In this post, guest writer Barbara Richardson discusses her bold and brave decision to introduce a puppy to her life.
I love dogs. I bought a Labrador puppy when my son was nine as a companion for us when we moved to Kenya more than 20 years ago. We loved Rafiki (‘friend’ in Swahili) for many years and through two other international relocations.
In recent years I have thought often about getting another dog. I’ve researched breeds, kennels and training. But each time I came close to making the jump, my head held me back. I just couldn’t get beyond the negative thoughts of the expense, the limits on my travel, the change in lifestyle (“sorry, I can’t go, I must get home to let the dog out…”).
Eventually, I also considered the positive reasons for adding a dog to my life at this stage. The research shows having a pet helps seniors to get out of the house, exercise, and meet new people. Plus a pet provides emotional support. For older owners who live alone (me), pets also help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, increase social interaction and physical activity, and stimulate new rituals.
Yet I still couldn’t make the jump. I dithered, considered, and reconsidered. But eventually found the right place to buy, where I could be sure the puppy was not the product of a mill, and fell in love with the online photos. I had to fly to Calgary to choose one of three siblings: two boys and a girl. In my mind I didn’t want a female, so my choice was between the two males.
My sister-in-law accompanied me to pick my puppy. Nancy is blonde, petite, loves fashion, definitely what we affectionately call a “girly girl”. When I walked into her house later with the girl puppy, her husband just laughed and shook his head. “Of course you bought the girl! You had my wife with you!”
Well yes, perhaps Nancy swayed me. But so too did my puppy’s sweet face and irregular colouring that looks like someone wiped a white paint brush randomly on her black fur. And her gentle disposition.
The return to Vancouver was traumatic for both Siri (named to reflect today’s culture) and me. We flew together, with her in a crate under the seat in front of me and me terrified she would cry or bark. Not a peep. She did, however, throw up three times, so I quickly grasped the nuance of my life ahead with a puppy. We arrived home, and now I spend my days wiping up pee and walking her every two hours. Like having a new baby.
In the end, it was a heart not a head decision. The factor that pushed me over the edge: realizing if I didn’t buy a dog soon, it might outlive me! So this month, I let my heart lead and I bought a puppy. A tiny, adorable fluff ball. Who pees everywhere, cries when in her crate, has me spoon feeding her (not kidding), outside refuses to move sometimes, and wakes me too early in the mornings.
Head or heart? Our lives are shaped and defined by both, but decisions of the heart bring colour to our lives. •