The Puppiness Project – Everything’s Better with Puppies

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.

In twenty years owning old houses, I’ve never developed good work habits when we’re renovating or repairing. I walk barefoot through construction areas, lean way off the side of the ladder rather than move it to a new spot, and allow puppies into my work area. (Puppies, to me, are any dogs under the age of 25 years old.)

All of these things make my husband (who has very good work habits) crazy.

Golden Retriever

If my chin is right on your leg, I know I'm not going to miss anything. Besides, what if you find kibble behind the baseboards? You'll need someone to take care of it.

But he’s learning to accept it and not get too stressed. And he’s coming to realize that puppies are part of my work habit.

You see, removing carpet tacks from old, oak steps can be tedious. Or it can be meditative.

For me, having a fuzzy face resting on my leg while I’m pulling carpet staples or scraping varnish turns a dull job into a pleasant one. It’s satisfying to run the scraper over the step and find I’ve gotten every one of the dozens of nails out. And then I can celebrate with a little ear scratch.

So much of my work separates me from the family I love. We each spend more time with our co-workers on a given work day then with each other.

So when I have the chance to work beside my loved ones it’s a gift.

Maybe I’ll start wearing shoes when I work. And I’m trying to be better about moving the ladder when I need to. But I’ll never work without puppies.


[Disclaimer: No puppies were harmed in the writing of this post. All work with puppies was supervised by the Society for the Protection of Construction Animals. Puppies do not enter work areas involving heat guns, power tools, or cutting implements of any kind.]

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  1. It’s all very good disclaiming things, but does Honey walk bare toed into the work area? What if she breathes in too much varnish while her head is resting on your knee? Would you want your puppy to be a glue sniffer? Does she wear a workhat so that, when the ladder that you’re so precariously leaning on falls on her, she won’t get hurt? Dear Ms Pamela, you will shortly be receiving a notice from the SPCA. As you know, I have very good contacts there. Until then, please try to have a safe day. Yours faithfully, Georgia.

    P.S. My Typist says it’s okay once in a while to listen to your husband (only because he has very good work habits).

    • Dear Georgia,

      Thank you for your concern. We have read your comment to Miss Honey who absolutely refuses any protective gear. She wants to be sure absolutely no one mistakes her for just another pretty face. She’s tough and she doesn’t care who knows it.

      Oh, and she’s afraid the goggles, hard hat, and work boots we’ve offered would hide her pretty face.

      P.S. I’ll take your typist’s remarks under advisement. You see, for all his good work habits, the husband is the one with the scars and assorted boo boos. I, for all my stupidity, remain unscathed. Perhaps the universe has a soft spot for idiots?

      • Well my dear, I sure hope so.

        Yours sincerely,
        The Idiot Typist who climbs ladders in her barefeet in addition to leaning on the side while pruning her neighbour’s unruly hedge.

  2. I love your comment that all dogs under 25 are puppies to you. I am the same way – all dogs are puppies as far as I’m concerned. :)

    The caption under the photo cracked me up too – we were doing some work this weekend, and some ancient kibble rolled out (I think it might have been there from the previous owner). I had to scoop it up before Bella could get it!

    • I’m sorry to say we find stray kibble all over the house. Partly because we feed Honey out of food todays. And partly because I’m a rotten housekeeper. :)

      As for all dogs being puppies, I’d expect no less from a true Pup Fan!

  3. Haha! Daisy loves to watch me do stuff and acts like she wants to help if she can. She wants to sniff everything and try to figure it out.

  4. It’s a little known fact that puppies have great supervisory skills in matters involving home renovation. Not to mention that keeping the blood pressure down thing they do for humans.

    • Hmmmm, maybe it’s Honey’s presence that has kept my husband from yelling at me for wearing only socks in a construction zone?

  5. I’m with you on this one! If I have a furry companion with me for moral support, the task is so much more enjoyable! Perhaps that’s why I still haven’t tackled the weeds in the front flower beds…

    • Honey loves to landscape herself. Unfortunately her style has my backyard looking like the surface of the moon–full of craters. :)

  6. I take my dogs (mostly Viva but only one at a time) with me to work. She takes great proud in keeping the paper bins empty, makes sure people can enjoy a background woof when they are on the phone, and greets visitors with more enthusiasm then me and my co-workers can muster. I am so lucky to have this opportunity.

    • Honey came to work with me everyday when she was a puppy. Now it’s only an occasional treat.

      Do you find that you co-workers are more interested in visiting Viva than you? I know I’m not nearly as popular has Honey is.

  7. Our dogs have all been around construction, be it on the job or at home. They would much rather be involved than shut out. We are always careful about anything they may get into and do everything to keep the area safe.

    I think there is nothing better than having puppies while working. Your right, there is always too much time away from them. And it can be a great way to bond.

    • My co-workers have a name for some contractors in our area: dog and pick up truck guys. Sounds good to me.

      And you’re right, it’s a balancing act to keep things safe enough to have them nearby. It’s certainly not worth the risk to have someone get hurt.

  8. I may not get jobs done as quickly with 4-legged helpers but they’re way more enjoyable … or should that be less onerous?

    It’s just a shame I can’t teach them to use the lawn mower and vacuum cleaner!

  9. I’m the same way and my husband can’t understand it. Chores don’t seem so much like work when one of the fur-kids is around.


  10. I am just as bad in work areas. Though I would totally chastise my husband for doing the same thing. It drives me nuts when he doesn’t wear safety goggles, for instance, but somehow I always forget to do the same. We’re both incredibly accident-prone, him more than myself (in my opinion) and should probably be a lot more careful. I can see myself walking around in barefeet because I wouldn’t want to wreck my shoes! 😛

    However, I never usually let my dog into the work space. Probably because I know I am so clumsy and could drop something heavy at any moment.

  11. All I can say is “right on!” :)

  12. The honesty in your posts is refreshing, and just for the record, I would hire you and your puppies to renovate my old farm house any day.. if I didn’t live so far away. lol