The Puppiness Project – Adapt

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.

I’m a traditionalist living with two free spirits. I find routine comforting. I eat a vegetable with every meal (even back when I simply added mushrooms and peppers to a cheesesteak). I like to be at work a bit early every day. I wake up the same time whether it’s the weekend or a weekday. I always bring a hostess gift to a party.

A pop psychologist would tell me I’m trying to make up for times of instability in my childhood. She might even say I’m a bit rigid. My husband would probably agree.

Golden Retriever in Snow

Zoomies keep me from getting rigid.

My lack of spontaneity can get in the way of my being a good wife. I can’t relate to my husband’s need to respond to an ever changeable schedule that comes from deep inside him instead of the rules and order I like to follow. I resent him for not slogging away at things day after day–just to have him put me to shame when he finally does a task with more energy and creativity than I could ever bring in my daily routine.

I try to predict what my husband’s going to do next so I can work my routines around it. But he’s thoroughly unpredictable. You’d think after nearly 22 years of marriage I’d know that by now. But sometimes I’m a slow learner.

Time to look to Honey for answers. Most dog trainers tell you dogs thrive on routine. They need consistency in their daily lives.

That’s true, to a point. But I think many people misunderstand what a dog’s routines are. Sometimes Honey goes to work with one of us. Sometimes she stays home. Sometimes she’s fed from a Tug-a-Jug. Sometimes it’s a Kong Wobbler. Sometimes she travels with us. Sometimes we have a sitter come in to stay with her.

Honey’s routines are that she’s always going to have nutritious food fed to her in a fun way. If we go away, we always come home to her. That’s it.

Whether we go to the store, or kayaking, or camping Honey’s content in her routine because she’s with us.

I need to learn how to recognize the most important routines in my life–that I have a husband who loves me even if I’m not perfect, that my dog is love in a fur coat, and that none of the other routines are nearly as important.

And now for something completely different…

Adapting is a great theme for today. As I promised in my post Too Awful? Or Awful Cute?, I would start to like whatever was voted by my readers as the cutest of some puppy options that scare me. The readers have spoken. Dog pictures taken with a wide angle lens won with 57% of the vote. As of last night, they are officially on my Awful Cute list.

Fortunately, the example I found on Flickr and some linked to by Aleksandra in the  comments were already starting to win me over so it’s a painless transition. Thank you everyone who voted and commented.

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  1. Great post!
    I too like routines and predicatability, but I also have a competing urge for change.

    To balance both, I keep our routines the same but change the circumstances.

    For instance, we walk every morning, but on days off we have time to drive to a different area to hike in. Instead of doing the evening walk, we may drive downtown to do a walk and training session.

    • That’s a good way to put it–a competing urge for change.

      I do hate routine in one area–I rarely like to take the same walk twice. And when I do get a competing urge for change (see, I like it so much I used it again), it’s a very big change. Like moving to another city or changing my profession.

      Thanks for giving me some things to think about.

  2. Nice post. Both the need for routine and the follow-wherever-my-imagination-and-curiosity-leads-me-in-the-moment live not always harmoniously inside of me :-)

    • Maybe you should get some t-shirts printed up that say “follow-wherever-my-imagination-and-curiosity-leads-me-in-the-moment.” Of course you could only sell them to people with immense pecs.

  3. I like routine, but I’m not as fixed in it. I guess I also like breaks from the routine, so the weekends find us living spontaneously, and when I go on vacations, I don’t like those planned and organized affairs. I like to go and see where the action takes us. As far as routine goes with the dogs, they’re pretty flexible. Well, the Greyhounds are. Morgan seems to have an internal clock of her own. It bothers the heck out of her if we’re not all herding into the bedroom with her at 11:00 every night!

    I didn’t mean to make you cry this morning! 😉 I’ve had two different conversations with people with senior dogs this week that sort of inspired it, and one of them passed away over the weekend. I was shocked when I read his blog and a woman commented that she couldn’t stay with either one of her cats when they’d had to be put to sleep. I can’t imagine not being there for any of my pets at that time, even though I always hope it won’t come to that!

    • Well, I agree with you about unplanned vacations. That really does break me out of my routine. For instance, I’d never go on a big cruise ship. Too organized.

      Interesting that you find Morgan is more routine-oriented than Lilac, Blueberry, and Bunny.

      I just thought your post was beautiful, not necessarily too sad. Of course it’s always sad to think some day our friends will leave us but it’s just something we need to cope with. I too can’t understand not being with my pets when they pass. I feel I need to share whatever comfort I can with my dogs in their last moments.

  4. If I copied this post and put it on my blog, it would sound about right. Except for the getting to work early bit. WHEN I used to work, I was always late. Maybe because I always worked late. However, I’m always early to every other appointment. Why do you suppose our husbands are so spontaneous? Perhaps it’s just in comparison to us!

    I must say Georgia gets all upset when there’s a change in her routine. She’s completely a creature of habit.

    I am typing this in my sleep. Hope it makes sense :)

    • Or maybe our husbands are so spontaneous because they have someone feeding them, washing their laundry, paying their bills, and cleaning up after them. Oops, did I type that out loud? Maybe I’m not as serene in my acceptance as I thought.

      Interesting that Georgia likes to have her day planned out. Is that why you go to the beach so much? To keep Georgia’s routine from being disrupted? What a self-sacrificing dog mom you are. :)

      • maybe the beach IS part of her routine. how about that? bet you never thought of it, you poor snow-bound creatures!

        does your hubby read your blog much? you’re in SO much trouble, Ms Pamela :p

  5. I like structure to my day, if not necessarily routine. In the morning as I shower, I like to plan out everything I need and want to get done, down to if I am going to grab a coffee before work or not. It’s not that I can’t adapt, I just like to have a plan to set my mind at ease. Once I know what I am going to wear, it is something I can check off my mental check-list so I can use my brain for other things. I like to say it’s because my brain is just so active and full.

    My husband sounds similar to yours. He never plans anything, ever. It drives me nuts. Last Christmas we were late for a dinner party because he didn’t make plans for what time we were supposed to be there. Talk about embarrassing!

    Shiva likes her routine, knowing she will be walked at a certain time of day. But I think you are right in that dogs can adapt often better than some of us humans. As long as they are with us, they feel secure.

  6. thanks for the shout out, and for another very thoughtful post. i had never thought about the different ways to look at routine, but you’re right– i could learn a thing or two from the pooches.

  7. LOL!! I’m not strict on a routine persue, but I have my own agenda and my husband’s in just out there on a whime with everything he does. Drives me nuts!! I can’t plan simple things like dinner half of the time. So I had to bust out when you were talking about your husband. Too funny!

    I have routines with the dogs before like walking and such, but damn when I can’t do it or just don’t have the energy, they wouldn’t let up about getting to spend that time with them. So other than a few things I keep at the same time, I change it all up so they don’t have a clue. Like putting on my shoes doesn’t always mean we are going outside!

    And yes, I think dogs are more centered on being with you and that’s where their focus lies. The rest is just scenery!

    Thank you for your comment on Monday Memories. It really meant a lot to me.