As my cousin is frolicking with her beau in Brazil, I fully embraced my role as a mommy-substitute to Josie, their 1-year-old retriever-cocker spaniel mix.
I didn’t know what to expect.
Growing up, I’ve only ever had goldfishes that died too quickly, 2 turtles for a few short months and a grey tabby for a couple of years. I named my kitty Timothy, then affectionately shortened to Mi-Mi.
Not going to lie, my mother took care of him. I was 10 years old, so naturally, I was responsible for giving Mi-Mi pets and cuddles.
What did I know about taking care of a dog?
Not much, but I thought ‘how hard can it be?’ The answer is HARD, but I don’t regret it and learned some things along the way.
The situation may not be ideal, but it’ll be alright.
In the beginning, I was far more careful, protective, worried, stressed vigilant, diligent about everything regarding her well-being.
Oh, she’s going in the garbage can? Time to put all the trash bins away so she can’t get access to it
Josie’s eating something off the floor? Let’s get that out of her mouth!
She’s puking up white foam? Oh no, did I kill her?!
Eventually, I realized that she’s gonna be just fine. Why am I getting so worked up?
You can only worry about so much, so focus on the priorities and the rest will work itself out. It always does because life is an equilibrium – it will naturally find balance.
Not Over Til It’s Over
Josie gets restless and hyper sometimes.
If you don’t work her out during the day, you will be dealing with it at night, and no one wants that. Good thing my cousins taught me a trick. You “cross-fit” her ass to exhaust her.
Only I didn’t do it long enough for her to tire out completely. I only did it to the point where she wanted to rest but I wanted to stop.
A fatal mistake on my part.
You can’t stop fighting in the middle of a battle. You got to see it through to the end. No matter how exhausted you are, keep going!
Adapt & Grow
I had to touch poop. EW!
Besides wiping my own ass, I never had to do that for anyone else in my life. It was disgusting – no one wants to touch, smell, see or be anywhere near shit, literally and figuratively
As time went on, I got used to it and didn’t mind as much. The stench makes me want to gag only every so slightly now.
In fact, it got to the point where I was concerned when she wasn’t passing her regular amount and secretly proud when she expelled a lot of toxins from her model-thin body.
There’s always a transition period. Humans are one of the most adaptable creatures in the world. Just because it’s challenging right now, doesn’t mean it won’t get easier as time goes on. Stick to it!
Think of Others
Want to go to Seattle for the weekend? How about a day trip to Whistler?
I’m a dog’s aunt now. I have responsibilities: I need to feed her, exercise her, take her out every few hours, play with her…I can’t just be thinking about myself and all the fun thing stuff I want to do!
I notice that my subconscious reminded me to go home after I’ve been out for an extended period of time because there’s someone waiting for me. She’s relying on me to take care of her.
On the flip side, I LOVE staying at home. If I don’t need to go out, I can probably hibernate for about a week.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case with Josie. She needs the outdoors and needs her exercise…so I do what makes her happy.
Being accountable, being mature, putting others before yourself – it’s all part of growing up.
Think Twice Before You Committ
I actually found it a bit sad that this living, breathing animal has no choice but to operate on my schedule.
It’s not a great feeling.
She eats, pees, sleep, poos, plays and everything else when I allow her to.
I feel bad when I have to pull her away from chasing that squirrel or walking into the dirty pile of shit when she’s so curious. I don’t think any animal should be domesticated, because we’re essentially taking away their freedom.
Since it’s pretty much what I’ve been trying to get away from and now I find myself doing that to someone else. Oh, how things come in full circle…
In relation to life in general, don’t impulsively make a decision if you know you cannot commit to it. Especially to something that is alive and cannot independently function.
The Little Things In Life
Josie’s super sweet, funny, cute, a bit clingy, smart, loyal and affectionate. All the traits that you would want in a dog.
It’s nice to have a companion who loves you unconditionally.
Honestly, no matter how much I bug her, she tolerates it and still sticks to my side. It’s endearing, and I adore her for it.
She’s like a child, so curious. Reacts to normal, mundane things like she’s seen it for the first time. I mean, just how much fun can you have with wrapping paper?
Being around her angelic innocence breathes a certain wonderment back into life.
There are only a handful of big, defining moments in life. It gets quite boring waiting for them to come, so have fun, be silly and celebrate the little things often.
Let It Go
I know, she’s so cute, right?
Can you believe that I still get annoyed with her from time to time?
Especially, when I’m walking her and she just pulls me around like a rag doll. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people pull on me. This tiny 30lb pup is a lot stronger than she looks!
Sure, I may have a lower tolerance for annoyance than most people (I’m working on it – any suggestions?), but after about 5 minutes I realize that it’s ridiculous to stay mad at a dog.
- Over the years, I notice that a lot of things don’t matter or aren’t worth it, particularly if it threatens my peace of mind. So, I don’t waste my time or energy on it and disengage immediately.
- Experience the emotion – don’t deny yourself. If you’re angry, get mad. If you’re sad, cry it out. If you’re happy, LOL!
Is this something that will bother you 10+ years from now when you’re on your death bed? Probably not. Learn to let go – water off a duck’s back.
To My Dear Josie:
Thank you for letting me take care of you and for reminding me of these important things before I go off into the world for more enlightenment.
You are the cutest, sweetest and only annoying a small fraction of the time.
I’m sorry I didn’t let you sleep in the middle of the bed, but, hey, I need my space too.
Miss you loads 🙂