The Puppiness Project – Try Your Dreams On for Size

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 in her life jacket

Wait, I thought we dressed up to go to the Oscars. You mean you expect me to get wet?

Honey is a sweet and gentle girl. And she’s a little on the fearful side.

Everyone in the neighborhood knows this about her. The nasty cat that rules the neighborhood slowly ambles through the yard in a way that shows she knows Honey is no one to be feared. And even the squirrels take their time  scampering up the tree.

On her bravest day Honey is no threat. But sometimes she likes to channel her inner German Shepherd.

Honey gets her bark on.

In the morning, while she’s waiting for her walk, Honey likes to put her front paws up on the back of the couch and watch the world go by outside. Sometimes she’ll turn back to look at me before barking ferociously at something going by outside.

Now remember, this is a dog who normally doesn’t bark.

Maybe I’m anthropomorphizing but I think Honey’s trying on her big girl bark to see what it feels like. Of course, only in a safe setting.

Testing a dream.

I’m ready for an adventure. Life is short and I can’t imagine looking back at the end of my life and feeling satisfied with more days spent wearing a bra and shoes than not.

You may know that my husband and I spent last summer learning to sail.

Sailing fills many yearnings that I have, for:

  • learning new things;
  • using my body as much as my mind;
  • living with very little stuff;
  • not relying on internal combustion engines;
  • meeting new people;
  • seeing new places;
  • being more self-reliant;
  • experiencing a little more danger (not a lot more danger—don’t expect me to take off for Tierra Del Fuego any time soon);
  • spending lots of time in a compact environment with the human and canine I love most;
  • and, of course, a barefoot and bra-less life.

Of course, there are a few things holding me back from hopping on a sailboat and taking off for realms unknown:

  • I’m not a very good sailor, yet;
  • I don’t own a sailboat:
  • I can’t afford to buy one;
  • I wouldn’t know how to pick one even if I could afford it;
  • I have no idea how to support myself while living on a boat;
  • and Honey is as much of a ‘fraidy-cat as I am.

So, like Honey channeling her inner German Shepherd and sounding the alert while protecting the house (she’s doing it as I write), I’m channeling my inner sailor.

Mike at the wheel of the sailboat on Lake Ontario.

Mike has everything he needs to be a happy sailor on Lake Ontario: a sun hat, a cold drink, and his fly swatter. Note all the bare feet.

I prepare all my meals in a 1 foot x 1 foot area comparable to a sailboat galley. When I’m riding my bike to work, I try to tell where the wind is coming from and remind myself what point of sail I’d be on if I were on a boat. I look at the objects in my house and imagine living without them. And I try to get through the month spending hardly any money.

See, it’s just like living on a sailboat—without the tropical breezes (C’mon, do you really think my dream is to explore the Canadian coastline forever? To paraphrase the patriot Patrick Henry, “Give me Bimini or give me death.”)

It’s a safe, affordable, and easy way to try a dream on for size. After all, if I don’t like living simply and in tight quarters with all the luxuries of a house, what makes me think it will be more fun on a boat?

And of course, if it’s good enough for Honey, it’s good enough for me.

Honey’s living her dream.

Honey has finished her barkfest at the window. She lying quietly at my feet while I write. This is the Honey I usually see. Not a territorial guard dog but a faithful friend.

The next time I take her outside, she’ll look placidly at the cats. And if they don’t take off running at the sight of us, Honey will eventually start dancing on the end of her leash and go into a play bow. When she spots a squirrel in a nearby tree, she’ll give a friendly wag.

After all, she’s a Golden Retriever, no one’s idea of a guard dog. Except maybe in her dreams.

Do you think your dog dreams of being someone different than he is? And how about you? Have you ever “tried out” your dream for size?

Monday Mischief Blog Hop

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  1. Woof! Woof! Learning a new SKILL is a great thing. The HAPPINESS Project is wonderful. Happy Monday Mischief. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

  2. Another great post Pamela. I don’t know if I can get my bark on like Honey, but I know I didn’t do much trying out my dream before taking that leap of faith and doing it. I kept in with both feet. I think I may get back to it one day, but right now I’m just trying to make up for the mistakes I made so I can try it again.
    I don’t thinks dogs have any dres they are working up to, but it’s kind of fun to imagine what they would be!

  3. What a terrific post!

  4. I love it, my dream is to work from home by writing, I try to practice this on Saturday and Sundays. 😉

    It is very smart of you to work in this manner, I don’t think I could manage in a 1 x 1 space. I can barely manage in a 6 x 6.

  5. My problem is that I still don’t know what my dreams are. At thirty, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. It’s why I just studied a subject I loved in unversity instead of learning something practical in order to get a job. I’m always so envious of people like yourself who seem to know exactly what they want.

    Maybe that’s my dream? To figure out what my dream is?

    I don’t think my dog ever dreams of being someone else. Maybe in brief spurts. Like if another dog has a treat and she doesn’t. 😛

  6. I wanted to be a linguist and an Olympic open jumper rider. Even with my speech impediment (damn cancer), I am often better at pronouncing odd and difficult words than my colleagues; I love words. OK, I won’t make the Olympics but a friend has a horse I can ride….I need to make the time and find my saddles like you sailing in your home.
    Gentle Honey – she will bark when she needs to – and mean it!

  7. As long as you feel it in your heart, it’s a good experience! We all have to try on different hats and live our dreams, even if it’s on a small scale!

  8. I think Our Best Friend wants to save the world, one dog/person at a time. Unfortunately, it doesn’t need saving (not by him and his methods of manic barking, anyway).

    My dream, I suppose, is to conquer my fear of failure enough to attempt my dreams. As my life evolves and changes, I’m hoping that I’ll have the courage to tackle all my fears head-on. If I can survive the next six months to a year, I think I’ll survive anything.

  9. I love the idea of trying your dreams on for size. I used to make these sweeping, lofty goals… and I realized I was never meeting any of them. So, this year when I was thinking about goals, I decided to think of things that I wanted to try/accomplish, and broke them down into smaller pieces. I’m not really sure what my dream is at this point – sometimes I worry that I’m too scattered. What’s that saying? A jack of all trades is master of none? However, I think that I’m treating this as a year of discovery and trying to figure out which of my disparate interests I’d like to pursue more seriously. I’m easing in to a few different things, and we’ll see which one really takes hold.

    (However, I need to snap out of my annual February doldrums and catch back up on blogging and blog reading! I think that’s going to have to be step one.)

  10. I hope you enjoy many happy sails.
    By the way, I love walking around in bare feet inside and out.
    And in the winter I love the fluffiest, cushioniest slippers I can find.

  11. JF and Dewi dream of chasing the deer as far as their little legs will take them. Then, of course, they’d be stranded in the woods, pooped and thirsty. Maybe dogs are too impulsive to have big dreams.

    I had a dream to be an exotic animal vet at a zoo, but wound up going to a different school so I could “try on” someone else’s dream. It didn’t last very long. But, even still, I wouldn’t trade the life I got for a do-over for anything.

    I do have a dream to travel abroad someday, but since I can’t afford it, I watch a lot of “An Idiot Abroad” (Science Channel – you’d love it) and live vicariously through others.

    Unless the door slams shut in your face, keep the sailing dream alive. :) At least keep sailing! It obviously suits you well!

  12. What’s hard to imagine is the joy that you get from seeing new places. I’m telling you – it’s completely addictive! After a year in the RV, Rod and I can’t even imagine going back to living in one place again. We may want to get a house again and be stationary at some point, but right now it’s not something we can even begin to picture ourselves doing. The pleasure we get from traveling makes all the “inconveniences” irrelevant.