The Puppiness Project – Friends Make Work Easier

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.

Golden Retriever with bollards

What's this "weave" you keep talking about? Maybe I'd know what you were talking about if someone else did it first.

The other day I took Honey to the playground to train with the equipment. We practiced going over the suspension bridge, under the low platforms, and up the goofy, alternating staircase. After a few minutes I saw her ears perk up as she did a little dance. She had spotted a friend.

A large Border Collie was peering at us through the bushes with a frisbee in his mouth. His presence brought the fun back into the work we were doing.

Honey the Extrovert

I wasn’t surprised that seeing another dog would cause this reaction. One thing Honey and I have in common is that we’re both extroverts. We get our energy from being around others.

Of course we went over to say hello.

After a few quick sniffs, the Border Collie made it clear he was ready to catch the frisbee again. But he didn’t mind a bit if Honey wanted to tag along. So for the next few minutes, the dog’s person threw the frisbee in all directions while Honey raced alongside almost as if she was cheering her friend on. She never once went for the frisbee herself.

Every once in a while she’d zoom over to the man to get lovies as well. Honey is an all-species extrovert.

Walking with Kitty

Sometimes on our walks we encounter a black cat who lives the next block over. As soon as the cat sees us, she’ll cross the street to join us. Honey and the cat will say their hellos.

Honey has learned that even friendly kitties don’t appreciate play bows and dancing on the end of the leash. So Honey and the cat will gently touch noses, have a little sniff, and the cat will follow along on our walk for a few blocks.

Eventually, the cat will go off in another direction—usually while Honey is busy sniffing. Once Honey notices the cat is gone, she insists we retrace her steps to follow the cat’s scent. She misses her friend.

Honey has learned that even something as much fun as going for a walk is even better when you can do it with a friend.

An Extrovert at Work

Many people misunderstand what it means to be an extrovert. Being extroverted doesn’t mean that I never want to be alone. Or that I’m never awkward at parties where I don’t know many people.

It does mean that I get my energy from being around others.

Most weeks of the year I teach classes for first time home buyers. Classes start at 6:30 p.m. after I’ve already put in a full day’s work processing loans, going to meetings, and counseling clients one-on-one.

Sometimes I’m utterly dragging by the time 6:30 rolls around and I can’t imagine how I’m ever going to get through the next couple of hours. But the first student walks in the door and something switches on inside me. I become lively and entertaining (at least according to 7 years of class evaluations) and pour everything I have into teaching the best class I can.

This extroversion gene, or whatever it is, is so powerful that I once taught a class with a migraine that I forgot I had—until the last person left after asking questions and I promptly threw up in the bathroom.

Blogging as an Extrovert

Golden Retreiver and puppy play tug

Pay attention to me, little guy, and you'll know how to tug like a pro.

I write a lot. I have for years. I have dozens of journals tucked away in a closet. For over a year, I was regularly posting to two blogs as well as writing occasional guest posts for others.

But writing is a very solitary pursuit. I’ve always looked for ways to make it more social.

I used to lead writing workshops in which I would give prompts to the participants who would write and then share about the experience or read what they had written.

And an important part of blogging is reading comments left on my posts and visiting other bloggers to comment on their sites. When I go through a stretch where I’m unable to read and comment on other blogs, I feel a strong sense of loss. Yes, it’s more than just guilt.

But I also feel a strong urge to meet, in person, the people I become friends with online.

Don’t worry. My lack of confidence and fear of being arrested for stalking prevents me from acting on those urges. So don’t expect I’ll just show up at your door one day. (Yeah, I heard that “psheww” of relief that echoed around the blogosphere.)

BlogPaws – Answer for Extroverted Blogging

The social side of my personality took me to BlogPaws last year in Virginia. Heck, if the only thing I had gotten out of attending was knowing the real identity of the clever, funny, and mysterious Pup Fan, it would have been worth it.

But I learned a lot and got to meet other wonderful bloggers. Among the most memorable were Elizabeth and her Cardigans Dewi and Jon Farleigh (yes, they have just as much personality in real life as Elizabeth conveys in her blog) and Sharon of Grouchy Puppy fame who brought a “virtual” representation of lovely senior dog, Cleo.

BlogPaws 2011 was held in Virginia and, as expected, attended mostly by bloggers from the Eastern United States. In 2012, it will be held in Salt Lake City, Utah. So, in hopes of meeting more bloggers from the Western regions, I decided to attend.

