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What dogs have taught me

I found my true calling working with dogs, but I actually have a degree in art. I started out wanting to study graphic design, but I switched to fine art. I focused a lot on city and industrial landscapes. Looking back now, I think my motive was trying to understand better why we created these landscapes, why things looked the way they did.

I find my greatest joys not just in the company of our wonderful dogs, but also in travel. I love the breathtaking view of Lake Michigan atop the Sleeping Bear Dunes. In Traverse City I discovered the remarkable transformation of the old Northern Michigan State hospital into a bustling complex of homes, shops, and exquisite dining. If you haven’t visited it, I highly recommend it.

The building itself is an example of the Kirkbride model. This remarkable style developed for mental institutions, with the guiding principle that ‘beauty is therapy’, the idea that design affects our mental state. Which brings me back to the aforementioned industrial landscapes. I wondered why these landscapes were created when they have such a negative impact on our emotions?

I’ve worked with dogs for over twenty years now. Being around these amazing animals constantly teaches us about ourselves. Understanding their motivations, responses and drives offers a mirror to our own habits, patterns, and behaviors.  When we try to understand dogs, their motivations, their responses, their drives, we learn so much about human behavior.

Dogs can teach us compassion, understanding, and can make us strive to be the best version of ourselves. Dogs see the best in us, even when we fail to see it ourselves. This realization is at the heart of my ‘why’ for dedicating my life to them. This is a journey of never-ending learning and growth, inspired by the aim to be the person our dogs believe us to be.

So, as we continue to nurture and enrich the lives of our canine companions, let’s also take a moment to appreciate the lessons they teach us about living life fully and kindly. Together, let’s strive to be the best versions of ourselves, not just for our dogs, but for each other and the world around us.

Thank you for being an integral part of our community and for joining me on this remarkable journey.

Warmest regard,

Dirk and the Team at a Walk in the Park