May all our scores be very low

Doggie Do-Good Camp was supposed to last twclaireo weeks. That’s a long time to be separated from a dog you’ve just adopted, but when we got Claire, our emergency backup Golden Retriever, it seemed necessary. She was anxious, jittery, and unresponsive to even simple commands. After two weeks, a Doggie Do-Good trainer called to report that Claire needed more time. “Claire is one of the cutest dogs we’ve ever worked with,” said the trainer. There followed a charged silence. The trainer took a deep breath and added, “Her scores are, er, very low.”

It was hard to contradict, but still, harsh, dude. All our lives we’re taught to jack up our scores, fight for every point we can get, compete for rank like hyenas fighting over filet mignon.

After a full month of Do-Good Camp, Claire came home with a dim, flickering concept of the word “Come.” Mainly she just figures we like to shout randomly; she hasn’t put this together with us meaning for her to do…well, anything.

We could go back to rigorous training, but we haven’t. You know why? Because even with all our kvetching and complaining about a dog who has the same I.Q. as a patch of mold, Claire’s joy in being naughty has brought us untold happiness.

It’s amazing to watch a life lived without concepts, without rules, without fear of punishment. Claire is free from all that, and so even more than most dogs, she continuously chooses love over everything else. Love of play, love of sleep, love of our motley little pack of people.

Today, for at least fifteen minutes, try channeling your inner Claire, doing something that may look messy, but fills your heart. (I’m sharing a video for inspiration.) Every few hours pause, tune in to your desires, and then throw yourself into something that feels as luxurious and sensual to you as rolling in the dirt does to Claire.

claire video

We didn’t name our emergency backup retriever, but her wonderful former owner did it perfectly. “Claire” means light; for us, living out of sheer joy, no rules, lights up our family and teaches us how to illuminate our own experience. This month, may your life be filled with light, and may you care not one bit if your scores are very low.

13 replies
  1. Rachel Lucille Woodworth
    Rachel Lucille Woodworth says:

    Oh this really made me smile, despite your intense frustration 🙂 I can relate because I love my rebellious kitty for all the same reasons, low scores and all 🙂 And Claire IS seriously one of the cutest most spirited dogs I have ever seen!

  2. Peggy Goza
    Peggy Goza says:

    Hi Martha,
    I loved the video of you and Claire. We too have a golden who is sweetness personified. Maybe next time you bathe Claire keep a leash on her so she can't run away? It's always worked for us. No guarantee she won't roll AFTER she's dry. Our Sophie teaches us about love every day.

  3. Aharen Richardson
    Aharen Richardson says:

    Thanks for this. It made me laugh even though I'm in the middle of a fibro flair surrounded by my own motley crew.

  4. Christie
    Christie says:

    Awww, she is a beagle trapped in a retriever's body! LOL. Naughty can be very entertaining but it is also an exercise in letting go of the little stuff… Have fun with her!

  5. Lucy
    Lucy says:

    Loved the video and made me cry for beloved Sasha, a black Lab, who did that every time and even ran into the house and rolled on the couch and ran around at full speed. ( No leashes please)

  6. Linda
    Linda says:

    Love that video- I watch it when I need a good laugh. Mango, our spirited extra large golden retriever, brings constant joy, happiness, and pure exhaustion to us everyday!

  7. Amber
    Amber says:

    That video looks like one of my naughty Retriever walks.Especially the 'don't you dare' comment and her complete nonchalance! Thanks for sharing.

  8. Darlene Settle Barrington
    Darlene Settle Barrington says:

    Your dog is full of joy! Loved watching her jump in and out of the water barrel,hahaha! We have a Golden Retriever mix that – I think?! – knows some commands but really just chooses to ignore them as if he can't hear us. "Come here, Sundance!"…he walks off. Unless I have a treat. Suddenly, his hearing has returned and he's spot on! He knows how to "heel" when I am in the backyard with him, he walks by my side everywhere I go. On the leash, not so much. But he is so full of love? for us that we forgive him and love him anyway. Just like you do Claire.

  9. Molly Blanton
    Molly Blanton says:

    As a dog trainer I have often told clients regarding behavior – that good enough is usually good enough:-) dogs don't live in the show ring they live in your home where imperfection is just fine.


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