A Funny Creature

dog treats, Golden Retriever, dog storyI see the older woman walk slowly up our driveway, step by leaden step, watching out for icy patches. Her head is down, so I can only see the top of her forest-green hood, attached to the overcoat she wears. It’s big on her, and I wonder if it belonged to a son now living in another town, probably another state.

She shuffles closer to the front of the house in old brown boots encrusted with caked mud and old snow. My dog is barking obnoxiously, “let me out, let me out now.” I open the front door and he barges out as if his life depends on it. But he’s only anxious to get to the woman, who has lifted her face that glows with happy expectation. Dog treats, Golden Retriever, dog story

She throws a Ritz cracker out to the dog, who jumps up and devours it in a fraction of a second. This annoys me. I have trained this dog patiently and thoroughly. For me, he sits for a biscuit and is told to “leave it” for seconds at a time, sometimes up to a minute, before a quiet “okay” tells him he can gently mouth the treat and eat it. Now, I see him jump and miss the old women’s fingers by a fraction of an inch for a second cracker, then a third, then another as she throws them out the driveway as if throwing bread for pigeons. 

For goodness sake, I think, ready to go out and stop the circus act. The woman looks up at me as I stand in the doorway and gives me a small toothless smile. I could go out and talk to her, but she’s really not there for me. She’s there for the dog.

I watch myself stand there in the doorway, annoyed at my rude dog and the lady throwing crackers, and I see an impatient, uncompassionate woman.

Me.

What’s my problem? Am I such an elitist that I think strange old women shouldn’t find pleasure in feeding treats to neighborhood dogs? Who am I to find this activity boorish and unnecessary?

I wonder, then, who am I? The walls of my world narrow to my body, and my heart, and my brain. Why am I standing here, worrying about a few crackers? I want to be out jumping for treats myself. I’d jump for a great book, for praise from an agent, for a hug from my children, and for a kiss from my husband.

That’s what I am, isn’t it? A proton/neutron bundle of energy coiled for love and affection, for insight, for a glimmer of God and the meaning of life. I look inside further and laugh. I am a funny creature.

golden, Golden Retriever, dog story

“An intellectual is a person whose mind watches itself.” Albert Camus

I wave goodbye to the old woman as she shuffles away, and I pet the dog as he returns to me, satiated and happy. He sits on the front door step straight and proud, looking at me with all the love in the universe.

147 thoughts on “A Funny Creature

  1. Such a good lesson. I had a dinner party and was being anal about everything. A guest was at the salad bowl. I had forgot to put out the “special” tongs. She improvised with something else and I came screaming over and ripping it out of her hand to give her the “right” one. I was a jerk but we both laughed. My salad “forks” were really cute hands so I chalked it up to that.

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  2. This touches me deeply, Pam. A lovely little story/parable/lesson. I could identify with you, with the old lady, and with the lovely dog. So many emotions went through me as I read! Honestly, I hope she visits you again. The occasional batch of crackers given with love can only be a good thing, for both dog and owner. Thanks for sharing! 🙂 ❤

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  3. Ah, if only we could all be more like our dogs and give free rein to our feelings of joy and pleasure! The things we discern when we begin to observe ourselves… Sometimes we seem to care about all the “wrong” things, like appearances.

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  4. Pam, your sweet story shows that dogs (and other animals) have much to teach us. I love that you say you too want to be out there jumping for treats! . How can you be angry at such a beautiful dog! Sometimes we have to let go. Likely, in your dog’s mind having to sit for his treats doesn’t apply to strange women. 🙂

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  5. Hi Pam, Your dog reminds me of children – they know what they can get away with at different homes and with different adults. I can see you jumping for treats, Pam.🙂 My eyes are leaking reading “That’s what I am, isn’t it?….” A great post and a great reminder! Thank you.xx

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  6. What a lovely reflection, Pam. My brother is that little old lady. All the dogs in the neighbor “must be let out” when he walks by, his pockets full of dog biscuits. It’s a riot. And the neighbors, now and then inconvenienced, have incorporated the fun into their lives. It’s become a “thing.” I’m glad the strange old woman and your dog are bringing each other moments of joy. 🙂 A lovely share.

