Life Lessons From Charlotte

Category: Weekly Columns

Charlotte is my wife’s dog. She’s a Weimaraner and she’s been through hell and back. But, she’s still livin’ life, lovin’ life, and her attitude is a lesson for us all. I love Charlotte. She has spunk and unlike the classic exchange from the Mary Tyler Moore” television show: “Lou: You know what? You’ve got spunk. Mary: Well, yes… Lou: I hate spunk.” Unlike Lou, I like spunk!

And, Charlotte has it and then some. How often do we remember the great things about friends and family that have passed on AFTER they’ve passed on? I believe in honoring the greatness in my friends and family while they’re still with us and thus I’m writing this column about the spunk, heart, and spirit of our beloved dog, Charlotte.

There are many lessons we humans can take from this dog. Living with her is a daily reminder to me of all the great things I have to be grateful for in my life. In no particular order, here are the lessons I’ve learned and continue to learn from Charlotte.

Everyone Is Dealt Their Own Deck of Cards – Good and Bad

We have little control over the cards we are dealt. We can bemoan the hand we’ve been given or we can accept it and live a joyful life. I think the classic AA motto fits so well for all of us and is worthy to live by:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. 

Let’s reflect a little on what our Charlotte has survived:

~~ A broken leg that never healed properly, resulting in a lifelong limp

~~ Abandonment by her first owners

~~ An infected eye that had to be removed

~~ Bad arthritis

~~ Tumors throughout her body; most benign but several requiring surgical removal

~~ Two infections right now, as a result of those surgeries

~~ Almost complete deafness

How would you handle those problems? Would you be wagging your tail everyday? Would you be coming up to your mom and dad and siblings with a kiss whenever you could? 

Choose to be Happy 

An offshoot of the first item on this list is the choice we all can make. We can choose to be happy or we can choose to be miserable. Choosing the latter makes those around us miserable, to a degree, as well. WHY make that choice? Why not choose to be grateful for the good in your life and make do with the bad?

I’ve often used the expression, “This too shall pass,” as many people do when comforting others that may be going through difficult times or upon the death of a loved one. It is true and it’s a good saying to try and live by. It’s also true for the good times. Those too tend to pass. Life is a roller coaster. But it is OUR choice to appreciate the good times and not let the bad times bring us down or those around us.

Charlotte obviously is a dog. How much she makes these choices is unknown and, frankly, doesn’t matter to me. I choose to see her as a walking example of how to live life well, in spite of hardships. I choose to bring these lessons from her to my own life and to share them with you.

Wag Your Tail

Okay, I mean this figuratively. But if you smile at those you encounter, that is the same as Charlotte wagging her tail at everyone she meets. You’ll brighten up the world around you and you’ll feel better yourself. Do it. Wag your tail!

When you’re in a bad mood, even for completely legitimate reasons, why not keep it to yourself? When you’re mad at someone, why not sleep on it and not act in the moment? You may feel differently after some reflection.

Charlotte comes home from surgery and doesn’t whine or complain. Yes, she’ll bite off her bandages because they irritate her, but then we just figure out a new way of putting them on her again.


Play is not just for kids. Play is for adults, too. Charlotte plays all the time. She’s an old lady now – thirteen – and that is very old for her breed. Her vet marvels that she’s still alive. We marvel and appreciate every day we have with her.

She likes to play. She has several toys she plays with that are scattered around the house. I’d say play, eating, sleeping, and going for walks are her favorite activities. Hmmm, maybe those could be our favorites, too? What do you think?

We human beings have a lot more choice in how we live our lives than dogs do. Charlotte may or may not have made some of these life choices that I’ve attributed to her. I don’t care. They are still GREAT lessons for all of us to live by.