The Puppiness Project – Hustle

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 Knows How to Hustle for What She Wants

Golden Retriever enjoying a treat on the porch

If I eat my treat right on the mat in front of the door, I'll never miss any visitors.

Summer is here. At least for now. And we practically live on the front porch.

I get many chances to see Honey hustling to get the only currency that means anything to her—love and attention. Here’s how it works.

Honey hears someone walking down the block toward our house. She gets up and moves over to the baby gate across the top of the porch stairs. At first, she’s just curious. But then she spots her “victim.”

First, the tail starts a slow, loose wag. Then Honey starts shifting her back paws. The back end of her body starts to shake with excitement while her front struggles to keep up. She starts batting her gold eyelashes while doing a little dance with her front paws.

Sometimes the person walking by is distracted or just not interested in major golden cuteness. As she realizes this, Honey stands still with an expression of wondering on her face.

But more often she charms her audience. They stop and ask, “Awwww, can I pet your puppy?”

Her hustle worked. I could learn something from her.

Living in the Land of Hustle

Nearly everyone I meet has at least two or three jobs/hustles. They work part time at the local food co-op, teach yoga on the weekends, do massages out of their home. Oh, and they also play in a band.

Some of this is a sign that the economy doesn’t give as many options for full employment as it used to. But mostly, I think people are trying to craft an interesting life that gives them time to do a variety of things while still supporting themselves. They’ve learned how to hustle.

Golden Retriever and mixed breed puppy

Apparently one of my jobs is babysitting.

I’ve had entrepreneurial ambitions for years. As a kid, I hand painted ceramic vases, filled them with dry flower arrangements, and sold them door to door. Several years ago, I started my business Spiral House before taking my current job so I could earn more to help support my mother-in-law. My notebooks are filled with descriptions of prospective businesses.

I have ideas. I have a reasonable amount of intelligence. I even have a few skills. But I have no hustle.

I was reasonably successful offering workshops through Spiral House. At least, the few people who took them spoke highly of the experience and were moved by what they learned. But it was hardly a mass market experience.

Maybe I can satisfy my entrepreneurial urges by connecting deeply with a few people instead of touching many people lightly. Or maybe I can bring a new attitude to the things I do and learn a little bit of hustle. I don’t know.

Hustling for Love—It’s Honey’s Nature

Honey could no sooner avoid soliciting attention from strangers than I could stop writing wordy, philosophical blog posts.

So should I follow Honey’s lead and get my hustle on? Or realize that my deepest nature is more German Shepherd than Golden Retriever?


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  1. I have no hustle, either, but after knowing several Goldens, I knew exactly what you were describing with Honey’s hustle! I know what you mean about having great ideas, but not the right way to pursue getting them from the dream stage to the reality stage. That might not be the worst thing. If every idea I had came to fruition, I’d be one busy person! lol

    • Actually, it appears that you implement clever ideas all the time. But you do it to benefit your students, and not necessarily yourself.

      On the other hand Ms. Got Herself a Sponsor to BlogPaws, it looks like you have got some hustle going on. :)

  2. I’ve made no secret that my blog is meant to turn into a paying gig, and I’m working hard to get my name out there. I don’t know what I’m doing, but I keep trying, and learning, and keeping on even when I’m absolutely exhausted.

    Why do I do that? Out of love for Rumpy and DeDe and the cats. When my salary got whacked and I lost my home, I was a basket case. But I looked at them and knew I didn’t have time to wallow. And I keep looking to them to motivate me, whenever I’m bone-tired and think this blogging is wasted time.

    And maybe it is. But I’m starting to get some notice, so I’m not stopping yet. I have family to think of.

    • I think you’ve done an amazing job pushing your blog along in a relatively short time. Particularly since your purpose is to advocate for animals instead of writing on a guaranteed to make money topic–say, how to make money online.

      Sounds like the fur family has been very inspirational for you.

  3. You can have the hustle, without the bustle. I write 3 blogs, market the hubby and his art, create some of my own art, and I’m just starting an online gallery to market other artists. But my life is full and rich, we get to travel and meet wonderful people, and I’m with the person who means the most to me. And of course my dogs.
    Life is what you want it to be, and everything happens for a reason.

    • And just how much speed to you take in a day, Mary? Just kidding. :)

      Sounds like you’ve created an interesting and thoughtful life for you and your family. Way to make good use of your hustle.

  4. Your blog is awesome, it’s one of the first I turn to every time I get a chance. So keep doing what you’re doing! One thing that helps me is to set goals and deadlines. I don’t always meet them but it helps a bit.

    • Thanks, Peggy. I agree that goals and deadlines are a big help. The hard part for me is choosing the goal. :)

  5. Honey’s “love me!” dance sounds adorable!

    • It’s a pretty distinctive behavior for many Golden Retrievers. Perhaps something like the “play bow” chewie pose you’ve witnessed in Elka and some other Dobermans? :)

  6. I would imagine that being the chatty friendly extroverted person you are, you’re very GR! You just need to in a tail on your bum so people can see you coming.

  7. With all due respect I think people either have the Golden Retriever touch or don’t. It can’t be faked.

    Dogs do help us discover our deepest nature. It has bothered me that my deepest nature might be Poodle–friendly and outgoing, but not especially sincere. I’m trying to bring out my inner mutt.

    • You’re probably right, Jan. I’m probably better off relying on my inner German Shepherd. :)

      Do you really think mutts are more sincere than poodles? I bet Timmy and Misty would disagree, while looking around to see what their protestations earn them.

  8. I think you probably have more hustle than you realize. You are good at a great many things and are gifted at reaching others in a different way. Though these talents may not have resulted in economic success yet, I think once you learn how to apply them just right, there will be no stopping you. Especially if you take a lesson from Honey and don’t let a minor disappointment stop you from trying next time.

