Golden Retriever Weirdness
I had never lived with a swimming dog before. When Honey came home with us, I could hardly wait for the weather to warm up so we could see her in action.
I just knew she’d love the water. Even as a little puppy, she’d swerve out of her way to walk through a puddle.
By the time summer came, Honey was nearly five months old. She waded into the lake until the tops of her feet were wet. Then she stopped.
Honey would go no farther no matter how we coaxed. This was no swimming dog. This was a weird dog.
If Fox News knew the town of Ithaca existed, they’d say it was filled with smug, granola-eating, vegetarian eco-Nazis. I should fit right in. But somehow I feel like a misfit here.
Sure, both my husband and I have had strangers come up to us when we’re riding our bikes in the winter to tell us we’re heroes. But I don’t want admiring environmentalists to worship me. I want them to join me.
And everyone talked a good game about supporting a new family owned grocery store in the downtown. But the grocery store is struggling to survive. Most people would rather drive across town to buy their favorite brand of non-GMO sandwich cookie than walk to buy fresh, local produce from a store in their own neighborhood.
Our community has plans for dozens of miles of bike trails in recreational areas. But the poor condition of the city streets makes a ride over them in my skinny-tire bike with nothing but a thin bit of padding between my nether-lands and the pot holes uncomfortable at best. And dangerous at worst.
We’ve gotten so good at generating less trash that when we do put a bag out every few months, the collectors fail to pick it up in the dark. They’re not used to looking for trash in front of our house.
And don’t get me started on the local car share program that chides us for not having a cell phone. You’d think it would occur to someone that if owning a car is bad for the environment, so is owning a cell phone.
Do I sound bitter and self-pitying? You betcha. Until I realized something.
The reason I don’t identify with the local eco-culture (and I’m not talking about everyone; just the prevalent “If I buy a Prius I’m saving the environment” crowd), is because I’m not an environmentalist. Not really.
The reason I hang my laundry on a clothes line, walk or ride my bike to buy groceries, or use rags to clean puppy accidents instead of paper towels is not because I’m a 21st century eco-warrior. It’s because I’m an early 20th century, urban grandma.
I should have realized it when my neighbor pointed out that her elderly Italian mother admired me for hanging laundry—even the rags. (I never got a chance to tell my fan that those “rags” were probably our clothes.)
And yes, I do have one of those wheeled shopping carts to bring groceries home. I also grow a few vegetables in my front yard, like a Victory Garden. I take the old buttons off clothing that’s being cut into rags so I have them if a lose one on another shirt.
I’m married to a grandpa too. Mike inherited from his grandfather the ability to save all kinds of little things he’ll need later. He saves old plugs, pieces of wire, string, lumber, etc. And when we need it, he has an amazing ability to scrounge up a home repair solution using items around the house.
It’s time for me to recognize that I’m out of time, out of step, and need to own my weirdness. It will make me much happier.
Honey and I Own Our Weirdness
I’ve worked to make Honey a swimmer.
I’ve coaxed her out into deeper water with liverwurst. I’ve taken her to play with dogs who love to swim. I’ve gone swimming myself, hoping she’d join me on her own.
It ain’t happening. Honey has embraced her inner weirdness. She a non-swimming retriever.
I’m okay with that. I’ve confirmed for myself that Honey can swim, if she has to. She’s not going to sink to the bottom if she falls off a dock because she can’t paddle to safety.
She’s happy frolicking in the water, as long as it doesn’t get deeper than her chest.
I’m happier when I recognize that although some of my outward actions make me look like one kind of person, I’m actually an old-fashioned, frugal, grandma at heart. Recognizing that, I feel less “betrayed” by people who share my values but make different life choices.
Honey owns her weirdness every time she wades without swimming. It’s time for me to own mine. After all, if it’s good for the dog, it’s probably good for me.
Your Turn: Are you a misfit? Is your dog? Have either of you “owned” your weirdness?