Stay Open to New Things – Good for the Dog; Good for You

One phrase pisses me off—”I hate.”

Someone once said to me, “I hate cheese.” How could a lactose-tolerant American reject a food product with thousands of varieties?

Saying “I hate” closes us off. It stops us from seeing the good in something.

I avoid saying it. And I’m glad Honey doesn’t say it either.

Honey Goes Swimming

With temperatures in the low 90s yesterday (33 C), we headed to the Ithaca Falls to cool off.

Honey the Golden Retriever wades chest deep in Fall Creek.

If this swimming is so fun, how come I don’t see your belly getting wet?

Honey and I regularly wade in the shallows. She loves getting her paws wet. But swimming? It’s not her favorite.

We head into the water. I’m carrying her favorite squeaky toy and a bag full of treats.

The bottom is rocky and uneven. Eventually, her hind end floats up while she keeps one front paw touching a rock. Honey smells the salami I’m holding out to her and she goes for it. She swims to get her treat.

Once she’s swimming, I support her belly and help her turn so she can swim back to my husband. We repeat this three or four times.

Then Honey’s done. It’s time to dry off.

Pamela swims at the base of Ithaca Falls.

See, Honey? It’s easy.

Honey’s probably never going to be a dock diver. But I’m glad she didn’t “say” I hate swimming and shut her off from that experience.

I can learn from her willingness to try new things.

Pamela and Michael Go Sailing

I’ve been hesitant to try new things.

But as I get older, I’m more likely to say “WTF.” What’s the worst thing that could happen?

I also look back and realize that some of the things I’ve done, like traveling with strangers through Europe or buying a house in a marginal neighborhood next to drug addicts, would frighten many people. So even if I haven’t bungee jumped or climbed Everest, I’m not a total coward.

I didn’t think for too long before replying to the couple looking for sailing crew.

And that’s why Mike and I will spend September sailing the Kuna Yala islands off Panama.

We’re joining a couple who have been living aboard and sailing for the past 15 years since leaving their Cape Town, South Africa home. So I’m not worried about the sailing.

But what if our hosts hate us?

A 53 foot sailboat is huge. Unless you’re living on it with someone you hate.

Luckily, the kind of people who invite strangers to sail with them are not the kind of people I expect to use the phrase “I hate.” Who could be more open to new experiences than someone who sails the world with strangers?

Stay Open

Because Honey stayed open to playing in the water, she was able to swim when the chance (and tasty enough reward) presented itself.

Honey the Golden Retriever turns her back to the Ithaca Falls.

Nah, I’m done. I don’t even want to look at the water anymore.

Because I decided 45 is not too old to learn to sail, I’m going to enjoy the experience of a lifetime. And because my husband never says “no” I’m going to share it with my best friend.

I’m glad no one in my family says “I hate.” After all, it’s good for the dog and good for us.





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  1. I’m open to skydiving, but none of my family or friends are. It’s on my bucket list, along with visiting EVERY WWII memorial in Hawaii (Pearl Harbor mostly), and the Allied cemetery in Normandy. My Dad served on the Liberty ships as a Merchant Marine Lt. Cmdr./Chief Engineer during WWII so I feel an emotional pull toward WWII memorials. Whether I’ll get to do it or not remains to be seen.

  2. wow what an experience! I’m so excited for you, and your hosts will adore you!
    I’m glad you’re not like me, I play the “what if” game….it’s quite defeating. can’t wait to hear more about your adventure.

  3. Elka has yet to swim. She seems to get alarmed when water gets chest deep, but she’s game until that point. I’d rather she do it on her own terms than be afraid, so we take it how we can get it.

  4. One thing that pisses me of is the “automatic no”. As in, “no that won’t work”. Or “no we can’t do that”. A variant of “I hate”, sort of. What a fun experience in the water. I can relate to the part about Honey and the water up to the belly. One of mine is not fond of water, and I have pictures of him wading into the dog pond at the dog park. When the water touches his belly, he holds his tail up so high it practically arches over his back. Can’t get the tail wet, you know. Lol. I should find those pictures and post them.

  5. WTG Honey! And OMG a month sailing trip … that is amazing…you are going to have the very best time and you have to post loads of photos

  6. That sounds like it will be an awesome adventure and I am sure you will all get on swimmingly (excuse the pun). We will so want a blow by blow account (not literally). Really we know it will be great. Have a marvellous Monday.
    Best wishes Molly

  7. “Hate” is one of many words my parents wouldn’t let me say and I realize now that the word does shut us off from even considering the experience of the object of hatred.

    I really admire and envy your summer sailing adventure but I’m afraid there isn’t enough Dramamine in the world for me to try that. We need to know our physical limitations.

    And you really bought a house next to druggies?

  8. You are so fortunate to have that WTF attitude – I know it’s something I need to adopt more of – the older you get, the more set in your ways you become. I’m insisting we take a good long vacation this year – not as fabulous as yours, but a vacation nonetheless!

  9. Wow, what an adventure that will be Pamela! I didn’t know going all aboard with strangers was part of the plan, but it sounds like a great plan. Staying open to new experiences is definitely key to a rich life, and “I hate” has very little utility, that I can see.

  10. There isn’t a lot of dog-friendly deep water around here. Silas is pretty happy to wade, but I don’t think he’d like to swim.

