The Puppiness Project – Choose Your Friends Wisely

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.

Honey picks her friends well.

Puppy and Golden Retriever on the couch

Ok, so you don't want to be my BFF. But I'm happy to share the couch with you.

Honey is a lovely hostess. She has welcomed each foster puppy who has come to our home with enthusiasm. But our latest, Eddie, wasn’t too interested in her friendly overtures.

They’d occasionally touch noses. But generally, Eddie wanted human attention, not Honey’s.

I was very proud of Honey. She’d play bow and frolic and flirt. But once it became obvious to her that Eddie wasn’t interested, she saved her efforts. She became content to sit gently by his side without begging for his attention.

The right level of friendship.

As an extrovert, like Honey, I want everyone to be my friend. When I encounter a toxic person, that trait causes me lots of trouble.

But even perfectly nice people can throw me off balance.

One friend is cool and interesting. But this friend also has a volatile temper. And I’m very sensitive to bad moods. Although I enjoy this friend on a good day, I have been emotionally devastated when I found myself the subject of a random tirade.

Another friend is also smart and witty. But I feel like the relationship is unbalanced. It feels like I give a lot but don’t feel very encouraged by my friend in the same way I try to offer support.

I benefit from both these friendships. But I need to learn not to chase so hard after the affection of people who, by their actions, are less interested in mine. If, after play bowing a few times, I don’t feel my friendship is reciprocated in a way that enriches my life, I’ll touch noses and just sit by their side.

Just like Honey.
Monday Mischief Blog Hop

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  1. I’m an introvert – much better with horses, dogs and cats than people. I have learned to be careful to whom I bare my soul; I, too, have a friend who more wants to talk to me but not hear my life – and that’s ok; I like her and knowing her (my?) limitations, I keep my life to myself with her, touching only on the superficial. Another friend, now long distance, I can bare all and feel completely heard – even if we haven’t seen each other in years.
    Several years ago, I struggled with a co-worker; she bugged me. One day, in an epiphany, I realized we simply had different styles of communication; that realization helped me relax and appreciate this person”s compassion and caring heart.
    Honey is a wise, kind dog – and you, Pamela, are a nurturing person. Thank you.

  2. People that have tempers make me very uncomfortable – I grew up with a mother that had a terrible temper. I think as we get older, we get a little wiser about friendships :)
    Honey is such a sweet girl – her foster friends are lucky to have her!!

  3. Nice insight. It’a interesting that human lives parallel a dogs.

  4. Dexter could take a lesson on Honey about “levels of friendship”. He thinks that every dog he meets wants to play with the same enthusiasm as himself.

    • That’s funny Karen. I hadn’t thought of that before, but I have seen that with other pups. Maybe being more discerning comes with age and wisdom?

  5. It tells me how nice you (and Honey) are that you would touch noses and sit by the side of a relationship that isn’t reciprocated. Me? I walk away.

  6. What wise words. Never, ever put more into a relationship than the other person is willing to put. Sometimes easier said than done.

    I have had my heart broken by friends whose friendship didn’t stand the test of time… but far more frequently (and especially lately), I have been so taken care of by people who truly love me and are willing to go that extra mile to support me. I am so blessed with good friends.

    And this post brings up all sorts of guilt, because my blog reading and commenting has fallen off so much due to school and my personal life. I feel like a bad blogging buddy. Let me just say that I have really enjoyed and appreciated the on-line relationships I’ve developed in the last year, and I hope I will be forgiven for my lapses. At some point I am going to go back and read every Puppiness Project post I missed– I just love the humanness of it! :)

  7. Now that is very good way to put it! I just love how you take situations/life like this and put it in perspective!

  8. I grew up with someone with a volatile temper and another person who was just…unstable. I definitely shy away from people who are prone to emotional outbursts, and I steer away from people who are toxic, too. I’ve just learned too many painful lessons from both types. I generally study a person for a long time before I decide if they’re good friend material. Sometimes it’s just a lot easier to hang out with dogs than people!

