Sometimes, you have to think like a dog. Seriously. Like a dog.
Over the years, I have heard endless stories, of this or that, gone terribly wrong for someone. It could be anything, really. And then follows the numerous failed solutions… to this seemingly impossible problem.
The one example that stands out in my mind tonight, is, “My dog won’t stay out of the trash can.” Then comes the accounts of endless training attempts, punishments for the pooch, pet psychics, badges of shame, and on. And? The next day, when the person gets home from work? Trash can violation. Rubbish strewn across the kitchen floor.
Well dang it. Move the trash can! Simply place the trash out of the dog’s reach.
That little buddy is just doing what any smart dog would do. “Hey. Looky right there. What does my little nose detect? Oh yeah! Joy of joys. Right before me… is a smorgasbord in a plastic box. The human even lined it with a nice paper bag. That human is so kind to me. I shall now have a feast.”
Move the trash can. Think like a dog.
Oh. I am guilty of these foibles. For instance. Squirrels in the bird feeder. For years we tried to figure out ways to keep squirrels out of the bird seed. We joined the ranks of hundreds of thousands of people in this. Contraptions. Gizmos. New-fangled feeders. Pole-blockers. Aaaaaaa to Zzzzzzz I’ll tell you.
But here is the truth of it. We feed the birds outside, where they live. The squirrels live outside too. And those squirrels joyfully exclaim …. like the dogs… “Oh, you kind humans. Thank you for these boxes of seeds on poles. We love to climb! And…. We love seeds. More than nuts, even. They are so much easier to eat.” And so those squirrels eat with the birds.
A recent solution has worked out great for me. The past few years, I relax, and take just as much enjoyment in watching a squirrel feed, as I do the birds. They are truly cute little fuzzy-faced animals, with adorable eating habits. They have an interesting communication schematic between each other. And, as far as I can determine, the birds do not seem to mind them one bit. They all seem to share, just fine, with no help from me.
Another example, with a slightly different outcome, also has to do with bird feeding. Around 2007, we bought a second home in downtown Charleston, SC. We were enthusiastic about every part of living in that city, including our bird feeding rituals. The first weekend there, we proudly installed a bank of bird feeders in our backyard. They had a perfect backdrop. At the rear flank of the yard was a “wall” of evergreen bushes, probably ten or twelve feet high.
That night, I let the dogs out before bedtime. As I looked toward the back of the yard, I saw the bushes moving in a wave-like pattern in the darkness. It was a flurry of dark motion. “Mary! Come Hither!” … or something along those lines. She looked out. She agreed. The bushes were…. in fact…. moving. No wind. Not even a whiff.
And now…. let me introduce Smarty Kronenberger. “I’ll get a flashlight.” And flash, I did. Much to our surprise, and utter horror, we saw a wall of rats. The bushes were swarming with rats. Leaping rats. Onto the feeders, and back off again. Fighting, leaping, jumping, horrible rats. With long tails. And little pole-vaulting paraphernalia.
We screamed. “Aaaaaarrrrrggggghhhhh!!!” We ran back in the house. We slammed the door. We screamed again. ( You see. Earlier in the day, we had spotted a Palmetto Bug on our wall. It was the size of a small Poodle. At that time, we figured we could always run outside if an onslaught of Palmetto Bugs invaded. ) But not now. NOW, we had swarming rats on the outside.
Damned if we do. Damned if we don’t.
We did not sleep one wink that night. Eyes wide open.
The next day, the bird feeders came down. Everyone in Charleston knows you can’t feed birds on the downtown peninsula, because of the River Rats.
Solution? Go to the park to watch the birds. Or even the beach.
And that is how we need to go sometimes. There are points in our lives when we have to adapt our philosophies, our behaviors, our beliefs. It is called having an open mind. When we close our minds to new possibilities, to those things which may challenge our current beliefs and views, we have shut the door on the tremendous and the incredible. We have notified the limitless it has reached its limit.
There are endless possibilities in this world. For everything. For every little thing. One brief new thought, can thrust open an entire new arena of potential paths, ideas, answers, solutions, meaning. And there we are.
Think like a dog.
When the rats swarm, scream first, and then, remove the seed.
Take off. Soar. Go beyond our present capabilities. Astound and amaze ourselves. Be a little more. Each day.
“A thought, even a possibility, can shatter and transform us.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche
“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.”
― Gloria Steinem
“So many things are possible as long as you don’t know they are impossible.”
― Mildred D. Taylor, The Land
“I dwell in possibility…”
― Emily Dickinson
“Just because an apple falls one hundred times out of a hundred does not mean it will fall on the hundred and first.”
― Derek Landy, Death Bringer