grudges that keep us in bondage. Maybe there are circumstances we should let go of so we can repair the relationships we should most cherish. Life is short and we don’t want to miss an opportunity to make things right.

Life should be about the simple things.

Every day Bandit would come into my office around 4 pm wanting to play ball. It was an activity he loved and would get SO excited about! Some days I’d ask him if it was “time for a break” and his ears would perk up knowing that meant an extra trip outside. Chasing a bright blue or orange ball was so simple yet everything to that dog.

Sometimes we get so busy we lose sight of the stuff that really matters.

One of the positive benefits of the Covid-19 pandemic is seeing people focus on the important aspects of life again like family time or walking at the lake while enjoying the sunshine. It’s these seemingly simple or insignificant things that are truly important. Let us not forget that.

Rest should be embraced and celebrated.

Bandit was great at finding the sunny spots in the house to take frequent naps in, even if it meant climbing on the back of the couch. Sometimes we’d curl up together to get a 30 minute snooze session to recharge. It was during these naps that I found peace and healing from the challenges of life.

Getting rest is important to our mental and physical well being.

Being busy all the time shouldn’t be worn as a badge of honor. Our bodies need times to slow down and rest in order to recover from the bullshit we deal with on a continual basis. I encourage everyone to find times in their schedule to take a nap or just lay around on the weekend without guilt. It will do you a lot of good.

Breaking the rules should be a part of our DNA.

Jack Russel Terriers can be mischievous and they do depend on attention. Bandit was no exception and there were times when he’d get into the trash or the cabinet to liberate those delicious treats imprisoned in the box. Yeah it was maddening but I think there’s a lesson here.

It’s totally OK to think outside the box or do what’s unexpected.

Sometimes we get trapped by the rules or expectations in life. It can hinder our growth, limit our creativity, or stop us from experiencing amazing memories. Perhaps if we spent some time going against the grain we’d find a wonderful reward instead of a scolding. With great risk comes great rewards! 😀



Our lives are shorter than we think.

Today would have been Bandit’s 14th birthday but his health started to deteriorate in several ways the past year. On February 21st, 2020, we made the horrible decision to put my best friend to sleep. I never ever wanted to see him suffer from his ailments, but now I live with deep guilt for doing so.

We knew Jack Russels had an average life span of 15 years but you never think that day will arrive. The same applies to people and our own lives.

The reality is we think about death in the future. We believe the people or pets we care about have enough time that we can do all those important things we talked or thought about doing. We make excuses about why we put our plans on hold or try to justify by saying we were busy. Then that day comes when we have to say goodbye. And it sucks.

If you can take life lessons from a dog it should be this …

Don’t ever wait for tomorrow.

It might seem dumb to take life lessons from a dog or this silly post, but we don’t always have as much time as we think we do. The coronavirus deaths should be a sad reminder about this.

Make the most of every day. Whether it’s rubbing the belly of your own dog to giving real or virtual hugs to your loved ones, don’t wait to do what’s important no matter how simple it is. Show some unconditional love and go break some rules. But make the most of every opportunity your are blessed with.

We had a great journey with Bandit and so many priceless memories, but I’m heartbroken today. I miss my buddy and our time of playing ball.

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