I rarely admit defeat. Failure is the kind of thing I keep to myself. I try to learn from failure, but I don't like to talk about it - failure has the tendency to be embarrassing, but nobody can win them all.
A few days ago I went to visit a new dog. I did a social-distancing meeting with a rescue in the Central Valley. (The kids and Jesse stayed home to minimize the COVID risk.) There was a thunderstorm passing overhead and a foot of water in the corners of the parking lot. Piper, a pretty German Shorthair/Pit mix, with a nice coat and floppy ears, took no notice of the thunder and jumped out of the car. We played ball. She sat, she walked on a leash (not well I admit), but she jumped around happily and played in the water.
I did a couple tests I thought my kids might put her through: pulled her ears, pinched her skin, dropped a loud bowl, took her food, took her toy, squeezed her paws. She passed them all with flying colors, so I brought her home. She was not here 24 hours.
The first evening was great. She was calm and we introduced the kids slowly and didn't let them bug her, just a couple pats and coos. She slept all night in her crate.
The next morning we took Piper out for a walk in the snow and she had a great time flushing the quail out of a fallen oak branch. (There goes our wildlife I thought. Hopefully the cougars stay away too.) We came inside. She laid down and looked out the window. She was very happy... until we gave her a bed. She nipped at Graham when he touched the corner of her bed. He'd just given her a treat so, maybe thought he had a treat. For the next hour, I watched her very closely.
When Graham or Bear walked by she would turn her head away and lay her ears back. It was very subtle, but she wasn't comfortable. I have to tell you, my children were not even acting like themselves. There was no screaming, no gleeful nude running, no towing one another around with a towel, or traipsing around with a sheet over their head, no wrestling or throwing pillows. Our house was as calm as it ever gets, and still Piper was feeling uncomfortable.
I decided we'd all better go for a walk. I dressed the kids in their snow gear. I put Piper on a leash. We went outside. Bear grabbed his dump truck and drove it across the gravel. Piper freaked, barked and hid behind me. I could feel her breath on my leg and I nearly had a heart attack. We went into the back yard. Bear went down the slide. She barked at him again. Not a playful bark. She was terrified to a degree that I was not trained or willing to work with. My kids were scared too.
Broken hearted, for the friendship that could have been, I called the rescue and returned Piper two hours later.
Somehow, I should make a positive experience of this. I think the best thing, is to let this roll off my back. I was assured that Piper was good with kids, and I went off my assessment and that of the rescue. Aside from taking the kids with me, what else could have been done? I certainly feel lame for brining home the wrong dog.
I think a lot of my friends in business, and friends homeschooling, and friends who are bored and lonely, are kind of grappling with their own barking dog right now. There is a lot of pressure to perform, to achieve, to meet the moment, to become new right now, to be productive, start something and grow, ect. And if they aren't doing something major, or putting something out there, or changing their business model, or the kids are getting too much screen time, they feel bad, like a failure.
I say, to hell with that. Relax. Let some of this free time roll off your back. It's not necessarily what we do to meet this moment, aside from staying connected with friends and family virtually, but what we'll do when this settles. How will we rebuild? How will we reconnect. What lessons about ourselves have we learned and what can we employ towards a better future? This is more a time for reflection than a time for productivity. So, give yourself a break and I will too.