Superhero (in training)

Max is a superhero…or maybe a superhero in training…or maybe he just has the spirit of a superhero.

And lately he has been trying out several options for his superhero identity.

IMG_1979

This “Strange” Dogtor is leading all Defenders of baked delicacies. He’ll take a slice out of crime, and a slice out of that pizza, please!

IMG_4882

He’s sniffing out mischief day and night.

IMG_1197

Spider Dog, Spider Dog, doing whatever a spider dog does…

IMG_4868

These Powerpuff Pooches are full of sugar, spice, and everything nice – probably because they just ate whatever was in the kitchen.

IMG_4766

No superhero is safe without a secret identity. Normal mutt by day, hero by night. And Max ties it all together in his own classy way.

IMG_4864

In addition to the look, Max has also been practicing some crucial superhero skills.

Sometimes the going gets ruff, and all you can do is lay low for a bit. Max is becoming a master of disguise and hiding. Watch him paws until just the right moment to strike.

IMG_4760

Max is even embarking on some pretty furocious weapons training.

IMG_4693

In order to get out of some hairy situations, Max has been working on squeezing into small spaces.

IMG_4680

He’s always on alert as protector of his muttropolis.

IMG_0041

And will be there in a flash if danger arises – to tail the bad guys and retrieve a sense of safety for all.

IMG_1889

Max may not have many super powers, but he’s still practicing for that day when he can fly all over town and become the most pup-ular hero of all!

IMG_4880

Thank you Max, for keeping us entertained and good luck becoming a superhero. But thank you even more for truly being a wonder dog. Sometimes I wonder what is going on in your head, but ultimately you are a wonderful friend and inspire me to be better.

Expertish

Max is not an expert in many things. I’d put the following on his expertise list: sleeping, eating whatever is in front of him, and looking cute.

IMG_4117

He definitely does not have expertise in obeying me, in tracking smells, in chasing down smaller animals, or even in playing in the dog park.

Of course, maybe expertise in the dog park should not be defined by playing with other dogs. Maybe he is an expert of looking super cool and caj, like that guy at the gym who is no expert in actually building muscle or lifting weights, but is definitely an expert at looking impressive and drawing attention to himself.

So, first Max has taught me that expertise is somewhat arbitrary. In some situations, what actually qualifies as the expert expression of something may not be objective.

But Max has taught me many other things about expertise.

IMG_3616

He has also taught me that having a natural inclination to something does not make one an expert. Max clearly has a natural inclination to chasing rabbits. But I don’t let him, so he has no idea how to actually do that with effective results.

And he has taught me that having all the tools or resources necessary does not make one an expert. Max has an acute sense of smell, much better than mine. Though he thinks he can find vague trails where other animals have gone, he is in no way an expert sniffer. I would not trust him to actually retrieve any animal from a hunt, and he does not even come close to having the skills of a drug dog. He simply hasn’t been trained to use the tools he has, and even if he was, there’s no guarantee he’d be an expert just because he has a dog’s nose.

IMG_3454

But, perhaps the most significant lesson Max has taught me about expertise is that it is not nearly as valuable as being expertish.

Max has taught me that life is much more interesting, meaningful, mysterious, and exciting when one approaches it through an expertish perspective rather than thinking one has expertise. Expertise limits, it makes me think I have it all figured out and that I know all there is to know about my field. It leads to mild or intense arrogance and pride and does not leave room for continual learning and exploration.

IMG_4184

Don’t get me wrong, I love knowing a lot about my profession and interests. But I recognize that when I think of my understanding as expertise, I put myself against or over other people who have not spent as much time studying whatever it is. And then I have a much harder time learning the valuable lessons they can teach me from their unique perspective. For instance, over the past three years I have worked with middle and high school students. I think it is safe to say I know more than them – I have a certain level of expertise that they do not. But at my best, I think of my own knowledge as expertish and then I learn incredible things from them.

I am also aware that if I went in for major surgery, I would want an accomplished, expert surgeon. But, I think even there I would want a surgeon with expertish rather than expertise, someone who would be open to what a nurse or assistant could see that the surgeon could not.

IMG_2815

Max has taught me the value of embodying expertish rather than expertise. He has taught me the value of being humble and realizing there is always more I can learn, and there is especially much I can learn from people very different from me. He has taught me that in being expertish, I will position myself to encounter the mystery and wonder of this world more fully, rather than trying to make sure I have it all figured out. Max has taught me that being expertish is not a position of weakness or less adequacy, but rather a position of full potential that is powerful in its openness, flexibility, and creativity.

IMG_0957

Because Max is not an expert at many things, but he has a certain expertish that profoundly connects him to the mystery and wonder of this world.

So, thank you Max for teaching me the value of expertish. Thank you for teaching me the limits of thinking I have it all figured out in expertise, and showing me how to engage the mystery of the world through the openness of expertish.

Happy Holidays!

I can be a little grinchy sometimes…

But Max continually teaches me to endure the not so pleasant moments and to look for the little joys in life.

He is my guide into opportunities in which my heart can be enlarged and my faithful companion as we journey into a world full of wonder not only during this holiday season, but everyday.

IMG_3884.JPG

Thank you Max, for teaching me to embrace the unexpected joys in life and in so doing, allow my heart to be full of ever increasing love.

And happy holidays from both of us!!!

Wonder

Max seems to have either a really good imagination or he is very easily entertained.

IMG_2353

He does not have many toys, because I’m a mean ole human. In fact, I think most if not all of his toys were given to him as gifts from other people.

But he does like to play with the few toys he has. They come in handy when I am too tired to play with him myself.

Right now he is really into a pink plush bunny that was a new gift this summer. He carries it around and chews on it and rolls around with it all over the place. I often even find it in my bathroom.

IMG_3219

I know that he understands it is not alive, but sometimes he plays with it as if it was. I don’t know if dogs have imaginations, but Max is at least creative enough to find a wealth of entertainment from a simple toy.

IMG_2870

Similarly, we have met several dogs at dog parks who are endlessly excited by balls or water jets. All these dogs are able to tap into some child-like creative playfulness that I often find lacking in my interaction with the world. They are able to experience very ordinary things in quite extraordinary ways.

Max, along with those other dogs, has taught me to look at things in a new light. He has taught me that I can either think of things as ordinary, bland, and boring or I can allow my imagination to take over and see greater possibilities for even the seemingly ordinary, bland, and boring things.

IMG_3281

It is hard to make the shift to imagination and wonder especially when I get into a routine of checking off tasks and making sure I get through my list of responsibilities. But Max has taught me that even in these busy times and mundane activities, I can look for ways that the world around me is beautiful and exciting and filled with wonder. I can pause and look around and try to be more aware of the pink bunnies in my own life.

So thank you Max for teaching me to engage my sense of wonder. Thank you for teaching me to open my mind to the possibilities.