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What the President Could Learn from Our Shih-Tzu Eddie

Always tell the truth. Eddie practices unflinching honesty. He lets you know exactly what he is feeling. When he likes some human or another dog, he wags his tail. When depressed or sad about something, he bends his head and tail downward. When the people around him are happy, he smiles. His eyes glisten and open wide.  When happy and off-leash,  he runs full steam in large loops around the yard.  But if he has reason to distrust some another being, he barks.

Here is Eddie’s advice—to dogs, humans, and even to politicians. Be open to what each being has  to offer.  You will find that most humans, dogs, and other beings are open to friendship. If you show them good will and warmth, many if not most will respond in kind.

Be nice to others with no expectation of reward. Do not demand something in exchange for whatever you offer or bring to the table.

Respect each gender. Treat females and males equally and respect their personal space.

Still, you must be on guard. Of  course there are mean persons and mean dogs. If you have reason to fear or distrust them, keep a safe distance. Observe them carefully however. Your first impressions can be wrong.

Yes, some persons and dogs see everything as a contest. They act as though everything is winner-take-all—as though only one could get a bone or other valued object. Better to act as though sharing is better than grabbing. Less fighting and more smiles.

Keep a healthy balance between sitting, walking, running. If you have been sedentary for some time, yawn and stretch fully. Do what yogis call upward looking dog and downward looking dog. Roll on your back and shake your limbs.

Loyalty: Be loyal to your master. In your case,   the people you have been elected to serve—not whoever gives  you a treat. .

Eat to live. Don’t live to eat. Try to eat and drink (lots of water!) at about the same time each day. Don’t have a big meal just before sleep time. Don’t insist on two scoops of ice cream on top of chocolate pie.  Maybe skip that kind of desert altogether.

Be tidy and clean. If you get messy, brush your hair, clean your teeth, and wash everywhere—or get somebody to do this for you.  If you have lots of possessions, push them into neat piles and leave space to play and think.

Don’t stick out your tongue, drool, or pout.  If you feel bad, keep it to yourself or share your problem with a friend—not with the whole world.

Try to be with beings you like and trust. Try to make others happy. If you can do a trick that amuses and the setting is right, smile and perform the trick.  But don’t just be a show off.

Watch your manners. Be a warm host and a courteous visitor or guest.  Don’t bully others or try to dominate a social event. Like a wise grownup or elder, hold back most of the time and  let others do their thing.

Keep regular hours. We all need sleep to be our best. Sleep deprived, we become sluggish and cranky. Stay away from electronic devices. TV programs and telephones get in the way of clear thinking and effective action. If you stay up late one night, next day go to a quiet place and take a nap.

Be content with you as you are.  Don’t depend on praise to find satisfaction. Win or lose, virtue is its own reward.

Some people may give you the idea that you are the center of the cosmos. But you are not. We are all here for a short time. Do what you can to make the most of it. Do what you can to fulfill your own potential and make the world a better place.

Walter Clemens lives near Boston with his family and their rescued dog Eddie. Clemens  is professor emeritus of political science, Boston University.  He examines how to mitigate evil in North Korea and the World: Human Rights, Arms Control, and Strategies for Negotiation (University Press of Kentucky, 2016).

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Walter Clemens is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Boston University and Associate, Harvard University Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. He wrote Complexity Science and World Affairs (SUNY Press, 2013).

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