Honey lies down to chew her bone. Ginny, our foster beagle, grabs the bone out of Honey’s mouth. Once Ginny tires of the bone, she walks on Honey’s face. No reaction. So Ginny grabs the end of Honey’s tail and pulls. Hard.
Honey just watches as we distract Ginny with another toy. She knows that the best reaction to a playful adolescent is to keep calm. If Honey got all excited, she would either rile Ginny up more. Or she might provoke a scrap.
Think there’s a lesson here for me?
Keep Calm on the Road
The other day I was riding my bike home after work.
I saw a car pull up to the intersection I was getting ready to cross. She had no signal on so I assumed she’d cross the street behind me. But I put my hands on the brakes just in case she did something unpredictable.
Just as I was pedaling through the intersection, she turned left in front of me (perhaps thinking I had a stop sign?). She quickly realized I wasn’t stopping so she corrected herself to stay in the oncoming traffic lane (which was luckily empty) and avoided hitting me.
But she also thought she should be able to pass me so she continued driving in the left lane instead of stopping. I was traveling at over 15 mph so it wasn’t her smartest moment.
For a brief moment I considered the standard bicyclist’s response to a near miss—banging on the hood of the car.
But many hours of watching Honey deal with nuisances reminded me to keep calm.
It could not have ended well anyway. I probably would have moved off the handlebars just as I went over one of the many punishing potholes on my street and crashed.
As the driver accelerated and finally passed me, I thought back to times I had done stupid things behind the wheel—looking at the wrong traffic light and going when I should have stopped. Not registering the pedestrian standing at the start of the crosswalk. Forgetting to look behind me before backing up.
Eventually my heart stopped racing. And besides a little grousing to my husband later, I let it go (until now).
Deciding to keep calm was the right thing to do. Right?
Keep Calm in the Face of Puppies
Shelters and rescue organizations have a tough time finding foster homes for dogs who don’t like other dogs. Most people who love dogs enough to foster them already have dogs of their own.
We’ve had a couple of foster dogs who, while not aggressive, didn’t really care for Honey. They’d prefer to be an only dog. For one reason or another, they didn’t do well in the shelter. So they came home with us.
And we’ve had several irritating, shark-toothed, cute-as-can-be puppies.
Honey has always done well. We try to keep the stays short. No reason to stress her calm skills (after all, dogs can’t say “serenity now“). But Honey’s advice for dealing with irritating puppies? Keep calm.
Fake It ’til You Make It
Scientists have found that smiling makes us feel better. And that our body posture causes physiological changes that can make us feel more confident.
Maybe my golden retriever already knows what scientists are just discovering. If we want to feel calm when something irritates us, we need to keep calm. And chew lots of Nylabones.
Keep calm. It’s good for the dog. And it’s good for me.