Puppy Love - Spring has Sprung!
“There is no psychiatrist in the world
Like a puppy licking your face.”
Winter is FINALLY on it’s way bye bye. Honestly, felt like it took awhile but the light is at the end of the tunnel. Spring is here and it’s a time for all things new - new buds on the trees, new flowers poking their heads up from the soil and new puppies. Puppies??? Yep, spring is the time for puppies! And kittens. And bunnies. Oh my!
One of the many new beginnings and onset to spring that is prevalent is new animals. Specifically, lots and lots of new fur friends gracing the homes and the hearts of so many families. Pictures of fat puppies, kittens and ducklings and chubby little bunnies - how does that not make you smile! And want one….or in my case - two. Seriously, who doesn’t love the smell of puppy breath, the playful pitter patter of uncoordinated legs trying to just get where they need to go, the beautiful exhaustion of an animal that just lived ten minutes to the absolute fullest and now needs to nap. I see it, I live it, I am so grateful for it.
In with the New
Puppies and kittens and new animal babies bring so much to the table. Depending on your circumstances at home, your family and your lifestyle, there are a variety of reasons why new puppies are such a blessing.
For those that are finally striking out on their own, pets provide an instant roommate, a confidante, a “hey you want pizza again for dinner too?” tried and true BEST FRIEND. It’s a friendly face at the door, a gentle weight in the dog bed in the corner of your bedroom (or in my case underneath the covers taking up all the room), someone that you can come home to that is happy to see you EVERY TIME you walk in that door. They are never late with the rent, they are okay with your messy pile of clothes in the bathroom and hey, who cares if the apartment is a disaster when we could go for a walk instead? Absolutely and without question, a new pet is probably the best roommate and partner for those forging out on their own into the brave new world.
Independence comes in other forms as well. Newly widowed, those that have been used to having a companion are typically a little lost, lonely, uncomfortable in the quiet space that two people used to knock around in. Pets at this stage of independence can be a godsend. Not only is it add food and water and get instant companion, they can breathe new life and new energy into a person. Puppies and kittens are maybe not always the best option as potty training and energy levels might be a little too much but there is always adoption of an older animal in need of a loving home. It also affords those that are now without a loved one the opportunity to give that love to someone that will instantly return it tenfold.
Responsibility and Accountability
Families around the world experience it - “Can we get a puppy?” “Not until you’re older and can help take care of it. Puppies and baby animals are A LOT of responsibility.” As children get older and are able to do more for themselves and help out, you’ll find a lot of families take the plunge and succumb to getting a pet. To teach responsibility. Feeding, walking, the lovely poop-scooping. Puppies in particular give kids the chance to care for something that is dependent on them and teaches them
New puppies and kittens also teach accountability. Sure, it’s beautiful outside and you want to go shoot baskets at Jake’s house. Have you walked Homer yet? Has Schmoopy eaten? Being accountable to a pet teaches children that they are not the most important person in the universe. Others matter. And that at times you have to put aside what you want to do in order to care for someone else. Accountability comes in other forms. I can’t tell you how many tv remotes my nephews have had to pay for out of their own piggy banks because Jules eats them. And I can’t tell you how many times they’ve been told don’t leave the remote where the dog can get it. Yep, accountability can be a little tough on the wallet but sooner or later, the message sinks in. And leaves a lasting imprint that hopefully carries forward.
Hope and healing
A little harder on the heart, puppies and kittens and animals can be brought into the home for hope. The loss of our animals is devastating and many swear - never again. It hurts too much to lose them and the thought of going through the process again, knowing the lifespan of an animal is never long enough, it’s hard. But new animals give us hope. Hope to love another animal that much. Hope for a day that I don’t cry.
Hope that maybe my pain will decrease and my joy will increase.
Puppies are also salve on the wound of grief. We are not the same after we lose an animal. We simply are NOT. They take a part of them with us when they go and we often grieve their loss the same way we do the way of a person that we loved and loss. Puppies and kittens do not mask or make light of the pain. But they can help to soothe the loss a little. By giving us something new to love, something that loves us back, a little joy in the dark days. In no way do they take away from the memory of the ones that we lost or serve as a replacement. I like to think of it as they give us a place for us to put our love that is misplaced when we experience loss.
New pets after pet loss
This is a tough one. Losing a pet can make it so hard to want to love again and give the love to an animal that just simply wants to love you back. How do you know the time is right? Well, I have some recommendations on what has worked for me.
