At age 51 I adopted my first dog. I’d always been a cat person, but having witnessed so many wonderful relationships my friends had with their dogs, I decided to get one myself. After months visiting local shelters to find the right canine companion for me, I finally found her. She had a funny face, so I named her Fannie (funny face = funny girl = Fanny Brice = Fannie).


A few weeks after I adopted her, we were out for our morning walk and a passing car slowed down, then stopped next to us. The driver rolled down his window and complimented me on my cute dog. I didn’t know him, but I’d seen him around the neighborhood a few times and knew he lived nearby.

As we chatted about the dog, I told him that I had enrolled her in ten weeks of puppy training. I was committed to being a good dog mom, so training was at the top of my list. The man smiled and said, “That’s great. Just remember one thing: Dogs respond best to training with love … just like people.”

His words echoed in my mind as we said our good-byes and he drove away. It was like a message from the Universe – just for me: “Dogs respond best to training with love … just like people.”

Of course, I thought to myself, I would never yell at my puppy, or yank her around on the leash, or kick her, or be mean in anyway. I would teach her with patience, compassion, and loving firmness. So why would I do any less for myself? Could I treat myself with the same loving kindness with which I treated my dog?

Huh! What a concept!

My whole life, I’d always been hard on myself – setting high standards, working hard to be perfect, and always self-critical when I fell short of my goals or made a mistake. I would berate myself harshly.

So I had to ask myself: Did all that scolding ever achieve the result I wanted?

No. It didn’t. My punitive self-judgment just filled me with guilt and shame.

But that day, walking my dog and talking with my neighbor – changed all that. His comment about “training with love” was a clarion call – loud and clear – to treat myself with the same patience, compassion, and love that I showed my sweet pup.

The wise words of my kind neighbor changed how I treat myself. Today, I train my mind with love. I change my bad habits and develop new habits, with love. I train myself with love.

Talk to myself like I talk to my dog

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