Thursday, August 28, 2008

It's the Heart that Counts

When my children (the human variety) were small, they'd often bring me gifts and surprises and little treasures of which they were very proud and in which the found great joy in giving.

Fist-fulls of dandelions come to mind.

Now, mind you, dandelions make my eyes redden, swell, and water (and not with tears of joy), and they make me sneeze, but you can bet I didn't tell my kids that at the time. I just received their precious offerings each time with a huge smile, an enthusiastic hug, a sincere "thank you," and a "how thoughtful of you to think of Mommy!"

So what if I'm allergic to dandelions! Their gifts were from the heart; it was their love and joy and generosity of spirit that mattered. I wanted to affirm that every chance I got!

And so it goes with our puppies. :o)

I've been thinking about Pinot, who just turned one year old, and Tuc, the little imp, who's all of 3.5 months old. It's way too easy to rush their development. I'm learning to treasure (and giggle over) their attempts to please us, no matter what the outcomes of their attempts may be.

You see, they're doing the best they can, appropriately for their ages. And while I may be less-than-thrilled with their "dandelions" as such, I find great joy in their spirits.

Take Pinot's learning to jump off the dock, for example.

Here's Kenya's jumping style for comparison:

Isn't she gorgeous?!

Now, here's Pinot's jumping style from the very same place just seconds later (she's so eager to please us, and she SO wanted to jump like Kenya):

Yes, this is actually her idea of a leap!

Well, maybe it was a dive. :o)

Okay... so it wasn't a bouquet of roses (look at Don's face!), but I'll take her dandelions any day of the week, especially when I look beyond the jump itself to the spirit behind the jump.

Sweet precious girl! She's so eager to learn, and she tries so hard. Eventually her growing body will catch up to her intellect. But in the meantime, we'll just have to take her heart for what it is (and ignore the outcomes for a time).

Same goes for little Tuc, even more so. Last weekend when he grew tired of swimming, he just couldn't wait to bring me these precious treasures he found:

Dad's shoe:

Dad's sock (notice Dad's shoe on the end of the dock top left in the picture):

Dad's hat and glasses (yes, those are his $300 bifocals in the cap Tuc is carrying):

Tuc was just so proud of himself for finding Dad's things! And he brought them right to us (to Don first, who was in the water, so Tuc left them on the dock), and then to me.

At least he didn't drop them in the lake!


What a guy!


You know, in our achievement/performance-oriented world, it would be easy for me to get frustrated. But what I manage to see more and more as the years go by is the heart behind the attempt to please us.

Their willing, innocent, eager-to-please hearts warm my heart; they make me smile.

I think that's why I'm enjoying Pinot and Tuc so much these days. I'm relishing their puppyhoods, maybe because I'm learning that puppyhood is a time to treasure and giggle through (just as childhood is). It's nothing to get worked up over, angry with, or frustrated about. There's enough in life, without puppy stuff, to take seriously. Child-like antics aren't one of them.

Besides, they'll grow up soon enough. Their wide-eyed wonder and enthusiasm will never be the same once they mature (though Labs as a breed keep their eagerness to please us throughout adulthood -- part of why I so love the breed). I may as well enjoy it while I can.

A sense of humor and a little patience go a long, long way toward building solid, trusting relationships in the long run (human and canine).

And it keeps the human blood pressure down. :o)

Besides, I can always use a few more laughs.

'Til next time,
(who's enjoying LOADS of chuckles over Tuc's antics today; let's just say they've included a bowl of ceral with milk, a roll of aluminum foil, the TV remote control, a bag of tortilla chips from the pantry, and on uprooted potted plant on the deck!). :o)


Susie said...

Fun stuff but how is the mama to be doing?!?! I think she is due for a nice long entry :)!!


Anonymous said...


Meesh said...

Absolutely grand advice-although it would have been more appropriate about a year and a half ago when my boy Chester was in his terrible 2's (months). NOW that he is almost 2 years old, I realize I should not have been worried so much about his antics. Chalk it up to being a first time lab mom. LOVE all the pictures! Chester's mom

JuliaR said...

OMG I laughed when I saw poor Pinot's dive from the dock. Still trying to keep her nose up. The opposite of the way she seems to swim, with the butt down. Sweetie.
Is there any way to teach her to paddle the hind legs more? Just curious.

Joan said...

Chester's Mom,

Isn't that the way of it??? I wish we had the wisdom of experience while we had the energy and opportunities of youth. Raising kids (and previous pups) would've been so much less stressful!

Maybe it's finally reaching that age where I don't quite feel the need to prove something like I once did. In any case, I'm having a ball with our gang here (canine and human), learning to laugh through and enjoy each day in ways I never have before.

It's quite liberating!

Enjoy that little guy of yours...Chester's not THAT old yet! :o)

And thanks for commenting; always a treat to hear from you!

Butt rubbs and ear scratches to Chester from us (and hugs to you!),


Joan said...


I'm floored that no one else but you has noticed that picture of Pinot! I busted out laughing when I saw it the first time (I think it's priceless). LOL... it still makes me chuckle.

I'll post about this sometime, but Pinot DID eventually learn to move her head forward, which brought her butt up, when she swam. By the end of the weekend, she was swimming as smoothly as Kenya.

Don DID work with her (held her by the collar having her swim circles around him -- kinda like a horse on lead), deliberately trying to get her to reach forward with her head (which again naturally allows her butt to come up higher in the water).

AND, I think Kenya helped her (truly). Pinot had to keep her head down to hold a dummy in her mouth with Kenya.

In any case, even without Don and Kenya, I suspect Pinot would have eventually gotten it on her own (Elsie did).

I think they just need time and practice.

Good question! It's nice to know you're still up there in the northern-lands! :O)