Mamie the Apprentice Wonder Puppy is a five pound Shih Tzu who just celebrated her first birthday. She is still a puppy, especially in the playing department. Her big sister, Maggie the Wonder Dog is six years old and not always in the mood to play. Maggie is very glamorous and playing is done on her terms or not at all.
One of Mamie's favorite games is called "Maggie Tap". Mamie likes to tap Maggie with her paw to see what Maggie will do. Mamie can tap Maggie at least a dozen times before Maggie gets fed up and growls. I'm pretty sure Mamie is trying for a new record, so the tapping and growling lasts for a significant portion of every day. Maggie is more patient than I would be, but probably she's just grateful to have a break from Mamie's incessant "kissing" (licking).
Recently, Mamie invented a new game. Maggie was yawning and Mamie clearly thought, "Why not?" She stuck her paw in Maggie's mouth and pulled it out successfully. Immediately, the race was on! Mamie would stick her paw in Maggie's mouth and try to pull it out before Maggie could close on her. Truthfully, Mamie is unbelievably good at this and incredibly fast. Of course, Big Sister Maggie is far more patient than three humans combined would be, and kindly refrains from biting her foot off.
This morning, the Wonder Dogs had joined me on my bed for quiet time. Maggie is a well-trained Wonder Dog and understands when to be still and quiet. Mamie is still an Apprentice Wonder Puppy, mostly because she is wide open all the time and is very seldom still and quiet. Mamie decided to play the "Maggie Mouth" game, even though Maggie's mouth was firmly closed. Mamie would pat Maggie's mouth until Maggie finally opened it, then pop her paw inside Maggie's mouth and pull it out before she could close her mouth. (The fact that Mamie still has four paws is due to the magnificent patience of Maggie the Wonder Dog.)
As you might imagine, Maggie soon had enough, and started to give a little warning growl. Mamie never heeds warning growls, however, so she kept right on tapping Maggie's mouth, popping her paw in, and pulling it out. The warning growls got a little louder. Mamie never slowed down. I gave her a stern warning and moved her, but she was quickly right back in Maggie's face. Finally, Maggie snapped at her. In Maggie's defense, she let Mamie get her paw out before she snapped, so she didn't even nip her. Mamie was shocked! How dare her sister try to bite her!?! The most surprising thing happened next. Mamie stuck her paw right back in Maggie's mouth, daring her to bite the paw.
Mamie's behavior is so much like our own that I laughed out loud before I moved her off the bed to preserve Maggie's sanity. Watching her do something that is clearly not wise and will be dangerous to her paw if she doesn't slow it down reminds me so much of some of my own decisions over the years. Perhaps you've had a few of those less than stellar decisions of your own. Looking back, I wonder why I persisted when there were plenty of "warning growls" to let me know I was heading in the wrong direction. Maybe you've never done this, but I have to admit that I have. I, like Mamie, have a tendency to do one more round, just to be sure.
Now that I have accumulated a few birthdays (being 39 again), I'm not quite as foolhardy as in my youth, but there are days when I'm likely as foolish as Mamie. If you are honest, you probably have those days, too. As we look toward the new year, let's take a lesson from the Wonder Dogs.
Be smarter than you want to be.
Listen for the warning growls, and stop while you're ahead.