Everything I know about how to survive law school I learned from my dog…

2011-08-11 07.25.49Its that time again. Law school has begun.  The 1Ls are dazed, confused or ridiculously optimistic as the year is just kicking into gear (much like we were). The 2ls are busy, stressed, inspired, jaded, and praying to be a 3L.  The 3Ls are in a word or words to be more accurate OVER IT!

As I take this time away from reading 100 pages for evidence and all of the other tasks that 2L has forced on to me (that I signed up for most of them truly makes no difference) to do something that I love and find extremely therapeutic (writing generally and complaining about my life as a law student specifically) I thought it would be good to do a post about the top 5 lessons I have learned post 1L and the lessons I continue to learn as a 2L.

In life, lessons can be learned from anything and often times our greatest teachers are those we neither requested nor expected. With that said I will let you know about some of the many lessons my dog has taught me about how to survive law school.

1. Be thankful for what you have

It’s sort of funny that I would learn this lesson from my an animal who can not really relay or transmit the information to me verbally, but “Young Dash” as I call him is a guru of sorts. Since he was a puppy he has had a long long long long history of destroying every single toy that has ever been purchased for him by either  myself, my sister (who dotes on him far more than she should, I mean I am her one and only little brother, where is my love?) or my mother who calls consistently to inquire about the health of her “granddog.” With this being the case I (as an economic decision, not punishment) decided that there are certain types of toys that Dash simply can not have. In pursuit of the ultimate toy, i eventually purchased a big, orange hard rubber ball. Remarkably, Dash has been unable to destroy this toy, and has developed a special bond with the it ( he often wines/speaks to it when he plays with it). And despite my sister not obeying the do not purchase certain types of toys rule, Dash always comes back to that one toy, because even if I never buy him another toy ever, he has a distinct appreciation for this one, that’s all he needs to be happy, while I seemingly want to HAVE IT ALL.

2. Its all in your attitude

My dog is happy to see me at all times! If I am gone for hours, minutes, and even seconds he greets me like he thought he would never see me again. He never holds grudges. Even when scolded, he immediately attempts to make up (whether I want to or not). What this translates into is my always wanting to be around my dog. With the legal profession being such a relationship driven industry, this is a lesson that I have learned and I am attempting to implement into my life (though I admit that the OCI season has made this harder than I expected it to be). People flock to positive people, and the more people that want to be around you or communicate with you, the broader your network becomes, and thus the greater you chances for success. My dog is happy, rain, sleet, snow, hellish humidity, it matters not, and while I am not there yet, I am definitely trying to get there.

3. You shape your experiences

I adopted Dash when he was approximately 6 weeks old. Much of the time before our time, Dash resided in a shelter, a place that he obviously would never want to return to. With this being the case, he has some slight separation anxiety, as it relates to my departure. When I was back home with the support of his extended family, it really wasn’t a big deal, but now that I am three thousand miles away, it’s a little more difficult to have someone watch him (though I have some extended family here, who have taken up the task at times). With this lack of options, I have had to put Dash in a kennel at times when I was traveling, and he HATES IT, at least the initial drop off. Dash will kick, bark, snap, and inappropriately mark his territory (in every way) in protest. That said, once he realizes that I am gone, he seems to do something remarkable, and that is create or tailor his experience. How do I know this? Well, a couple weeks ago when I went to pick him up, the first thing the ladies at the desk told me is that they didn’t want me to pick him up! In the times Dash had been coming, he had won over more and more workers with each visit. SO this time, Dash was sort of VIP. He hung out in the section of the kennel where the dogs of the workers hung out. His closest friends at the kennel where he dogs with access to power (via their owners) or those in power via the workers. I was even told that Dash was often seen being carried around in the arms of whoever happen to be on lunch at the moment, and he even taught one of the ladies, to respond to one of his custom barks. I was told that when he barked the workers would inform her that Dash was calling her. The point is, my dog hates the kennel or being away from  me, but he has managed to network himself into some pretty posh experiences nevertheless. A lesson I paid attention to with great interest. Now I just have to teach him not to do anything to burn that bridge ( he immediately dialed down his sweetness once I was in the building), in fact, perhaps him and I need to develop that skill as father and son!

4. Some bones aren’t worth picking

Pretty self-explanatory…but he has shown me time and time again, that every bone I purchase is not really worthy of his attention. And now that I am always pressed for time, and because I am currently taking Alternative Dispute Resolution, I am becoming much more choosy about what “bones I pick” conflict, disagreement, and the like can be very very time consuming and exhausting things, so I take a note from THE BOOK OF DASH and simply ignore the things not really worthy of my attention. Life is for the living.

5.Note the alternatives

Law school can often feel like a win or lose, all or nothing game. If you feel like you are winning it can seem like the world is your oyster, if you are on the other side of that coin, it can feel like the world is passing you by. HOWEVER, it is a good practice to note the alternatives. IF your heart is set on something or if things aren’t going as planned, sometimes you have make do with what you have at your disposal. Dash does this well. If we are somewhere where his bed is not, or where someone else’s bed is off limits, he will make note of his alternatives, and proceed accordingly. I have seen Dash make a bed out of sweats, shirts, reusable mesh grocery bags, boxes, etc.  just about anything he can curl up on and make his. The lesson I learned from this is that while I may only think that one thing will allow me to live a comfortable, notable, fulfilling life, that is simply not true, the job I want may not be the job I need, and getting a no may allow me to creatively put myself in the position to tell myself YES. My dog is an entrepreneur and I intend to follow his foot paw steps.

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Other lessons learned from Young Dash can be purchased for just $9.99 (if you act now, Young Dash will throw in a pawtographed picture of himself, ACT NOW!!!!!

As you can see I am a quick learner!

Until next time…

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