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Why Do Dogs Respect Their Bodies More Than Humans Do?


Bella Smiling June
My dog Bella knows how to listen to her body. Something I have yet to master.


It’s 1AM on a Saturday morning and it starts.

My body’s fight for care faces off against my mind’s determination to be as close to perfect as possible. 

Mind Hinders Body

This battle was brought about thanks to a horrendous norovirus that wreaked havoc with my insides.

As I cling to the cream colored tile on the bathroom floor, I panic because tomorrow morning at 10AM I am due to be on a flight to San Francisco for work.

I ruminate on how I must get on that plane. If I don’t get on that plane and do my job, I will be fired, inevitably leading to me begging for change on a New York City street corner to survive.

Delirium and paranoia apparently came free of charge with the norovirus.

No I Will Not Admit I am Sick!

Upon suggestion from my boyfriend at the time, that I call my boss and explain how horribly sick I am, I use what little strength I have to scoff.

Sunday at 10AM rolled around and I slowly made my way into the terminal at JFK International Airport clutching my stomach and preparing to embark some of the most uncomfortable days of my life.

Bella Knows Better Than Her Human

A few years later, as I write this, I cringe at how tough I was on my body. While I am still on a journey to discovering my healthiest self, I am done with the torture.

Last week my dogs had their annual physicals.

A couple of weeks before the physicals, I noticed that Bella (the grand dame and oldest of our pack) was not walking with the ease that she normally does.

She protested going on her daily morning walk but I coaxed her out the door (I still have a lot to learn about when enough is enough). Bella lives for her morning walk. I figured she would be happy once we were trotting through town. She did the walk but moved at a markedly slower speed.

Bella was protecting herself because she knew her leg was not right. The vet confirmed the dog’s intuition at her physical when he discovered she had a pulled tendon.

Suddenly, flashes of boarding that plane at JFK while feeling nauseous beyond belief came to mind.

What Is So Wrong With A Dog’s Life? 

Yet again, my dog is smarter than I am. She trusts how her body feels and refuses to push beyond a reasonable limit. Meanwhile, as an adult, I am just starting to fully grasp this concept.

People often joke about “A Dog’s Life” meaning the ability to take naps when need be and enjoy a leisurely pace of living.

I think the joke is on us humans and the dogs have had the right idea all along. After all, most health professionals preach that plentiful amounts of sleep and decreasing stress only help our bodies function at their highest levels.

The next time I am tempted to be unkind to my body, I will remember that Bella has grown to become a healthy older dog not because she knows when to push but rather she knows when to give herself a break.

By Margot Ahlquist, creator of Paws to Talk. Dogs don't overcomplicate their lives, so why should we? Join the pack of hundreds living happier lives at 






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