Luckily, I was selected as a speaker and will be presenting with Robbi Hess. My topic? Finding Time to Blog. It was the big glaring hole in the presentation topics at BlogPaws and the one I was most interested in attending. It’s a matter of presenting the topic you most need to attend.I'm speaking at BlogPaws 2012 badge
I’m really excited about presenting. It’s only occurring to me now how much I enjoy it and how I should make it a cornerstone of my professional life. And it balances the extroverted side of my personality with the introverted act of writing.

Working With Our Tendencies

I’m famous for always picking the hard way to do things. I have math anxiety and yet work with financial math every day and even teach it. I want to travel so I’ve decided to learn to sail instead of just buying a plane ticket.

Two Golden Retrievers getting some love

Look! Synchronized scratchies! We're ready for the Olympics.

But everything shouldn’t be hard. Sometimes we just need to go with our natures and not fight so hard.

For me, I can’t continue to blog unless I nurture the community that is so important to me. And for Honey, we need to mix social activities into the middle of our training/desensitization work together.

Maybe it’s time to ask my neighbors if I can start teaching their Golden Retriever, Riley, how to ride in a bicycle cart. After all, learning is always more fun with a friend, when you’re an extrovert.

[I’ll be posting more about BlogPaws soon. I can also provide a code for 20% off the conference registration fee. Contact me for more information.]

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  1. Congratulations! What fabulous news. I can’t wait to hear all about your presentation, because I wonder about that all the time. I can barely fit blogging into my life. :-/

  2. I somehow don’t think anyone would mind you popping up on their doorstep one day. :>)
    I wish I were going to BlogPaws this year because I would love to hear your session. It’s something I struggle with. I’ve been learning more about extroverts/introverts lately and it is interesting to the differences. I’m an introvert and I do love being around people, but people I know and not for hours at a time. It’s one reason I went to BlogPaws last year to get to know other bloggers. I was excited and nervous at the same time, but the experience was so worth it.

    • Awww, Dawn, you are so tolerant of stalkers. :)

      The women who created the Myers-Briggs personality tests described introversion and extroversion as the difference in where you get your energy. I don’t know if that agrees with common personality wisdom but it made sense to me.

      Introverts can be perfectly friendly people who enjoy the company of others but they need time alone to replenish their stores. Extroverts, like myself, can work alone but if we do it too long, we’ll need to get out with people to bring our energy levels up.

      BTW, check out the link in the comment above yours about the live streaming/recorded session options for BlogPaws this year.

  3. Congratulations on presenting, Pamela, that is quite an honor. I wish I could be there to cheer you on, but finances won’t allow for a huge trip to Utah.

    I agree with Dawn, I don’t think anyone would freak out if you somehow showed up at their door, personally I would be honored.

    I too love being around people, but I never really thought of it in the way you phrased it. It’s true, when I have an audience that’s when I really become animated. :-)

    I hope someday my blogging leads to great opportunities.

    • Thanks for the well-wishes, Jodi. But be careful what you wish for when it comes to visitors–you’re only a few hours away from me. :p

      I’ve spent a lot of time observing people who make it big through their blogging. It seems that two kinds of people have the biggest success: people with talent and lots of hustle and people who just have hustle and a big helping of cojones. :)

      My goal for the rest of the year is to learn how to hustle, with or without cojones.

      • Pamela, please consider it an open invitation. :-) I would love nothing more than to sit with you and chat.

        I’m still learning the ins and outs of blogging (much of it from you) and my goal is to learn to hustle too. I have the cojones when I need them, but my bigger problem is 1) not knowing WHAT to do and 2) finding the time.

  4. Congratulations for being asked to present. I think it’s great that you’re focusing on the topic you wished was available last year. :) Someday I’ll attend one of these events. This year, I’ll be attending in true introvert style: via internet streaming. 😉

    I agree that a lot of people don’t really understand introversion v. extroversion but it’s one I struggle with every day. See, I work in the IT dept but within the sales organization of my company. Talk about an introvert in an extroverted world! In fact, I’ll be attending our annual sales meeting next week and, while fun, I know I will be beyond exhausted afterwards. I am looking forward to the long, quiet, solo train ride home to recharge.

    I am looking forward to “attending” your presentation even if we won’t get a chance to meet in person.

    • Glad you’re signed on for the live stream. I hope I don’t let you down.

      I think you captured the introversion dilemma–enjoy being with people but give yourself downtime to regroup. Hope you have a fun and successful set of meetings. I know Bella will miss you.

    • LOL! I work in the tech department Leslie. An extrovert in an introverted world!

  5. I totally relate–I’m one a those extroverted bloggers who loves public speaking too :)

    Congratulations on this great opportunity–you’ll be so good! Id love to attend BlogPaws, but amazingly….I can’t imagine finding the time! :) I hope you’ll again keep us all pupdated via your blog.

