Spring 2018: Introducing Abbie
I meant to write a blog entry for April; but somehow the month got away from me. Maybe it had something to do with adopting a 7-month-old puppy from a rescue 3 hours from where I live. I have never had a puppy before: albeit a more mature one. In the past, I have adopted 2-year-old dogs. Ones that are house trained and have basic obedience training. However, both adult dogs adopted previously had to attend obedience classes. In reality, they are training the humans more than the canines. And over time, it really does feel like the dogs train their humans to a certain degree. Maybe it’s joint effort or negotiating a compromise.
Beyond reciprocal training, dogs are great teachers. I have learned so many life lessons from being a “pet parent.” They are also invaluable companions offering comfort and solace in times of need. Not to mention exercise trainers and lovers of structure and routine as well as playmates. No such thing as all work and no play in the canine world!
I have only had my new love, Abbie, for a couple weeks; and she has already fulfilled all of the above. In fact, 3 important lessons happened within the first day! Amazing how organizing for a new pet can teach one about taking ownership for oneself. It all started with choosing how to spell her name: Abbie or Abby. I was strangely conflicted, wanting the input of others on how I spelled the name of my dog. I limited myself to consulting my sister–whom, by the way, chose Abby. Instead, I paid attention to what was going on for me–and the fact that I was leaning towards Abbie. I had to own my preference and not rely on common consent. I suspect it is rooted in my fear of judgment and criticism; but I didn’t dig that deeply. I focused on making my own decision. And I chose Abbie.
Which brings me to my next ownership lesson. It was a bit of an impromptu/impulse decision. Not my forté. I tend to over-think things and second guess myself–and yes, obsess about even basic decisions. I had to curb those tendencies and go with my gut given that I can talk myself in or out of almost anything. It was neither easy nor hard to do: more of a decision to make a decision–and follow through. And trusting serendipity.
The third lesson happened on the 3-hour drive there and back (total 6 hours). This was me pursuing something I wanted for me and my future. It also forced me to look back as I passed through familiar territory from my young adulthood; as my journey took me to where I lived for a year after high school and is also along the route I travelled numerous times to and from college in Saskatchewan. It gave me an interesting perspective of how far I have come in life as well as coming full circle. I have reclaimed my former independent streak but with the benefit of decades of life experience. It was almost a symbolic gesture of reclaiming my power. In an ironic twist, I never had a sense of personal power to accompany my independent spirit. I am a study of contrasts.
So without even trying, Abbie has taught me a lot already. As an added bonus, she is really quick and learns commands and boundaries almost effortlessly. Well, for the most part. There are a few kinks to work out yet. Equally important, her energy and exuberance for life are infectious. She pushes me beyond my comfort zones (physically and psychologically). As I gain confidence, so does she. We are a well-matched team. A dream come true. Her loving nature and openness also creates a sense of safety. She definitely isn’t like either of my previous rescues as she doesn’t have behaviour issues to untrain. She is a unique experience and one I gladly embrace.