Life Lessons Learned From a Pup

After Willie the pug passed on to Dog Heaven, my husband refused to entertain any discussions about getting another dog. What’s funny about this scenario is that it was HIM that had insisted on getting Willie in the first place. When my oldest son started third grade, my husband decided that it was time to get a dog. I hadn’t grown up with dogs, so I discouraged any movement in this direction. I grew up in a cat family and I felt more comfortable around them since I had no idea what to do with a dog. I felt totally fulfilled having Fred, the cat.


My husband eventually won the war and he found Willie through a Rescue organization. We came to love Willie, even though we spent numerous hours searching for Willie in the neighborhood. Willie had a penchant for “being on the run” and I suppose that’s how he came to be a rescue dog. He perfected his getaway through a tiny space in the fence. The whole family toiled away hours searching for him again and again. In fact, when people would see me driving around the area, they would yell to me “I’ll keep an eye out for Willie.” They didn’t know my name, but they definitely knew his.


The point is that Willie wasn’t the easiest first dog. That’s probably why when he died my husband said, “no more dogs.” But I was insistent — I wanted another dog. In fact, I wanted another dog so much that I researched pugs all over Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, determined to find the right one. The person that didn’t want the dog became insistent on having another dog.


With my husband out of town, I drove down to Lexington to pick out a dog. My 17-year-old son fought for the youngest puppy but I set eyes on 6-month-old Miles and knew he was “the one.” We brought him home and I took full responsibility for him. Let’s face it, this was my dog — which is ironic since I originally didn’t even know what to do with a dog!


During this time, I was working as a Mental Health Therapist in Social Services. On Mondays, the Psychiatrist would come in to see my clients and prescribe medications. We were eating lunch together and talking when I shared with him my story about picking out Miles, the Pug. “Hmmmm…interesting,” he said.


“You do understand why you insisted on getting the dog, don’t you? That dog is a replacement for your children that are almost grown and gone. It gives you something to nurture and love — it’s a healthy way to handle your loss.” What a typical statement from a Psychiatrist! Then, for the next few minutes, I mulled over what he had shared.


I had to admit it, but he nailed it! That’s exactly what I was doing; I just wasn’t cognizant of my intentions at the time. That dog was mine and I treated him like a child. I had found a way to deal with the fact that my life was transitioning to a new phase. I was preparing myself for the change in my life by having a new little one to nurture and care for. I did it so effortlessly that I hadn’t even noticed what I was doing.


When life changes, you have a couple of options on how to handle it. You can keep looking back and lamenting on how you don’t want your life to change and hang on to the past like there’s no tomorrow. I can pretty much guarantee this option won’t make you very happy. Or, you can accept reality, learn a little more about YOU and figure out how to fill that need in your life in a positive, healthy manner. Delve a bit deeper and discover what will satisfy you today and in the future.


And it won’t be the worst thing in the world for you to come home with a dog.

A Girl Scout (Cookie) Lesson

I was chatting with some neighbors in my cul-de-sac the other night. The discussion began, of course, with a diatribe about the hot weather we were experiencing and quickly moved to other subjects. Somehow, the topic then turned to Girl Scouts when one of the mothers’ mentioned that her daughter would not be selling cookies next year.


I asked the young girl how many boxes of cookies she had sold the previous year and she replied that she had sold 150 boxes. The mom immediately shared that her daughter hadn’t sold most of them. She then went into an explanation about how she and her husband had worked hard to sell the majority of the cookies at their jobs. With the young girl present, she stated that she and her husband had done most of the work. Laughing, I reminded mom that she and dad had chosen to do most of the work.


After the conversation, I started thinking about my own Girl Scout experience. I remember receiving my cookie form and being determined to sell the most cookies in the troop. I went from door to door all through the neighborhood until I had exhausted the area. Once I saw the number of cookies adding up, I felt energized to sell more. I asked my mom for a copy of the Sunday School Directory and I spent hours poring over the list, and painstakingly calling each family on the list. I couldn’t leave voicemail messages, so I would keep track of who wasn’t answering and call back later or the next day. The point is this: I pretty much hounded the families until I got them on the phone and they said yes.


My mother and father were both employed, but I don’t recall either one taking my Girl Scout cookie list to work with them. They had enough on their plate — they didn’t need my responsibilities in addition to their own. It wouldn’t have occurred to them to even try to assist me in this endeavor since it was my responsibility. They bought quite a few boxes and that’s where their job ended. Frankly, I don’t remember them telling me how to sell, what to say or even monitoring where I was selling. I had to make my own decisions, figure out what worked and finesse my own sales approach.


That year was a life-changing year for me. It was the first time it had occurred to me that I had selling skills. Not only that, but I also learned that I was quite creative in my approaches to selling more cookies. It helped me get over the fear of talking to people I didn’t know and engaging them in conversation. I refined my communication skills and learned how to listen to people. It gave me the experience of working toward and achieving my goal. On top of all that, I gained problem-solving skills, making it a huge boost to my self-esteem and sense of independence.


Looking back, I am thankful that my parents allowed me to OWN this experience. I am disappointed that this young girl didn’t have the same opportunity. So, this is what I want you to think about: the next time you jump to help your daughter, son, husband, sister, or friend— give it some thought. Will assisting them move them closer toward their own goals or YOUR goals? Do they have more to gain in the long term if you stand back and let them navigate on their own? The bottom line is this: women learn and grow from their own experiences, regardless of whether they succeed or fail in the experience. Allow them to do it on their own and GROW