The One Thing A Woman Most Needs To Learn From Her Dog

When Honey wants a snack, she drools on my leg. When she needs to go outside, she stares directly into my eyes. When she’s tired and wants to go to bed, she barks.

Despite being a dog who doesn’t speak a word of English, Honey tells me exactly what she wants and needs, without hesitating or apologizing.

She’s good at speaking up for herself.

Do you know any women who need to learn that lesson from their dogs?

Honey the golden retriever in the cemetery.

How did you know I wanted to have a long, off-leash walk in my favorite place? I didn’t say a word.

The Selfless Women Hall Of Fame

Most women I know are so unlikely to ask for what they need you’d think they were competing for a spot in the Selfless Women Hall of Fame. And no, it doesn’t exist. So just stop it.

I can think of dozens of example where I or the women I know have failed to speak up when we’ve needed help.

There’s my sister, who earned the nickname “One Trip Mel” for her amazing ability to carry dozens of heavy items while opening doors with her nose just so she didn’t have to ask for help.

And I worked in a company where the man whose department was doing less work than ever kept asking to hire help while the woman whose department was setting records for new business just figured out how to manage with her same meager staff.

Sometimes failing to ask for something we need doesn’t even make sense. Like in my case, where I feel terrible asking to get dinner out instead of cooking even though eating out is my husband’s favorite thing in the whole world. Well, second favorite thing.

Why would I hesitate to ask for something I need that would make my husband ecstatic?

Honey the golden retriever sniffs a jade plant.

It’s a good thing you stopped to let me sniff. Because I wasn’t going one step farther until I did.

 Do We Hate Our Dogs For Being Demanding

Sure, sometimes we want our dogs to run away on a grand adventure so we can get a few minute’s peace. But for the most part, we don’t hate our dogs for being demanding.

In fact, we usually find it cute.

Don’t you love it when your dog brings you his favorite ball (at least the first 100 times)? When she rolls on her back and gives you that look you recognize as saying “rub my belly, now!” And when they start wrestling on the couch while you’re working to signal that they are definitely ready to go outside to play?

Honey the Golden Retriever worships her ball.

Yes, please.

In truth, I think most of us feel relief that our dogs communicate their needs so clearly.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who worries like a crazy person when Honey is lethargic and she won’t tell me what’s going on.

When Honey tells me what she wants, I know she’s healthy. And I know how to keep her happy because she’s telling me.

And that’s a wonderful gift our dogs give us.

Maybe it’s time we share the same gift with people who love us.

Ask For What You Need

There is nothing more frustrating than caring for someone you know needs something but they can’t articulate it.

Okay, someone in a coma or who has laryngitis or who is mired in a dark and hopeless depression has an excuse.

But what about the rest of us?

Don’t you want the people who care for you to have the gift of knowing what you need? And wouldn’t you like them to give you the same gift in return?

Golden Retriever Honey with a stuffed butterfly

Sometimes a dog just needs a big stuffy.

Let’s give it a try. Let’s all try to channel our dogs. Let’s pick one thing that we need and ask someone else to help us with it. Just like our dogs would.

And men, all six of you who read Something Wagging, this goes for you too. Because although you may not get the same cultural messages telling you to be selfless, I know you are told to be silent and strong without relying on anyone else. You need to channel your dogs too.

So the next time your dog brings you his favorite tug toy or stares determinedly at the cupboard where you keep the cookies, take it as permission to ask for things yourself. And know that you’re as cute as a Pomeranian when you’re doing it.

Your Turn: Do you find it hard to ask others for things you need? How do you think your life would be different if you were as willing to ask for things as your dog?

We’re Looking For Pictures Of You And Your Dog

At the end of the month, I’m running a little experiment to see if strangers can match you with your dog based on pictures. Want to join the fun?

Send your pictures in.

Click on the image to get the full story. And I can’t wait to see your pictures in my inbox.

Do you look like your dog.




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  1. I find as I get older, it gets easier. I’m less concerned with caring for others and more concerned with myself :)

  2. I usually don’t ask for help or something I want unless I really need it, then I feel kind of guilty for some reason, strange huh? If only people knew and would respond to want I wanted just by the look in my eyes, haha!

  3. A lesson so many of us could learn. I’m definitely a do-it-myself kind of girl, but it wouldn’t hurt to stop and ask for help once in awhile.

  4. brilliant, I am so guilty of being afraid to ask and worrying to much about things. I am going to try and embrace my inner dog!!

  5. Somehow I find it easier to ask certain people for things I need. However I’ve been asking my boss for a raise and that seems to be falling on deaf ears. :-(

  6. Mom is the one that never asks for anything but is always doing for others that need something. We are pretty content dogs that don’t ask for much. She is thankful we aren’t the types to bring toys all the time and drop them at her feet.

  7. Once again you beautifully make a perfect point. I am so appreciative that my dogs never mince “words” and their needs are clear. I especially enjoy, when they are starting to fall asleep and I come to kiss them goodnight, that they lift a front leg so I can tickle their armpit just right … and their eyes slowly roll back in their head.

    Next time I ask for what I need I’ll be sure to picture myself as a cute Pomeranian and expose my armpit just a little.

  8. This is such a fantastic message and so very true. What I found is that I’ll buckle when it comes to me (although I’ve gotten better this year), but I’ll go to town for our dogs.

  9. Definitely a lesson that we all could learn! I’m terrible about asking for help. But Lucas is the perfect model for this. When they’re playing with their puzzle toys, 100% of the time he knocks his under the couch. Usually multiple times, actually. As soon as it happens, he walks over to me, stands directly in front of me, and stares… while softly swishing his tail. It’s the perfect example of asking for help every time he needs it. So, of course, I go fish it out for him!

  10. Ugh, you’re right. I pretty much NEVER ask for help, and then I’m pissed at my husband for not helping me. I just wish he’d help me without me having to ask! But of course, that’s not fair of me.

  11. I have trouble asking for help, but I had read this post the other day and today I took your advice!!! This morning I asked my hubby to please take the dogs out to play with them, and do the poop clean up as well. I do both things pretty much every day, and I just wanted one day off, so I asked for it. Normally I’d just do it myself and fume about the fact that he never takes a turn!