When you come to know Big Blake, our muscular English Lab, you quickly learn three things.
First, that he is enthusiastic, as befits a dog who is 11 years old going on 2. He never descends stairs when he can charge them. He neve lets out one bark when 75 will do. And why simply greet someone when you can knock them right off their feet?
Second, that he is a coward about water. I don’t mean the baths that every dog dreads. I mean that he won’t go outside when rain is falling, and that even dashing through a sprinkler is a traumatic event that has to be worked up to.
Finally, and most importantly, he eats. Anything.
Big deal, I hear you see, he’s a Lab. Let me repeat: AN-Y-THING.
Entire bag of chocolate chips? Check.
Enough crayons to decorate the yard? Double-check.
So many baby wipes that he turned into a canine Kleenex box at the other end? Check and mate.
So when my wife Heather called me at work and told me that Blake might need a vet run, I was anything but surprised.
“I think he ate a bunch of aluminum foil while I was in the bathroom,” she told me.
Mind you, aluminum is not a Typical Dietary Supplement(tm) in this house, even for our canine trash compactor o’doom. But Heather had been making no-bake cookies and disposed of a fair amount of aluminum wrap afterward. When she came out of the bathroom, she saw that there was no longer any wrap in the bin … and that Blake was enthusiastically licking the last piece of thin metal on the floor until it gleamed.
And thus did Blake resume his starring role at the veterinarian, induced to bring up what had been down.
In retrospect, this should not have been a surprise. Blake smelled cookies. Blake had the physique and opportunity to pursue the wonderful smell. And given that his first impulse is to turn anything remotely edible into Blake fuel, he wasn’t going to care that the remnants of sweet-smelling goop still had thin metal attached.
At least, not until he was made to care. Rather abruptly. And then spent the afternoon woozy and sulking.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
I don’t mean that any of us are in the habit of eating aluminum. (Though if you find the cans to be the best part of a refreshing Dr Pepper, the Weekly World News is on line two.) But as a species, we do have a habit of jumping to decisions that seem oh-so-good at the time, only to discover that there’s stuff attached that doesn’t feel so good later.
It might be the attractive face that (poorly) hides the toxic personality. The anti-terrorist laws that say “Quick, be safe! And don’t worry about that silly Fourth Amendment.” And the ever-familiar candidate who has your best interests at heart, really, and then does a mile-long swath of damage that anyone with a newspaper subscription and a fourth-grade reading ability could have anticipated.
I’m not saying that we should never compromise on anything, that nothing less than perfect is acceptable. That way lies paralysis, and possibly a career in Congress. What I am saying is that too often, many of us don’t even think about whether compromise is necessary at all or consider what’s being traded off. We simply act, and then deal with unpleasant consequences later.
And “later” has a way of arriving sooner than we think.
Forethought isn’t as fun, I know. Especially in a world where everything demands to be done now-now-now. But it’s worth taking the time to consider, to weigh, to discuss. When you articulate what you want, you force yourself to think about what you’re getting. And what comes with it. And whether it’s worth it at all.
That’s valuable, no matter what you’re doing in life.
After all, no one wants to be foiled again.