You’d think that after napping in the car during the seven hour drive to BlogPaws she’d be bouncing off the walls all night.
Luckily she got a mix of mental and physical exercise to tire her out.
Mental Exercise for Dogs
So what’s tiring out Honey’s brain at BlogPaws?
Seeing new animals—dogs, cats, and ferrets so far.
Having to control her impulses to jump up on the table and clean up everyone’s leftovers.
With the amount of stimulation she’s getting at a conference of hundreds of people, smells, and sensations, Honey could be exhausted for days.
But we need to tire her body out as well.
Physical Exercise for Dogs
Luckily, there is an outside dog park at the hotel. And it was conveniently stocked with a compelling, squeaky ball.
Ahh, yes, right there. Keep rubbing.
After sniffing and meeting and greeting, Honey was happy to spend a few minutes retrieving the ball. She stretched her legs. And she even stretched her brain a little since I’m a bad enough thrower that once the ball ended up in a tree and once just outside the fence.
I bet today she’ll even meet a few pups willing to play chase in the bark park with her.
Balanced Dog, Balanced People
Honey will be much happier if I balance the mental excitement with physical activity. And I’ll be happier if I remember the same thing for myself.
The worst thing I could do is to try to balance a 90 minute lecture on SEO with 90 minutes chatting with friends while eating cheesecake.
Somehow I don’t think Honey will let me sit still for too long.
Life wouldn’t be much fun without fantasies. But what does it take to make a fantasy come true?
Ask the naked man on the beach.
An Island Dream
Tom Neale wanted to live alone on a South Seas island. Well, not entirely alone. He did take two cats with him for company.
He wrote about two of his extended stays on the island of Suvarov (now commonly called Suwarrow) in the Cook Island archipelago. Check out my review of An Island to Oneself (this is an affiliate link) at A Traveler’s Library.
Not Tom Neale’s view but one very much like it.
Neale spent years learning the skills he’d need to make is his island fantasy come true. He worked hard. He sacrificed everything to his goal.
So what does this cat-lover on an island have to tell us about dogs?
Let’s look at some common dog fantasies first and then I’ll tell you.
People come up to me all the time and share their doggy fantasies.
When I’m walking a foster puppy, they tell me how they’d love to get a puppy, a sweet, fuzzy thing to cuddle. Or they mention how nice it would be to have a dog who wasn’t messed up by someone else’s training mistakes.
When they spot Honey on her best behavior, they tell me how nice it must be to have a pure bred dog where you know exactly what you’re getting.
And sometimes they tell me they can’t wait until they buy a house or find a pet-friendly apartment so they can get a dog of their own.
I wonder how Tom Neale, who made his fantasy come true, would tell these people who want fantasy dogs.
Talking Back to Dog Fantasies
Neale’s fantasy spoke to many people. Like puppy lovers, they imagined a life of bliss—sitting on the beach drinking coconut water—without the work to sustain it.
Beautiful but deadly? Are you kidding me?
Puppies are like deserted beaches, alluring from a distance but more challenging up close. Where a tropical beach brings biting crabs and sun poisoning, puppies are sharp teeth attached to a bladder that needs emptying every fifteen minutes.
See? Beautiful but deadly.
As for getting just what you expect, life offers no guarantees. I learned that every Golden Retriever isn’t the same when I discovered Honey doesn’t like to swim.
Tom Neale prepared himself well for the winter storms that would buffet his island. And yet he was still surprised to find that the coral dock he spent six months repairing was destroyed after one storm.
Knowing what to expect still leaves plenty of room for the unexpected.
And finally, people who are waiting until they can have a dog could learn a lot from Mr. Neale.
In decades working aboard merchant ships, Neale took every opportunity to learn new skills. Once he knew he would be settling on his island alone, he made lists, gathered materials, and planned his work.
There’s no reason a dog lover can’t prepare for having a dog years in advance. Volunteering at the local shelter, reading training books, and talking to other dog people would be excellent preparation to adopt a dog.
Making Fantasy Come True
Fantasies are fun. I personally believe most of them should stay fantasies.
