LIFE LESSONS FROM MENTOR TOP DOG NOAH By Lori A Alicea

Hello Toby and Phin.

My name is Top Dog Noah, and I will be your mentor in this class of Life Lessons to help you become the best dogs you ever dreamed you could be.

Our class together will leave you with much kibble for thought.

EMBRACE WHERE YOU CAME FROM. IT EXPLAINS SO MUCH.  We as Man’s Best Friends are all adopted.  We were born, loved (sometimes), weaned and given to another family to live in their forever home.

Knowing your birth place, birth parents and initial upbringing reveals so much to your new parents when they try to understand you in your early days of growing up. Your baby pictures are deceiving as you are so cute and cuddly and don’t appear to have a care in the world.  But it doesn’t take long for your fears and apprehensions to surface, causing your parents to wonder and worry about you.  Your parents love you and want the very best for you.  They want you feeling secure when they leave the house for the day.  Your parents want to believe you are playing a game when you hide under the bed, not hiding because you are scared. But it’s ok to be scared at times.  That’s why you are blessed to have parents.  But your parents don’t want you to be scared of them associating an experience from your birth place.  Let me explain.

I was adopted at six months of age, an older puppy for most and I was worried no family would want me as I had hip issues. I also had other issues because I lived alone in a kennel located in a dark barn those six months.  Storms were the worst as I had no parents to hold me and comfort me through the loud and scary noise.

Thankfully, God sent me parents who didn’t recognize hip issues and adopted me because they said I was so cute. I reminded them of their favorite TV dog “Lassie” who were actually looking for their own little “Lassie” for their daughter.  “I was perfect” I heard them saying when we first met.

When that first thunderstorm happened while living in my new home, my parents witnessed me trying to hide in my fretfulness during that evening of loud lightening strikes, yet to my surprise, my parents came to my rescue immediately holding and assuring me I wouldn’t have to experience storms alone anymore. During that initial storm my parents realized that me sleeping alone in a dark barn as a baby caused me to act in my frightened way.

Parents and puppies learn each other’s language quickly so don’t be shy or afraid that they will send you back if you appear to have come to them with problems.

Be confident and secure in the love of your parents as they went to great lengths to bring you into their lives.

You have a place in their heart now. You have a place in the family.  My parents loved me through storms my entire life.  Your parents will love you through yours.

I NEVER DOUBTED I WAS LOVED

candace baby noah

Baby Top Dog Noah and His Mommy

I was loved from the very beginning. I was given my name by my nanny Gloria who insisted on doing the honors; so Noah it was even if my name doesn’t sound cool.

I was a Christmas present to my mommy Candace who loved and cared for me for those first few weeks in my new home. I slept with her, she took me out for walks.  But soon, her mommy Lori became my forever mommy as I was a bit much for a teenager.  I now slept on the floor next to my mommy who reached for me in the night to let me know she was there.  She taught me to wake up daddy David when I needed to go out in the middle of the night.  I was hugged tight from that first Christmas night throughout my fourteen years of life.

NEVER DOUBT THAT YOU ARE LOVED.

We all have doubts at times about being loved. I understand that.  But look around yourself.  You have a warm bed to sleep in.  There’s food in your bowl.  I am sure you get snacks from the table or take them anyways when somebody’s not looking.  You have warm arms to scoop you up throughout the day.  You have a special name and a special spot on the couch when watching TV together as a family.  You’re allowed to bite your parent’s toes in fun and instigate playtime when they would rather enjoy a quiet evening of reading books instead.   Your make your parents laugh.  They are forever taking your picture.  They fight over you.

YOU ARE SO LOVED. NEVER DOUBT THAT YOU ARE LOVED.

It’s important to return the love for your parents as they need a sense of belonging also. Wag your tail when you hear those keys in the door.  Jump up and down for a kiss.  Bark to tell your parents how happy you are to see them.  Make sure you don’t have a mess for them to clean up.  Most of all, tell your parents in your best dog voice ever there’s no other place you’d rather be than home here with them.

toby in tote

ENJOY THE JOURNEY.

Being a puppy is alot of work. Finding your place in the family takes time and work also.  There are boundaries to learn.  Learn the rules of what you can chew as a toy and leave the furniture and pillows alone.  You have to learn to share with your brother and stop eating his food when you’re still hungry.  You have to share your parents and learn when it’s your brother’s turn and not yours.

But even still, LEARN TO ENJOY THE JOURNEY.

