- DH = dear husband
- DD3 = dear third daughter
- DD2 = dear second daughter
We lost our Rocky in November – two weeks before we lost my mom. They were such great friends!
My mom was Rocky’s #1 person.
DD3 was most impacted by Rocky’s passing – especially tough as it was followed so soon by the passing of her grandmother. In the long winter ahead, she felt her double loss.
One particularly sad day in March, we were out walking when we passed by a man and his pug puppy. We stopped to “oooh” and “ahhh” and chat. DD3 knelt down, and the puppy leapt into her lap, his tail wagging in sheer joy. “You don’t know how much that lifted my soul!” she said as we walked away.
“Hmmm…” I thought.
Just about an hour earlier, before meeting up with DD3, I had passed by an older woman at a bus stop who seemed to be speaking to a container on her folding wheeled grocery cart. “Would you like to see my bundle of joy?” she asked me. I stopped, and she pulled out a tiny puppy – a chihuahua I think. “She’s in training to be my companion,” the woman told me. “I’m on so many pills for depression…” We talked for a minute or two, and as her bus approached, I said, “I hope she brings you lots of comfort.” The elderly woman zipped her puppy back into her container, saying “Oh! She already does!”
Therapy pet. Sad daughter’s spirits lifted by a puppy. Was there a sign in this?
I took DD3 out for lunch, and while we were at the restaurant, I texted DH. “Let’s get a puppy.”
When we got home, I read some blogs and went to send out links on Twitter as is my custom. And what do you think was the first thing I saw on my feed? A vine showing a man who comes home to a dog jumping ecstatically into his arms. The bottom text gave this message: “Studies prove that pets are good for mental health.”
Yep. The signs were everywhere.
Our decision to get a dog
DH, who runs a business from home, was surprised by how much he missed Rocky’s constant companionship. Rocky would plunk himself down by DH while he worked, and then follow him out to the kitchen whenever he took a lunch or snack break. If DH had a power nap, so did Rocky. And if DH had to leave to run an errand, he would be assured of an enthusiastic welcome home upon his return.
When DH received my text message, it was a confirmation of something he already wanted.
May 20th, we brought home our Kobe.
On the way to his new home.
I forgot about the puppy stage …
Of course, no two puppies are alike. And there is a big difference between a puppy and an established family pet. Enter reality. The last few weeks have been crazy!! Kobe bites everything in sight, and he pees and poos all over the house.
In praise of crate training
I don’t like putting Kobe in his crate. He wants to run and play and be with his people, and I empathize with his longing for freedom when I close the door on his crate.
On the other hand, Kobe has a real resistance to doing his business outside. I can’t count the number of times we’ve walked him around our yard for that purpose with no success – only to have him do it within minutes of returning inside. Argh!! And when it rains, it’s a hopeless case! He doesn’t like the wet grass, and he’ll stand there in stubborn refusal as one of us gets soaked by the elements. No, it’s much better to pee on the mat by the front door and the upstairs landing. And the best place to poo is clearly the floor by DH’s work desk. Again – argh!!
I hit a critical point of irritation this week (not a proud moment), and I’ve completely overcome my reluctance to using that crate!
Parallels to debt-reduction
Kobe cannot handle freedom at this point. He needs us to set up super-strict parameters so that he can learn the basics of life as family pet. He sleeps in his crate. When he wakes up, I take him outside until he does his business. That means he gets to eat breakfast and then play with DD3. If DD3 needs to focus on something other than Kobe, he goes back in his crate – until DH is able to take over.
Kobe needs 100% vigilance. When we slip and give him only 96% vigilance, he’ll use that 4% to pee in the house or carry away one of our shoes to chomp on!
If I back-track to a time before our journey out of debt, I see that DH and I could not handle freedom. Financial chaos on my part and compulsive maxing out on his led to our chronic indebtedness and the chronic financial stress that went with it. We needed to set up super-strict parameters so that we could grasp the basics of personal finance and exit stress-mode. Budgets, tracking, cutting back, DIYing, steady focus …
Signs of success
It’s Saturday morning, and since starting this post, Kobe woke up. I saved my draft and went downstairs to say “Good morning!” to him. Out of the crate, into the back yard. Wet grass? Reluctance to walk on it? I got the leash and walked him around the yard. Pee! Yay! But we weren’t done yet. Around the yard again. And again. And then … Poo! It just does not get better than that!
Kobe had an equally productive walk after his breakfast, and now he’s peacefully lying down in his crate again. Some day, he’ll be able to lie at my feet while I write, and if he needs to do his business, he’ll let me know.
Likewise, DH and I have succeeded within our parameters of debt-reduction. We hope and believe that some of those strict boundaries can be replaced with more flexibility. We are well trained for our growing freedom.
Last night, Kobe was exhausted after a long walk. All pooped out – both literally and figuratively – he gave us a glimpse of the family pet he is becoming. And he is lovely – everything we could ask for.
DD2 visits us a lot more often these days.
Do you think pets are good for mental health? Have you ever crate-trained a dog? Your comments are welcome.