Otis (October 23, 2008 - July 27, 2015)
Give yourself some time. Loss is loss - whether it’s human form or pet form. Your heart hurts, you are grieving. Give yourself the time that you need to mend your heart. It may take weeks, months, years and however long it takes - it takes. But time is on your side.
Forgive yourself. Often times we may miss signs that our pets are hurting and the loss comes at us out of the blue. We beat ourselves up with ‘if onlys’ and ‘I should haves’. Maybe the loss came from human error and we left the door open and tragedy strikes. In order to move forward you need to forgive yourself. Life happens, accidents happen, often times things are simply out of our control. I have a friend whose son was playing baseball in the front yard and the ball struck her Yorkie in the head and he died instantly. She was devastated, the son was devastated. But it was simply that - an accident. Be forgiving and kind to yourself.
Research it out. Maybe you had a purebred lab, maybe you’re a rescue mama. Do your research when the time comes to help you choose your next fur child to love. There are so many amazing resources out there and so many animals that are simply in need of some love. Do your research, put together a plan of what you’re looking for and then execute that plan.
Be honest with your lifestyle. Who doesn’t love a puppy? I love puppies - in fact, the more the merrier. But I am home a lot and have the ability and the stamina to give a puppy. If you work full time and are not in a position to be able to bring a puppy to work or don’t have a lot of extra time to give to a puppy or kitten, be honest about that. It doesn’t mean that you can’t choose a new animal but maybe you’re at the point in your life where an older dog is more what you’re looking for and is better suited for your lifestyle.
Have a family meeting. Especially after the loss of a pet, have a family meeting before you go forward. Everyone grieves differently and where you may find that you are struggling, there may be other members of the family that are in need of another animal to love right away. Or vice versa. Have honest conversations and try to come to a meeting of the minds that works for each member of the family.
Choose life before death. For those families that have an older animal or an animal that is not doing well, sometimes bringing a new puppy or kitten into the house before the death can be of great comfort - especially for those with younger children. Not only does it give renewed energy and life into the mix, but it serves as a distraction and immediate tangible way to give love, especially after an animal’s passing.
Be spontaneous. Sometimes the only way to take the plunge is to simply take the plunge. Life has a funny way of working out and often times the best laid plans get messed up and the end result is the way that things are meant to be. Maybe it’s an animal that is in danger of being euthanized that comes across your scope, the sign on the country road that says ‘free kittens to good home’. Don’t be afraid to be spontaneous and go with your gut.
Harley (June 11, 2004 - March 30, 2015)
For example, when our chocolate lab died in March of 2015, we were all devastated. She was the best girl and had been from day one. We were a lab family for the most part and decided to look for another girl but maybe go the rescue route. We discovered this amazing farm in NH, Live and Let Live Farm. And they had an adoption event in May and there were puppies that were going to be there that had been rescued from all over the United States. We chose our puppy, named her Honor (c’mon - knowing me you had to see that coming) and on Memorial Day weekend, I drove up to get her. And I cried. And I was grateful.
Murphy and Honor
As I was leaving, I noticed that there was one other little girl sitting by herself that our Honor had been playing with. I asked if all the puppies had been spoken for and the director told me all but one. The little girl that Honor had been playing with was not yet adopted. A quick mental calculation told me with a little bit of maneuvering I had enough in our checking account to write two checks. Called my husband on the way home and told him no worries, I think that my bestie or his brother wanted the other girl but just understand, I couldn’t leave her. Needless to say, both bestie and brother in law fell through and we ended up with both girls. Her name is Murphy because my Rob says Murphy’s Law states ‘what can happen, will happen’. Little did we know that I would lose my beloved Otis two months later to undetected lyme and those two little girls pulled me through some dark days.
Don’t listen to naysayers. We all have those people in our lives. Those that with their ‘good advice’ tell you when it’s too soon or that it’s time or what kind of animal to choose, etc. Be the captain of your own ship. You know you and where the advice may be given for the right reasons that doesn’t mean that you have to heed it. Do what’s right for you.
Listen to your gut. At the end of the day, listen to your gut instinct. I am a believer that all things happen for a reason and if something keeps drawing you back, take a closer look. Sometimes our heart speaks louder than our head and it’s okay for you to listen.
