Here's What My Dog Just Taught Me About Life - Chris McCombs
Chris McCombs

Here’s What My Dog Just Taught Me About Life


Zoe and Olive hatching some kind of plan

My 5-month-old lab puppy Olive just taught me a powerful lesson about life….

When Olive was about 2 and 3 months old, we crate trained her—meaning, we put her in a little cage and every few hours would take her out to go potty and play some tug-of-war and fetch.

This helped her learn to control her bladder and not turn my carpet into something that looked like Jackson Pollock had painted with wide swaths of urine and dog turd.

At first, she would work like crazy to get out—feverishly trying to dig through the cage’s door with her paws as if she hadn’t been fed in three days and we were dangling a nice fat rib eye steak just outside the little door.

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 5.57.19 PM-w800-h600Olive soon learned that no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t get the door open and escape the confinement of the tiny cage without one of us actually letting her out.

Fortunately, these days she’s all done with potty training and hasn’t had an accident on the floor in about a month, so we let her have free run of the house. (Which I love BTW, though I think the rest of the family sees her as a fluffy terrorist —cute, but still a legitimate terrorist.)

Luckily, her only victims have been our shoes, cords, children’s toys, combs, and books she’s chewed to shreds.

Now, once in a while my 15-month-old daughter Zoe likes to grab Olive by the ear or neck, guide her into her cage, and close the door behind her.

Since Zoe doesn’t know how to actually lock the cage door, she just pushes it closed—but it doesn’t lock and could be easily opened from the inside with even the smallest of pushes.

Now, Olive doesn’t know it isn’t locked, she just has the BELIEF that it’s locked, so she doesn’t even try to get out, even though she can’t stand being in that cage. Olive will sit in that cage for hours, not knowing that if she just pushed on the door, she could easily get out and and taste sweet freedom once again…along with another one of my sneakers and the stuffing from inside a few of my innocent little daughter’s teddy bears.

49B8178D-0932-409D-8C9F-254D19E0CC8EIt’s just like with the elephants in Southeast Asia—a place where elephants are still used as a way of getting around by the locals. (How awesome would it be to come rolling up on an elephant?)

Tourists trip out over how the elephant handlers use thin ropes tied to tiny little sticks in the ground to make the elephants stay put.

This is because when the elephants were young, their handlers would tie ’em to big tree trunks with thick ropes. The baby elephants would try to get away, pulling and tugging until they wore themselves out.

They’d finally realize they couldn’t get away when they were tied up like this.

Now, as the elephants grow bigger, the handlers decrease the size of the ropes and sticks they use. And since the elephants still think they can’t get away, they don’t even try. Even though they could EASILY walk away and pull the stick right out of the ground if they just gave it .01% of their strength.

jail-w800-h600One of the largest and strongest animals on the planet, constrained by a tiny little stick and rope.

Our beliefs are just like these sticks and ropes, and like the cage door Olive doesn’t know she could easily open if she just made even the slightest attempt.

I know I’m personally holding onto to all kinds of beliefs that aren’t serving me, my journey, or the people in my life one bit. That’s why I do my best to challenge these beliefs doing things like walking through the things I fear, looking at self-doubt as a signpost that I’m on the right path, and questioning my thoughts as often as I can. (Byron Katie’s 4 questions have helped me a ton with this)

My question to you is…

What beliefs are holding you back?

And what are you going to do about it?

Let’s pull the stick from the ground, push open the cage door, and expand the living shit out of what’s possible. What’s possible is far greater than what we believe is possible.

If you liked this post, subscribe to this blog and I’ll be sending you more cool blog posts just like this one. Just put your email in here…

Talk soon,

Big Chris (=

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Leave a Comment:

Wheeler says March 21, 2014


This is awesome man. I’m starting to become AWARE that my beliefs of what is possible in my life as well as what is “good” or “bad” has limited me in so many ways and restrained my true potential like a man with a fucking ball and chain locked to his leg. I dig the shit out of every post I’ve read of yours. Thank you, man.

Actually when I found your stuff I was sitting in my little cubicle (my cage) googling on my phone “how to feel fucking better”. I was doing this because I was sitting there, depressed out of my mind because of where my life was at. A lot of the depression had to do with the fact that I was withdrawing off of pain meds because I decided to stop cold turkey. The rest was because of how truly unhappy am I from not doing something I LOVE for a living. Add to that the physical hell I was going through from the withdraw and it made one miserable mother fucker. The first blog post I found of yours was 25 Ways to Feel Fucking Awesome. Dude I swear to you immediately a felt a change in me just from reading that post. A little fire began to grow inside of me that I believe was HOPE. I’ve read every one of your posts since then and have found SO MUCH insight, hope, belief, peace, happiness and a fucking burning desire to make my life what I want and need it to be. Also, you’ve shown me so many ways to take action and make it happen. For that I am eternally grateful. You’re making a difference man. You really are. I hope you KNOW it.

God bless… Wheeler

    Karim says March 21, 2014

    Dude, I feel the same way.. seriously… Chris’s posts never fail to light a fire up under my ass and get me doing what I gotta do to be where I really want to be 😉

      Chris McCombs says March 24, 2014


      Jess says May 4, 2016

      Whoa, this one just blew my mind wide open.
      Agree with Wheeler & Karim.

