I just got back from walking four dogs: Justin and Penny, my two dachshunds; Pumpkin, my daily doggy day care visitor; and Arrow, who is here for a 10-day sleep-away camp (although I can think of no other camps where the counselors allow the campers to sleep on top of them because they miss their parents).
Walking one dog is always a pleasure. I always know who is on the other end of the leash and what he or she wants, whether it’s to sniff every shrub along the way or to get the walk over as quickly as possible. Two dogs is a little more work, but not much, especially if they’re my two because I know that whenever Penny tugs at her leash she’s trying to eat something she shouldn’t and I know that unless I keep him in check, Justin will attempt to walk down the center of the road (as if he’s been asked to walk the line by the K-9 cops to prove his sobriety).
With one or two dogs, the walk is mostly fun, with only a little stress (usually caused when a skateboarder rolls by. My two DO NOT like skateboards. Perhaps they get it from their mother).
Three dogs at least doubles the frustrations. First because with three, I have to have two of them leashed together with only three feet of play between then. Yes, it is kind of funny to me when Penny tries to jump the curb and Pumpkin flies up in the air unexpectedly, or vice-versa, but they’re not laughing. They long for freedom, I can see it in their eyes. Either that or they long for snacks. Those are very similar looks. And with three, I’m never really sure who’s where and what they’re doing.
Four dogs is craziness. No one is happy because they’re all on short leashes. One is trying to pee while another is dragging her down the street to chase the squirrel that just darted by. Justin is starting his jog home while Arrow wants to cower under a bush because some other dog somewhere on the planet is barking. And I’m yanking everyone and asking them why they can’t just all get along.
Why am I telling you this? Well, what better analogy for taking on too many things at a time (some of you know I am talking directly to you). Sure, maybe you can handle four dogs or four children or four projects at the same time, but is it any wonder you’re always frustrated and impatient? Have you noticed that you’re not having nearly as much fun as you used to? And that you yourself aren’t any fun anymore?
Arrow goes home next week. The week after, Pumpkin will have her mom home for summer break from school. I’ll be back to the days of two dogs — more freedom, more fun, and less cursing. I think I may just have to apply the philosophy of less to more of my life … and not just this summer.