  9. Oh Honey. You are a sweetie. Love the couch cuddling pic.

    For mama, we understand were you come from. We like for people like us as well. When we get into those situations of toxicity, it bothers us and hurts us.

    We notice our mama takes the knowing someone for a while before putting them in the good friend material, just like houndstooth does. Unless there is something that automatically clicks. I think mama would also agree with houndstooth’s comment “Sometimes it’s just a lot easier to hang out with dogs than people!”

  10. Really nice post Pamela. I love that Honey has learned to just sit by quietly.

    I used to seek that kind of attention and affirmation all of the time. I think in some ways, losing my job and starting my own business was good for me. It made me less concerned with extending my own play bows to those who are less interested. (maybe I was seeking affirmation about myself?) and more okay with who I am. I’m less sensitive to my boss being upset about something and I’m less concerned with trying to get the attention of someone who isn’t interested. I hope that doesn’t make me a hardened person in terms of heart. I just know it is so freeing not to care what everyone is thinking of me. But, I do like touching noses and sitting by quietly. :)

  11. Good points. There is a lot we can learn from our dogs. As a dog trainer in Denver who deals with a lot of broken dogs, here is a lesson that dawned on me a while back.

    While dogs can certainly be conditioned to dislike certain things or people, they USUALLY are pretty quick forgivers and are open to reconciliation. Humans could benefit by being a little more like this.

    Thanks for your excellent thoughts.

  12. That is a really sweet sentiment and a great lesson. I try too hard to get people to like me and when they don’t recipricate in the same way I usually end up with hurt feelings. I need to develope Honey’s philosphy and just let it be.

    Thanks, I think I’m learning a lot this week!

  13. Seems like you and I have a lot in common. I’m also an extrovert, and I can’t help but feel quite agitated when someone doesn’t like me or want to be my friend – I’m also prone to bouts of despair when someone doesn’t seem to value me as a friend as much as I’ve valued them – when the effort put into the friendship seems unbalanced. I’ve probably continued many friendships long past their natural expiration date through my sheer inability to admit that the friendship wasn’t worth saving. It’s definitely something I need to work on.

  14. Perhaps in some ways being a total introvert makes it a bit easier when it comes to friendships. I usually have no expectation of making friends with someone. I am an incredibly private person (not that you’d know it to read my blog) and it takes a long time for me to open up, if ever. For the most part I am content to listen and be there for someone without any expectation they will do the same for me. This has, however, caused problems in other ways as I am sure you can imagine.

    Relationships are hard. A wise person is like Honey and understands when a relationship is worth working for and when it’s not. If only we all could be so perceptive!

  15. I am an extrovert and I want everyone to be happy! Jen is an introvert. While she loves people, she also treasures her alone time. She’s weird.

  16. There’s no doubt it’s sometimes difficult to find the right balance in a friendship. Being on the road full-time has made it harder for me to be a good friend, simply because I’m not there to grab a cup of coffee or go for brunch and keep up with daily life. There is no doubt some friendships have faded, but when we get together some others, it’s like no time has passed at all. It’s a pretty terrific thing.

  17. You are nicer than I am. I would have moved on to other friends.

  18. I need one metaphorical Honey in my life, pronto! I am so Eddie in one aspect of my real life, but the other dog just wants to sniff all up in my bits – endlessly. Wagh! Please turn this into a book, Pamela, so I can casually send it to that person. Pleeeeeeeze.

    P.S. I get my feelings hurt easily, too. But, I don’t know how to touch noses, I just run away with my tail tucked between my legs. sigh

  19. When I read this I thought about some blogs I read and used to religiously comment on every post … without ever getting even one reciprocal comment back. I might not be an extrovert but even an introvert likes to be acknowledged so I’ve reluctantly decided to whittle down my blogroll mostly to people who understand the ebbs and flows of life and blogging and hang in there with you (me!). These people are worth my time and effort, when I eventually get the time to put the effort in. The same with real world friends. I’m probably not making any sense, my brain is mush right now, yesterday I didn’t even recognise my own car, lol!