Teach A Dog To Fetch

If you wait to be handed something you miss what you can get for yourself

I’m sure you’ve heard of the phrase ‘Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.’ The meaning is simple, you can’t hand people things because then they aren’t able to help themselves in the future, instead you need to teach them how to get what they want.

Well apparently no one has read that proverb to my dog Bella. Though why would they have? Even though at times I’m sure she can understand me, she definitely understands the word ‘dinner’ at least. But the one world she definitely doesn’t seem to understand is ‘fetch’ which I’ve always thought was quite key to a dog, especially one as playful as her.

I can imagine you’re sat wondering what on earth I’m talking about, “of course your dog doesn’t understand ancient china proverbs, they barely understand that leaving for work isn’t you abandoning them.” Well, this all started last week when we were out on a walk. If you’ve seen Bella in any of my Instagram Stories you’ll know that she is an energetic, playful and basically  forever a spaniel puppy.

So Jon and I like to take her on long walks where we can attempt to at least tire her out a little bit. Easiest way to do that, throw a ball, get her to bring it back, throw the ball again…. we all know how fetch works. You see the problem we had was this. We would throw the ball and Bella would bring it back, but one time we threw it and Bella wasn’t paying any real attention to where the ball went. She ran off had a quick sniff around and came back to us waiting for us to throw the ball again. The problem, she had never returned the ball.

So as we continued walking Bella just stared at us expectancy, running backwards waiting for us to magically produce the ball for her. In her mind we provide the tennis balls, so there’s no real need to go look for the lost one, another will just appear because they always have them. I wasn’t going to break it down to Bella how we have to purchase tennis balls and that they aren’t in infinite supply. But I did try an encourage her to go look in the long grass to see if she could find it herself, instead she just stared at me and ran backwards all the way along the path waiting for a new ball.

As funny as it was watching Bella run backwards, it made me think about that Chinese proverb and how all of us can be like Bella sometimes, I was talking to Ethan the other day during our normal morning meeting and I asked him if he’d had a coffee yet. He responded ‘Erin will make me one when she gets up.’ You see their normal morning routine is he wakes up and gets ready for work, then Erin wakes up a little later and makes some coffee. But Erin had decided to sleep in today, so Ethan was sat waiting for the coffee. He’s a smart boy and perfectly capable of making coffee himself, but he’d become so used to it being made for him, he didn’t think to do it himself, even thought it meant he didn’t get the coffee he was craving.

I rightly told him to get up, make himself and Erin a coffee and wake her up by telling her how much he appreciated her and how close he was to almost taking those little gestures for granted/ Thos is a lesson which I’m sure has helped Jon and I as we approach our 30th year of marriage. But this isn’t about making sure the newly weds are happy. This is for everyone, in all aspects of their life. How many times have you started a course expecting to master the subject straightaway? Or to find all the information you need right in front of you?

The key to good education isn’t handing everything to you on a plate, the key to good education is teaching you how to find information for yourself. The reason is that what you are looking can be found somewhere different from what the next person is looking for, you might find something you didn’t know you were looking for that does the same job. There have been plenty of times Bella has come back with a different ball, sometimes a nicer newer one and sometimes and older rubbish one.

So next time you want something, you want to learn something or achieve something. Don’t wait for someone to hand it down to you, make sure you take the time to find it for yourself and when you’re out there looking for information, looking to learn. Make sure you don’t just choose the first thing you find, you don’t know what you might find on your next search. Just because it was easy to do, doesn’t mean it’s the thing you should do. 

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Teach A Dog To Fetch

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