Gretchen Rubin wrote in The Happiness Project about the year she spent “test-driving the wisdom of the ages, the current scientific studies, and the lessons from popular culture about how to be happy.” The Puppiness Project is my attempt to learn the same from Honey, my Golden Retriever.
Golden Retriever legend and lore
After bringing Honey home, I became initiated into the secrets of the Golden Retriever. A dog trainer told me, “At about six months their brains fall out. They don’t find them again until they turn two.” Several admirers of Honey the puppy warned me to guard my underwear as it would be a favorite chew toy throughout her life. And Honey’s breeder warned me that her mother had the Golden “stubborn streak.”
I was familiar with the antics of adolescent dogs and didn’t expect Honey to be any different. And retrievers are second only to goats for the number of swallowed underwear stories. But the “Golden stubborn streak” was new to me.
I started to search and found numerous forums and breed sites soliciting and offering advice about dealing with a Golden that just decided to become stubborn for no good reason.*
And indeed, Honey will sometimes exhibit stubbornness. I see it in her unwillingness to come inside after a walk. Or yesterday, I saw it when Honey pulled against her leash I had just attached to my beach chair by the lakeside.
Stubborn is as stubborn says
Since the only agenda yesterday was to soak up every ray of sun before the coming storms, I determined to figure out what led to Honey’s stubborn streak. And when I did so, I remembered that in our rush to get to the beach during the small fair weather window we had forgotten to walk Honey!!
Honey wasn’t being willful. She was trying to remind me that we had forgotten something really important. This wasn’t stubbornness. It was communication.
Oh, and Honey was not going to back down either–not for tug, not for lovies, not for treats. She wanted her walk.
Sometimes it’s ok to be stubborn
We’re raised to be compliant. To give in when others want their own way. It’s hard to stand up for ideals we find important. It’s even harder to stand up for ourselves.
Honey wasn’t being rude or willful or stubborn. She was just trying to tell me what she needed in the only way she knew how. And it was ok. She was right to do so. I was wrong to forget her walk.
Maybe it’s ok to stand firm. Instead of taking it as an insult, maybe I should think of stubbornness as a compliment–especially when it’s stubbornness that communicates something important.
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* After a little research I found that the search phrases “stubborn Yorkie,” “stubborn German Shepherd,” “stubborn Boxer,” and “stubborn Chihuahua” were as common as the phrase “stubborn Golden Retriever.”