    Chris McCombs says March 24, 2014

    hey right on wheeler, thanks for letting me know this and your kind words

    and I know all about kicking pain meds.. ouch, fortunately gets better quick, unless it’s methadone, the benzos can take a while too

    those withdrawals are there for a reason ya know… man, I hope to never have to go through that shit again and hope you don’t either, thanks again wheeler

    Janeen says July 25, 2014

    Dang, I am right there with you Wheeler! I stumbled upon this site when I googled “what is a badass” (I took a quiz and I am 88% badass so I thought I should find out if that is a good or bad thing).

    From that post I then found this post and was promptly blow away like you were. I too am unhappy with my job and at the tail end of withdrawl from prescription meds. In addition to dealing with some long term health issues (finally got a diagnosis so that’s cool). So all the is making me one angry motherfucker, lol.

    I will follow your lead and read more posts on this site. So far I like what I have been reading.

    Mr. McCombs, I will google you to find out some background. So far you seem like you are living your life with your eyes wide open…along with your arms and your heart. I look forward to reading more of your thoughts.

    I wish you both much peace and happiness.

      Wheeler says March 12, 2015


      I am so damn sorry that I am just now responding to this message that you left MANY months ago. Honestly, when Big Chris hadn’t posted anything new for a while, I stopped checking out his blog. Mostly because I had already read all the older posts MANY, MANY times. Thank you so much. You have no idea how much I appreciate your wishes of peace and happiness for me… and Chris.

      Anyway, I sincerely hope you see this message and that it finds you having conquered the shit out of your withdrawals and that you’re managing your medical condition well. I hope you’re healthy, happy, having a blast in life and living it to the fullest! I’ve began blogging myself (with a hell of a lot of inspiration from Big Chris) so hopefully you can look me up and check it out.

      God Bless, Janeen…

      Michael Wheeler

Robert says March 21, 2014

Great story! I’m guilty of doing the same thing. After years and years of dead-end jobs where I was doing what I thought I was supposed to do and hating every minute of it, and of course never keeping many jobs for very long, I finally relaxed and let my mind open. Once that door was open, the idea of the kind of job I’d really like came to me. After that, I dared think that I’d really like to do it, and I’d think about it, not knowing how or if it would happen. Then things started to come together and very quickly I got the very type of job I wanted working at the type of place I wanted to work at. Four days into the new job and I can’t believe it’s actually happening. The money’s good, the people are friendly and helpful and obviously love what they’re doing. And I guess I’m here because I pushed that door open and let myself out of the mental cage I had been keeping myself in all my life!

Thanks Chris.

    Chris McCombs says March 24, 2014

    Hellyeah! right on Robert

Karim says March 21, 2014

Awesome man, and I completely agree! It’s a very simple idea, but more powerful that we know :).
Our entire lives we are conditioned that there is only one way to live our lives (school, college, job, buy a house, get married) so when the opportunity comes for us to BREAK FREE and make magic happen, we are barely able to notice :).

    Chris McCombs says March 24, 2014

    yeah Karim, crazy just how conditioned we are, always good to break free from another box, usually we end up in a box again, but hopefully a bigger one

AJ Mihrzad says March 21, 2014

Excellent post. I also use the 4 questions “Loving what is” was a game changer!

    Chris McCombs says March 24, 2014

    hey thanks AJ

    yeah man, Byron Katie is one bad mofo of a woman

Renaldo says March 21, 2014

Amazing Article!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Especially the part concerning the elephants

    Chris McCombs says March 24, 2014

    hey thanks Renaldo

Alexander says March 22, 2014

Cute stuff, enjoy.

    Chris McCombs says March 24, 2014

    thanks Alexander

phil ferrante says March 22, 2014

I love the elephant metaphor. I’ve heard it before but it is always a great reminder. Nice writeup!

    Chris McCombs says March 24, 2014

    yeah, always good to be reminded.

Yavor says March 23, 2014

As a black lab owner, I approve of this message 🙂 Good stuff Chris!

    Chris McCombs says March 24, 2014

    Black labs rule

Michelle says March 25, 2014

Hey Chris – love your posts and your emails – always something great in them.

Isn’t it interesting that when we go back to basics and look at what’s happening around us, our best life lessons come from those who haven’t been “trained” into what’s expected or “normal” My dog is also a great teacher about how to treat people, explore the world, and build great friendships – look at the world through the eyes of your children and your pets and challenge your expectations of yourself.

Thanks again

John Reynado says March 30, 2014

Hey Chris, I guess everyone has their own sticks and cage doors in their life, like myself. I have been struggling with internet marketing. I have had lots of failures, but I know that one day I will be able to break free from the failure and have the success to be able to attain freedom.

Jeffery King says April 9, 2014

I’m an actor out in LA and this shit just blew my mind. Thanks for writing some of the dopest blogs I’ve read.

Jay says June 24, 2014

Awesome Post, I just stumbled upon this site recently looking for ways to improve myself both physically and mentally, and I’ve already learned so much and tweaked what I’ve had to. This post really helped me to realize how conditioned I really was to just sit down, shut up, and do what I was told by my superiors. I’m done being a stand in line conformist, I’m gonna start doing shit for me, and take of those around me who’ve done the same when I was almost down and out.

Andy says August 16, 2014

Good post! I believe it was the Eagles who sang “so often times it happens that we live our life in chains and we never even knew we had the key”.

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