Puppy Lessons

My husband and I got a puppy last month. He is two months old, a golden retriever, and yes he is adorable. Thanks for asking. (no I will not be posting pictures)

Our lives have completely changed now that we have a small (but getting big) animal in the house. I knew he would be work, and I was right. From morning till dusk I have a fluff ball to watch, take care of, and keep from getting bored. (bored puppies are not a good thing) What I didn’t realize was how much I would learn about myself through taking care of this fluff ball.

First, I am incredibly selfish. Before the fluff ball, I knew I wasn’t perfect, but I thought I was getting somewhere in this whole selfless project. Ha! You see, I liked my routine, my slow cup of tea in the morning and sleeping through the night. I liked the option of staying inside when it is cold out. Now, my mornings are a little more rushed because I have a fluff ball to feed and watch like a hawk. My morning chores take longer because he wants to chase the broom around or run off with dirty socks. (do I know why? Nope.) I have to walk outside every day, and usually in the middle of the night as well. I haven’t slept all the way through the night since we got him.

Some days (okay most days), this bothers me immensely. I begrudge every time I have to take him out, or wake up in the middle of the night. I want to get through my chores quickly, or spend hours reading a book. I liked my life the way it was, centered around what I wanted to do. Now, it includes what a fluff ball needs and wants. I probably sound whiny, which is the point. I am whiny because I am, on the inside, a selfish person, especially with my time. This puppy is forcing me to think of something other than myself during the day. It is growing me and stretching me to become a more selfless person who thinks of the needs of others, not just herself.

Second, going outside actually does help my mental health, even though it is freezing. Somehow, when I learned about going outside for your mental health, I always inwardly deleted the winter months. Obviously, going outside is only good for you if it is warm and sunny. I am now here to say that sunshine is sunshine no matter what time of year it is. Fresh air is still fresh air even though it is stinging the inside of your nose. Going outside with a puppy, who needs to all the time, has forced me to come to terms with the fact that being outside boosts my mood and gets me out of my head. Yes, I still hate the cold, yes, I bundle up till I look like a marshmallow. But I still go outside, and it is good. Go figure.

Third, I get irritated when I feel like someone is not pulling their ‘fair share’. This goes back to the selfishness problem. I take care of the puppy all day, and when my husband comes home I want him to pull his ‘fair share’ and deal with the puppy all evening. When it doesn’t happen for whatever reason, I get grumpy. In my mind, I have taken the lions share of the work, and it is only right that he help out once in a while! (conveniently forgetting that he works every day to pay rent, while I stay home and write blog posts…)

My husband does help. He volunteers to help with the puppy whenever he can. He takes the puppy out during the night much more than I do. This isn’t about him helping or not helping, this is about me being selfish with how much I have to do. I am being whiny, grumpy, and no fun to be around because I begrudge taking the puppy out once (once people!) during the evening. There is no chart tallying how much effort we both put into this puppy except in my own mind. When I let go of the chart, I am learning to serve others even when it is inconvenient to my plan of action. When I decide to stop tallying up the work each of us do, I become more content with the lot in life I have. I get to take care of a puppy all day, who is ridiculously cute, I get to go outside in a beautiful area, I get to stay in a warm house for most of the day, I still get to pursue my hobbies while I am waiting on a job. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who took the puppy out, just that he went out and not in the house!

Get a puppy, learn about yourself, and enjoy going outside. (though maybe don’t get a puppy in the middle of winter…)

Shaina Merrick