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    • And of course I was always taught to never be a rule-breaker. Most of us were. But . . . . I’m learning that there are shades of grey in the rules that sometimes should be broken. Particularly if there are treats involved. 🙂

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  7. I know exactly how you felt. You work so hard to train your dog not to take off a hand when they go for a treat, and then along comes a stranger and sets things back. I think Darlene’s comment is good. “You have to pick your battles” and to ruin the pleasure and happiness the woman and Henry both felt would have been a bit rigid. The only concern I might have is “what” that woman was feeding Henry. If it was chocolates it could kill him. So there are many considerations. Well, you showed good restraint.

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    • Oh, from the very beginning the dog-loving visitor showed me her box of Ritz crackers. Seemed like catnip to the dogs in the neighborhood! And yes, just like with kids, we need to pick our battles and sometimes just let JOY win over. 🙂 ❤

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  8. Pingback: A Funny Creature – Kreativ Solo

    • Uninvited and unexpected JOY is such a gift, and yet often we refuse to acknowledge it, even when it’s right in front of us. I’m hoping to be more open to less “it has to be this way” and more “wow – isn’t this lovely.” ❤

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  9. Pam, this moved me to tears. You hit a nerve somewhere.
    A proton/neutron bundle of energy coiled for love and affection, for insight, for a glimmer of God and the meaning of life.
    This is so profound I almost can’t handle it. Wow!!!

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  10. For a minute I thought I was the old lady walking toward your house except I don’t own a jacket with a green hood. Ha!

    I love the story and the analytical mind that created it. Truly! And this bit that resonates with both of us: “An intellectual is a person whose mind watches itself.” Albert Camus

    God bless the generous souls who walk a sure path and still are able to bend the rules a bit. Love this, Pam!

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  11. and PS
    i think i would be more upset about the cracker itself – turns to sugar like most processed carbs and after giving out or you’d dogs the wrong snacks (like bagels) we now see that is humans are better off without many of those foods – especially boxed and processed crackers – just My onion / lol

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    • I know, I know, but then my “judgmental” self would shine through again and really, the dog and the lady were just loving each other. I’d guess she only shared about 5 to 6 crackers in all. After all, she had other dogs to visit! ❤

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      • yes A nice heart and all – but i say
        shame on her for giving dogs crackers !!
        not good for the pups

        but thre i will take your advice and soften my judgement too – for the love she poured out is what breaks uo hardness and coldness in this world – we need more smiles and leaping dogs and wagging tails and humanity connecting like you described here –
        heart stuff !!

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  12. Lovely story and reminders Pam. I love how you found compassion through humble self-reflection. And I really love your comparison to humans being electrons, neurons, etc, bursting with energy, looking for love, connection, and purpose. Don’t bust a neuron, but do throw some hugs around! 🙂

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  13. I smiled at the part of your story to see how long you can get your dog to stay before he gets his treat. I do the same thing. We live in an isolated area, so our dog pretty much has the spread to himself. When the UPS truck comes, they have a well-orchestrated act. At first, I was embarrassed when Lulu would climb into the truck like a starving dog who hadn’t eaten in months. Now, I laugh as he flings a treat out the door. As she goes after it, he peels out. It is so damn funny!

