A Bone of Contention, or Contentment?

“Man is an animal that makes bargains; no other animal does this– no dog exchanges bones with another.”  -Adam Smith


A few years ago we gave in to our daughter and got a dog.  We’ve had dogs in the past, and as much as I loved them, I was glad to be in a place to not have the responsibility that comes with owning a dog.  This dog was so darn cute though, how could we refuse?  I wish I could say we never had any regrets and we love everything about him.  Oh, but this dog, Dutch is his name…. he can be annoying, messy, a royal pain- and still cute enough to make us forget all about that part (well most of it).

Aside from his cuteness, he’s also really funny, and has taught us a thing or two about life.  One of the lessons of “The World According to Dutch” came from a bone we bought him.  Dutch LOVES bones, just like any dog, and being all of 7 pounds, the rawhide bones we bring home for him are the small sizes.  He gets so excited about them though, so when I saw a jumbo size bone on sale (for a really good price of course), I couldn’t resist.  He was one happy pup.  The bone was almost as long as he is, and pretty heavy, so as happy as he was, there wasn’t a whole lot he could do with it.  If he stood it up to chew on the ends, he couldn’t reach, and he couldn’t carry it more than a few feet at a time without dropping it.

Somehow he got it upstairs and onto our bed, and that’s where the party ended.  He was so anxious that someone would come and take away his bone, he spent hours standing guard and growling at anyone who came near.  He completely lost the joy he had in having a bone, and instead was consumed with worry and fear about what would happen to it.  Would that cat come in while he wasn’t looking and steal it away?  Would we hide it on him?  His tail wagging turned into snarling and snapping.  That got me thinking (after I was done laughing).  How many times do we look forward to having a new toy- a car, cell phone, iPad, whatever, and then worry about losing it, getting it wet, someone stealing it?  The joy we anticipated in acquiring something new ends up tainted and causing stress.  How much energy, time, and money do we spend storing, maintaining, and protecting our stuff?  Is it worth it?




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2 Responses to A Bone of Contention, or Contentment?

  1. anita July 20, 2012 at 8:03 pm #

    this is a great analogy and a wonderful piece of writing. thank you for sharing it!
    it really is a wonderful question: is it worth it?
    my answer is absolutely not!
    the real joy is where the power is and it is lost when we get too attached.
    make sure DUTCH reads your post 🙂

  2. Erin Baehr, CFP® July 26, 2012 at 10:50 am #

    Thanks Anita! You are so right. It reminds me of that old story about the greedy monkey who couldn’t get his hand out of the jar because he wouldn’t let go of the food. What good is it if it traps you?

    We will share it with Dutch 🙂

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