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, and Chérie, our visiting Foster Pup.
Learning Dog Tricks
Honey will never dance the merengue.
She’s smart enough. She’s certainly cute enough. But she’s not good at balancing on her hind legs.
And yet, one of her favorite tricks is “circus” where she jumps up on her hind legs for a treat. She often rests her paw on my arm to stay standing. Or she’ll make more than one attempt. She’s just not very good at it. But she has fun anyway.
Honey stinks at balancing. But she keeps trying.
Learning Human Tricks
I am the world’s worst dog trainer.
My timing is always off. I continually drop treats. My own legs get tangled in the leash. I have such mangled body language that Honey can’t understand what I’m trying to tell her.
I swore I would never teach Honey tricks.
I had no need for her to perform. She’s cute enough. Besides, I’m much more interested in having a dog that just participates in my life with me.
But over the past few months working with Honey and a trainer, I’ve loved seeing her flourish. She’s an eager student. She appears to be proud of herself when she figures something out. And she’s becoming more confident.
I love spending time with her. So I’ve gotten some training books out and started working on some tricks.
She already knew “high five” and “circus.” Next I taught her to give me her paw—it took about 3 tries. Now we’re working on shaping a roll over.
Yep, I still stink. The book by Dr. Ian Dunbar tells me to move a treat by her nose and over her shoulder to coax her into rolling over. Yeah, right. It isn’t pretty. But she is starting to shift onto her side in the first step toward rolling over.
Just Have Fun
My paternal grandmother made a quilt every year. They were very odd.
The patterns and colors clashed. The stitches were crooked and all different sizes.
My Grammy Douglas taught my Grammy Fegley (maternal grandmother) how to quilt. The student excelled over the teacher. Grammy Fegley’s quilts were perfect. The colors and patterns coordinated perfectly. And every stitch was exactly the same size and as straight as can be.
But I don’t have any quilts by my Grammy Fegley. It wasn’t really in her nature to give. I have several from my Grammy Douglas, including one that falls apart a little more every time I pick it up.
In decades of making quilts, my Grammy Douglas never made a perfect one. I can only think she did it so long because she found it satisfying.
Whenever I wonder if I should do something I enjoy that I’m not very good at, like painting watercolors, bicycling, or dog training, I think of my grandmother. And I remember that doing something well isn’t always the point.
Sometimes it’s ok to just have fun.
Let’s Be Bad Together
No, I’m not talking about getting into all kinds of mischief with Honey, although that’s a good idea too.
If Honey can have fun doing a trick she stinks at, I can have fun stinking at teaching her a new one. What’s the worst that will happen? Honey will get a lot of treats and I get to spend time with my dog.
Maybe stinking isn’t so bad after all.
Only 5 Days Left
To support Honey and me (and Chérie) in the March for the Animals. One lucky person will be chosen at random to win an Amazon gift card. So don’t wait. Make your gift today.
Welcome to Monday Mischief – The pet blog hop that wraps up the weekend! This Blog Hop is brought to you by Alfie’s Blog, Snoopy’s Dog Blog, My Brown Newfies and Luna, A Dog’s Life and you can read more about how to link up here.