Try Again…

My mother turned 90 two years ago, but we never did have the big party we’d planned to celebrate. We were going to invite all her family and friends, because we believed that reaching 90 years of age was a big deal, and should be celebrated in a big way.  But then Covid showed up, and Mom’s birthday celebration was added to the long list of things the pandemic ruined.  We thought we’d just wait a year and throw her a big 91st birthday party instead.  But that didn’t happen either, because my husband was in the hospital on her birthday, and for many days afterwards.

Sadly, Mom has now reached the point where the big celebration we had hoped to throw would just overwhelm her.  So last Sunday,  I was going to host a birthday party for immediate family and a few close friends.  But then a family member was exposed to Covid, and we knew that having the party as scheduled was not a good idea.  Mom settled for dinner with two of her daughters and son-in-laws, and she seemed fine with that.

Yesterday, I was planning to go to a metro book fair that I hadn’t been to in three years.  It’s an excellent source for good books at very reasonable prices.  But as I was pulling out of our driveway I noticed that our dog was outside in our yard.  At first I wasn’t worried, since my husband was home and I figured he’d let Finn back inside soon.  But it was 102 degrees outside, and our yard doesn’t have much shade.  The further I got from home, the more I worried, so I finally pulled over and called my husband, just to be sure he’d brought Finn in.  My husband didn’t answer, not that time or the five other times I called. I even called some neighbors, but no one was home.

I know my husband is very responsible, and I really wanted to go to this book fair.  But I was also worried about my dog.  By the time I got to the book fair, I knew I couldn’t stay, so I simply drove back home.  The dog, of course, was inside the house, sleeping peacefully.  I almost decided to just stay home and forget the whole thing, but I didn’t.  I drove all the way back to the fair, and spent a very pleasant afternoon browsing through the books.

It’s hard to plan things these days and, it can sometimes seem almost pointless to count on anything happening when we want it to.  It can be tempting to simply stop trying.  But that’s no way to live.  Sometimes we need to be both stubborn and flexible, willing to reschedule and be patient in order to get what we want.  Sometimes, persistence really is the key.

We have a new date set for Mom’s birthday party, but if we have to, we’ll reschedule again, until it happens.  And it took a lot of time and effort to get to the book fair this year, but it was worth it.  I had fun, and came home with a big bag of new books to read.  As the old saying goes, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again……”

Common Ground

IySCob9WT3ulxRSEZimmIAMy dog Finn takes his sleep very seriously.  When he’s awake, he has endless energy, and spends his days tearing around the house or persistently trying to convince us that’s it’s time for another walk or even more food.  But by early evening, he’s always curled up in his dog bed, fast asleep.  And that’s just fine, right up until the moment when we want him to go outside for his last potty break before we put him in his crate for the night.

Our late-night routine is always the same.  When we’re ready to go to bed, my husband and I call Finn to go outside.  We always begin on a cheerful note, holding the back door open hopefully and calling, “Come on, Finn! Time to go outside!”  And Finn always ignores us, even when my husband adds, “I’ve got treats!”  (I refuse to resort to bribery.)  So then we approach his bed, a little less cheerfully, and tell him that he needs to go outside RIGHT NOW.  At this point Finn opens his eyes and fixes us with a glare that makes it clear he has no intention of budging an inch.

Eventually, Finn leaves his bed, either by choice when he sees we’re not backing down and we begin to use our really stern voices, or because I lose patience and simply lift up one side of his bed and gently tip him out.  And then he’ll go outside and potty (occasionally getting his revenge by peeing on my flowers), come back in, get his treat and trot willingly into his crate.  And yes, we go through this routine every single night.

Despite all evidence to the contrary, Finn persists in his belief that one night he’ll win the battle and not have a bathroom break before he goes to bed (which we’d allow if we thought his bladder could hold out that long).  And my husband and I keep right on believing that one of these nights Finn will cheerfully spring out of his dog bed and go outside the first time we call him.

It’s funny how often we persist in thinking we can change the way others behave, and how we naively believe that if we just try hard enough and long enough, we can convince other people that our way of thinking is the only right way.  Social media provides ample proof of that, with all those posts pointing out all the faults of those who happen to believe and act in ways that are different from us.  And we’ve all witnessed, and probably participated in, those futile arguments where we try so very hard to show someone just how flawed their thinking really is, and then end up frustrated when we’re not able to change their minds.

The truth is, Finn is probably never going to want to go outside for his late-night potty break, and we are never going to feel comfortable putting him to bed without it.  But maybe if we try getting him out a little earlier in the evening, he won’t mind it so very much, and he’ll still be able to “hold it” through the night.  Compromise, after all, is so often the key to solving problems.  It’s never quite as satisfying as winning an argument or actually getting our own way, but there comes a time when we realize that it’s better to “give a little in order to get a little.”  And that’s true for all of us, human and otherwise……

Puppy Love

When my first child was born, I remember being surprised by how I instantly fell in love with her.  From the very second the doctor put my daughter in my arms, I was completely and totally in love.  The same thing happened two years later when I had my son, and then again many years later when I first laid eyes on my newborn grandson.  It surprised me because that’s not how I usually operate.  I may decide that I like someone very quickly, but it usually takes a while to actually fall in love.   For me, falling in love is a process that has to unfold in its own good time.

That was certainly the case with Finn, the dog we adopted from the animal shelter last February.  When I first saw him sitting in his run, looking at me with friendly interest, I was immediately attracted.  After spending some time with him at the shelter where he had to stay until he was neutered, I grew to like him very much.  And when we first brought him home, I liked him even more.  But I didn’t really love him, and he didn’t really feel like “my” dog.

It didn’t particularly worry me, because I know there’s always an adjustment period when we bring a new dog into our homes and that it takes time for us to get to know one another.  We learned that Finn is a sweet soul who is very affectionate, energetic and just a little bit more stubborn that we’d prefer.  (In Finn’s opinion, just because I’ve told him “no” forty-nine times when he tries to join me on the couch is no reason not to try for the fiftieth time.  He is the eternal optimist.)

Finn’s persistence can be annoying, especially on the days when I’m babysitting my grandson and Finn insists on trying to share his toys and lick his face.  I know that Finn would never intentionally hurt my grandson, but his attentions are sometimes overwhelming for a toddler and so I have to separate them a lot.  And remind my grandson that Finn’s toys are not for children and remind Finn that my grandson’s toys are not for dogs.  Over and over.  Those are the times when I wonder just exactly why I selected a young terrier as our next family dog, rather than say, a fourteen-year old Basset Hound.

But honestly, it doesn’t matter why I picked out Finn, or how many annoying habits he happens to have.  Because sometime in the past few months, it happened.  I fell in love with Finn and his pushy little self.  I still get annoyed with him from time to time, but he has definitely wormed his way into my heart and that’s where he’ll stay for the rest of his life.  He’s my dog now, absolutely and completely.

As an animal shelter volunteer, I see so many dogs that are returned by their new owners just a few days after their adoption.  I’m sure a few of those people have legitimate reasons for doing that, but I firmly believe that most of them are making a big mistake.  “Just give it time,” I want to tell them.  Because none of us are perfect, whether we walk on two legs or four paws.  And all worthwhile relationships require a certain amount of effort and patience.

But if you trust and believe, the love will come…..

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