    Good luck on your sailing adventure!

  11. I love that open-minded, willing-to-try attitude! I’m trying to approach more things in my life like that, and your upcoming adventure is a HUGE inspiration! Although, if I’m being truly honest, I do use the word hate for one thing and one thing only. Bananas. I hate them. I really do. :)

  12. Mom always says that it is a miracle she is still alive with all the crazy things she did when she was younger…and she gets upset with me for trivial matters like not sitting when told, sheesh! She has also said that her sense off adventure has significantly decreased with age and she would never do so many things she did before. There aren’t many situations where she says “I hate”, usually it is “I can’t stand…”. Good point you made here.

  13. Swimming here, so far, is in the kiddy pool – but boy, is it enjoyed! Snowman (GP), Angel (tweenie Dachshund), Sheba (Redbone mix), Seymour (RIP tweenie Dachshund), all enjoy the water – which I need to clean more often. HA.
    I agree with “hate” “no” and “never.” My life isn’t over. It’s not glamorous, but it’s being lived with different things yet to do – getting back on a horse, for sure :). Not afraid, just expensive.

  14. I love your philosophies of life. And I really enjoy reading about all your adventures. Honey is a lucky girl! Not saying I don’t have my share of adventures! Just yours are different and fun to enjoy vicariously. Will be looking forward to the sailing stories! Does Honey get to go?

    • The reason I contacted the people we’ll be sailing with originally is because they used to sail with their dog. If the situation was right, I was hoping Honey could go with us.

      Unfortunately, we’ll be taking 5 flights to meet them in Panama and I wouldn’t subject any dog to that. I’m not sure how well I’ll hold up. :)

      Honey will be sleeping in her own bed at home.

  15. I hate and no are phrases that should definitely be used in moderation!

  16. And besides, you are teaching her to be more comfortable in the water, which may help keep her from drowning someday. When I got Phoebe as a puppy, she had been taught to swim in the breeders pool with all the other dogs. She was taught with obstacle courses to keep looking for a way out.
    I hadn’t had her home for a week when she fell into the fish pond. She couldn’t get out. The other dogs frantic barking alerted me to the fact she was in the pond. She had been in there possibly from 5 to 10 minutes, and it was very cold. She was so close to hypothermia, my husband had to put her little head into his mouth and blow warm air into her lungs. She survived because she had been taught to keep looking for a way out of the water.
    Poor little thing was exhausted from paddling around and just about ready to go under when I hauled her out. Beyond the fact of my personal mortification at my carelessness with a ten week puppy, I was grateful to her breeder for taking such care to teach her and her litter ages an important lesson in perseverance!

    • That’s fabulous that your breeder added swimming to their socialization. It shows how wonderful a serious hobby breeder can be.

      Unfortunately, Honey was born in January. So no swimming for her until she was quite a bit older. :)

      But I appreciate the lesson of teaching Honey how to help herself if she gets in over her head. It’s definitely something we’ll keep working on.

  17. Does Honey enjoy boating? Have a wonderful time!

  18. Honey, you’re a true inspiration :) I often say “I hate” and limit my life experiences as a result. This is a great post to remind me to stay open to what life might bring.

  19. Beryl isn’t a huge fan of water. When we used to go to the river a lot she kind of learnt to swim by fetching another dogs ball across the river and back again. There was only one place where it was deep enough for her paws to come off the ground for a couple of dog paddle strokes. Once at the beach she did run flat tack into a deep hole and managed to swim out of it without panicking. Greyhounds generally aren’t good at swimming anyway due to having very low body fat but I did want her to be comfortable enough in the water to not panic if something did go awry.

    What is Honey going to be doing while you and Mike are having the adventure of a lifetime sailing the Kuna Yala Islands? Man, it looks like heaven on earth, you’re starting at the top, lol! I think you’re going to need an underwater camera :)

    • Good for Beryl the swimming greyhound!

      Honey will be waiting for us at home. My friend (and one of Honey’s favorite people ever) will be staying with her the entire month.

      I think Honey is as happy and comfortable with Diana as she is with us. I know we’re leaving her in good hands and don’t think Honey will pine for us at all. Which would make me very happy if it didn’t also make me a little sad. :)

  20. I’m guilty. I use that phrase, I guess I should do better with choosing my words. :-)

    I’m wondering….how will you blog while on that sailboat?

    • You mean how will I keep up with two blogs and a third I contribute to? Yeah, I’m wondering that myself. :)

      I’m planning out posts now for the month. And I’m hoping I can swing a barter deal with someone to become a temporary administrator who will approve comments and keep a watchful eye just in case.

  21. Cali was not a fan of swimming, but she enjoyed laying down in the shallow water :) I’m so excited to hear all about your sailing adventure! Have fun!

  22. You go girl!

  23. Sounds like you have an adventure of a lifetime coming up! Does Honey get to go too?

  24. I wish I hated cheese. It would be so good for my waistline. :-)

    It’s great that Honey is getting more accustomed to water. We are working on that same thing with Meadow. Right now she will only wade in, but one day she very well might decide to take a swim.

    I think it’s awesome that you are doing this sailing thing, and I give you so much credit for following your dreams!

  25. What an incredible experience! I’m so excited for you! Is Honey going with you? I hope you have a great trip!