It happened again today. I was walking Boston, my 100 pound yellow Lab, around the block when he lunged at something and grabbed it before I had the chance to pull back on his leash. I knew what it was that he held clamped between his jaws. He had been plotting the perfect time to snag it for over a week but every other time he’d gotten close, I had been ready to say “No!” and pull him away from it. But not today. I stopped walking, stood still, and repeatedly said, “Leave it.” He stopped walking, stood still, and looked at me as if to ask, “Leave what?” After it was clear he wasn’t going to drop it, I let out an exasperated sigh and we continued our stroll around the block. Every once in a while I looked down at him and several times I started to wonder if he had dropped his little treasure. But then I’d look at his jaws still closed securely and think, “Nope. He’s still got it.” The other thing I noticed was that since his jaws were shut, he was walking with his head held high and was not stopping to sniff anything. Since sniffing is his greatest love (with belly rubs coming in at a close second) I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for him that he was missing out on thousands of sniffing opportunities as we walked. Other than doing his business, sniffing is his main reason for walking at all. Honestly, sometimes I think his nose is what actually propels around the neighborhood.
When we reached the front door, I stood with the key in the doorknob and said, “Leave it.” Once more he looked clueless. If he was a person he would have been whistling and looking from side to side, he looked so innocent. I crossed my arms and told him to “leave it” again. As if to up the ante, he looked at me and resolutely sat down on the welcome mat. I said, “We are not going inside the house until you leave it.” After several minutes of a serious stare down, he dropped his head and let go of his treasure: a half-eaten Big League Chewing Gum Lollipop with the crinkly blue wrapper still hanging on to the stick. If I hadn’t owned him for so long I would have been surprised that he gave up sniffing around the block, one of his greatest pleasures, in order to try to smuggle a piece of half-eaten bubble gum into the house. As I thought about it though, I realized I do things like that all the time. Without realizing it, I get my eye on something I think I must have, something that will make me happy, and I forsake other more important things just to have the chance to own it. It doesn’t make sense, but I think I can safely say that most people mistakenly put their hope or happiness in things. So today, I wanted to ask if, like me and Boston, you might need to “let go of the lollipop” and be happy with what you already possess rather than keeping an eye on what is still out there. Whether your lollipop is a new phone or the one you already have that constantly begs for your attention, whether it’s a new pair of shoes, or your job, or a new car, or an updated kitchen, maybe it’s time we learned a lesson from the yellow Lab and let go of our lollipops to get back to our first loves.