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.
A Dog With a Job
Honey always has to work for her food. Today she had to work a little harder than usual.
I couldn’t find the Kong we usually feed her out of. So I decided to make Honey search for her breakfast.
While Honey practiced a down-stay on the kitchen rug, I hid one piece of her food somewhere on the first floor. When I got back to the kitchen, I told her to “find it” and waited for her to sniff out her breakfast. We did this over and over until she had found all twenty or so of her food morsels—hidden in shoes, under furniture, on window sills, and in the recycling bin in the closet.
When Mike came down to eat breakfast and put on his shoes, Honey ignored him. She was a dog on a mission. Nothing could interrupt her tracking the scent of her food.
If Ideas Were Raindrops, I’d be Drowning
Maybe I don’t let myself get hungry enough, but I have never shown Honey’s level of focus on anything.
As I write this, I have Pandora playing Gillian Welch. I just put a few pens and a stapler into the desk drawer and wondered if I should get up to clean my glasses (which I’m not even wearing). I wrote down two ideas for future blog posts in my notebook. I ran my mind over the post I’m working on for A Traveler’s Library. Then, while capturing the link in the last sentence, I got distracted by the post and left a comment. Big focus fail.
Somewhere in there I thought of the next sentence for this post and got back to typing.
In the middle of the night I’m flooded with thoughts. Over the past year I’ve started meditating when I awaken in the early morning. It doesn’t focus me as well as nose work does Honey. But it’s a start.
When I strip down my surroundings, I’m happy focusing on one thing.
When camping, we seldom use lights after dark and let our eyes adjust to the darkness. I don’t miss the radio—its absence allows me to hear chipmunks, loons, and frogs. On a sailboat, I don’t even feel the need to read. Watching a cat’s-paw across the surface of the water is entertaining enough.
The World At The Tip Of Your Nose
Studying history in college taught me to always look at the big picture. And I try to stay informed about history in the making. Striking mine workers in Africa will shape technology in the wealthiest part of the world. And China is overturning traditional ideas of capitalism.
I find it hard to shut the brain off.
But then I wonder why I feel the need to bring so many new ideas into my life. If it’s to be a better citizen or a more compassionate person or someone who uses natural resources with respect, am I really reaching those goals? Or would I do more if I shrank my world a little bit, or even occasionally, the way Honey does when she’s sniffing out her breakfast?
After all, am I more compassionate thinking of the millions of suffering people in the world and feeling helpless? Or when I focus on the people in pain I meet each day? And am I using our world’s resources more responsibly when I’m reading about peak oil online or when I go outside and look for snakes while walking Honey in the woods?
Maybe focus is good for more than sniffing out food.
If I try to do one thing at a time, perhaps making mischief with Honey by playing hide and seek outside the high school class rooms or looking for people near me who need help, the focus will make me a better person.
After all, Honey knows how to focus. And she’s kind and smart and friendly. What could be better than that?
Welcome to Monday Mischief – The pet blog hop that wraps up the weekend! This Blog Hop is brought to you by Alfie’s Blog, Snoopy’s Dog Blog, My Brown Newfies and Luna, A Dog’s Life and you can read more about how to link up here.