Shep: My Dog The Minimalist


We can learn a lot from our canine friends. I’ve learned a lot from my dog, Shep. I’ve learned about loyalty. I’ve learned about determination. I’ve learned about minimalism. My simple dog Shep has taught me a few things.

Dogs don’t need much: just food, water, shelter, play, and a little attention does them just fine. If a dog has more than that, it’s their owner’s preoccupation. Dogs, like most animals, set perfect examples of living minimally.

I’m no dog psychologist, but I can almost bet that dogs don’t have the four fears I’ve discussed in previous posts. These fears seem to be a human problem:

  • The fear of not being good enough.
  • The fear of not having enough.
  • The fear of what others think.
  • The fear of losing everything.

Shep is a Border Collie-Australian Shepard mix. He’s a loyal and playful companion. He lives for the moment, rather than in the past or the future. This is why Shep and many dogs don’t deal with fear as humans do. 

Shep Doesn’t Worry About Not Being Good Enough

Often, we buy things, simply to try to prove our self-worth. This makes no sense. If we can’t discover worth within our inner-being, we won’t find it in stuff. Why do you think that new car or new boat will make you happy? It won’t. It will only complicate your life. You’ll need insurance. You’ll have bigger monthly payments. You’ll need extra room. In the end it might make you more anxious.

I’ve never seen Shep dragging things home in order to make himself happy. I doubt he’s thinking about how much better he’ll feel about himself if he gets a new toy or a new ball. He just wants to chase the ball because he loves to chase the ball. That’s solid self-esteem. Humans can learn from this: to love who we are simply for who we are.

Shep Doesn’t Worry About Not Having Enough

We’ve all been told that we need to stock up, especially when the sales are on. You probably know at least one hoarder. Why do people buy or collect more than they need? It likely stems from a deeper psychological issue, a fear of not having enough. I’m always baffled by the contradictory logic of Christians who are also preppers. Jesus tells us not to worry about our needs. Why stock up for an end-of-the-world scenario?

Shep, like the birds that Jesus mentions, does not worry about his next meal. He might get hungry when I feed him a bit late, but I’ve never once heard him complain. He knows he’ll be taken care of. I know that I can live with just a little. I have faith that I’ll survive in any scenario. If I don’t, that’s life. 

Shep Doesn’t Worry About What Others Think

We’ve been taught that we need to drive certain kinds of cars and wear certain brands of clothes. That’s what everybody else is doing. Right? This is a bandwagon fallacy. When we buy stuff to be like others, we do a great disservice to ourselves, and our families. We are in essence saying that we are not unique. This teaches our children that they must conform to cultural norms in order to be happy. And the cycle continues until we consume ourselves. 

Shep doesn’t need a new collar or a new food bowl to impress his canine friends. Brand names are meaningless in a dog’s world. Learn to purchase goods based on your need and the product’s quality rather than your pride and the product’s name.

Shep Doesn’t Fear Losing Everything

Us silly humans: we worry about money all the time. What if you went broke? I understand that some people might not be able to fend for themselves, but they’re a minority. Losing everything might be exactly what you need to push yourself to the next level in life. Think about the rich man who wanted to know how to get into heaven. When we hold onto our belongings, we get left behind. When we let them go, we are freed.

We rescued Shep from the pound. He had nothing. He had nothing to lose. I doubt he worries about losing his leash or his water bowl. I imagine the only thing my simple dog Shep fears losing, is Annie and me, his family.

Do you struggle with the four fears I mentioned in this post? If you do, you’re not alone. I’ve struggled too. Most Americans do. I’ve learned to live with less. It’s helped me learn to worry less. It’s helped me learn to appreciate the little things in life more. It’s helped me to become more present.

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James Ewen
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