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.
Adopting a Beauty Queen
As I became more certain I wanted my next dog to be a Golden Retriever, I worried about one thing: just how much time was I going to have to spend grooming that silky coat?
My previous mutts had thick, unfussy coats. I’d occasionally brush them to deal with shedding. But they didn’t have a challenging grooming regimen.
As Honey’s breeder showed me how to trim her ear hair to keep good air circulation, warned me against matting, and demonstrated the best technique for keeping the bottom of her paws from getting overgrown with fur, I wondered what I was getting into. Maybe I should keep Honey in a plexiglass box so she didn’t get messed up.
But Honey had different ideas.
When Honey sees a puddle, she wades right through the middle. She rolls in whatever stinky thing she can find. And she doesn’t even complain when strangers rub her ears even though she’s well aware that their ministrations will lead to tangles.
With her lack of concern about looking good, Honey manages to have a pretty good time. There may be something to that.
The Self-Conscious Don’t Have Much Fun
I can’t remember not being self-conscious about my looks. There may have been a time when I was a child but I don’t recall it.
I always felt that since I wasn’t very attractive naturally, I had to work harder on my appearance so that people didn’t turn away in disgust when they saw me. Yes, I’m hyperbolizing a bit. But not much.
For years, I applied lipstick even when I was just dragging the trash can to the curb as the garbage truck headed up the street. During a transit strike, I once walked three miles to work—and home again in the afternoon—wearing 3 inch spiked heels because I thought I’d look stupid wearing sneakers with a dress (y’know, like every other woman on the street). And forget riding in a convertible. I’d never get the tangles out of my hair.
Over the years, I’ve learned to care less.
It’s Better to Feel Good Than to Look Good
I’ll occasionally post pictures of myself on the blog. After all, that is how I look whether I like it or not. I’ve been known to wear an actual bathing suit at the beach (horrors!). I’ve even let my hair go gray, matching the appearance of people decades older than me.
And I’ve started to have a lot more fun.
Along the way, I’ve learned that people having a good time are always more attractive than those who are worried about something. And it’s much more fun to bike and sail and hike than it is to worry about getting sweaty or sunburned.
I wear the “tattoo” made by the grease of my bicycle chain with honor. And the uneven tan lines are just the price of regular sailing. And if I end up looking like a Golden Retriever who’s been splashing in the mud… well, it could be worse.
Honey is always cuter after getting into some outdoor mischief than she is right after a bath. I need to remember that. And to get into plenty mischief of my own.