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.
Honey has assigned herself the job of monitoring my computer time. If she’s decided I’ve been sitting at my desk too long, Honey lets out a series of high pitched barks.
Now you fellow dog people know that sound–the attention bark. You know that if you respond to it immediately, your dog will learn that’s the best way to get what she wants. And with increased repetitions, your eardrums will eventually bleed.
I started ignoring the barks and praising her when she settled down.
But I also noticed something. Honey never barked for attention this way when I was doing anything else. Washing dishes? No problem, she’d lay on her pillow and chew on a bone. Reading a book? Honey would cuddle up beside me and chew on a bone. Talking on the phone? She’d lay down in the hallway and chew on her bone.
Sitting at the computer for too long always caused Honey to urge me to get up and do something else for a while.
I choose to accept it as primal, puppy knowledge.
Maybe Honey knows that I’m being blasted with low levels of radiation for every hour in front of the screen. Or maybe she knows something about the quiet, continual whine of the fan. And just maybe she knows that it’s good to get up, move your body, and do a variety of activities.
So now when Honey tries to bark me away from the computer, I’ll wait until she settles but then I’ll do some dishes, straighten up a mess, or even play a quick game of tug. And I bet I’ll feel better for it.