The Bright Side: Overflowing

Published 9:32 am Thursday, August 31, 2023

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Eric and I welcomed home a new puppy this month. We currently have a two-year old Australian Shepard named Ellis, and he has been our little sidekick for quite some time now. But we felt like he needed a companion of his own, so we now have a thirteen-week-old female Aussie named Tiki.

A few months back, we started noticing Ellis getting bored with his toys and constantly seeking our attention. After spending some time with my parents and their dogs while we were out of town for our honeymoon, Ellis came back a little mopey. We thought it was just tiredness at first, given the amount of time he would sleep. But his energy levels returned to normal quickly; we figured out it was boredom, and that he missed being around other dogs. So, the only rational solution we could come up with was this: we had to get our dog a dog.

I’ve learned two main things by watching Ellis and bringing home Tiki. The first is that everyone (including our pets) needs companionship. We’re social beings, many of whom are brought up around other people and exposed to relationships early on. We form bonds that help shape what who we choose to become. It’s important for us, in my opinion, to have a community of people we can turn to both in happy times and sad times.

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Companionship is crucial to maintaining our own health and wellness. When I get myself worked up about a problem, I do one of two things: either call/talk with someone to get some advice, or sit and dwell. The former gets me somewhere, whereas the latter makes the situation much worse. What good it is being surrounded by people all day long if we were meant to fix everything on our own? Not to mention the other benefits of companionship: having those who we can share in the joys of our own successes, lean on in times of need, laugh with when all we really want to do is cry, etc.

As I look at Ellis with Tiki, I see the light return to his eyes. I don’t view the newcomer as a better version of what Eric and I have tried to be for Ellis. Rather, I see her as someone on his level, to bond with and have as a friend. We all need a good friend.

The second thing I’ve really learned through this is that patience leads to kindness, and kindness can cure just about everything.

We all want things to be easier than they are. I’d love to snap my fingers and make people happy, or to bring a dog home and the next day they’re potty-trained. But the time and patience that we put into each and every thing that we do creates a beautiful outcome. And in training a puppy yet again, I’ve learned that my time will be sacrificed, my patience will be tested, and my wants might need to go on the backburner while the needs of something else take their place.

In spending dedicated hours to help something much more vulnerable than I, kindness has come into play more so than usual. I go about pretty much everything I do in the house and outside of it gentler than usual. There’s a certain level of care that comes with teaching something so precious how to stand on their own two (or four) feet.

I realized I lost some of my kindness in the chaos that living entails. Busy days, bad attitudes and setbacks can do that to us. But when we take a moment to be kind, to show appreciation, love and devotion to something each day, we become a bit softer as the weeks go on. We can’t lose that, because without our soft side we become cold, isolated and deprived of care, whether it be for ourselves or others. We separate ourselves from our companions when this happens. And then the loneliness sets in.

So, here’s your reminder to be kind: to yourself, to your spouses, to your pets, to your neighbors, to even the person who cut you off while making their way to a rental property off of highway 158. It’s easy to react, but more fulfilling to allow and make peace with what is. The kinder we are, the more kindness finds its way to us. So much so that one day, we’ll be overflowing.

Danielle Puleo is a staff writer for The Coastland Times. Reach her at