Wags n Words Healthy Dogs & Happy Tales

June 29, 2010

Confidence

“Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.”

Dr. Seuss

I woke this morning, stretched my noisy stretched, saw the gray outside and reminded myself that I have the best life I could possibly have. My cheery outlook on the gray day comes not from some hidden knowledge about the mysteries of life, but from reading Dr. Seuss books. I found a stash last night in the basement — a stack so tall I think it qualifies as an earthquake hazard.

Simple books to read, Dr. Seuss offers anything but simple wisdom. In fact, he is quite profound. And his poetic, sing-songy approach stuck in my head all day today as we went about our business. I’m tempted to try and duplicate his writing style, but I know I can’t do it justice. Still, reading his work has given me a new perspective on the world.

Lately, Gretchen and I have been having deep and meaningful conversations about confidence. I find confidence a curious human attribute and have come to realize that confidence in dogs is as complicated as it is with people. For instance, there are days when my confidence feels like a balloon expanding in my chest. I head out on a walk, see a squirrel, and am convinced (despite past experience) that I can catch it. Inside of me the balloon fills rapidly and full of its energy, I burst forth with such a belief in myself that I know nothing can stop me.

Other times, there is no balloon. Instead, there is a quivering hole inside my belly sucking any belief in myself right out through my toes. I worry that I am not brave enough or trusting enough or smart enough or strong enough to face the thing that I worry about — like a stranger’s hand coming to pet the top of my head or the big Rottweiler slobbering toward me or the unexpected bone-shaking boom of (illegal) fireworks.

Gretchen says she has the same insecurities and that her confidence waxes and wanes throughout the day and has done so throughout her lifetime. I’m not sure that gives me a lot of confidence that I might overcome my fears, but she assures me that as I get older the gripping fear that sometimes makes me bark or tremble will diminish and not have any power over me. I can tell, now that I’m three-years-old, that it’s already starting to subside, but still there are those times when confidence alludes me and I must contemplate why I feel so uncertain and doubtful.

On our first walk of the day, Ollie and I discussed confidence at length. Younger than me, Ollie is skittish about certain things. When I asked him about his confidence he said, “I try, Rubin. I really, really try not to jump at weird shapes and sounds and people, but something inside of me reacts before I can contain it.”


I know how he feels, but I tried to reassure him. “That happened to me, too, Ollie, but as I’ve gotten older and seen and experienced more of life, I am less jumpy. Be patient with yourself.”

Rosie, according to Gretchen, has her confidence and insecurities all tangled together. “She had a rough start to life,” Gretchen told me, “And so there are instances and experiences where the past flares up and grabs and shakes her confidence at the neck.”

“Is she getting better?” I asked.

“Yes, much better and she’s very lucky to be with such a wonderful family.”

That made me smile.

Now Gemma is probably the picture next to the dictionary definition of “confidence” since everything about her vibrates confidence. “But sometimes that gets her into trouble,” Gretchen warned.

“How so?” I asked, curious.

“Well, she boldly steps into situations that can sometimes be dangerous — like putting her face into the face of a muzzled dog.”

“Oh, yeah, that would be bad,” I agreed.

“Wait a minute,” Gemma interrupted, “I take umbrage with that comment.”

Umbrage? I rest my case about Gemma and her confidence!

Where Gemma has a cocky confidence, Zoe has a goofy confidence. She bounds through life confident that everything and everyone is going to like her. She approaches each new situation like it’s an invitation and then proceeds to curl up next to it waiting for the love to ooze forth. If I were to bottle up confidence and drink it for breakfast, I’d bottle up Zoe’s.

Or maybe even Saber’s because he’s a lot like Zoe. He has a few more fears — like umbrellas and weird garbage in the street — but overall he is liquid confidence that wiggles hilariously at the hips. And that tail!  I think Gretchen and I have both been happily bruised by that tail wagging with such joy it sends out vibrations into the world.


Yes, today — despite the philosophical undertones — was good and fun and tomorrow, yes, will be another one!

Keep your chin up!

Rubin

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