A Change of Pattern is Hard for the Human

Our cat Buschi knows how to work it. I am the easy touch around here when it comes to cat treats. If he nags me – meows, touches me, really bugs me – I always give in and he gets treats. I get them out of his jar, place them on the floor, and he eats them on the spot. It’s been this way for many years.

With the addition of two labrador puppies this routine has had to change. Now when I put the treats on the floor they usually get scarfed up by puppies before Buschi has a chance to even attempt to eat them. We’re trying a new treat routine. I get them out of the jar then put them on our back stairs, about six steps up. The puppies have been trained not to go upstairs so the bowl of treats are just high enough that they can’t reach them. So far Buschi seems to be handling the change in location fairly well, that is when he doesn’t get chased by puppies the opposite direction of the stairs.

Teaching Buschi a new routine reminded me of how hard it is when things change. I had to come up with a new idea, he had to see it work, and the puppies had to resist the temptation to do a bad thing and climb the stairs. Everyone had to change. If any of us goes back to how it used to be or alters the way things are working, everything goes wrong and treats do not get consumed by the feline.

Change is hard. Change takes energy we do not always want to expend. And change requires that we give up the old and embrace the new…even when we don’t want it to change. Change means we have to think differently to solve a new problem, approach a client or live our lives. Change means that who we were before and how it worked before are gone, most likely never to return again. So we adjust to the new or go without. It may seem harsh when change arrives yet the alternative of being left behind or no more treats is a disappointment worth changing for.

Tomorrow I have to remember the new routine and practice it until it becomes the way I deliver treats to Buschi. I have to work to remember and work to remind him and the puppies that things have changed and the cat gets to eat the treats not the puppies. I’m not sure who is really doing the learning here, the animals or the human. I guess the good news in that all of us can learn and change.

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