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.
Solving Puppy Problems (that aren’t problems)
The growling sounds coming from my otherwise sweet little Honey dog sent my blood pressure up a bit.
With the OK of our campsite neighbors, M & L, Honey went rushing up to their handsome Golden Retriever, Nash, with lots of enthusiasm but few manners.
Although only 9 months old, Nash recognized rude behavior when he saw it and their initial exchange was a little tense, at least for me. Some growling, some aggressive leaping and I was ready to rush in between and pull Honey back to our campsite.
But M said to wait. Let the two dogs work it out themselves. They usually will do fine without any interference from us.
And she was right. Within moments the two were playing together the way every dog behaviorist tells you is appropriate:
- Although much bigger, Nash held back and used only as much strength as he needed to keep up with Honey.
- Both dogs ran and then reversed so each got a chance to chase and be chased.
- When it was time to take a break, they shared the water bowl nicely taking turns until each was satisfied.
And best of all, they were both responsible enough to play off leash in our eye sight without heading into the road or tearing off into the woods.
For someone who has lived with reactive dogs for more than twenty years, it was a beautiful sight.
I’m glad M was wiser than I was and that she encouraged me to let them “work it out themselves.”
Solving People Problems (that aren’t problems)
In my day job, I counsel first time home buyers, originate purchase and rehab loans, sell houses in our community housing trust, teach 36 home buying classes a year, lead an occasional landlord training class, and “other duties as required.”
If you’ve ever worked for a nonprofit, you know what I’m talking about. I do a lot of different stuff.
Which is my wordy way of saying that since I work evenings and weekends, I will often leave a little early on Fridays to make up for some of the extra hours I worked.
Most Mondays, I return to work to find several panicky phone calls from clients who needed something from me Friday afternoon and were upset not to find me available.
I used to immediately start working on the problem they left for me in my voice mail–making calculations, following up with lenders etc. just to find the client got their answer elsewhere, proceeded without waiting for me, or found the answer with something I had already given them. Meaning that in my effort to be a good problem solver, I just solved a problem that wasn’t a problem at all.
I don’t rush to solve every panicky problem anymore although I still feel very tense listening to those phone messages.
But I’m trying to realize that before I came along people did fine and they will continue to do fine once I’ve long left this earth.
Puppies With No Problems
Thanks to M’s advice, Honey and Nash worked out their terms of endearment without any interference from me. They “pined” for each other when they caught sight of each other and had one last vigorous play session to send Nash on the road home tired out enough to have a long nap.
I wish every non-problem I think of solving was as much fun to watch as two muddy Golden Retrievers having a blast.