Owning our Choices

Reflection, there is no better time for it than now. Reassessments of the things that have happened and of the choices made that have lead up to this moment. The consequences of which, good or bad, are mine to live with every day after.

What has me in such a reflective mood? I hear you ask. No, not the New Year, although that would do it! Not even the last 2 and a half years riding the cancer roller coaster with my husband, we’ve barely had time to think about that… It’s a little-big, 13+ kg bundle of energy, legs and muscle called Otis.

Brendan and I have never been the type of couple to rush into anything, and yes that’s frustrating sometimes. We had been a dogless couple for 21 years before adopting Otis. The timing had never seemed right on paper, to bring home such an important addition to our family, and after having the children it was even harder to get that timing right.

Now we know if we had continued to wait for the perfect time, it would never have happened, lucky for us divine timing stepped in. That doesn’t mean, however, that things are perfect!

To say those who know us best were surprised to find we had adopted Otis, on the spur of the moment, without having mentioned that we were getting a puppy to anyone, is an understatement. But we couldn’t mention what we didn’t know ourselves. We have since read that this was the first on a very long list of first time dog owner mistakes we made. To date, we have pretty much made every mistake on it.

It all started when we saw a beautiful little pup on our local animal rescues fb page, it was about 9 pm, we fell in love at first sight and adopted him the next morning without so much as a lead to bring him home with, a bed for him to sleep on or food for him to eat – mistake number 2!

We bought our precious bundle home, threw open the front door and more or less said ‘this is your home, what’s our is yours, we are going to love you madly, deeply, stupidly.’

That was apparently our third mistake, not the loving him madly, deeply, stupidly…that is how we love, it was giving our precious boy the run of our house. Who knew we were supposed to make him sit at the front door until we had both walked through it, then lead him through each room one by one, and finally put him in a smaller, more isolated area on his own where he could settle in.

We set no boundaries, forth mistake right there. We let him sleep beside the bed in our bedroom, fifth, gave him to the kids for their birthday, 6th – he’s really the families dogs, brought him into our lives when Brendan was starting 10 days of radiation treatment, around the same time my mum was diagnosed with cancer, 7th (but surely not the last) – due to the amount of emotional and physical stress we were experiencing.

…. And the list goes on and on.

So what we have created in our life recently, through the choices we’ve made – is absolute chaos! Joyous, frustrating, silly, funny, exhausting Chaos, magnified by a big love for the new little boy in our lives, that grows bigger by the day, along with him.

He loves us, licks us, cuddles up to us, wants to be the boss, jumps on us, pinches our stuff and chews it up, scratches us, nips us, growls at us-sometimes aggressively, farts all the time, and makes us laugh, a lot.

It’s not all fun and games though, the aggression worries us, and we are at a loss as to what to do and wonder if we have somehow created it? We spend our days on a seesaw of hugs, pats and affection to yells, rousing and time outs.

We are all confused.We feel like we’ve tried everything, some things twice, to help our beautiful boy Otis live with us happily and peacefully, all while trying to remember that he is still just a little puppy in a big boy body – it’s challenging.

The things we think we are doing right: we make sure that all Otis’s vet work is up to date, we make sure he is fed, watered and sleeps comfortably (inside, on our lounge, and yes the jury is still out, depending on who you talk to, about whether that’s mistake number 8), we love him hugely, we walk him two to three times a day- for sometimes an hour each walk, we think that’s what he needs to release lots of big puppy energy (everyone tells us a tired dog is a happy dog?) but we aren’t really sure,the information highway is conflicted.

We are also trying to teach him all the commands a puppy is supposed to know to be a happy and balanced little fella: like sit, come, stay, drop …this list is long too and we are slowly ticking them off. We found out quickly that there is more to puppy raising then bringing a cute fluff ball home to play with.

Who knew that being a responsible pet owner was such a responsibility? Well in all honesty we did, what we didn’t know was that it would also be a lot of hard work, not unlike bringing a new baby home, and I know what that was like, we brought home two at once….

Yes, we have found the consequences of our choice to add to our family joyous, exhausting, and frustrating. But we wouldn’t change a thing, because we love this little boy, have made a commitment to him and are determined to do all we can to make him happy living with us. We are proud to be his guardians.

There are many adventures ahead, I know we will probably make more mistakes, and I’m sure we will have many successes to celebrate, but what I really know to be true is that our rescue boy was more likely sent to rescue us, than the other way around.

I know there is a method to all of this crazy madness we are experiencing at the moment, because life is good and hope is limitless!

The moral of our story

Becoming a pet guardian is a serious responsibility. I have read most puppies that end up in shelters do so before the age of 2, for more than any other reason- this is  likely to be because their people have unintentionally created a dog they cannot manage, so are faced with the choice of giving them up or not. Many do.

This in itself reminds me that I own the choices that I make, they will govern the direction of my life and sometimes the lives of others! My choices matter and the consequences of those choices are not always mine to live with alone.


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