Life wouldn’t be much fun without fantasies. But what does it take to make a fantasy come true?
Ask the naked man on the beach.
An Island Dream
Tom Neale wanted to live alone on a South Seas island. Well, not entirely alone. He did take two cats with him for company.
He wrote about two of his extended stays on the island of Suvarov (now commonly called Suwarrow) in the Cook Island archipelago. Check out my review of An Island to Oneself (this is an affiliate link) at A Traveler’s Library.
Neale spent years learning the skills he’d need to make is his island fantasy come true. He worked hard. He sacrificed everything to his goal.
So what does this cat-lover on an island have to tell us about dogs?
Let’s look at some common dog fantasies first and then I’ll tell you.
People come up to me all the time and share their doggy fantasies.
When I’m walking a foster puppy, they tell me how they’d love to get a puppy, a sweet, fuzzy thing to cuddle. Or they mention how nice it would be to have a dog who wasn’t messed up by someone else’s training mistakes.
When they spot Honey on her best behavior, they tell me how nice it must be to have a pure bred dog where you know exactly what you’re getting.
And sometimes they tell me they can’t wait until they buy a house or find a pet-friendly apartment so they can get a dog of their own.
I wonder how Tom Neale, who made his fantasy come true, would tell these people who want fantasy dogs.
Talking Back to Dog Fantasies
Neale’s fantasy spoke to many people. Like puppy lovers, they imagined a life of bliss—sitting on the beach drinking coconut water—without the work to sustain it.
Puppies are like deserted beaches, alluring from a distance but more challenging up close. Where a tropical beach brings biting crabs and sun poisoning, puppies are sharp teeth attached to a bladder that needs emptying every fifteen minutes.
See? Beautiful but deadly.
As for getting just what you expect, life offers no guarantees. I learned that every Golden Retriever isn’t the same when I discovered Honey doesn’t like to swim.
Tom Neale prepared himself well for the winter storms that would buffet his island. And yet he was still surprised to find that the coral dock he spent six months repairing was destroyed after one storm.
Knowing what to expect still leaves plenty of room for the unexpected.
And finally, people who are waiting until they can have a dog could learn a lot from Mr. Neale.
In decades working aboard merchant ships, Neale took every opportunity to learn new skills. Once he knew he would be settling on his island alone, he made lists, gathered materials, and planned his work.
There’s no reason a dog lover can’t prepare for having a dog years in advance. Volunteering at the local shelter, reading training books, and talking to other dog people would be excellent preparation to adopt a dog.
Making Fantasy Come True
Fantasies are fun. I personally believe most of them should stay fantasies.
But if you’re planning to make a fantasy come true, whether it has to do with dogs, deserted islands, or whatever, take a lesson from Tom Neale:
Be ready to work hard to make your fantasy a reality. And expect that both the pain and the joy will be greater than anything you could imagine.
Your Turn: Have you ever fantasized about living on a tropical island with only your pets for company? Have you worked to make one of your fantasies come true?
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