    • Thanks, Kristine. Actually, I wonder if I have any hustle that isn’t at the service of someone else. Maybe 25 years working in nonprofits has done me in. :)

  9. I think all of the above are right. You may not be doing the “Golden Hustle” but I think you are seeing success with your blog. You’ve received some awesome opportunities from your blog. You now write for the Traveler and you’ve been invited to be a presenter at BlogPaws.

    I think you hustle in a different way, “Be the St. Bernard.” You still get there, just not in the same way or time. :-)

    If I had obtained a writing gig and been asked to be a presenter at BlogPaws, I’d be over the moon. :-)

    • Thanks, Jodi. I believe my hustle takes a nosedive when I face the prospect of making money. But maybe you’re right and I’m channeling my inner St. Bernard. There’s a prize waiting at the end but I’ll lumber over the finish line in my own good time. :)

      Can’t wait to see what hustles you cook up when you finish your book and need to get it out there. :)

  10. Oh, Pamela, I feel like I could have written this about myself! I’ve been searching for that GR in me, too, and baffled at how to get from A to where I want to be. You may have hit on a major point – the bit about only being able to hustle if it’s for others. If you’re like me, the money thing feels selfish/self-centered, and I instinctively back away because of that. Maybe if we did it together, we could feel we were doing it for the other?

  11. I’m with you on the hustle, or lack thereof! I have no shortage of entrepreneurial ideas but just about zero motivation to get out and push them. Fortunately, at some point word of mouth takes over and I’m making progress almost despite myself….but if I were a real self-promoter, maybe I’d be rich by now :)

    • Hmmm, lack of hustle is not the term I’d use to describe someone with several jobs, volunteer work, and active vacations. :)

      I’m not sure about wealth as a sign of success. Yes, I’d love to see it on one level. But Walmart is successful using that signal and I don’t even shop there much less want to be them. :)

  12. Oh the Golden Dance! While the labs do exhibit a similar array of maneuvers, there is something unique and utterly charming about the Golden Dance. Oh and the cloud of hair they leave too! :)

    I think we should all hustle at the speed at which we’re most comfortable. I feel that I do less “hustling” now that I own my own business. Maybe it’s because I get to select what I hustle for and, in making that choice for myself, it seems less like a hustle and more just me organically offering what I have to offer to the world. I look at Hurley charming the entire world and he will never “hustle” a day in his life, certainly not the Golden-style. Yet, he captivates and (almost) always manages to get what he wants.

    • “I feel that I do less “hustling” now that I own my own business. Maybe it’s because I get to select what I hustle for and, in making that choice for myself, it seems less like a hustle and more just me organically offering what I have to offer to the world.”

      I just loved this. This is what I and many of us are hoping to do. I’m glad that your path feels so right to you. And I really wish your store were closer to me. :)

  13. I agree with Jan, you’re either Golden or you’re not. Trying to make yourself embrace something you’re not naturally invlined to can be a recipe for unhappiness. You can only be you, right? I have tried time and time again to harness my inner herding dog to no avail. Perhaps the keys to align your skills with someone else’s? I love my treat business to death, but every moment spent balancing the books, working on costings, etc. drains my soul. Luckily, my business partner loves that stuff, but hates slaving over a hot stove.

    • I love your suggestion about collaboration. You’re so right that we’re all suited to different kinds of activities.

      I’ve heard so many stories of people who started a business doing something they love just to find they spend so much time running the business they never get to do what caused them to start it in the beginning.

  14. My husband is the one with the hustle and the awesome people skills of a Golden. :) I envy him a little how he can get what he wants. He is one of those guys that knows how to do almost anything in the labor field and never has trouble getting work, once people know what he knows how to do.

    It’s not natural for me to hustle. I have to let things happen naturally in the course of time and then when the moment is right, it turns out I’m ready for it. And my husband and I keep learning how to work with his go-go energy and I struggle not to push myself further than I should be. :) And somehow we make it work.

    Great post Pamela. Interesting topic. Would love to see that Honey dance. :)

  15. Apache has the same hustle as Honey as evident by this weeks picture with our fire fighter. He’s always looking for his next victim.

    I think you have plenty of hustle. Just take a look at this blog and all you’ve accomplished with it. As someone else said you may not have the “Golden Hustle”, but it’s definitely there.

    Happy Monday!

    • Thanks, Colby. That’s high praise indeed from someone I definitely see as having a full supply of hustle. :)

  16. Once again I have no idea where to start here because you have nailed it!
    I do have to agree with Kristine, that you may have more hustle than you think:)

    I have so many ideas brewing in this overcrowded brain of mine, but I lack the hustle to make any of them work! Sometimes I think that I just have to make things more simple and sometimes I just want to give up, but just when I am about to do that, something great happens and I keep truckin along.

    • Or maybe you don’t lack hustle but just have family, dogs, blogging, and other activities where you put your energy and ideas already.

      Your stopping by has gotten me thinking about how I may need to redefine hustle to reflect my experience of the world and not some 25 year old hot shot looking to retire by 30. :)

  17. I think you have more hustle than you think! I can see Honey dancing around on the front porch so vividly :) You definitely have a gift for making us see exactly what you are seeing :) Not much mischief going on at your house this weekend!

    • Thanks, Julie. I don’t have to work too hard to convey the Honey Hustle–it’s right there in front of me every day. I just have to write it down. :)

      As for mischief–I’m lucky. Honey’s idea of mischief doesn’t involve paint. :)

  18. I like the way Honey hustles. :) Don’t sell your hustle short. :)

  19. Some of the dogs I’ve taken to adoption events really have that hustle too – they bring the potential adopters right over!