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.
Drilling vs Doing
Honey’s training sessions at home go slowly.
As we use agility equipment to give her the confident footing she’ll need to sail with us and practice with her Doggy Ride bike trailer, it’s two steps forward and one step back. We’re always making progress. But it’s on Honey’s time, not ours.
And yet she amazes me with some things she’s willing to do outside the house. The first time Honey walked calmly over a swinging bridge at a playground I was stunned. I think she smelled the pizza crust someone left at a nearby picnic table so she was too distracted to care about the movement under her feet. But, as a result, she’s never shown any fear walking over a swinging bridge.
And, although she won’t easily walk over a piece of plywood set on the floor or sidewalk, she happily traipsed up the metal ramp onto the dolphin watching tour boat in Cape May.
I guess it’s all about context.
Is it Windy? Or is it Sailing Weather?
Yesterday I stepped out onto the porch as the wind gusted and I smiled.
I shocked myself. Because usually I hate being blown on. Riding in a convertible sounds like torture to me. I always shift the fan so it’s directed at my husband, no matter how hot the day. And twice, when considering my academic future, I didn’t even want to apply to schools in Chicago because it’s called “the Windy City.”
And yet, you need wind to propel a large boat without power.
I still don’t care for being blown on. And I fear being blown over when riding my bike in stiff winds. But sailing on a warm summer day with 25-30 knot gusts was exhilarating.
I wasn’t saying the same thing last October with the same wind conditions accompanied by cloudy skies and rain. That was scary. But I guess it’s all about context.
Try Scary Things in a Happy Context
I guess the lesson is to spend at least some of our learning time (Honey’s and mine) in a happy context.
Honey tolerated the swinging playground equipment better because she associated it with her walk and all the fun things we do outside. With the smell of pizza in the air there was even a possibility of mischief.
She didn’t balk at the boat ramp because it was obvious we were all packed up to go somewhere together. This wasn’t practice. We had luggage (poop bags, water bottle, dog bowl, etc.).
And, as for me, any activity is better in the sunshine.
Having fun in high winds, struggling to manage sails, and wrestling with the tiller on a beautiful day gives me equity in my courage account that I’ll need the next time it’s dark with storms threatening and we need to sail quickly into port.