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.
Do Dogs Feel Pride?
Love? Most certainly.
Anger? Oh yeah.
But do dogs actually feel proud of their accomplishments?
I think so. I’ve seen it. And I bet you have too.
Training the Dog To Shake Paws
Lots of people want to meet Honey when we’re out on the street. I ask her to sit for a calm greeting. At least half the time, the person puts his hand out and says, “Paw.” “Paw.”
I replied, “She doesn’t know that one.” After all, I’ve never been big on teaching tricks.
But eventually I got tired of disappointing people.
So I taught her “high five” and “paw.” We’re working on the fist bump next.
Although I’m uninterested in teaching Honey tricks (and pretty darn poor at it anyway), she likes learning them. And when I’ve finally figured out how to tell her what I’d like her to do, she gets it quickly.
She looks very proud of herself.
I bet you’ve seen it with your dog. That moment she finally understands what you’re asking her to do. And that flit of joy that crosses her face as she does it.
Honey doesn’t know it’s considered bad manners to brag. And that ladies don’t boast. She’s just pleased to have figured something out. And proud.
It Was Nothing
When I meet a goal, I have to force myself to feel proud.
I’m usually thinking about how much more I have to do. And how what I’ve already done could have been much better. Besides, pride is a sin and only obnoxious people feel good about what they’ve done.
It’s far better to be humble.
Except it isn’t.
Because I find it so hard to take pride in my accomplishments, I always feel like a failure. And it’s hard to keep going when you don’t feel like you’ve done what you were supposed to do.
I don’t think I’m the only one.
I’ve seen comments from people who feel bad they haven’t been able to make their dog less scared. I’ve talked to others who beat themselves up for not having better tech skills or getting more blog subscribers.
I’m not the only one who could use more pride and less humility.
Dogs Celebrate the Moment
Honey feels proud when she learns a new trick because she’s not thinking of all the other tricks she could do.
She doesn’t care that it took her a whole day to learn something.
And she certainly doesn’t worry that a tail wag and a little hop to celebrate an accomplishment will make her look like a jerk to another dog. She’s proud because she’s celebrating in that moment and nowhere else.
I need to learn from Honey and I bet you do too.
As soon as I finish this post, I’m going to allow myself to feel proud that I wrote it. I’ll celebrate the fact that I can write and hope that my words will stick with someone (hopefully, myself).
I’ll try to wait at least ten whole minutes before I spot the typo I missed before I hit publish or berate myself for choosing headlines that don’t use good keywords.
I hope you’ll take some time today to show dog-like pride in your accomplishments. That you’ll give a little tail wag when your dog comes running up to you for attention. And you’ll be proud of your photos and writing and friendships.
Besides, I don’t think pride is a sin. At worst, it’s just a little mischief.