You’ll realize you will get away with more than you think. You’ll find that being a brother and having a brother to play and sleep with is better than being an only child.  Enjoy the journey as many dogs are without homes and will never be adopted.  You both were two of the lucky ones.

So what if your brother hogs the bed; he is bigger you know.

So you have self-image issues because your brother’s a blond and believe the girls like him more. You are just as cute.  You are just as loved.

ENJOY THE JOURNEY.

Go for the ride. Look out the window and let the breeze kiss your face if allowed (or can reach).  You’re a special dog Toby.  Phin is special too.

noah with face on steps
REST WHEN YOU CAN.

All puppies need a nap even though you would rather chase your brother another lap around the house and chew one more toy to smithereens.

Naps are a puppies best friend. Your parents need a nap and break from the high energy of two little ones.  Puppies need a nap so they can grow into the dogs they were born to be.  I know you’d rather play and believe sleeping is only for babies, but take it from an old dog who needs his beauty sleep more than ever, REST WHEN YOU CAN.  They’ll come a day you’ll fight for your sleeping spot in the middle of the day.

Toby cute
SWEET DREAMS LITTLE ONE. Parent’s love to watch their babies sleep.  They can tell when you’re in the middle of a dream, albeit sweet or sour.  I remember my mommy brushing my face and fur with her hands when she thought I was sleeping, when actually just laying there thinking of dinner.  lol.  Even still, her quiet gesture reminded me how blessed I was to have her, my home and those adorable grandchildren whom I looked forward to chasing up and down the hall.  Their screams of delight affirmed their love for me.  REST WHEN YOU CAN.  The grand-kids might be there when you get up.

YOU ARE BLESSED TO BE IN A FAMILY.

Coming from someone who lived their first six months alone in a scary barn with not a single soul to love or love me, count your blessings to be in a family. My home used to be bursting with little people with little hands who hugged me tighter than I could breathe, tugged on my fur when I’d rather them not, and sometimes rode me like a horse.

BUT I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT. I WAS BLESSED TO BE IN THIS FAMILY.

I could see them pulling in the driveway from the kitchen window. My tail wagged at the first sight of their smiles and waves at me while still buckled in their car seats.

I can’t stress it enough that love gives you life, and a long happy one at that.

Give love as you receive love. Love your brother and his friends.  Love your parents even if you had to spend a few minutes in your room.

YOU ARE BLESSED TO BE IN A FAMILY.

As time aged the children and myself included, I slowed down and they got busier, but still was included in their play. FOR THIS, I AM TRULY THANKFUL.

toby with glasses
JUST BE YOURSELF. It’s ok to want to be cool.  It’s ok to want to fit in with the crowd.  I’ve been there myself.  Never forget though there is only one YOU.  You don’t have a twin to compete with or be replaced with.  There is only one you.

Be comfortable in your own fur. There is a purpose for your size, color, bark and name.  God created you perfect and you don’t need to hide behind glasses or opinions.  Your parents loved you from day one just as you were.  Today is no different.  You can wear the glasses, I still do.  You can wear yours to be cool.  I wear mine because it keeps the glare from my tired old eyes.

noah with glasses
DARE TO BE DIFFERENT.. Sometimes it’s easier to just blend in with the crowd than stand out in it.  But those who DARE TO BE DIFFERENT live a life beyond expectations for themselves.  Enter the Cutest Dog contest.  Go to Obedience School and train for a trophy.  Get free from your leash and prove to your parents you won’t run off.  Stand down when the ham bone is in front of you.  Show your restraint.  DARE TO BE DIFFERENT when the neighbor pack barks up and down the fence.  Wear those cool dark glasses proudly and you keep the peace.  Show the others who’s in charge.  Be a leader.  Make a difference.  BE THE DIFFERENCE.  DARE TO BE DIFFERENT.

Celebrate the inner champion in you. Celebrate the first place blue ribbon family member your parents are crazy about.  Celebrate being different because you are different.  Being different is cool.

brystol hugging noah
LEARN TO LOVE THE LADIES.

One of the perks about being cute Is all the ladies love you. They love to snuggle and kiss you on a moment’s notice.  The ladies will tie their bows in your hair and play dress up and beauty shop.  You have to go along with their fuss to keep them coming.

The little ladies are the candy in your food bowl even if the doctor says to stay away from sweets. Their sugar and spice will bring out the best in you.  Just sit back and LEARN TO LOVE THE LADIES.

