A friend of mine lost his dog a while back. After a prolonged search for the ‘right’ pup to replace his beloved Max, he finally brought home a gorgeous little Aussie female a few weeks ago.
And has been bending my ear with complaints about her ever since.
She’s too energetic. She’s mouthy. She’s being difficult to housebreak. She’s not cuddly. Max was never this bad.
I get it–I do. It’s hard when everyone you see on social media with a new puppy seems totally besotted with it–and you’re not feeling that same joy. It’s hard to get back into puppy mode when you’ve had 14 years of not-puppy mode. Time tends to blur your memory of how difficult the last puppy was and grief over your loss places the previous dog on a pedestal.
But after constant texts and phone calls from my friend, my stock of patience is used up.
Probably because I’m annoyed with myself as much as I am with my friend.
See, I did the same thing. My beloved Sampson was diagnosed with cancer less than a month after my mother died of a heart attack. I had to say goodbye less than a month after that. And though I knew better, I made an emotional decision to get another puppy right away rather than waiting until I was ready.
After telling everyone I’d never have another big, energetic dog again–that it was time to downsize–that’s exactly what I got. I found myself impulse-buying a puppy after I’d brought my husband with me to look at the litter for the sole purpose of preventing me from doing just that. And it probably would have been okay, only the cycle of loss in my life wasn’t done. I took hit after hit that year and into the next.
I didn’t neglect the puppy. I worked hard at socializing him–both with people and other dogs. He met over 100 people by the time he was four months old, and I set up scores of play dates with appropriate dogs to teach him the skill set he needed to get along. We went through Basic Obedience 1 and 2, and when he was old enough, I started him in agility classes. He even passed his Canine Good Citizenship test (admittedly by the skin of his teeth).
I love him. How can you not love that face? But with all my grieving, and then the subsequent depression, I withheld the one thing he needed the most: me.
I didn’t give him my whole heart. I was still protecting that.
It took listening to my friend gripe about his Not-Max puppy for me to fully realize what I’d done. Remington turned two recently, and I’m only now recognizing that for all the dogs I’ve had, he’s one of the calmest, most “adult” puppies I’ve ever raised.
I don’t think I could have dealt with anything more energetic than he is. He is extraordinarily gentle in nature. I’m so very lucky to have him.
I don’t deserve him.
He came into my life when I was mentally, physically, and emotionally unable to connect. I based my decision to get him on a gut feeling without giving it the full commitment to make the choice a good one.
But as I said in the previous post about Sampson, I believe specific dogs come into our lives to teach us specific lessons. While Sampson’s final lesson seemed to be to teach me how to live in the moment, Remington’s lesson right now is about commitment. That you only get out what you put in. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about puppies, or relationships, or that story you’ve been working on.
I told my friend he needed to commit 100% to his new puppy. Right now. And don’t look back. Because sometimes you get the right dog for the wrong reasons.