The Puppiness Project – Let People Know You’d Like to be Their Friend

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 on bed

This reminds me of my favorite song: "For he's a jolly good pillow, for he's a jolly good pillow..."

Saturday night we went out to the marina to watch the boats coming in for the night. We spotted a powerboat with a beautiful Golden Retriever and we smiled and waved to each other. A half hour later, the boat’s owner walked over so Lucia and Honey could meet.

Honey was very excited. She gave her best play bow. Her butt wiggle. Her spin around on the end of the leash. But Lucia wasn’t interested. So we coaxed Honey away while we continued to talk to Lucia’s person.

Eventually, we saw Lucia start to warm up. She walked over to sniff Honey. Then she play bowed. And soon they were off in a wrestling mass of golden fur.

Lucia wasn’t sure about Honey at first. But Honey didn’t hold back in letting Lucia know she was interested in playing.

I meet all kinds of folks who are just as interesting in their own way as Lucia the Golden Retriever was to Honey. And yet I find it hard to reach out to them in the way that Honey does (although I have an adorable play bow, if I do say so myself).

Old high school and college friends have me thinking twice before I send a Facebook request. Will they remember me? Am I being too forward if I invite someone from work over for drinks on the porch after dinner? Will the person who writes that neat blog think I’m stalking them if I send a friendly email? If I knock on my neighbor’s door, will she hide in the closet until she thinks I’m gone?

Being an extrovert means you want to spend more time around people. It doesn’t mean you’re good at it.

So I need to channel a little more Golden Retriever. Maybe it’s time to grab a blond wig, get my “Honey” on, and make a point of meeting someone new. And maybe even letting them know I’d like to be their friend.


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  1. I’m thinking that introducing a little but wiggle, like Honey, you won’t have trouble with friending folks at all! :)

    • Obviously, you are unaware that I have inherited what’s known as the Fegley heinie. That means that a little butt wiggle is likely to wipe out an entire small town.

      I don’t think that would make me too many friends. :)

  2. Love the concept — I’m always assuming the worst about people remembering me, wanting to hear from me, etc. — and love the phrase “getting your Honey on”! It’s got me thinking about dogs’ names that it wouldn’t work with. “Getting your Frankie on” for example. But maybe that’s got more to do with his personality than with the sound of his name….

    • In your case, “getting your Frankie on” might have a different meaning. Maybe it means not suffering fools or something like that.

  3. Here I am hiding behind an alias, and about to say “I’ll be your friend!” If that’s not creepy, what is? :(

    Truthfully, plenty of bloggers have my email and my real name (at least my first name), and they’re all welcome to come visit!

    I’m terrified of approaching strangers for fear they’ll think I’m weird for approaching them. It’s easier in the blogosphere, where a kind word is really all you need. And I think the best part of your little scenario is making Honey respect the “back off” cue until someone is ready to play. Sometimes it’s not us– it’s a bad day, the boss yelled at them, dinner burned on the stove the night before, they have a medical exam coming up… you have to shrug and believe, “It’s not me, it’s them.” And always be ready for a second chance to play.

    • “always be ready for a second chance to play.” Very wise words! I should tattoo that on my arm where I can see it every day.

  4. Jeepers, this sounds just like me. I’m plagued with self-doubt that anyone of any interest at all would want to spend time with me. Guess I need to do more work on that butt-wiggle…

    • Let me know how the butt wiggle works out for you. As you can see to my response to Mel, that’s not an option for me. :)

  5. Hahaha! I’ve often pondered how much harder it is to make friends as an adult. As a child all it took was a common interest in the swings at the playground and all of a sudden you had a new BFF for the day. I can’t exactly walk up to someone and be all “you like vanilla lattes? I love vanilla latte! Want to be my friend?”

    It doesn’t work. Although, at the dog park, it does get your foot in the door.

    “You have a dog? I love dogs! Let’s chat about dogs!”

    • But why can’t you just walk up to someone saying, “I like what you like. Won’t you be my friend?” Why does it sound so pitiful when you’re a grown up?

      I haven’t found the dog park quite as chatty a place. I go when all the other tight*ssed people are there supervising their dogs so no one gets hurt. All the sociable people go later in the day (and risk fights and worse). :(

  6. Boy do I share the sentiment! I often see people that I’d really like to be more friendly with, but I often hold so much back. I think I’m a lot more interesting online than I am in real life, though! lol

    For the record, though, I love getting e-mail from people who read the blog! 😛

    • I suspect your students find you far more interesting in real life than online (and not just because they’re too young to read). And I’m sure Mr. Taleteller and Lilac, Blueberry, Bunny, and Morgan have all kinds of fun stories to tell about you. :)

  7. I am guilty of only feeling comfortable starting conversations with other dog people 😉 I think it’s because then I at least I know that we have something in common!!

    I have to thank my girl Cali (she is a golden/aussie mix) for helping me meet so many nice people – I don’t know what I would do without her to break the ice :)

  8. Great post. Had me questioning my method of interacting with new people. :)

    • Don’t tell your husband I was the one telling you to wiggle your butt to meet new people. I don’t want to get in trouble. :)

  9. I love the line about the blond wig and getting your Honey on…BOL!! I wish all it took was a play bow to make new friends. :) Wouldn’t life be so much easier? And if you think being an extrovert is difficult, try being an introvert trying to make friends. Yes it would all be easier with a Honey play bow!

    Thanks for the book you recommended. (When Bones From the Sky) I’ll have to look into that one. I appreciate the thought and understanding. Thank you.

    • The best things about dog friendships is that even if one dog decides he doesn’t like another, no one takes it personally. If we could learn that, trying to make friends (even when we fail) would be so much easier.

  10. I’ve probably missed out on making a lot of good friends as I’m too shy to make the first move … and maybe they are too? I think having a dog or dogs is a good icebreaker but while the dogs have made me lots of lovely acquaintances I haven’t made a lot of good friends, but the few good friends I’ve made are worth it. Without the dogs I’m totally socially inept though!

    Did you get any tips from the people with Lucia about getting Honey used to sailing?

    • I’ll carry your story to my grave. But I’ll just say that embarrassing moments involving your dog can certainly get folks laughing which is often the first step to making new friends (if you can survive the humiliations).

      Lucia’s people said that the day they brought her home from the breeder, they took her out on the boat for a five hour ride. And she’s been good ever since. We, unfortunately, did not have the chance with Honey. :(

  11. Haha! I am much more reserved (like Bella). I wish i could be more like Daisy at times though. She never takes rejection personally and I’m not sure how she manages that!

    • That’s the joy of being a dog, I guess. It is what it is and there’s not point in taking anything personally.

  12. Great idea! It’s so easy to convince yourself that the other person should make the first move… but why not just do it yourself? :)