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As I write this, AromaTalk is still in its infancy stage. In addition to sharing aromatherapy tips and information, I look forward to also sharing complementary health information and food for thought on a variety of topics.

I love learning. My daughter knows I love learning as much from her as she learns from me. We can learn from anyone. I've even learned a thing or two from my dog, Bailey. He turned nine the other day. In reflecting on these fast-flying nine years with him, I realized that one of his unique traits might make for an interesting blog post.

Bailey will drink out of his water dish, but he has to be starving before he'll nibble out of his food dish.

The size, shape or material of the bowl doesn't matter. Plates aren't his fancy either, unless I'm holding the plate for him. Despite his reluctance to eat out of his bowl, he always wants the comfort of knowing it's full. He also does not like to eat if I'm not around. It took me what seemed to be forever to put all the little "clues" together...

Through trial and error, I discovered that all his little finicky behaviors surround his need to be given nourishment directly from me. Hand feeding him isn't always possible (I do have to work to pay for his food, after all), so I've created a compromise. He will eat small portions of food set directly in front of his bowl, but he needs to see me actually touch his food and place it there for him. If he isn't sure, he will scratch at his food while looking at me with those needy eyes until I go over and touch his little pile of food that rests in front of his bowl. Then, he'll eat happily.

I get a kick out of this unique need of his, and though it sometimes can be distracting, I have never wanted to break him of it. It makes him even more special and precious to me. It enforces the bond between the two of us, and adds to his personality and charm.

I chuckle at myself for how long it took me to put all the pieces together in how to best feed him. For as much as I want to notice every unique quality and the needs of those I hold precious in my life including my beloved little companion, sometimes I can be oblivious or it can take awhile to figure out how to best help... and sometimes those we love can't directly tell us what they need, don't realize they need to help us help them, or are too embarrassed to tell us.

Every once in awhile, someone will criticize his need to eat in this way as if it's "wrong" for him not to eat directly from his bowl. Far too often, we criticize each other's uniqueness or try to make others conform to our culture's "norms" instead of expressing interest in learning what is going on for the other individual, to be understanding, nurturing or doing what we can to support each other. And a sad pattern that happens far too frequently is that we have far less tolerance for another person's oddities if he/she shows no compassion for our own. With only knowing these facts about my little champ, you possibly might picture him to be picky about every little thing instead of seeing him as the generally calm, happy-go-lucky, charismatic little guy that he normally is.

There is no truth to the saying that you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Bailey turned nine the other day. A couple months ago, I easily taught him how to consistently jump on my lap and automatically turn around and scooch down next to me on my recliner instead of directly on my lap when I'm reading. He may have been as fed up with me accidentally bonking him on the head with my book as I was. ;) If I wanted to, I could train Bailey to eat out of his bowl, but something unique about him would be lost in the tradeoff.

Bailey indirectly reminded me of something we should all remember. If we can't look beyond someone's unique traits or differences, we might miss out on seeing many other beautiful traits.


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