I know you’d rather fetch the stick or play catch like tough boy dogs do. But balance your life with a dish of candy from the sweet little ladies.

Wear your dark glasses if you must to not be recognized in public with that fancy bling in your hair.

LEARN TO LOVE THE LADIES as they will always love you back. They are so easy to please.  They nurture babies and you are their fur baby when they want you to be.  Give up arguing and go with the flow.  They’ll put bows in brother’s hair before you blink and you’ll be free to go and hang with the guys.  Until it’s brother’s turn, LEARN TO LOVE THE LADIES

toby and phinn 1
LEARN TO LOVE EACH OTHER.

In families you don’t get a choice whether to love or not. You love because you are blessed to have family.  Learning to love each other requires a blind eye to their misgivings.  Whether they drool on you or shed their fur.  You don’t criticize when they leave crumbs all around their food bowl during dinner.  You don’t point out their limitations when your size allows you to jump higher or run further than your smaller brother.  Remember you both have strengths and weaknesses, and love doesn’t notice when the other does it wrong.  Even if you feel like your parents favor one over the other, I promise you it’s not true.

LEARN TO LOVE EACH OTHER.

Life is short in canine years. Life goes fast when you’re a dog.  Appreciate having someone just like you to enjoy the back yard with.  It’s more fun to share a ball as a team than to move it around the fence by yourself.

Yes, home can be crowded with both of you barking and playing and wanting to be top dog with your parents. But take it from a old Top Dog myself, there’s enough love for everyone.  Enough love to give.  Enough love to share.  Enough of everything to go around.  You could be alone.  But you’re not.  LEARN TO LOVE EACH OTHER.

TAKE TIME TO CELEBRATE THE LITTLE THINGS

Life is too short not to celebrate the little things. Celebrate that bone you get to enjoy after dinner from time to time.  Celebrate the walks in the park or fun in your own backyard.

Celebrate when you get that one on one time in the car ride to the store leaving your brother behind for his turn next time. Remembering you won’t pout when it is “next time”.

Celebrate that you are taken to the vet doctor when you are sick or administered that shot to keep you from getting sick.

Celebrate those special chew toys as they are only given to special boys like you.

Celebrate the strangers who want to pet you because of your cuteness. Celebrate that you brighten up their day when you allow them to make over you, while keeping your growls and attitudes to yourself.

Celebrate that you are wanted and missed during the day. Celebrate that your parents make sure you’re not left alone too long.  They do care about your feelings.

Celebrate that you have a brother to fight with, to chase with, to bother with, to love with, to sleep with. Celebrate your size as being the bigger brother so you can protect your smaller brother.  Celebrate being small as you can fit in tight spaces to hide when you need some alone time.

Celebrate being you as there is only one you.

toby and phinn
NEVER LEAVE THEIR SIDE. Loyalty will always be your greatest attribute in being “Man’s Best Friend.”

noah by bed

MAN’S FRIENDS:

Will come and go. At times will let them down.  Their word isn’t always their bond.  Their handshake isn’t a binding contract like it used to be.  Man’s friends don’t understand loyalty like you do.

MAN’S BEST FRIEND:

Lays at the foot of the bed to watch over them when they sleep. They hear those noises outside to alarm the parents.  Man’s Best Friend never leaves your side; you can count on them for life.  God assigns and put families together and Man’s Best Friend fits in like he was always meant to be there; He Was.

NEVER WANT TO LEAVE. While I know there’s a free spirit within like a wind behind you pushing you to run; sometimes far away from home.  We were born to run.  But never allow that free spirit talk you into running away from home.  Leaving home and all that is left behind will break many hearts, especially every time the family sees your empty spot on the couch.

I ran away from home once, not by choice though. I was running from the thunderstorm that scared me as my parents left me outside that day with no place to hide.  I was found but placed in a shelter where my parents were frantic and clueless of my whereabouts.  (Mug shot above).  Because of the internet I was reunited with my family.  Hugs brought me back to life when I thought I was lost forever.

BE WHO YOU WERE CREATED TO BE.

There’s a hero inside all of us. But I don’t have to tell you that.  We have it in us to be TOP DOG.  We aspire to Champion Status.  We want that blue ribbon.  We want to take our place on the stage of recognition.

BE WHO YOU WERE CREATED TO BE.

Champion Status does require obedience and self control to know your place. No worries though, your time will come; your stage awaits when all eyes will be on you.