    • I can’t imagine grooming allows you to do much public speaking. I hope you find an outlet for your talents. :)

      Hmmmm, you’ve just given me an idea. Maybe next year I need to prepare an webinar on finding time to go to BlogPaws! :)

      • It’s one of the reasons I can’t *just* be a groomer–I also teach dog training classes and work for an environmental nonprofit :)

        Though I certainly enjoy the non-public speaking–and smooching–that comes with every grooming session….:)

  6. Wow Pamela, that’s AWESOME! I hope someone videos it so I can watch it later, as Utah doesn’t fit into my budget either.

    I also want to meet some of my on-line friends IRL. And as for stalker worries… haven’t I already told you I’ve already told friends in your town I’m coming to visit them so I can meet YOU? (Cue rapid dial to state troopers…) :)

    • Bwa ha ha ha ha! Lucky for you, I’m not smart enough with technology to figure out how to program the state troopers into my phone. :)

      As I mentioned in a comment above, there is an option for getting live streamed and recorded sessions but it’s not cheap. Are any of the other Canadian bloggers close enough to you to set up a live stream party?

      • Let’s see… AJ from PupLove is 5 1/2 hours away from me… Kristine from Rescued Insanity is about 12… and Jen from Back Alley Soapbox is… wait a tic… oh yeah, a six-day drive.

        Don’t think that live stream party is going to happen. I actually live closer to you than most of them!

  7. I’m so glad that you’ll be presenting there! You’re a perfect person for that! There’s a chance that I may get to go, but I’m afraid to even talk about it in case it doesn’t work out. I would really, really like to attend, though!

    I think things can definitely be more fun with a friend! It would crack me up if Honey decided to ride in the cart with a friend!

    • I hope you can work things out to attend BlogPaws. I’m sure you’d enjoy it and your many fans would love to meet you. I don’t want to jinx you by talking about it but I can give you a code for a 20% off discount on registration. Email me if you decide to attend.

  8. Dogs are by nature social unless some human has ruined them Teaching Riley is not a bad idea. I find it easier to teach two dogs to do something than it is to teach one. There is the peer pressure and competitiion that comes into play. “Heck, I can do that better. Watch me.”

    • That’s just what I was thinking, Jan. And Honey might prefer seeing some other dog do something she finds scary before she does it herself.

      Now I just have to get the neighbors to lend me their dog. :)

  9. Congrats on being a presenter. So are you going to sail there? :)

    • He he he he he. I wish I could. I did briefly entertain the fantasy of doing that but I couldn’t navigate all the way to the Great Salt Lake.

      Instead I’ll be flying (yuck!) while reading books about sailing. :)

  10. Wish I were able to go to BlogPaws but perhaps next year? Will we be able to download the presentations? I so need to make more time efficiently for my blogs; your presentation is just what I need.

    I am an introvert – always have been but I love being around witty, extroverted people. You, Mike and Honey are welcome anytime at Silverwalk! Most of the dogs here are extroverts – or want to be :).

  11. Honey, you’re a great teacher!

    I would love to go to Blogpaws, but just not able to do so this year. Hopefully next year!

    • I would love to see you at BlogPaws. Meeting the person who channels both Rumpy and June Buggie must be a surreal experience. :)

      Just wanted you to know I’ve run into a technical glitch commenting on your blog. Every time I write a long and witty reply (just tell yourself it’s witty), I get a message that I am not signed in to leave comments.

      I’m sure it’s my problem but I haven’t yet been able to solve it. Just know that I’m enjoying reading even if I can’t comment. :(

      • You’re not the only person who’s told me that. Have you tried logging out and back into your Gravatar account? If that doesn’t work, shoot me an email and I’ll ask others how they resolved the problem.

  12. I am the same way about blogging. I always feel like I missing something when I don’t get to visit. And I never feel right about posting and not visiting. It bothers me.

    Sounds like BlogPaws is just the right opportunity for you and it fits just who you are. Being an extrovert is something I honesty can’t understand, even though I watch my husband do it every day. I find it very interesting, since I’ll never be one, but I can always appreciate someone that is.

    Congratulations Pamela!

    • I have a deep suspicion that introverts may be better dog people. Being comfortable with silence can open someone up to ways of communicating with dogs without words.

      I’m so much of a chatterbox I feel I miss a lot.

      So celebrate your introversion. And thanks for the good wishes.

  13. I am famous for always picking the hard way too! I din’t know why but one of my strongest qualities is making something so easy very hard. It’s the story of my life!