Fur Children In My World
I am a dog lover. Always have been and I think it’s just a part of my genetic make-up. My daughter asked me the other day if I have conversations with them during the day and I said of course I do. My super smart 17 year old says “And do they answer back, Mom?” with a super sassy little smirk. “No, they don’t. There’s no need to because they already know that I’m right…you and your brothers can learn from that.” Jus sayin…
My parents have no children at home. Given that we are 48, 45 and 40 that should be a no brainer but nowadays one never knows. And what I have experienced is that whereas not having kids at home has been wonderful for them, they also have no more independents to care for and that care needed to be transferred to something else to care for. In come the dogs. Lots of them. Three little fur balls that I believe together have a total weight of 20 lbs.
The most recent addition was a Silky Terrier named Benny. Benny is in the lightweight division, coming in at a staggering 3 pounds of ferocious, I-like-cats-more-than-dogs, cute little ball of love. And little Benny is in charge of the house. He has been a much needed breath of fresh air into the lives of my parents and without question, my mom and dad adhere to his wishes and commands and he has brought a lot of joy and laughter. Because when Benny is happy - everyone is happy. Independent dependency.
Responsibility + Accountability = Empty Wallets and Closed Doors
Ahhhh…my favorite part. A good friend of Benny, my brother and his wife brought home Chevy the same day from the same breeder. Chevy is the antithesis of Benny. He’s the angel and let’s just say little Chevy - she is not so much. She is as defiant as Benny is compliant. She eats where she wants, she piddles where she wants and she is the boss of all bosses. All four pounds of her.
My brother has two boys and a daughter and two Golden Retrievers, Josie and Jules. Jules has a penchant for remotes and for going into bedrooms with the doors ajar and destroying rugs, barbie dolls, you name it. And the human children are put in a position to show responsibility (put the remote away and close your bedroom door) as well as accountability (cha-ching - remotes are $20 apiece). A new child now lives with them that we have yet to see but we hear a lot about. The child’s name is Idontknow. “Did anyone let Chevy out?” Idontknow. “Who fed Chevy today?” Idontknow. “Who put Chevy on our bed because she had an accident?” Idontknow. Chevy has been a fervent reminder that new puppies are a lot of work and that, yes, we are accountable to help teach her the rules and care for her. Accountability to our responsibilities.
So much Hope for Healing
There has been much need for hope and healing in our family. With the anniversary of loss, we have been in need of purpose, of hope, of a way to start to heal. My sister and her husband welcomed a Sphinx kitty named Mewtwo into their hearts and their home a month or two before Benny and Chevy arrived mid-March. It has given them something to care for during a time when they have so much love to give and whereas Mewtwo is not a replacement for their son, he certainly has been a place for their love to land and is able to reciprocate the love back to them. They named him Mewtwo after their son’s favorite Pokemon character. And it enables them to feel closer to Colton. And with that I pray for some healing.
What’s so wonderful is that Benny and Mewtwo are the best of friends - as if it’s perfectly natural for a kitten and a puppy to pal around together. They chase and play tag, cuddle and wrestle and the two of them - they bring a lot of joy and laughter to my mom and my sister. And it has been healing.
Best Friends - Benny and Mewtwo
And my Gus- he has given me hope. By all rights, my husband is a saint for letting me get another puppy when Honor and Murphy were literally still puppies themselves. But I never truly got over losing Otis and after a year and a half, I trusted my gut and spontaneously reached out to the same breeder that I had gotten Otis from. And my Augustus has gone a long way towards giving me hope. That through loss you can find hope and still love as deep and as great and as completely as you did before. He is no Otis of course - there’s no substitute. But oh how I love that little prince of mine and I am grateful. A hopeful heart for sure.
Spring is here. Open up the windows, clean out the cobwebs and take a moment to appreciate the beauty of life happening right before your eyes. If the time is right in your life and for your family, think about bringing new life into your home in the form of a beautiful fur baby. The love, the commitment, the joy they bring is priceless. If you open up your heart to it, they can help heal a heart that’s been broken and give you hope for brighter days ahead. Never a replacement but a place meant for your love. From puppy breath to purring kittens and chubby bunnies and yellow chicks - spring has sprung and love is IN THE AIR!
My Motley Crew
“Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
If I die before I wake, feed Jake.
He’s been a good dog
My best friend right through it all.”
~Pirates of the Mississippi