I’ve never been that crazy about dogs. But you’d never know this by listening to my parents run through the seemingly endless list of pets my brothers and I had growing up. I don’t remember what happened to most of them, so clearly I wasn’t attached enough to have traumatic memories of their demises. While I have an appreciation for cute little critters, for most of my life I could say that I’d never been head over heels in love with something furry (I could make a joke here about my husband’s back, but…..whoopsie, I guess I just did!).
When Jason and I decided to get a puppy together at about the time we were engaged, my “dog hating” streak ended. Scout, a black and white Springer Spaniel, was the cutest little thing you’ve ever seen but we learned quickly how hard it is to train a puppy. In fact, our puppy experience was more like training for the impending trials of marriage and parenthood. We joke that our marriage preparation course was administered by a 50 pound slobbering baby.
Scout was difficult from the beginning. He scaled the puppy gate, ate Christmas bulbs like candy, and bloodied his paws trying to claw his way out of his kennel. But he was ours and we loved him.
We had Scout for 9 years, during which we welcomed a new home and two new babies. He played with the kids and delighted in daily runs with Jason. Even though he was annoying at times and added a lot of “stink” to our lives, he was a beautiful and loving dog. When he started having seizures and eventually passed away 2 summers ago, Jason and I realized how tied he was to virtually all of our early marriage and new parent memories.
Once we got over the loss, however, we quickly began enjoying the freedom of not having a dog in the house. If we were gone for 15 hours straight, who cares? There were no doggy considerations or repercussions. Frankly, it was great.And then came the day when Bailey asked, “Can we get another dog?” With those pleading eyes and the pout she has perfected over her 6 years, we knew it was downhill from there. And, despite all the drawbacks to starting over with another dog, we really wanted to give our kids that experience. The planets aligned when my boss expressed concern over not having good ideas for Christmas gifts for the kids. An incredible and generous gift giver, she jumped at the opportunity to help us add to our family. So, last week, the kids received their first furry gift and the rest is history! Red Dirt Kelly added a new puppy to her own family this week, so she’s beginning this journey as well. Puppy love is in the house!! (And a lot of pee and poop, but such is life with a wee little one!)
While our story with Oliver is yet to be told, having a new puppy in the house has reminded me how simple life is to some creatures compared to how complicated we make it for ourselves. Every year around this time when I’m good and stressed with all the remaining holiday tasks, I make a list of my New Year’s resolutions. Most of them revolve around my ongoing quest to take myself and life a little less seriously. This year, Oliver has inspired my list. Hopefully, he will serve as a constant reminder to slow down and enjoy the simpler things in life!
- When loved ones come home, always run to greet them and cover them with kisses. Who doesn’t like to be the center of attention, if even for just a moment? I want to focus more on those precious moments at the end of the day.
- Run, romp and play daily. Dogs thrive on play, but humans would add quality to their lives by allowing more fun into their lives.
- Live in the moment. Dogs don’t live with fears or worry about what happened in the past or will happen in the future. They take each moment to love life and I want to do the same!
- Always be loyal. Most dog owners would agree that their pet loves them unconditionally. I want to continue to give my all to the people I love most!
- If something I want lies buried, dig until I find it. Tenacity comes with the puppy territory. I want to quit retreating when I don’t initially succeed and start refueling for Round 2!
- When someone I care about is having a bad day, be silent, sit close and nuzzle them gently. Dogs are pretty great listeners and I want to hone this skill.
- When I’m tired, I will rest. Life is crazy sometimes, but I would like to make downtime a priority for our family so that stress doesn’t become the norm.
- Use my growl wisely. A good dog growls only when necessary, barks only when danger is present, and bites only when there is no other choice. I vow to show more restraint with my metaphoric growls, barks and bites.
- When I’m happy, dance around and wag my entire body. While I do not have a tail, I can take more time to enjoy special moments and show others when I’m truly delighted.
What should be my 10th puppy inspired resolution?