9 Lessons from Tess, The Golden Retriever

On June 10, 2022, she left this world after 11 years and 11 months touching the hearts of her family and friends. The emptiness she leaves behind will never be filled but her life lessons will live on.

9 Lessons from Tess, The Golden Retriever

Tesla (Tess for short) was born into this world on a stormy Minnesota July evening full of crashing thunder and electrifying lightening amidst tornado sirens screaming as wind whipped the earth as if to say, "Look out, here comes something special."

7 weeks later, she came into my family's life much the same way, full of sass and attitude matched with a can do demeanor that elevated her intelligence and ability to read her human's minds.

On June 10, 2022, she left this world after 11 years and 11 months touching the hearts of her family and friends. The emptiness she leaves behind will never be filled but her life lessons will live on.

Here are Tess's Life Lessons:

Lesson 1:  You May Be Small...

But you are smart, worthy, loved and stronger than you believe. Even at just a few months old, she walked with poise and confidence. She believed the world was her playground and she was out to show that everyone is a friend and worthy of love.

Do you believe that you are smart, worthy, loved, and stronger than know? Adopt the Tess Attitude and carry yourself with poise and confidence. When someone shows confidence, they immediately command respect, even from big dogs.

Lesson 2: Say I love you & give kisses...even when they don't have food

Greet everyone you love (or just like) with a smile and attention. Make them feel like the most important person in the world and show them how much you care. Don't worry if they think you're a softie...you know the truth. Treat others like you want to be treated and you'll get smiles and pets and kisses (and treats) in return.

Lesson 3:  Move your Body Every Day

Whether it is going for a walk or a brisk game of basketball, move your body every day! Even when your hips are sore or you are tired after a long day, be sure you are doing something for yourself! Run, Walk, Skip, Trot, Jump, Dribble, Bike, Crawl, Dance, or Shimmy...it doesn't matter, just move.

Lesson 4:  Family is Important

They won't be around forever! When you can spend time with family, do it. They may be crazy, they may be difficult, or they might be the greatest group on the planet...wherever they fall, be sure you are making time to spend with them. Even if you have to travel long distances or paste on a fake smile for the day, spend as much time as you can bear with your family. You might not think you chose them, but they are who made you what you are today. If you bring a loving heart, a confident attitude, and an inner knowing that you are who you are because of, or in spite of your family, for better or worse, bring your best self to them.

Lesson 5:  Friends are Important--always greet them enthusiastically

Tesla's best friend was a cat named Maya. Her second best friend was a black lab named Berta.

Friends can be made everywhere you look. It does not matter the color of their fur, their country of origin, or political beliefs. Most people fear what they do not know or understand.  Hang out together, ask questions, and get to know someone before forming an opinion--and for goodness sake, do not let what someone else tells you bias your own experience. Get past the surface and discover what makes others unique or what brings out their best. Just because one friend cannot climb trees does not mean they cannot be the best shoe-carrier in the group. Each person is blessed with strengths and weaknesses. Good friends know both and love you anyway.

Lesson 6:  Remember to be Silly--and Laugh!

If you are too busy to laugh, you are too busy. Being silly creates a lightness in your heart. And who wants to walk around with a heavy heart? Silliness, laughter, and enjoying life is not to be underestimated. After all, why are we here anyway? We know that life can get heavy at times so it is important slow down and be purposefully silly. Take time each day to laugh, to play with your favorite toys, to joke around, and notice how it makes your heart feel lighter.

Lesson 7: Naps are a Great Idea!

Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, Leonardo Di Vinci, John F. Kennedy, Thomas Edison, and Margaret Thatcher are but a few of the successful individuals who understood the power of a nap! Never underestimate the power of a (dare I say) Cat Nap!  Studies show that taking time to catch up on a few zzz’s not only provides a quick boost of energy, but also increases alertness, boosts creativity, reduces stress, improves perception, stamina, motor skills, and accuracy, reduces the risk of heart attack, brightens your mood and boosts memory.  If that isn't a good reason to nap, do it because you'll be happier than when you're tired.

Lesson 8:  It Never Hurts to Ask Again

If the first answer was "no," it doesn't ever hurt to ask again. The next time, make sure you have a slightly different strategy or new information or a better argument! You can even try puppy-dog eyes and being pathetic, though it doesn't always work. Go into your ask believing you deserve what you want, committed to the cause, and focused on the outcome you desire.

Lesson 9:  Learn to Listen Intently

Jumping to conclusions, racing to reactions, and leaping to offense are not considered listening or exercise! Listening is an art. It must be practiced and perfected. Listening is not just hearing words, it is noting tone and body language and intent behind the words. Listening means understanding what is being communicated and asking questions to clarify positions and statements. Miscommunication is hearing only what you want to hear or what you think you hear. If we all listened a bit more closely from a point of compassion and wishing to understand, there would be less sadness, arguing, and conflict. And wouldn't that be a much better world for everyone?

One of Tess's last pictures. We miss you and thank you for these lessons and many others you shared along the way.