    Congratulations on being selected to be a speaker at BlogPaws! I am sorry that I am going to miss that:(

  14. Congratulations Pamela! I know you told me a while back, but I’m still very excited that you will be a speaker at BlogPaws. I’m also excited that I get to attend this year!

    I’m an introvert and speaking in front of people is not really my thing even though I regularly do presentations for our guide dog group…of course my puppy in training (Apache/Dublin/Derby/Stetson) are always by my side so maybe they give me confidence.

  15. Oh, now I feel so guilty and bad for being anon and unfriendly ;p

    I didn’t realise Honey was good with cats too. You don’t have one, as far as I know. How did you train her to be gentle with kitties? Or was she always like that?

    Hugs from the one wearing the brown bag over her head x

    • Don’t feel bad about being an international woman of mystery. It’s part of the charm. :)

      I work very hard to counter my inner nosiness and respect people’s desire for privacy. My official policy is that even when I know the identity of someone in blogworld, if they don’t use their real name or private details I never do either.

      I can’t say we did a lot of training with Honey around cats. When she was a puppy we took her to classes at the SPCA and they had cats in crates in the lobby and walking loose so that was Honey’s first exposure.

      We have a few dog-friendly cats in the neighborhood who we see on walks. She started out being a little excited (in a friendly way, but not that the cat could tell). Pretty quickly she realized that play bowing and dancing didn’t get her very far with even a friendly cat.

      I really believe that not everything can be taught. Some dogs just have certain traits and skills. Like Georgia dictating witty commentary on life in her house. :)

  16. Congratulations, Pamela! I’ve often wondered how you manage to work in all that you do – I’m sorry I won’t be at the conference to learn your secrets. Perhaps I’ll show up on YOUR doorstep and bribe you to give me the low-down. =)

    Your comment about feeling a loss when you don’t get to the blogs you follow really struck a chord with me. Spending a couple of weeks with family and then celebrating our 10th anniversary kept me off the computer, and I’ve been missing my on-line friends. Thank goodness for Google Reader … it will be easy to catch up on what’s been going on!

  17. I thought I heard a rumour you were presenting this year. I think that’s fantastic! And I knew you’d have the perfect topic as well.

    The community of pet bloggers is a big part of why I am still doing this too. I’ve always enjoyed the act of writing but am terrible at the discipline side of things. Being an introvert, I don’t often seek out social interaction. It’s too hard and too exhausting. But through blogging I can communitcate and get to know with others on my own terms. When I have the energy and when I feel comfortable. After all, just because too much socializing often wears me down, it doesn’t mean I don’t need to connect with others. I feel so lucky now to call so many kind-hearted people my friends, even if I never meet them in person.

    I am sure Riley’s humans would be happy to have you work with him! Free training doesn’t come around all that often!

  18. I had all these comments in my head as I was reading your post Pamela.
    – I didn’t know Pamela was an extrovert too! (I also get my energy from being around people. Something I struggled with as a pet sitter because all I interacted with was pets!)
    – What a cute story of Honey and the cat! I love that the cat walks with you for a few blocks. That is so sweet.
    – You met Elizabeth and Dewi and Jon Farleigh??? I had no idea! I SO want to meet them!
    – I also feel a sense of loss when I can’t interact with everyone (I feel guilty too.)
    – I think you are going to knock them dead in Utah! I wish you the very best my friend. I hope people enjoy it. Good luck!

  19. Oh geez!!! I wish that I could go to Utah this year . . I was planning on it, but then we decided to put new windows in the house, update the kitchen. . . .I will definitely plan on the streamed event! I don’t know what personality type I have. I am terrible in social situations like “networking events” but I LOVE teaching yoga and I feel the same way you do- totally energized by the people in my classes. I was a dog walker for several years and really missed the human contact (although I enjoyed my furry friends ALOT!)

    I took Myers-Briggs many years ago, so long ago that I can’t even remember what my results were! I hope you have a great time in Utah – wish I could join you!! (oh, and I’m jealous that you met Elizabeth and the Corgis too!)

  20. Oh wow!! Congrats on presenting at BlogPaws this year. I wish I could make it, but it doesn’t look good for me. P.S. – I’m an introvert, but I still had a blast at BlogPaws!!! Have fun!

  21. I saw a flight sale a few weeks ago on travelocity, but it wouldn’t let me book it on my phone! *sigh* Ticket prices keep climbing and now I’m not sure I’ll get to come. Booooo on that eh? I’m still holding on to hope for a last minute flight deal. A girl can dream right?

    PS – I can’t imagine feeling anything but delightful to find you on my doorstep ;0)