Still Learning After All These Years

Honey the Golden Retriever Puppy

They tell me I have a lot to learn. I'd better start studying.




Time passes so quickly. It seems like just yesterday we were teaching Honey to potty outdoors and how to walk  on a leash.

Now she’s a well-mannered young lady (well, most of the time) who has learned so many things.

And I’ve learned a few things myself. Here’s a partial list of the things I now know about dogs that I didn’t know twenty years ago:

  • Not every dog likes other dogs.
  • If a dog doesn’t follow, try making crazy sounds and jumping around like a fool.
  • A dog who is licking her lips is a dog showing stress.
  • If you want to make a dog comfortable with you, turn your eyes and head to the side.
  • There is a breed of dog that looks a lot like a Golden Retriever called a Hovawart.

Well, I could go on for a long time but summer is coming and I want to make sure I get to the beach.

I’m reminding myself of how much I’ve learned so I don’t despair of learning new things. I’ve set some big tasks for myself and I have a lot to learn. So I’m encouraged to remember that things that were really alien to me years ago are now second nature.

And things that are strange to me now (“Sloops may find that they sail faster toward Broad Reach, but will still develop a very good speed when heading toward Broad Beam Reach…” or “I proposed a PHP-like syntax for CSS…”) will be second nature to me soon.

After all, if Honey can learn to “high five,” surely I can learn sailing and HTML.

Golden Retriever Honey on the Couch

Look how fast I learned how to stake out a good spot on the couch.


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  1. Animals are amazing teachers, aren’t they? Not only do they teach us to enjoy life, they teach us to have interest in the small details and facts, like Hovawarts – which by the way also can come in solid black and a really pretty black and tan!


    • Wow, Sam! Since I only know about Hovawarts from reading Kenzo the Hovawart’s blog, I had no idea they came in other colors. You have definitely piqued my curiosity.

  2. You’ve both come a long way! :) I think the cool thing about the legacy our dogs leave with us is that they better equip us for the next dog who will come along.

    • That is so true! In my case, having “difficult” dogs drove me to learn more.

      And the other amazing thing is how much more there is to know now. “Positive training” was just starting to get attention twenty years ago. We’ve all come a long way.

  3. I feel the same way, my past puppies have taught me a lot, and just when I think I know it “all”, Rob comes along and shows me I don’t! LOL.

    Rob too has learned how to find a good spot on the couch with ease. Too bad he doesn’t get to keep it!

    • It’s neat to read about the differences between Guide Dogs. I think it’s easy to think they come perfect right out of the box and forget all the training. But it’s also neat to see how different each personality can be despite all the careful breeding and training. No one dog is every going to be just like another one.

      Poor Rob. It’s hard being a professional dog, isn’t it? You don’t get all the creature comforts of the amateur, couchwarming pup. :)

  4. Isn’t it amazing the things we learn from our dogs and they are an excellent reminder letting us look back when things were fresh and new. Good luck on sailing and HTML, two things I have yet to know myself. :)

    • And of course, so much of the learning comes from necessity. Believe me, just a few times coming back from a walk with bloody hands caused by the leash attached to the pulling dog drove me to read everything I could about teaching loose-leash walking. 😉

      As for HTML, I’m just trying to get familiar with it, not become an expert. But sailing–well, let’s hope. If you don’t know HTML, you just get a messy website. But if you don’t know sailing (and you try to do it) you could drown or get eaten by sharks. :)

  5. It’s lovely to see how Honey has changed from a pup into a lovely lady. She was really cute as a pup! Thanks for sharing some of your knowledge, I have discovered some of them myself through my dog. For example, George is one of those dogs who doesn’t like all other dogs. In actual fact, there are only a few that he really likes. I didn’t know about Hovawart dogs. I’ll have to go and read more about them when I get the chance.

  6. That is such an excellent way of looking at it! Instead of getting frustrated because I don’t understand something, I should excited for the opportunity to learn something new. Every day, every month, I learn just a little more. Sometimes every hour, when it comes to my dog. 😛

    This morning I learned Shiva will still lunge at people if I am not paying attention. Especially if they are carrying open compost bins.

    • Kristine, you should definitely make a list for yourself of all the new things you’ve learned in the past two years with Shiva. I bet you’d really impress yourself to see the list.

      I’m sorry Shiva demonstrated her powerful lunge. On the other hand, people who have to pay attention to their dogs out in public have much more meaningful relationships with them then the people who chat on their cell phone while walking their dogs. :)

  7. Wow! Sailing and HTML. You are ambitious. And your Honey, is well, a honey of a dog. :-)

    • I know Honey’s not too crazy about the HTML; it just means more time in front of the computer. I’m hoping she likes sailing a lot better. Glad we got her out in a kayak last year to work her way up….

  8. When I was in high school, my brother taught me to sail on a local lake that rented little Sunfish sailboats. I watched him a couple times and then he put my sister and me out on our own. After a few minutes, I fell out. He picked me up and put me back in my boat, and I fell out. About six hours and several falls later, I could sail that Sunfish, darn it. So my advice is to stay out of shark-infested waters, cause you’re gonna fall out.

    Your post makes me think about all the “first dogs” out there – especially the ones whose humans (like me) didn’t grow up with pet dogs. “Guinea pigs,” if you will. God bless them for being such devoted teachers!

  9. I love the way you’re looking at things! I recently have decided to tackle running and gardening – I think that will be my version of sailing and HTML this year. I am not good at either, but I’m ready to learn!