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.
This week I’m learning life lessons from two dogs: Honey and our foster puppy Scooter. Observing the two of them together is a master’s class in relationship-building.
Honey chooses her battles.
Honey was here first. And she’ll be here long after Scooter goes off to his forever home.
So we try to accord Honey the respect she’s earned as furry diva of the house. That means Scooter can’t take Honey’s preferred spot on the couch or have all the freedom she has.
We’ve also noticed that Honey will sometimes guard balls from other dogs in the dog park. We wanted to be very careful that Scooter didn’t get in over his head if he decided he wanted something belonging to Honey.
For those reasons, we were a little concerned when Scooter started eying Honey’s Nylabone—while she was chewing it.
First he looked. Then he jumped up against the couch. He swiped at the bone. Then Scooter quietly, gently swiped the bone right out of Honey’s mouth and ran off with it to the cushion by the bookcase.
Honey just watched.
It’s just not fair.
I’ve been known to wade into an occasional conflict when I think a situation is unfair. Sometimes the unfairness is really important and needs to be corrected immediately. But other times, it’s not worth the effort.
I remember serving on a management team at a previous job when someone suggested that non-management staff should be prohibited from having coffee or tea at their desks. The reason given was that the staff members had precious archival items on their desks that could be damaged if liquids spilled.
The crazy thing is that management staff were as likely to have archival materials on their desks as anyone else in the building. We all worked in an historical archive, after all. And we all had computers which can also be damaged by spilled liquids.
The illogic and unfairness of this arbitrary decision made me insane. And I’m not a coffee drinker and believe everyone should take breaks away from their desk on a regular basis anyway.
I put a lot of (wasted) energy into fighting this policy. And for what? I have no idea.
(Well, I have a little idea. I have very little tolerance for nonsense unless it’s for the purpose of entertainment. Nonsense as policy makes me nuts. )
I need to learn from Honey how to choose my battles.
Just let it go, like a gnawed on Nylabone.
A large part of Honey’s decision not to fight Scooter over the bone was her realization that Scooter is just a puppy. She cuts him a lot of slack.
Just like Honey recognizes that children are different from adults, she knows a puppy is not an adult dog.
But I think the look of resignation on Honey’s face told me that this battle was not worth fighting. She’d get the bone back eventually.
In the meantime, why give up her comfy spot on the couch?
In the future, I’ll channel Honey when I’m deciding which battles to take up. And when I should just keep the comfy spot on the couch and let everyone else worry about what’s fair.
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