But if you’re planning to make a fantasy come true, whether it has to do with dogs, deserted islands, or whatever, take a lesson from Tom Neale:
Be ready to work hard to make your fantasy a reality. And expect that both the pain and the joy will be greater than anything you could imagine.
Your Turn: Have you ever fantasized about living on a tropical island with only your pets for company? Have you worked to make one of your fantasies come true?
Disclaimer: The link to Mr. Neale’s books takes you to Amazon. If you order this or any other item through this link, I will earn a few cents to put toward hosting costs but it won’t cost you any more. Thanks for your support.
I’m quite comfortable in my little hole. I can see everything from here.
We only pay attention to a small part of what’s in front of us. For some of us, it’s a very small part.
We focus on what’s important to us and filter out what’s not.
So what are you focusing on when you walk your dog? And what do you filter out?
Things Dogs Find Scary
I’ve spent years of my life scanning the streets ahead and behind for things that would freak my dogs out—mostly other dogs.
Over the nearly two decades I lived with reactive Agatha, Christie, and Shadow I became a champion at spotting dogs in the area.
From blocks away I could tell a dog from a child or even a shopping bag.
I heard tags jingling from a collar despite nearby sirens, trolleys, and blaring music.
Even when the dog was silent and hidden around the corner, my spider senses began to tingle as I instinctively crossed the street.
I saved my dogs and myself from noisy and uncomfortable encounters. But I missed a lot on our walks.
I remember walking with someone outraged by people who didn’t clean up after their dogs.
She could spot dog poop at twenty paces in high grass.
It was her hobby: poop spotting followed by sputtering, righteous indignation.
But with her eyes always scanning the path for poop, she never noticed anything else.
New Dog Friends
Now that I’m living with a dog who isn’t upset by other dogs, I look for them joyfully.
I still watch carefully for dog body language. Not because Honey will react badly. But because I don’t want to bring her too close to a dog who doesn’t feel comfortable with dogs he doesn’t know.
Now I’m able to notice how well our new neighbor is training her corgis not to bark insanely every time we walk by. I can admire the frisbee-playing border collies who has eyes for nothing but his favorite toy. And I can see the frisky dog down the way who is hoping for an invitation to play with Honey.
No, I’d rather go this way.
Look for Something New with Your Dog
Spring has finally come to the north. It gives me a big incentive to focus on more when I’m walking Honey.
Maybe I can open up my filters a bit to notice more things: cats, flowers, birds, people. Or maybe I’ll see more if I pay attention to what catches Honey’s eye (or nose) on a walk.
Just what (or who) is hiding in the holly bushes two doors down? Why does Honey decide to walk this way and not that way? And how does she always know when the crossing guard with treats in his pocket is on duty without having a watch?
Let Something New In
Even if your dog is fearful or reactive, your brain is powerful enough to see something new on a walk. Maybe you can find something new to look for while keeping your dog safe.
And if you have a happy-go-lucky pup, what’s holding you back? There’s a whole world just waiting for us to see it.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go look at the world. With my dog.
Your Turn: What are you most likely to be looking for when you’re walking your dog?
Don’t blame me. Her ears are so big they just keep ending up in my mouth.
Imagine you’ve been in a serious car accident. You’re scared, in pain, and trapped. The fire rescue worker arrives and the first thing he asks you is, “So, were you going a little fast? Maybe changing your radio station? Had a little too much to drink?”
Then why, when a person is bitten by a dog, do the recriminations and fault-finding happen before anyone expresses concern for the person with the injury?
Blame the Victim, Save the Dog?
I recently read a short blog post urging dog lovers to unite to save the life of a dog who bit someone in his own yard. The article was so short it omitted that the bite victim needed 200 stitches and that she was not trespassing, as widely assumed by commenters, but a friend of a child in the family.
But of course, it didn’t take much to start a fury of dog lovers to abuse the bite victim for causing her own injuries.
Do I believe that people who misunderstand dogs can act in ways to encourage a bite? Of course. But cursing at a child online does nothing to rescue a dog from death or to prevent future bites.
