By Dana Gornall
It didn’t take long after our dog passed away last March for me to start looking for another dog.
Grief effects everyone differently. For me, it wasn’t about replacing one dog with another but the house felt so much lonelier without the dog energy. By the end of April we had a puppy.
I’ve seen a lot of people go through puppy remorse after they choose to bring one onto their homes and I get it. They are toddlers with shark teeth getting into everything. But truthfully, I haven’t regretted one moment of it. Maybe I just have a calmer pup? Even so, my days have shifted quite a bit. There are a lot more trips outside. Mornings start even earlier. I’m taking even more walks outside—in all types of weather.
Our puppy becomes insane at feeding time.
I walk over to the pantry where his food is stored and he runs around in circles. When I lower his bowl, he eats voraciously as though he hasn’t eaten in days, not merely a couple of hours, gulping up his food,
We decided on a slow feeder—a bowl with basically a maze carved into it, that gives puppies a little more of a challenge in getting the food out. And then later, a trainer recommended a Wobbler, which is kind of like a large Weeble-Wobble type thing with a rounded bottom and a cone-shaped top that tips and pops back up when the puppy nudges it with his nose. There is a hole in it that spills out bits of food or treats when he does this.
While it seem arduous, the puppy sees it as a game. Apparently it is mentally stimulating, and also gives us the benefit of him slowing down.
Watching him nudge, nudge, nibble, nudge, nudge, nibble, as he made his way across the kitchen floor, I realized it was forcing him to eat mindfully. Rather than gulping down his food in 45 seconds flat, this took him a good couple of minutes, eating a couple pieces at a time.
Sometimes he gets frustrated. Occasionally he was back the Wobbler up against the wall which means it won’t wobble. When this happens he stands at barks at it in frustration. I typically walk over and help, although it might be smarter for him to figure it out.
Yesterday I was thinking how this aligns with our own mindfulness—and mindlessness—challenges.
I get caught up in my thoughts, my overthinking, my list of to-dos. Just like that puppy, I can get so overwhelmed that my mind can race and I am truly just “gulping” up the information mentally. Tools such as productivity apps, bullet journals and even reminders on our calendars can help us break down the info a little into smaller parts, just like that slow feeder, but if we aren’t taking that time to process it little by little, they won’t really help all that much.
I’ve attempted numerous systems in the past.
Back in the late 90s and early 2000s I had a Franklin Planner. Then the company I was with at the time provided Blackberrys (although truthfully it was more about the ability to text in a format that wasn’t T-9 and get your email—email!—right from a device). I tried the Flylady system of home organization (still get her emails), I’ve tried Bullet Journaling which I come back to and abandon and then back to again.
But no matter what tool we use, nothing will really fix the issue unless we force ourselves to take each bit of information mindfully and tackle it one or two at a time. Just like the Wobbler. I can write down a whole page of to-dos or pop each event into my calendar with a reminder. I can download an app that breaks down each task and sends me reminders.
None of these will do me any good unless I am using my mind to take each piece as I go and process it. That is the missing link—at least for me. I need to slow down.
I’ve fallen off the meditation wagon yet again and I think that could be lending to my mental overwhelm. Just like any habit or routine, the only way back is starting right at square one—again. Ten minutes, breathe in, breathe out. Follow the breath. Let each thought come, let each thought go.
I’ll try not to start barking when my mind gets back in the corner.
Did you like this post? You may also like:
- The Power of Choice When Things Feel Out of Your Control (and What the Buddha Got Right About It) - July 21, 2023
- Why That Productivity App Won’t Fix Your Overwhelmed Mind - July 11, 2023
- Chasing Sunsets: A Story about a Dog - January 19, 2023