From a post almost a year ago a reader asked this question:
"When our dog goes to dog heaven, do we enjoy our less complicated life, or do we continue with the complications a pet brings, and continue to reap the rewards of having a true friend to share our lives? There is no right answer, but I'd like to hear what people say."
As you know we answered that question by adding Bailey to our family a month ago. 30 days is long enough to assess the initial impact on our satisfying retirement lifestyle. What has she added to our life and where has she complicated things?
The overall impact has been remarkably positive. She is a quick learner in many ways and an absolute people-person dog. She is happiest snuggled up alongside one of us. She will pick up a piece of dog food and carry to our side before eating it. She then repeats the process dozens of times until her food bowl is empty.
If one of us is on the sofa and one in a chair she is torn, so she does what anyone would do: she divides her time between the two locations so she gets to be next to each of us. Bailey will sleep in the oddest positions if it means she can be touching our feet.
One day a week or so ago Betty had to be gone all day, helping our eldest daughter with her daycare business. I would be alone with the puppy for 12 hours. That meant constant "bathroom" duty, watching where she was at all times while still trying to get my chores and work done. Truthfully, I was nervous. I hoped my patience didn't wear thin or my frustration level jump off the chart.
Exactly the opposite happened. Being with Bailey for that long meant I had to slow down, stop working all day, and just go with the flow. Because the weather was beautiful and she loves to be outside, I spent a good part of the day on the porch, reading a book, writing on the laptop, and watching her. She learned that birds can fly and she can't. She discovered that helicopters make scary sounds. She noticed other dogs in the neighborhood when they barked. She delighted in rolling around in the grass and chomping on sticks. And, every few minutes she would come back to my side to be sure I was still nearby.
|Bailey teaching me how to relax|
By the end of the day I realized I had one of the most relaxing and satisfying days in a long time. The puppy forced me to experience something other than my normal routine, and in the process fully enjoy my day.
All is not perfect, after all she is a 12 week old puppy. She has particular corners of the dining room that will do just fine for potty breaks. She occasionally waits too long to identify the need to find the doggie door (our rug cleaner is getting lots of use). When one of us returns after being gone for awhile she tends to lose bladder control from the joy of seeing us again. She has yet to sleep through every night so an occasional wake up whine around 4:30 AM is still normal. She loves to nip at us, both to explore her world and to signal her excitement and affection. She is learning basic commands but having a leach attached is still a frustrating experience for her.
We have figured out how to leave the house to run errands without sending her into a tizzy. Both Betty and I can be upstairs while Bailey is behind a gate, crying softly for a few minutes before lying down to await our return. She is developing the feeling of trust that tells her we will be back, she is not being abandoned.
But, without a moment's hesitation I can honestly say that adding this young life to our life has been a tremendously positive experience. In just one month we find we miss her if we are gone for a few hours. Her unconditional love and "snuggability" are enriching us and our home life. She is teaching me patience and to live more in the moment. She is reminding me that a little urine on the rug is not a big deal. She is forcing me to experience a satisfying retirement on a new level.
Would you do me a favor? Click the Google+1 symbol below if you liked this post. It helps.