It’s alright when you want to play and be Silly Dog instead of Top Dog.   You were born to enjoy your life.  But there are moments when you must rise to the occasion to show off the inner you, the Hero inside, the Champion, the Top Dog.

Remember a Champion isn’t judged on size but on character. Champions have control to stand at attention like a statue.  But Champions don’t hold back their feelings when their parents are in need of some love.

BE WHO YOU WERE CREATED TO BE. Don’t pretend to be someone your not.  Don’t choose to be someone else.  You are perfect just as you are.

IT’S OK TO BE ONE.   BUT TWO IS SO MUCH FUN.  Remembering my puppy days alone in the barn, I longed for someone to share my life with during those first six months when it was just me.  While we’d rather not share our food or special treats.  I urge you to realize that being TWO is more than fun, when you’ve experienced the loneliness of being ONE.  Yes your brother will test your last nerve at times, but TWO is still better than ONE.

hollis noah
BE THEIR TV PILLOW. Being fluffy and soft does have the little ones believing you are their safe place to lay.  Your fur is their security blanket and gives them comfort and rest for their weary eyes.  The little ones fall asleep with the lullaby of your heartbeat, just like you did with your mother.

toby pillow
IT’S OK TO FIND SECURITY IN THEIR PILLOW. After all, their pillow is soft and fluffy also.  Their smell left behind brings you comfort and close to them when they are away.  You can get lost under the covers and feel safe as you once did in the womb.  Being their pillow or sharing their pillow is part of being a family.  It’s just what you do

FAMILY IS EVERYTHING.

My hope throughout these Life Lessons is that you grab hold of the truth that FAMILY IS EVERYTHING. Appreciating your place, realizing who you are, feeling loved and giving love.  Celebrate with fireworks as you are blessed to have a family.

Be thankful for your address. Be thankful for the family photograph that includes your face.  Be thankful that somebody cares if you’re hungry or cold.  Be thankful that you’re not chained in the backyard and left alone in the storms that I once was.  Be thankful for the eyes that light up when you prance into the room.

FAMILY IS EVERYTHING and jump up and down as you are a member.

Be thankful for those who share your same last name.

FAMILY IS EVERYTHING.

Noah by himself
YOUR TIME WITH FAMILY IS ALL BUT A BREATH. ENJOY YOUR TODAY’S.  BE THANKFUL FOR YOUR YESTERDAY’S.  AS TOMORROW IS A QUESTION MARK.

This is the last picture taken of me in my forever home. I look healthy and still handsome as a Top Dog, but I am fourteen years old now and in a bit of pain.  But I never showed my hurt so my parents wouldn’t worry.

My life with my family has been a gift. I have been a gift.  You be that gift also.  Enjoy today as it is a gift.  Unwrap every moment as the gift it is meant to be.

Don’t take for granted what you have been given in your family, as there will be a day, one day, someday of Good By.

You’re never guaranteed a moment from the one you are currently holding in your hand. So savor the small things.  Be present for the big things.  Don’t run away from the hard things.  Don’t worry about the sad things.  God will always be there to help you sort out the cares of your life.

CELEBRATE TODAY. CELEBRATE THE TOP DOG you were born to be.  Embrace these Life Lessons and allow them to mold you into the better YOU.

Love Forever, Noah

Don't dart in front of cars
SAYING GOOD-BY AND ON TO OUR NEXT APPOINTMENT. TOBY AND PHIN, YOU BOTH WERE GREAT STUDENTS AND I COUNT IT A PRIVILEGE TO HAVE HAD YOU IN MY CLASS.  TAKE WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED AND PASS IT ON TO OTHERS.

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applesofgoldencouragement

Author Lori A Alicea and her beloved husband David of 25 years thank you for sharing a moment of your day with them at Apples of Gold Encouragement. It is their desire you experience their heart for family, love, encouragement and God through the words God has put on Lori’s heart to write. They are hopeful you discover a few treasures of encouragement, realizing we all share common threads in our lives. Be blessed in your day.

3 thoughts on “LIFE LESSONS FROM MENTOR TOP DOG NOAH By Lori A Alicea”

  1. Love your puppies and dogs! Smiled all the way through your warm-hearted blog. It brought back memories of our dog, and the dogs our children have had, or now have. They are wonderful pets, really family members. Thanks for the journey through the lives of yours! Love you!

    Like

  2. I loved this Lori. We have a dog right now that can be kind of difficult. I loved and learned from your perspective from your pups. Maybe we just need to get him a brother to play with. Lol love you Lori.

    Like

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