Thursday, March 7, 2013

Small Things = Big Changes

OK, the game of the day is this: I’ll describe what is happening and you tell me WHY!

First scenario: It is 4:30 a.m. and I am standing in the driveway of my house, in my bathrobe and fuzzy slippers, staring at a sky ablaze with stars. I am cold. And why would I be doing that?
Second scenario: All my plants, pillows, baskets, current magazines are piled on the dining room table and no, we are not moving. Any ideas?
Third scenario: I went for three days with less than four hours sleep each night and for four days without a shower. And no one in the house even noticed. Know why?

You probably guessed. I am happy to report that our home is once again completely wrecked, crazy and upside down – we have a puppy! He is 10 weeks old, a Goldendoodle named Dudley, and just about the cutest thing we’ve seen in a while. But I must admit I am reeling a bit from the total alteration of our lives that has occurred since Dudley’s arrival. I was a little worried that we were too old to take on a puppy. The jury is still out on that one, I think, but I am a bit less concerned today than I was three days ago.

I have no rugs, no plants, nothing on a low surface such as attractive decorative objects, pillows or such. I’m wondering what I will do with things as Dudley gets taller and reaches his mature weight of 45-50#. It looks like, for now, Dudley’s morning rising time is 4 a.m. but last night he didn’t bark or whine once when I put him in his crate, so I’m not complaining. Oh, and did I mention that I’m grateful for stone floors?
What I especially love about this little guy is his calm nature. If he is chewing a toy or napping on the floor, it doesn’t bother him if we walk out of the room or move about. He doesn’t have to be in the same room with us or have our constant attention. Love that. The training has had a good basic start at the kennel where he was born and that will make my task easier but clearly one word is the key: consistency! Mine, not his.

I learned a lot by my mistakes with previous dogs (read laziness) and I’m determined to the point of obsession to train Dudley to be the kind of dog who will be a welcome addition to our lives, not a constant problem to be solved. My life is lived close to the edge a lot of the time and I can’t deal with anything that is going to push me closer. So, I’ve been spending a lot of time outside lately and I do look like I’ve been dragged around by a dog! But so far today, Dudley has had no accidents in the house. Yea, Dudley. It’s early, of course, and we’re a long way from perfection there.

But it’s mainly for Tom that Dudley has joined us. I wish you could have seen his joyful expression at the airport when we took possession of the crate with Dudley inside. One thing I may have overestimated is the degree to which Tom will be able to participate in Dudley’s training. He’s not at all unwilling, but he can’t remember to do anything consistently. It is for the fun and comfort that he wants Dudley and that will be Job One. My need to train and teach Dudley will have to go on around Tom’s need to interrupt, his inability to remember any commands, and his own childlike qualities. Dudley doesn’t know he is going to be an unofficial therapy dog when he grows up. Right now he is pure puppy, exuberant and silly, curious and inexhaustible. But as he grows, I think he will be a great companion for Tom.
Let me just say how much I have appreciated the kind words and loving thoughts from so many of you during the past four months since we lost our precious dogs, Gracie and Alfie. It helped us through the sadness but the feelings of loss will stay in our hearts forever. What finally becomes clear is that you know when you are ready for the one thing that gets you through the grief – another dog to love.