A dog is much more than a pet.

They are our best friends; they are our babies, and they can also be our yoga teachers.

I remember the day I got my dog, Dixie Rose, as if it was yesterday. It is said that our dogs pick us and nothing was truer than that day when this tiny, 6-week old beagle walked timidly up to me and sat at my feet. I was 22 when I got Dixie and now 4 years later, it seems like she has been with me through it all.

Dixie Rose saw me graduate from college and saw me through a huge move to Boston. She has been with me through breakups and make-ups. She has licked my tears from my face after my brother, Storm, moved away to become a United States Marine. She lies on the floor of the bathroom with me when I am unwell. She jumps and howls in excitement when I receive good news. She keeps me warm at night and greets me excitedly every morning when I wake up and every evening when I come home from work. My “Rose” is the longest relationship I have ever had and the one I have learned the most from.

My dog teaches me patience. A short-memory span allows dogs to be totally in the moment at all times. With my endless to-do lists piling up: I always somehow find myself on the computer or buried in my phone finishing a text message. However, as Dixie’s sweet eyes look up at me, I am reminded that in that moment, I need to be with her fully and attentively. I should not be absentmindedly rubbing her belly, while multitasking 20 different things. I owe her the same pure attention and utter absorption that she gives me.

My dog teaches me patience. Dixie Rose is no Cujo nor Marley, but neither is she saintly. Yet regardless of the type of day I have had or how poorly I feel, when my dog misbehaves, I cannot just get angry. Dogs do not know any better—until they are taught. When we lash out in reaction, we are not teaching, we are merely punishing. Like every relationship, we must first breathe and find a calm space before the response and then act rather than react.

My dog has taught me unconditional love. No matter where you are in your life, rich or poor, healthy or ill, up or down, your dog will be right by your side loving you endlessly. Dixie really has been through it all with me. It is an incredible feeling to know that something loves you no matter what and it then allows us to truly and unconditionally love those around us.

The lessons we learn from our animals can be so much more powerful than any asana or shape we make with our body, and in that way, the greatest yoga teacher I have ever had is my dog.

I love you, Rose.