As I noted in an earlier blog, I adopted a dog. Unfortunately, our time together was short and she returned to her foster family last week. I am sad and heart-broken, but I wanted to share the lessons she taught me:
Lesson 1: "Two high energy beings create one loud and crazy relationship." People say that you want to find a ying to your yang, an opposite for stability, a person with characteristics different from, but complimentary to your own. As an intense extrovert, being with a calm introvert can bring balance to situations and, possibly, relationships for me. However, put two highly active extroverts together and it has the potential to explode. For example, I have had this affect on children. I enjoy their company, so I play HARD with them. Then, they behave wildly, scream loudly, move constantly and, perhaps, emote irrationally. And that was a child! What that looks like with a 40 lb. dog is: jumping (to give hugs and kisses), barking and jaw snapping (to say, Hey! Look at me! Me! ME!!), running (picture indoor shuttle races on a area rug) and digging (cuz it's fun! Duh!). As an active person, mother and educator, I decided I could take on this challenge and train a dog. I walked, ran and biked with her, (sometimes, multiple times a day!). I used verbal commands and hand gestures to mentally challenge and train her. When she was very excited, I took time and energy to calm her. But she, like I am, was non-stop. Our energies fed off each other and stressed both of us out. She returned to her foster family, found calm and quiet and is awaiting a home that will love her for HER.
Lesson 2: "If you love me, set me free." When do you know enough is enough? How do you respond when you have reached your limit? How do you lovingly support the decision to leave or end a relationship? We all have experiences with bad relationships. We work hard to 'change,' 'be better,' and/or 'try something new.' But, maybe, it's just done. Maybe it is over. But how do you determine that while experiencing high emotions and responding to life's challenges? How do you navigate life without a partner? How do you support the partner that makes the call? In the short amount of time I had Lena, I loved her hard. I enjoyed walks, runs, bike rides and training. But the cost was high. She did not want to be confined during the day and she was vocal about it. And in the end, it reminded me of leaving my childhood home and my marriage. I knew I had to let her find a family that could provide for her what she needed. And as much as I miss her, she is now free to find HER home and happiness.
Lesson 3: "I will spend crazy amounts of money on a dog, but not myself." I decided to get a dog for the companionship that she would provide. I am returning to a more active lifestyle (coming off an injury) and I wanted a dog to motivate me to walk, run and bike. I also thought she would be a good addition to the business by providing empathy support for clients. Lastly, with starting a business, I assumed I would travel less and be home more, and I wanted a dog to be with me full-time. However, with dogs, come expenses and time commitments. As with having children, you know logically, before the births, it will be difficult, but when you live it, you understand it COMPLETELY. I began to determine ways I would spend money on Lena: training, toys, treats, doggie daycare. I was spending all my time trouble-shooting ways to engage her and exhaust her. I was willing to spend thousands of dollars and multiple hours to love and entertain Lena. However, once I made the tough decision to return her to her foster family, I began to reflect: Do I spend the same amount of time and energy to love myself? It turns out that I go above and beyond for others, but refuse to do it for myself. So, thank you, Lena, for the time you gave me to be with you. Thank you for reminding me that I am worth the time and money as well. I love you and look forward to meeting your forever family.
"Love isn't something you find. Love is something that finds you." ~ Loretta Young