The Problem of Dog Bites
Dog bites are serious. Dog owners can be jailed for failing to prevent a bite. And the biting dog might be killed.
But first, express concern for the person who was bitten. They are in pain. They may fear dogs for the rest of their lives.
And even if they did something that led to the bite, they’re no different from any of us who have done stupid things while managing not to pay the price we deserve for our stupidity.
Showing concern for a person who has been bitten in no way means you care less for the dog. And reaching out to a bite victim may ultimately help the biting dog in the end.
Apologize for No Harm Done
While ruminating on this bite story all week, I had an interesting experience myself yesterday.
All of a sudden I saw big, happy dog with his leash dragging nose-to-nose with Honey. A few seconds his person caught up with him in a panic saying, “Don’t worry. He’s not aggressive.” There was no harm done and I told him so.
What I didn’t realize at first was that on his rush to greet Honey and Sally, the dog had knocked over a girl walking with her friend. She was crying, had scrapes on her elbows, and was holding the small of her back. The dog person did eventually go back to check on her. But he spent less time seeing if she was all right than he did reassuring me his dog was no threat to mine.
Sometimes the foster mom calls me the Puppy Teeth of Death. She’s not going to sue me, is she?
Maybe it’s part of living in a litigious society.
People are afraid to apologize or express concern when they’re responsible for someone’s injury because they don’t want it to work against them in court.
You were right. Sally is the right name for our new foster.
It slips right off the tongue and just sounds right. Plus, every time I carry her down the stairs to pee outside I get to sing Robert Palmer (Am I right that only my British friends in their 40s got the reference? I love having a puppy with her own theme song.).
So how do you guarantee that every time you name a dog you’ll pick a winner?
Honey: Why does everyone keep singing “Ebony and Ivory” to us? Sally: I really blend into these cushions. I’m just glad I didn’t wear my muu muu today.
A Few Simple Rules for Naming a Dog
Don’t be cute.
Just a little advice from someone who named her first dogs Agatha and Christie. I swear I scarred Agatha for life just by giving her such a name.
If you insist on being cute, make sure everyone gets the joke.
A dachshund named Killer? Everyone gets it and most people laugh.
But Agatha and Christie rang few bells on my West Philadelphia block. For years, my dogs were commonly known as “Africa” and Christie.
Think about what the name will sound like when you call it out in public.
I’ve received some unwanted attention on the street after saying, “Oh Honey.” I’m just glad I didn’t go with my first name, “Sweetie Love Balls.”
Be sure it doesn’t sound too similar to important training cues.
That’s why Spit (sit), Kay (stay), Bum (come), and Jay Fred (play dead) are terrible names for a dog.
Choose a name that fits your dog’s personality.
Actually, we were thinking Honey might be a Stella. But once we met her, it was obvious she would never grow into the name. She was Honey all the way.
On second thought, forget all these rules.
After all, you’ll never call your dog by her name. Honey is also H-Boo, Sweetie, CutiePatootie, Lil Luv Pup, Best Dog Ever, and Fuzzy Butt.
Your Turn: How do you choose your dogs names? And have you ever made a mistake?
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video must be worth a million.
Why would anyone want to take a dog sailing?
Perhaps the Carton family can explain better than I can. They shot some lovely footage of last summer’s trip exploring Italy’s volcanic islands north of Sicily. The youngest crew member was Jackie, a nine week old Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever.
Get ready to squee.
And pay attention at 3:49 when the family is visited by every sailor’s favorite guest.
But one seems to be sticking. My husband has been calling the puppy “Sally” all night.
Her new family will probably change it. But after the Pasta Batman incident, Tompkins County SPCA staff and volunteers have learned not to be too attached to the names we give our temporary charges.
So send a warm welcome to Sally. She’ll be with us just long enough for her vaccinations to take hold and she’ll be spayed and put up for adoption right before we leave for BlogPaws. I don’t think she’ll be looking for a family for long. Do you?
Your Turn: Do you see the appeal of sailing with your dog? Or would you rather stay in your own dog house?
Thank you, Marian Carton, for giving me permission to post your video here. And for sharing your family’s lovely trip with us.