Puppy Love

So there I was, seated in a curtain draped room in the Emergency Department, awaiting my husband’s next round of test results. We’d been there, done that, and knew the drill: it promised to be a long Thursday night. This time, I remembered to grab my phone charger before pulling out of the garage to make the familiar trek down Silas Creek Parkway – at rush hour. Things always seem to happen at rush hour.

Settled in, a new text beckoned:

Hey, look at this…

OMG, she’s adorable.

You better apply fast; it’s first come, first served with these dogs.

I’ve got so much going on, and she’s only a year old. You know what I said: NO PUPPY!

It’s your call.

My husband stirred:

Are you working?

Uh, yeah. Just finishing up something.

I pressed “Send” and quickly reminded myself that just because I had applied didn’t mean that I was obligated. Right…Bright and early on Monday morning I learned that if I was “interested,” the dog would be brought to my house on Friday morning. Otherwise, she would be offered to the next vetted applicant in line. 

Wait, she means THIS FRIDAY. I’m not ready. We’re not ready. We gave all of Miss Noelle’s doggy things to the shelter. She’s a PUPPY. What am I thinking? I must be out of my mind!

By 2 PM that Friday, we were the proud pup parents of an affectionate, squirmy, curious, energetic, mini poodle mix known as “Paris.” In a mere four weeks, she has injected immeasurable joy and laughter into our daily life, turned more than a few things upside down, and provided that unique brand of unconditional love that only man’s best friend can offer. 

Is getting a dog in retirement “right” for you?

Well, as the saying goes, “It’s complicated.” Here are a few key “puppy love” considerations to help you make the best decision:

Bringing a dog into your life means entering a committed relationship

We can become rather set in our ways as we get older or feel that we are finally doing things our way and that’s that. But as with any relationship, bringing a dog into your life means  working things out by learning what your new pet needs, negotiating a few specifics, and setting some boundaries. Maybe you wouldn’t dream of getting out for a walk before 9 AM, but that may be way too late for your pet. Are you willing to make changes in your daily patterns to accommodate your new family member?

It will take time and patience to integrate your new pet

Remember that for your pet, everything is unfamiliar – including you. She will need time to get to know your idiosyncrasies and the rhythm of your household. Are you willing to cut her some slack while she acclimates to her new life with you?  

Accept that you will learn from one another

Yes, you do need to establish yourself as the Alpha Dog, but you also need to learn your new pet’s likes, dislikes, and preferences. While I usually walk three times a day, I’ve observed that Paris needs more opportunity to expend her energy. Thankfully, we have a fully fenced yard which lends itself to spontaneous episodes of THE ZOOMIES! 

Forgiveness is key

Just like you, your new pet will make mistakes. Whether that’s “having an accident” in the house or climbing on your desk and chomping on your morning vitamins (“PARIS, NO!!!!”) being able to redirect and forgive are critical.

Backup arrangements will be necessary

My friend – the one who texted me that fateful night in the ER – travels frequently. She has Plan A, B, and C accommodations lined up to happily take in her two small dogs when she is off having Me Time. Consider who will care for your pet when you’re out on a day trip, a long weekend, or that cruise you’ve been planning.

Be open to getting the help you need

By all means, inquire about training! There are numerous qualified resources available to help you and your new pet get off to a great start. 


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