I haven’t had the wherewithal to publish anything in a long time. I got depressed. And sick with some horrible flu virus that made me understand how the flu could possibly kill someone. Then there were the deaths in the family. First my mother-in-law and then my step-dad. Oh yeah, and my father had a couple of convalesces at our home after hernia and hip surgeries. I basically hit a wall and started crying – a lot. Then I lost my appetite, whether from the flu or from depression I’ll never know but I got locked into a horrible spiral so that I lost 20lb (best diet ever!) and could barely ingest the same amounts of food as my 3 year old. I bought powders and canned drinks they give old people to gain weight. I ate a lot of ice cream. Like I mentioned above, best diet ever. After my step-dad’s funeral I started shaking. I thought: Oh fuck, I got bit by a tick and now I’ve caught Lyme Disease (sidebar: Lyme Disease creates neurological damage and is often misdiagnosed as MS). Except, the shaking was psychosomatic because I’d shake when I was agitated and never when I was seated or resting. Skip forward to the dreadful month of February and the doctor puts me on anti-anxiety pills. I thought, “Great, a pill that fixes everything! Sign me up.” Except, it didn’t. I still needed to go to a counselor and realize that my family was, is and will always be neurotic, eccentric and draining.
Fast forward to April. My kids and husband had been cooped up with me for a very dark winter and I decided my priority was to create happiness for myself, my kids and my husband. We began going for hikes again and going to the swimming pool. We spent a weekend at a fancy hotel in the same city we live in and ordered room service and luxuriated in the hotel’s marble pool. We started remembering what it was like to be happy and then we bought a puppy- a teeny, tiny puppy that will grow into a small dog. It’s a ShitsPooPoo – a Shitzu, Pomeranian, Poodle cross and her name is Bella. My husband and I had been mulling it over for a couple of years while we recovered from euthanizing our Chocolate Lab in 2014. He had grown old, something for which I wasn’t familiar because of premature deaths of all my childhood dogs and cats. Reasons for early death of above mentioned dogs and cats: falling from a tree during winter (cat), getting run over (dog), accidentally being stepped on and then dying from a broken back (cat), getting run over again (dog #2), and my most loved pet, my dog Chico, being passed on to another family because we were moving households every year. Having a dog survive to old age was a sign I had graduated from the family dysfunction of shoddy husbandry and a disruptive home but it was bittersweet. The old boy suffered from advanced arthritis that received little respite from pain medication and in his final year he couldn’t bear to suffer the agony of getting up to plod down four steps and squat to take a shit. He’d sprawl on the kitchen floor and a few seconds later a couple of warm logs would roll from under his raised tail. He’d give us a look so sorrowful and resigned that we gave up scolding him and began the reluctant conversations of when it was finally “time.”
Having a puppy is about joy; having a puppy is about pee everywhere in your home. I’m going to give you some good advice right now: never ever buy pee pads. They have become ubiquitous in the last 10 years and they are totally useless because you are teaching your dog it’s okay to pee inside. If you have a yard, let your new bundle of joy spend lots and lots of time in it so the outside becomes a natural part of their habitat and by extension, their toilet. They’ll soon realize the green carpet outside doesn’t elicit the same groans of agony or yelling the (formerly) white carpet inside does. If you live in an apartment: what the hell were you thinking? Go buy yourself a house. Better yet, a country acreage.
Back to joy: puppies have three basic tenets and they are eating, sleeping and playing. They will do all three with you if you let them and let’s be honest, you will. A bit of scrambled egg at breakfast never hurt anyone now did it? The crate seems comfortable but your bed is soooooo much better. Besides, it’s too cold in the winter to sleep on the floor even if it’s on top of a $100 feather dog bed from a boutique pet store. And you’ll realize throwing things over and over and over and over and over again can be fun! Especially the part where you have to play capture the ball or rope toy between every single toss. It never gets old. Really. I promise.
When you bring a new creature into your home the best parts are the unexpected moments, those times you could never have imagined in your adorable baby animal fairy tales you were playing across your mind while you were psyching yourself up to make the purchase. It’s only been two months so far but the two most memorable things about Bella are 1) when holding her she likes to lean her head back over your shoulder and nuzzle into your neck and 2) when you are pooping on the toilet she runs into the bathroom and starts sniffing the toilet bowl, scratches at the crotch of your underwear and gives you a startled look every time you grunt. I’ve never felt so scrutinized as when I try to defecate in my own home now. I guess it makes sense it would be your canine family member that would have the most judgement pertaining to your rear end considering this is where the meet and greet ensues at every dog park. Still, I wonder how I stack up against the Labradoodle on the next block.
Every day with my family, including our newest member, Bella, I’m remembering what it feels like to have parts of my day injected with pleasant surprises. This blog isn’t advocating buying a puppy every time you fall into depression. It’s just a story to remind myself that changing up the pattern in the fabric of our lives (yes, I know this is a super cheesy catchphrase) might be what’s needed to freshen up one’s perspective and catch a few more rays of sunshine.