Last summer, I wrote about the passing of our thirteen-year-old Bichon-poodle named Kisses. While this loss was painful, it was an experience of growth for our family. My boys learned about how to grieve and I learned how to step back and let them. We weren’t in any rush to add another dog into our family. In fact, I fell into an easy rhythm with our remaining dog, Max (he is currently 14 and still going strong). Most of the time I felt that maybe we would remain a one-dog family. For a long time, this worked.
I had moments and days where I longed for a second dog, but it had to be the right dog. Being a social worker at heart, I wanted to rescue a dog more than anything. I loved the idea of ‘saving’ a dog while making space in foster care for another lost dog to be spared. However, our initial searches were fruitless. It seemed that even when it came down to the wire and we might be matched with a dog, for some reason it all fell through. Eventually, by luck or by grace (you choose), Nora found her way to us. To read the full story of how we found each other, click the link below:
Within a span of about a minute of meeting Nora, we knew she was our dog. We’ve had her for over a month now and the amount of love and energy she has brought to our home is immeasurable. Being only four years old, she is extremely playful which my boys love. She is happy, sweet and eager to please. In short, she’s awesome.
Once we officially adopted her, I started to feel pressure to make her behave. I had it in my mind that I must do as much as possible because this wonderful gift of a dog fell in our laps. I sometimes have a hard time accepting good fortune like this and I began to wonder why. The more I thought about it, the more I understood that I was pressuring myself to ‘do’ more. I sometimes am uncomfortable with the label of being ‘only’ a stay-at-home-mom. I realized by my wanting to train Nora to be a therapy dog, or more likely, at least a polite citizen of our neighborhood, I was proving to the world that I deserve her and the title of ‘only’ being a stay-at-home-mom.
Turns out, Miss Nora has distinctly other plans. While she is making great strides learning the rules and structure of our house, she is not a great leash-walker. She seems to enjoy walks and certainly enjoys seeing other people and/or dogs, but she is kind of a mess about the whole thing. She likes to pull and yip and sometimes, act generally crazy.
This was starting to frustrate me to no end. How in the world was I going to get her to comply to my leash rules? Apparently, I’m not.
These days I’ve accepted that she may or may not be a good leash-walker. I think I am noticing some improvement, but it’s hard to say. I’ve let go of my dream of making her a ‘doing’ kind of dog that must become therapy-certified. I’m more focused on the ‘being’ part of our experience. Mostly this entails extreme amounts of snuggles, lots of playful tug-of-war and allowing her to be exactly what she is: an incredible rescue dog that happens to not appreciate the rules of a leash. She also showers me with unconditional acceptance and honestly seems to value my stay-at-home status. It’s about time I did, too.
Written by Diana DeVaul, MSW and Parent