Top 10 Tips – the final from my Gran Dame

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I have always found comfort in words, reading them and writing them.

I pass along life lessons from my dog Franny, in no particular order. What she taught me about herself, living with animals in general, people, relationships, and living life your own way.

top 10 tips –

  1. Dogs judge. They have a fairly amazing and innate bullshit meter, some more than others. Don’t think you can treat a dog or any living being with disregard and them be OK with it. All living beings deserve respect, and living beings need to be seen for who they are, not what you want them to be. From an honest place.
  2. Dogs are living sentient beings. They have emotions, ideas, thoughts, and dreams. They reason and solve concepts, most better than humans. While sit and down are fine and fun to teach, keep in mind, dogs do them by themselves all of the time. You haven’t even tapped the genius within. Most dogs are waiting to work, waiting to be challenged mentally, waiting to be included. Start the revolution in your own home.
  3. Dogs do not need pain, fear, or discomfort to learn. No animal needs this.
  4. When someone tells you that you need to harm a living being in order for them to obey you, they are not a friend, not a professional, and most certainly someone not worth listening to. Step away, breathe and listen to your heart. Sometimes the best advice doesn’t come from another human, it comes from within your heart. Listen clearly.
  5. Be a human worth trusting. Be honest, and thoughtful, and intentional in your actions. Slow down if you need to, stop and take a deep breath, be a good human.
  6. Control is merely an illusion. No living being can truly be controlled, that is something that comes from massaging and stroking ones ego. A true relationship is based on coming to the middle ground together and working on the relationship together. There is no such thing as a perfect human, so don’t expect this from your dog.
  7. Never let anyone tell you that you need to be someone that you are not. Learn about who you are, be that person, and let that feel right. It is only then that all living beings will really see ‘you’. Trying to change a living being into something more palatable for you is futile, and truthfully cruel and untrustworthy.
  8. Keep life simple. Climb a mountain, run on a beach, look out over a valley, or lay down in a meadow. Take the time to be out in ‘life’. Allow the simple pleasures to overwhelm you. It’s good for the soul, the mind, the body, and relationships. Free time away from it all.
  9. Dogs that live outside of neutral, and challenge us on a daily basis, and press all of our buttons, and fry just about every nerve, are in fact the best teachers we will ever have. Teachers in life and love, beauty and ugliness. These teachers require us to learn about ourselves, mistakes and all. They teach us what it truly means to be human, and have humiliation, and true understanding. They teach us about our own emotions, good, bad, and indifferent. What works and what doesn’t. They teach us how to be learners, how to observe with objective eyes, how to truly listen without filters, and how to say what we mean. They teach us about the world around us. They teach us about a true and real relationship.
  10. Raw honesty, everyday, all day, forever. It might be the best way to live, and frankly the world would be much better for it. Life isn’t about making shit up or changing the definitions of words to suit your own needs. It isn’t about fabricating grand stories to fill ones ego. It isn’t about being being the loudest just to get attention. It’s about being honest, being true, and feeling comfortable in your own skin. This is the hardest lesson of all really. Raw honesty.  She accepted love if she felt someone was worthy, and she in turn loved you deeply if she felt you could handle it. She had likes and dislikes and they were all honest and true, and she never apologized for this. She lived outside of neutral until the end, and never gave up. She was brave and proud and so very fair. She was my Gran Dame.

SO, with this I will wonder off for the the day even though it feels like my heart is being punched, I will breathe, walk with the feelings I have, and allow my emotions to be true.

spotlight dogs

She was his Muse since the moment he first saw her, until the last breath she took.


You allowed us into your life, on your terms, and taught us how to learn. For that I will forever be grateful.


My children loved you since forever, they saw you for you, they accepted you with open unquestioning hearts, and never once asked you to change. I wish we all had the hearts of children, honest, unfiltered, and pure.


My Gran Dame …

Love, Nancy


      1. Nancy, What a wonderful dog. I believe I watched her in amazement on your “lunchtime training” video. Franny’s wisdom has become a gift for all of us. We are grateful for her—and for you. With love, Linda, Ken and Banjo

  1. Franny’s lessons of love were awesome to learn about. I trust the physical weight you all feel will lighten soon……. What a lucky dog to be part of your family and so influential! I am especially happy to read and reread the blog posts to know her better – thank you.

    With love from my heart to yours,

  2. A glimpse at Tom’s love letter on FB caused me to recoil, knowing the news that would follow. I burst into uncontrollable tears reading this post. For me, Franny’s story was similar to my sons, with ‘who rescued who’. The relationship began with a primal wound and turned into a life giving relationship, built on truth, trust and love. My tears flow for Tom, Nancy, Piper and Renn as Franny said good bye, knowing she is forever a part of who each of you are.

  3. She came into your life for a reason. . . .to bring you to where you are today, to teach you to love in a way you never have and to give your family things they will remember for the rest of their lives. She also came into OUR lives as we read about her through your writings, teaching us about things we may or may not ever experience, but loving her like our own, from a distance. My eyes are all leaky right now, knowing and understanding what you are feeling today, knowing how much you will miss this gentle soul that shared your home for so many wonderful wonderful years.

    Hugs to you and yours from me and mine.

  4. She was such a lucky dog to have you and your family. Thinking of you today, the Caldwell crew is sending hugs (and puppy kisses) your way!

  5. I’ve been away on holiday and this is the first I’ve heard of the loss of your Frannie..

    I’m so sorry, this never gets easier. Please accept my deepest wrote a beautiful tribute to an amazing little soul.

    Nancy R

    Sent from my iPad


  6. Lessons, Life, Love, and Loss
    You have embraced them all, Nancy

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom and insights

    We’re holding you and your family in our hearts.

    Nan and Neil

  7. I am so sorry for the loss of your beautiful Frannie–it is never easy to say good bye but so glad you had each other in your lives. Beautiful tribute!

  8. The beauty and truth in your words, evolving over years of a blessed and shared life and then the transition of such an amazing friend as Frannie, is a gift beyond measure. Thank you for sharing so abundantly, openly and honestly with your community these intimate life lessons. Your presence in our lives these past few months has been a blessing. Holding you and your family in our hearts as you discover and connect with Frannie’s energy in new ways, in your heart and soul.
    Mb and Tony

  9. What a wonderful gift from your heart to your extended community. Thank you for sharing in your ever expanding circle of love.
    Holding you in our hearts.
    Mb & Tony

  10. Hi Nancy,
    I am so sorry to hear about Franny. It is such a deep loss and I am thinking of you and your family. What a beautiful dog.

    Much Love,
    Katie and Loey

  11. I am so sorry for your terrible pain of loss. They love us as much as we adore them. I have lost a dog and watched her mate and offspring miss her as much as I did I loved what you had to say in your post then again I always do. We know the love of an animal and I am so sad you had to say goodbye HUGS

  12. I am so sorry to read this post about the loss of your beloved Franny. She obviously held a huge part of your heart and taught you so much about life and a dog’s love. Your words brought tears to my eyes, they were extremely beautiful and touching. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    1. Thank you. We miss her a great deal. We are learning to live without her here and still have not quite hit our stride. The void is palpable. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t recall one of her lessons, something that she taught me.

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