I have high hopes for 2012. Of course, the bar is set fairly low what with 2011 being a tough year pretty much for everyone everywhere. But it’s feeling as if there are glimmers of hope. Economists and pundits are starting to point cautiously to encouraging signs. Even though Debbie Downer Andrea Merkel warned that it’s still going to be a bummer in Europe. Over in Asia, of course, they are riding high. Not the least part because we are on the cusp of The Year of the Dragon — and Dragon Years are thought to be particularly lucky. Even more auspicious, this is a Water Dragon year which means the dragon’s fire will be tempered by a cooling element. All well and good — and I’m not going to argue with the Chinese. But, for my personal enrichment, I’m declaring this The Year of the Terrier.

Jiminy Cricket famously said, “Let your conscience be your guide.” Well, I think to make the best of a new year, you should let your terrier be your guide. Don’t have a terrier? (Poor you!) Allow me to loan mine, at least in CyberSpace. I’m not going to share my New Year’s resolutions. They are boring and predictable: basically along the lines of exercise more, get more done, think globally, act locally… But whatever my resolutions, I’m convinced adopting a little “terrier-tude” will help me accomplish them.

1.) It’s a Leap Year. Jump higher!

Terriers are not bound by the Laws of Gravity. Just when you think a terrier has reached his maximum jump — say two or three times his height — he leaps higher. So I’m not going to waste time making “small, achievable goals.” I’m planning big for 2012. Not just “exercise more” but run a Half Marathon. (I’m already signed up for the Napa to Sonoma.)

This is the year to defy gravity!

2.) See the ball. Be the ball. Until something else more interesting comes along.

Terriers have a wonderful way of being completely focussed, yet totally ADD. Which, if looked at with a positive spin, means they can concentrate intently on one thing just long enough to milk all the fun out of it but not so long as to become obsessed. In The Terrier World, that translates to playing ball with every ounce of your being for a short, intense spurt until there’s another dog to sniff, a squirrel to chase or a treat on offer. For someone like me who has a million irons in the fire, this seems like a good approach. I’m going to amp up my concentration on the task at hand, without missing any other good opportunities that come my way. The goal, I guess, is to wring every ounce of fun and result out of what I’m doing at the moment without giving up spontaneity and serendipity.

Fox Terrier concentration

Keep your eye on the ball. But don’t forget to smell the squirrels.

3. It’s a big world out there. Enjoy the view!

Andy and I were talking the other day about where would be the terriers favorite place. Is it Sonoma? Is it the beach at Fort Funston? The answer seems to be: it’s wherever they are. No matter the location or how many tennis balls are being thrown or who’s around, Oscar and Lucy always make time to stop, look around and sniff the air. Recently I was driving down a road with a particularly negative and complaining relative who was going on and on about how this particular stretch of highway was too winding, how many drivers on it go too fast, how it seems to take forever and ever to make this drive, etc. etc. I found myself zoning out and looking around. I saw beautiful scenery, soaring birds of prey, fantastic rock formations. If I’d hung my head out the window and panted like a terrier, I would have breathed in some of the cleanest air in California. This year, I resolve to keep that Terrier-tastic outlook. Which probably involves hanging my head out the car window more often.

beach scene with terrier

Beauty is all around us. Sometimes you just have to lift up your head and sniff.

4. Keep smiling! Even if you have to show a lot of teeth.

Sometimes a terrier smile isn’t pretty. There’s a reason Smooth Fox Terriers are sometimes called “furry alligators”. But a smile through gritted teeth is still a smile, right? So for my last Terrier Resolution, I’m going to try to smile more. Even in the face of unsmile-worthy situations.

Fox Terrier Smile

Smile big. Even if you have to bare your canines.

Happy 2012, everyone! Get yourself some Terrier-tude!