My original intent for this blog was to talk a lot about Penny. I currently have several ideas jotted down and hanging out in my drafts folder, but I haven't been able to express myself the way I want to, so for the past six months or so, they are just sitting there. I'm glad they are in cyberspace.... I'd hate to have something else to dust.
So I am finally venturing out and completing this post about one of the biggest things that Penny has taught me.... love everyone, but be cautious about. I know I have mentioned this already, but I pretty much have the sweetest, most adorable hound dog on the planet. She's very loving and has her smart moments (which might be slightly out-numbered by her hard-headed moment). Penny loves people. She will curl up in your lap and just begs for a belly scratch. However, she's not an attention "whore". When she meets someone new, she goes up to them, but them timidly backs away. Then she'll get a little closer, then back away again. She seems skittish, but it's a little dance she's worked out when she encounters people when we're taking a walk, or at the dog park, or when new people come to the house. Advance, retreat. Advance, retreat.
I typically tell people at the park when they try to pet her that she just likes to pretend to be shy. But I think it's more than that. When someone bends over to pet Penny, she wants them to pet her. She's dying to be petted. There's nothing she loves more than attention. However, I've come to the conclusion that she doesn't want people to know she wants attention. She wants to make people work for her love. Plus, she wants to make sure they are actually true in their intentions of petting her. She doesn't want to show her pure excitement.
I think that's a good life lesson for us to take note of. I know when I was young and naïve, I would bare my soul immediately - to put it in dog terms, I would immediately run up to be petted. I made my desire for attention well known. As I get older and more comfortable with myself, I am much more hesitate to immediately intertwine my life with a stranger. I'm a lot like Penny... I advance, usually with a friendly smile and a warm hello. I don't retreat in a literal sense, but I typically just make small talk - I don't want this person to just have an open door into my life. This dance continues until the small talk is not existant and I've developed a genuine friend. It takes time and effort for friendships to really grow.
Sometimes this process takes a year. Sometimes it takes a week. Sometimes it's amazingly easy - other times, forming a friendship can be hard. However, I think the most important thing Penny's advance/retreat dance shows me is to make sure that someone genuinely wants to be a friend before I bare my soul. This is not to say that the friendship will be perfect if I follow this advice. Sometimes the people we love the most can have traits that make them take us for granted or take advantage of us. And we love them through all of it because we know they need us, or we need some part of them that makes the friendship work. However, if you realize that you're constantly the one who does the calling, emailing, making plans, or sending smoke signals, take a note from Penny. Advance, retreat. Advance, retreat. And if that person still has their hand down to pet you, it's probably the real thing.