February 3, 2012

Creature of Habit

Hey Gretchen?

Yep, Rubin.

What exactly is meant by the phrase, “a creature of habit?”

Well, it means that the “creature” — whoever that may be — likes routine and isn’t very fond of a change in their lives. Why do you ask?

I think this might describe me.

You think?

Why are you smiling like that?

I guess I’m just surprised that you figured this out now.

You mean you aren’t surprised?

Can’t say that I am because you are, in fact, very much a creature of habit.

Is that a bad thing?

Absolutely not! It’s just the way you are and I guess it doesn’t bother me because I’m kind of the same way.

Do you think others find it bothersome?

I suppose, but then everything everyone does bothers someone somewhere.

Well, I don’t really care about everyone everywhere. I’m concerned that my people/friends find it annoying. Is it annoying?

What “habits” do you think others might find annoying?

Hmmm, let me see. I don’t like to eat breakfast and would prefer my first meal of the day served after 11 in the morning. Is that annoying?

Not annoying so much as frustrating because sometimes our days are busy and stopping mid-morning to get you to eat can make the day feel rushed.

See, these are the reasons I think it’s important that we talk about this stuff.

Will it change the time you are willing to eat breakfast?

No, but it’s good to know that you feel this way.

Now who is wearing the wry smile?

Are there other things that I need to know about my habits?

Let’s see…I’ve got a question for you. Why is it that when it’s time for bed you always look at the human bed longingly and then, when we invite you up, you won’t come up unless there is an immense amount of coaxing?

I don’t know if you really want the answer to this.

Why not?

I do that because I like to see the two of you do all that gyrating to get me up on the bed. It’s kind of like the last joke of the day and it makes me laugh every time!

So it’s not habit? It’s humor?

Let’s just say that it’s a little bit of both. You have to admit it’s pretty funny.

Actually, I don’t have to admit that and I won’t.

Anything else you need to share about my habits?

Let me make a list…

A list?

Yep, a list.

Rubin’s Top Ten Habits (some annoying, others not):

1. The need to bark in the backyard…sometimes at something (like a squirrel or a opossum) and sometimes at nothing (the “I see dead people” syndrome)

2. The need for daily off-leash time; no off-leash time = Mr. Grumpy

3. The morning routine — wake up, outside break, inside to the warmest spot on the couch, morning nap, then a big stretch.

4. Barking at the two dogs in the neighborhood that you don’t like.

5. Running to hide when your raincoat and/or booties are even a possibility of being removed from the closet and getting anywhere near you.

6. Needing at least 3 hours of exercise each day before you decide you are sort of tired.

7. Sitting in the back of the car looking out the back window so that the drivers behind us point and smile at the “cute dog” in the window.

8. Staring at me whenever I put my hand/hands in my pocket(s).

9. Needing the blanket on the couch to be spread out over the ottoman so you have a tent to sleep under while we read or watch a movie.

10. The way you have me twisted around your paw so that I always add a sprinkle of something extra (cheese, ham, chicken, treats) in your food bowl before you even think about eating!

So what’s the difference between a habit and a personality trait?

Good question. I think the difference is how you react if any of the above don’t happen. If it were a personality trait, you’d handle it better realizing that things like having cheese put on your food isn’t necessary, but because you’ve done it over and over and over again, it’s now a habit that you can’t overlook…nor can I.

Are you suggesting that a habit is one I shape and form and a personality trait isn’t under my control?

Perhaps. All I know is that if certain things don’t happen, you get a bit flustered and when you get flustered, everyone’s day is kind of thrown off.

That sounds more like a personality trait than a habit.

You know, I think you are right, but maybe it’s that your overarching personality trait is that you are a creature of habit — one is nested into the other.

Like those Russian Dolls you have in the front room?

Precisely. You like routine, Rubin. There’s no doubt about it and frankly, I get that because I am the same way. If things change too much, I can stress out a bit and I have to stop and remind myself that the routines aren’t too far away…I just need to find my way back to them.

I understand that completely!

But why do you ask me about all of this?

Well, you have to admit that our routine has been kind of whacky lately and I’ve been feeling the stress of it.

Me, too. But I think things are going to level off here so hang in there, okay? I mean, this past week has been relatively normal, right?

Yes. I’ve gotten to see all my dog walking clients and even though Woobie stayed with us for a few days and Paige came over for a birthday party, it felt a little closer to a normal routine.

Good. Let’s work on keeping it that way in the weeks to come, okay?

Okay! Thanks for helping me work through this, Gretchen.

You bet, buddy. Anything else you want to talk about?

Well, it’s sunny outside today. Any chance we can go run off leash without my raincoat or booties after I bark at the squirrel on the backyard fence and bare my teeth at those dogs I don’t like in the neighborhood and then you can give me some cheese?

Aren’t you the joker!

Forever and always!




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