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    • UPS dog-lover-drivers have these tricks down pat (after patting the dog, no pun intended). At our daughter’s house (where the Amazon truck is known by her young kids as “our truck is here”), their dog’s ears prick up five minutes before the truck actually appears on the street. Good hearing, and drooling has already ensued. When our kids were young, my guy’s “parlor trick” was to place a biscuit on his nose as he kneeled on all fours in front of our sweet and patient golden, who didn’t gently take the treat until given the “go” signal. ;-0 Here’s to Lulu and all the dogs who put up with us so lovingly. 🙂

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    • Oh, that’s interesting Patricia. But yes, i soon will take over the green-hooded woman’s role, and I’ll be shuffling down driveways, giving treats to dogs. And anyone else who wants one! 🙂 Please give your dog a hug from me. ❤

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  14. I can sooo relate to all of this. Except the door, the yard, the old lady, and the snow. But, I have similar thoughts and a similar dog. She is trained and has to “work” for her treats. Dog treats. Not human food! It’s fun to be a dog. A spoiled with love, attention, comfort, and treats dog. Like Maya! 🙂 We should allow ourselves to be more… like a dog.

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    • Smiling, Liesbet, how you related to almost everything in my story – except door, yard, old lady and especially, the snow! But I know what you mean. We work hard to train and teach our pets to BEHAVE! But sometimes, we gotta let them “let loose,” yes? xo

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  15. During the pandemic, I have found myself sticking to routines that work for me. I don’t want to get stuck, though. I want to be open to unexpected opportunities for kindness and joy. A Funny Creature is a lovely story.

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  16. Awww … bless your beautiful dog and his innate wisdom! I’m sure he was out there as much for the lady as for the treats, cheering her up, giving a real lift in her spirits. He looks inordinately proud of himself and I’m sure he’s telling you, see, I was right to disobey your rules – just this once though!😀 hugs xx ❤️

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    • Annika – how insightful of you! I do believe that animals have a sense of when humans need something from them – a hug, a joyful look, a lick on the face, and in this case, an enthusiastic bark and wagging of tail for a special “Ritz” treat. Henry certainly did “make” this green-coated woman’s day.

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  17. This story touched me, Pam, as I’ve felt the same in situations. We have a lab and I’m very particular about what he eats and doesn’t eat. But your story offers lessons to be learned. And I love this:
    “I want to be out jumping for treats myself. I’d jump for a great book, for praise from an agent, for a hug from my children, and for a kiss from my husband.” I have a visual. 🙂
    I can also relate to Henry’s gobbling up in a fraction of seconds, almost taking fingers in the gulp, because Copper does the same. We call him Copper Choppers. A flat palm is safe. Thanks for sharing and reiterating how much we can learn from animals in general. 💗🐶

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  18. Pingback: The week gone by — Feb. 7 – A Silly Place

  19. Your experience resonates with me, Pam. I have found myself softening towards an elderly neighbor who does some of the “strangest” things at times. Among them, trying to “poach” workers from the jobs they’re doing at my house and get them to help her out on my dime. LOL! That’s just one example. But this year, with all the heartache and frustration, I’ve found myself reaching to be more amused than irritated. It just feels right. We’re human and we have to go through our own stages of understanding sometimes. Your approach and what you came to understand was very special. And a good reminder to us all. Thank you for sharing it.

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    • Oh. Dear! Poaching is a bit worse than feeding the pooch! But kudos to you for trying to understand with a tinge of amusement. During the pandemic, I’ve noticed that the elderly can be more cantankerous because they’re so lonely. Our understanding probably goes a long way to soothing. ❤

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  20. Beautiful piece! So well written. And you embody the spirit of a Golden. I used to take pictures of my dearly departed Golden with a few words that I swear he would channel to me and one of my favorites was “Enthusiasm is Essential.” He loved doing the signs and took them as a very serious job of spreading his wisdom. If we could just inhabit that wisdom of dogs – living close the ground and with full hearts!

    (BTW, here’s an example of Biscuit with a sign if you are curious): https://wynneleon.wordpress.com/2021/02/15/who-are-you-listening-to/

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    • What a wonderful mantra! Enthusiasm is essential. I’ve never met a golden who is not enthusiastic! My golden Henry is dearly departed also but I get to play with my grand goldens Charlie and Charlotte. 💜

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