On Perfection

Excuse me while I step onto my soapbox:

I posted yesterday about being a terrible dog trainer. And all of you said some version of “Oh, me too. I’m so glad someone brought this up.”

As far as I can tell, we’re all women here. Women are under a lot of pressure to be perfect, from both inside and outside of ourselves. We feel like horrible people when our dogs misbehave. We feel bad for eating cheesecake. (We feel bad for not eating cheesecake.) We have nagging guilt over not going to the dentist every six months. We are deeply ashamed of things like the way our stomachs look when we put on our swimsuits. We wince when someone at the mall gives our shoes “the eye.” Just this morning, I was a little embarrassed because I was driving the oldest car in the parking lot. Those of you who have children, from what I can tell, feel bad about some kind of parenting decision basically all the time.

This is too much feeling bad.

Here at My Imperfect Dog, we are not on board with perfection. When I named the blog, I was pointing out the obvious fact that Silas is, umm, problematic. It was also a way to remind myself to accept that imperfection for what it is. No dog is perfect, ever, just like no human is.

There’s a fine line between having healthy, ambitious goals and living in guilty misery. Sometimes I cross it. Sometimes we all do.

Everybody fails. Those failures are important. They’re signs of trying new, hard things. A lot of those “failures” and “imperfections” that we beat ourselves up about, though, are not real at all. Your car is not a failure. Your clothes are not a failure. Your body is not a failure. Your dog is not a failure.

Love yourself the way that you love your dog. Extend your compassion toward yourself. Be gloriously imperfect.

6 thoughts on “On Perfection

  1. Yet again, you are very correct! People who act as guardians for another life (parents, pet parents) tend to share that common trait of wanting to be perfect, to make the exactly right decision all the time…

    I wonder how exclusive that feeling is to women, though — but I also wonder why the dog training world seems to be about 85% women. At least, all of the most respected trainers I can think of (with perhaps the exceptions of people like Ian Dunbar and Nicholas Dodman) are women. This has always interested me. (And the numbers seem to be even more skewed in the dog-blogging community.) I wonder why this is. Women don’t love dogs more than men do. So why are we so over-represented in the dog community? (Tangential thoughts related to your post.)


  2. Once again, good for you for tackling the “issues” out loud. I agree that there is guilt, I feel guilty (for instance) taking Bill, Hiker and Brook to the beach even though I know I can’t take all seven at once. For me, I do what I can and know that at the end of the day as we tuck into bed that all of them are very much loved and well cared for. They can go to the beach tomorrow,


  3. When you have children you quickly realize that no matter how hard you try to be the perfect parent, you aren’t. I did all the things my mother didn’t do and my kids are still pointing out all the ways I’ve failed them. It’s part of being human, that strive for perfection and yes, as a woman I think we try harder than men. Why I don’t know, I want to be like my dogs, just enjoying what I’m doing.


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