Yesterday, spring cleaning.
The brain that is.
Which I needed after a long day of dog chasing.
We have a new rule in our household — no more pitty pads (wee pads, puppy pads, whatever you call the little squares of absorbant white fiber that soak up puppy pee—instead of your carpet).
Our Pavlovian solution?
A bell instead of pads.
That’s right, we now have a bell hanging on the front door handle.
Our intention was to teach Brady to ring the bell when he needs to go potty outside.
Let me just say this, Brady is one smart puppy.
And, the bell works.
Or, rather, the puppy works the bell.
Not only has Brady learned to ring the bell, he has learned that when he rings the bell, we jump up, grab a treat and take him outside.
Consequently, he won’t stop ringing the bell.
Even when he doesn’t need to go outside.
All day long I found myself hopping up from my desk at the first sound of the bell, excitedly exclaiming, “Outside! Do you want to go outside?”
Soon, I found myself with a dog sitting on the lawn, clueless about the “pee” part of the deal, looking up at me saying, “Hey lady, I rang the bell now give me a treat already.”
And, me, answering back in my best cheerleader voice, “Go potty! Go potty! Pleeeeeeease go potty!” holding back on treats until the “stream” began to flow …which it didn’t.
After an hour of me jumping up every five minutes at the sound of the bell, it finally occurred to me exactly for whom the bell tolls … and who is training whom.
So, the bell is working.
But, we are working out the kinks.
By the time 5pm came I was ready for a break. So I handed the Official Bell Watcher role over to Justin and slipped away into the bedroom, shut the door and prepared to listen to an interview with Marsha Lucas, PhD on “How to Mindfully Rewire the Brain for Love.“
As this year unfolds and I continue to explore the topics of lovemore and fearless, it seems like such an important subject — the role of the brain.
One thing Marsha made clear is this: fear is in the future.
Fear comes from a place of living in anticipation of a bad outcome in the future, or dwelling on what happened in the past.
In the grips of fear, it’s more difficult to engage higher level thinking (think: sweaty palms, racing heart, rapid breathing, survival mode).
And, that’s not the best way to relate to someone else — especially if you are looking for love — because it’s hard to make a connection.
Another point Marsha brought up is this:
fear and anger are connected.
I’ve heard this and read this many times now, but I love Marsha’s description of how fear turns into anger.
She compared it to a cat.
Like when a cat is afraid and runs to a corner to hide. If you reach out to pet the cat, he lashes out in anger (think: teeth, hissing, arched back). But, really this anger is coming from a place of fear.
Anger is a defensive reaction to fear.
Just like a bell is our defensive reaction to puppy pee.
I suppose over time we all get conditioned to react certain ways in specific situations … over and over.
However, as Marsha explained, we can all learn new tricks and break bad cycles, like getting over fear, ridding ourselves of anger and ultimately adding more puppy love to our daily lives.
More puppy love.
Excuse me, I think I hear a bell ringing.
Photo by Dion Hammond www.photographyswfl.com