August 17, 2010

Learning Opportunities

Gretchen made a minor mistake at work last night and stayed up half the night worrying about it. She’s like that. Little things carry a big weight with her and if worry were edible, she’d consume her body weight in the stuff. So you can imagine, I had to have a consoling conversation with her that went something like this:

ME: I don’t like to think of them as mistakes.

HER: Oh really, Rubin, what do you call them?

Learning opportunities.

(Smile) And what mistakes have you made lately that you’ve learned something from?

I can think of one from today as a matter of fact.

Do tell.

You know how I don’t like to always eat breakfast, right?

I would have to say you rarely like to eat breakfast unless we’ve been swimming or one of your friends is here to encourage you on.

Yes, those are both truths, but we’re not going to discuss what makes me eat, okay?

I was just sayin…

Okay, as I was saying, I don’t always eat my breakfast, which is a mistake because as the morning progresses, I get hungry, really hungry.

So hungry you sometimes eat grass and then throw up.

Let’s not go into gory details. The point is that you’re right, eating breakfast is better for me and when I don’t eat it, I feel kind of crummy later on.

I appreciate your admitting that…

Well, thank you…

…but I’d like to point out you still go without eating breakfast so I’m not sure how you’ve learned anything.

I’m in the process of learning. That’s the beauty of mistakes — you can make the same one more than once and the world still doesn’t fall apart.

Do you stop making the mistake once you’ve learned?

No always.

So I guess I’m missing your point.

You can’t be perfect all the time, in fact, you can’t be perfect most of the time, which means that mistakes are a part of our lives from now until we die.

What about really big mistakes?

I wouldn’t know. I’ve never made a really big mistake.

Oh you haven’t, have you?

You doubt me?

Let’s just say I have a different perspective.

Come on! I’m a dog. How many really big mistakes can I make? I mean, I didn’t cause the banks to fail or cause unemployment. Those are really big mistakes.

Do you think people learned their lessons?

I don’t know those people. I just know you and I know you are way too hard on yourself and that if you made a really, really big mistake like that, you’d learn from it after feeling really, really bad and contrite.

Contrite? Wow, your vocabulary is really expanding.

Thank you, but that’s beside the point.

So could you please review the point so I’m sure I really get it?

Humans. Sometimes I wonder how on earth you became our masters.

I wonder sometimes too, buddy because frankly I learn far more from you than I do from most humans.

(Blushing) Shucks, thanks.

So your point?

You’re going to make mistakes in your life, Gretchen — big and little. You have to forgive yourself just like you forgive me when I bark uncontrollably at our weird neighbor or hog the bed or don’t come when you call me. You have to be as gentle and as loving with yourself as you are with me. Last night’s mistake was minor and no one thought otherwise, especially your boss. She just wanted you to learn from your mistake that’s why she pointed it out.


Do you understand?

Yeah, I get it, but I was just thinking…

Oh no, that always gets us into trouble…

(Smile) Thanks, but I was thinking that you are one special little fellow.

(Wag, wag, wag, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle) We’re pretty lucky to have each other!

And we’re pretty lucky to have such a great job.

That’s “jobs” in your instance…

Yeah, I’m pretty lucky to have two great jobs where I’m allowed to make mistakes, learn from them, and be forgiven.

Today’s job was pretty sweet, don’t you think?

Hot, but sweet.

We shouldn’t complain because remember in February when it rains for days and days on end and all we can think about is warm sunny weather? Now we have the warm sunny weather and…

…all I can think about is cooler temperatures and snow!

Oh, that does sound good!

You have to admit, it felt warmer today than yesterday even though the thermostat said otherwise.

I do admit that. I think it was warmer because it was more humid and there wasn’t a breeze.

You’re probably right and I’m not working at the pool tonight, which is always a really cool place to be in weather like this!

Yeah, I’m kind of envious.

You’re just envious because you LOVE to swim!

I do indeed.

Did you enjoy swimming with Ollie today?

Yes, though he’s kind of funny about the water.

He did a great job swimming out to fetch the ball.

But then he swam overhand to bring it back and that was kind of funny.

Well, not all dogs can swim as well as you can.

Does Rosie like to swim?

No, she doesn’t like water too much though today we walked up to the Bradner Gardens and saw Laurie at her pea patch.

Did you say hi to her from me?

Yep, I did, but it was actually Rosie who said hello and then, because Laurie was watering her patch, we decided to hose down Rosie to cool her off for the walk back home.

Uh oh, how did that go?

Amazingly well! She stood there and let us get her wet and then she lifted her leg up so we’d spray down her belly!

It was hot enough that Rosie liked the water?

Yep, I guess it was.

Zoe LOVES the water like me, doesn’t she?

Yep and because it was so warm, Gemma and I walked her to the lake where they both took a dip!

And it looks like Gemma did a little rock climbing.

Yes, well, you know Gemma…always an adventurer though she struggled with how to get off the rock, as you can see.

And then there’s Saber.

Yep, he loves the water and has learned to really enjoy the kiddie pool.

Only he doesn’t fit in it so well, does he?

He makes it work.

And he loves to steal my ball.

He loves to steal what you want, Rubin because he adores you!

If he adores me so much, why does he taunt me?

Because despite his size, he’s still a puppy.

A big puppy!


Are you feeling better about last night, Gretchen?

Much better. Thanks for talking me through it and thanks for being such a great dog dog walker!

You bet. Hey, can I get a massage now?

Anything for you, Rubes!

Until tomorrow,


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