I was recently asked by an interviewer what I’ve learned from my dogs. Since he was referring to Dogs of Dreamtime, he was specifically asking about Kiera, Magic, and Molly.

To put into context some of what I’ve learned from my animals, it helps to know that, left to my own devices, I gravitate toward intense herding breeds. Kiera is an Australian Shepherd. Graidy is a Border Collie mix. Magic was an English Shepherd mix, who died from Lyme Disease. Molly was my deaf Australian Shepherd. They all came when they were just a few months old.

I mention this because while all dogs (really all animals) offer us lessons in unconditional love, and the joys and responsibilities of companionship, herding breeds have added a whole other layer for me. Since herding dogs thrive best when they get to live as working partners, that requires a level of commitment, training, observation, and communication skills that can take us into uncharted territory if we let it. And while herding breeds aren’t for everyone, they continue to provide me with one of the most thrilling and challenging adventures I’ve ever embarked on.

Put most simply, what I’ve learned from my dogs, interestingly enough, is how to be more fully human. Which has helped me, in turn, learn how to let my dogs be more fully dogs.