How to pick yourself up

And pull yourself together, according to our fur pals.

Animals have this incredible ability to bounce back and just get on with it.

A quick chat with Ricky Yeo, the president and founder of Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD), reminds me of this. And I’m so glad of it.

“Our work with dogs has always helped us to deal with the challenges of life, because of our unwavering mission to help strays and give them a second chance at life,” he states.

ASD rescues not just strays, but abandoned dogs too. An animal welfare organisation in Singapore, they rehabilitate these dogs and find homes for them.

Ricky is also a dog trainer and behavioural consultant who runs The Dog Listener Consultancy – a centre that promotes healthy, positive communication and cooperation between dogs and their owners through obedience training courses, workshops, and health and nutrition consultations. Plus he’s a principal trainer for Project ADORE, a programme under ASD that allows HDB residents to legally adopt medium-sized, mixed breed dogs; a dog behaviour columnist for The Straits Times; as well as a certified Jan Fennell Dog Listener.

Overall, he’s now had over 20 years of experience in rescue work and dog training. And it’s safe to say he’s seen a lot of heartbreaking situations and cases.

“In general, those dogs that we rescued from the brink of death are the ones that always appreciate their second chance the most,” he confesses. “Dogs who were hit-and-run victims and left to die, suffering from unimaginable pain; dogs who are afflicted with disease like skin problems, tumours, grievous injuries from fights, maggot wounds…”

And the sad list goes on. And on. But before we all cry and feel so down, read till the end of this post to hopefully lift yourself back up. Because Ricky reveals the many positive things we can learn from dogs, and why we only need to take our cues from them and look at them for inspiration.

This post is for us (me, especially) to read again every time we need to, and whenever we want to. A different perspective can change things (especially during this time).

#1 Stop whining

Or at least stop after a few moments (we all need a release sometimes).

“Dogs always inspire us because they find ways to deal with their hardship, like those on the brink of death – they fight for life because their lives matter to them,” Ricky observes. “And the most important thing is, they don’t complain!”

#2 Focus on what’s in front of you

“It’s always about making the best of your opportunities and situations. Always be grateful for what you have, and always be appreciative of others who have helped you.”

#3 Look back, and on, with courage

“See how they (dogs) rebound back to life, recover from their experience, and live life to the fullest with unconditional love, and forgive those who inflicted that pain onto them,” he asserts.

“That’s just the miracle of dogs, and why they are here with us – (for us) to be better people and to have that sense of purpose in life… that we can make a difference and make the world a better place.”

#4 Be a good listener Discover ways to improve and nurture your listening skills, so that you’ll truly hear what someone is trying to say.

“As a ‘dog listener’, it’s always about understanding what’s going on in the dogs’ minds, what fears they have, what drives them, and then connecting with them at the core level, and helping them assimilate into our world as part of our family, our pack,” Ricky maintains.

“That’s what dog training is all about.”

#5 Think of others first

“Open your mind and heart to the body language of your dog. Don’t taint it with your human perspective; but rather think about doing what’s best for them, and not what’s best for you.”

#6 Create a programme or routine

“Develop a structure that involves love and attention, and revolves around the dog’s core needs,” Ricky recommends. (On a side note: Determine and figure out your needs. What are they? How about someone else’s?)

“A truly happy dog is one that’s calm, composed and responsive, when all of its core needs are being taken care of and you show the pack leadership that your dog needs.

“Every dog has a personality just like people; they have quirks, faves and peeves. You just have to observe and learn and adapt, just like they would with you,” he adds.

“It’s a dynamic process that goes on through your life with your dog, and the satisfaction always comes from the strength of that bond and the understanding that you achieve.”

#7 Don’t just stand there

“If dogs could talk, they’d all probably say the same thing: ‘When are you guys going to get off your butts and do some good, and be someone good?’”

Yes, when will you? When will we, I mean. 😁

Do you feel empowered? Or at least a bit lighter, centred, and more motivated? Even if you don’t (maybe not now), something positive may still come out of following these seven tips.

“You develop a much stronger bond with your dog and you will always be guided by the motives of true love: to do what is best for the other, and not what benefits you.”

That’s true. Because if you’re an animal lover, I think that’s how you’ll feel, and that’s what you’ll do. You want to be a better person for them, and for yourself too. 👍

For more on Ricky and Action for Singapore Dogs, check out their site, Facebook and Instagram.

You can help ASD by donating, adopting, volunteering and sponsoring their rescues.