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Sometimes life’s events make us “grow up” too quickly. We forget, never experience or lose the joy of play. Life takes it’s tolls and the light-heartedness that accompanies play is discarded in order to survive.

But it’s never too late.

img_2957As an example, let’s look at our dog, Baxter. Baxter is a rescue dog and as such we have no idea where he originated from or how he was treated in the year and half before he joined our family. He arrived scared, anxious, a bit snippy if you got too close, and suffered from separation fears. Over time and with some loving devotion from our family and grandkids, Baxter has calmed down to be a great companion.

So his mood and personality mellowed out but there wasimg_2958 one thing really missing from his personality: play. He didn’t know how to play or was abused or neglected to the point where play never entered his world or took on a different meaning for him. To no avail we tried and tried to “teach” him how to play, how to fetch a ball, play tug-of-war, or any other pet-friendly games. Dog toys purchased just sat there unused. He just didn’t get it. Play had no meaning.

It took two other small dogs and lots of time with them for him to see their playful antics and allow himself to start mimicking their play and behavior. We began to see personality changes, a reduction in anxieties, and a light-heartedness where before there was hesitation and fear. After a while, he began to play by himself…grabbing a toy and running around with it or tossing it in the air and grabbing it.

So what’s the point? With play came a sense of comfort, an easing of fears and a wider enjoyment of life. With play, Baxter made friends easier, had a more energetic response to everyone and everything, and learned that just having fun was okay.

So, if an old dog can learn new tricks and discover how to re-gain the lost art of play, we too can take a playful attitude in what we do. We can shed a few pounds of adulthood and re-gain some lost child-like play and joy. We can go from fearful and anxious to smiling and life embracing.

We too can re-learn the joy of play.

P.S. A grateful “thanks” to Shandi & Vinnie for taking an “old” pup and teaching him the joy of play.

Learning how to keep play in our daily lives eases the burdens, calms the fears and provides a can-do attitude. You can teach an old dog new tricks.