Puppies Inspire Our Irrational Optimism

by
posted on February 7, 2013
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When a young boy hits a baseball off a tee for the first time, not even the most positive-thinking father declares him a future major leaguer. At least not without intending jest. At best, the kid showed an ounce of potential, but concluding he'll be a world-class talent? That's crazy. Yet isn't that exactly what we do when our puppies fetch a ball or dummy for the first time?

We know it's nuts. We know it's irrationally optimistic. But we just can't help ourselves. Take my 13-week-old puppy, Junior. Yesterday I played a little fetch with him, and he ran out and back with all five retrieves (I stopped there before he lost interest). And today he did so again, including the retrieve I captured in the video below.

Rationally, I know Junior's initial success proves very little. He's a puppy, after all--they always come when called until they discover an alternative to doing so. Junior played a little fetch. So what. Even your average mutt can accomplish that feat.

Irrationally, I have visions of the ball being replaced by a bird. Perhaps a wounded mallard that Junior busted through ice to reach. Or a pheasant in the fifth series of the national championship field trial. Crazy? You bet.

I'll bet you too have a weakness for such optimism. And maybe that's okay. Isn't dreaming about the future part of the magic of puppies?

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