My dog, Java, sleeps under the covers with me. Not only that, she sleeps with her head on the other pillow. Yeah, most nights we even spoon, too.

Did I forget to mention that she’s a 60-pound Plott Hound?

Java’s also figured out how to kick the covers off when she gets too hot for her liking, which is actually quite brilliant of her and somewhat unnerving for me. There’s more. I also let her clean my plate when I’m finished, and I play hide and seek and dance with her when nobody else is around. She loves avocados and cheese more than anything else on the planet, and the look in her eyes can instantaneously make me melt into the softest place in my heart. I even read to her sometimes and leave the radio on for her to listen to public radio when I leave the house. I figure she might as well increase her mental capacity while I’m working to pay the mortgage.

Our relationship is really special and sacred, and it’s been that way since we met at the shelter five and a half years ago.

Looking back over the years, I’ve had a number of pets, but Java is different than all of the others. She showed up in my life 10 days before my divorce was final – a time in my life where I was afraid of the world and very vulnerable. Little did I know, she was feeling the same. I’m certain Java came as a guide for me to become a more balanced two-legged, and me as a guide for her to become a more balanced four-legged. She has taught me how to live in the moment and enjoy the small things in life more than any other being I’ve had the pleasure to meet. Every day, she makes me smile and laugh with her army-crawl antics across the floor and accompanying playful air snaps with her mouth. It’s not easy to wag your tail, crawl across the floor, and snap your mouth at the same time. Have you ever tried it?

Dogs don’t come into this life for the sole purpose to be teachers, but they do so without us even asking if we pay attention. If it weren’t for having Java in my life, I think my growth as a human being would have been horribly stunted. She has taught me to open my heart, to trust, to have faith, to face my fears, love freely, laugh fully, and play every day whether I want to or not. She has also taught me to have more patience, understanding and respect than I ever knew could come from within me. From having Java in my life, I have learned to become a more balanced creature on this planet, and she no doubt has learned that to be a loved, trusted, respected and understood dog is a precious and priceless commodity.

Oh yeah, and I kiss her on the lips, too!

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Sage Lewis is the Creature Teacher with Dancing Porcupine and is a Certified Life Coach, Shamanic Practitioner, Animal Communicator, Intuitive/Medium, Wedding and Funeral Officiant, Animal Hospice Consultant and Level 3 Certified Tellington TTouch® Practitioner. Sage's passion is guiding all creatures to find and embrace their true essence, to live a fulfilling life of love, joy and passion, and to move through all of life's transitions with peace and grace.

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