Our family has had several failed attempts at long-term dog ownership. It has been incredibly painful when it hasn’t worked out. We’ve always gotten adult rescue dogs because we felt it was the “right thing to do”, but they’ve had trouble adjusting to our home and acted out in ways that showed that either they were absolutely miserable, or that were unsafe to be around children. We threw more money that I care to think about on dog trainers, behavior therapy, etc. to no avail. In our seemingly endless conversations about what went wrong each time, the activity level in our house seemed to be the most likely culprit. Because we live in an amazing neighborhood, kids are constantly coming and going all the time and it seemed to be jarring for these doggies who had probably been through a lot of turmoil in their lives prior to us adopting them.
After the last dog went on a scary rampage biting all sorts of people I swore we were done and I officially closed that chapter. In the ensuing two years, not a single day has gone by that we haven’t talked about our dogs. Many tears have been shed and laughs have been had at all them memories we have from our years with them. Dave and the girls still wanted desperately to be successful in this area of our lives. I was too hurt to think about the possibility of taking another dog away from my girls. I swore that we would NEVER get another dog.
To say that my family ached for a dog is putting it mildly. I have one daughter who has a very high level of energy and an incredibly strong connection to animals. It weighed heavily on my heart that having a dog would be so therapeutic for her that it was almost cruel to not make it happen for her. She pined for our old doggies in a way that can only be described as a years-long mourning period. Her teacher sent me a picture of a poem that she wrote about them last year that sliced through my soul. I believe the teacher’s exact comment with the picture was “yikes”. I still was not ready, though. I’m telling you, the “extraction scenes” where we’ve had to remove the dogs were still too vividly tattooed on my brain.
I guess time does heal all wounds, though, because I slowly started to engage in conversations with friends who volunteered with animals. I wanted to know what the best type of “family dog” was, and so I covertly started doing all sorts of research. These conversations led me to the fact that we should get a puppy, who would only know life in a house where the screen door slams every few minutes in the summer, and that a kickball is likely to hit the window at any point after school hours. If they can take the sounds of high-pitched squeals followed by splashes into a pool, even better. All signs pointed to the fact that the best dog for us would either be a Golden Retriever or a Labrador Retriever. Everyone who knows more about dogs than me (just about anyone on Earth, that is) said that these breeds are so relaxed you can’t even believe it.
Almost, as if by magic, I happened to talk to someone who had some Goldador (a mix of the two!) puppies needing homes within the week. If I didn’t believe in the Law of Attraction before, I certainly did at that point. I’ve never seen Dave happier in his whole life, and the girls were beside themselves. We hurried to prepare our home and our hearts, and then we entered the most joyful phase of our family’s life yet. We went and picked up the sweet doggie we named Clancy, and spent his first weekend laying by our fireplace, taking turns cuddling him. Friends and family came to welcome him, and it was as fun as bringing home a new baby, without the surgical aftermath. Caring for him has been a joy. He gets us out on walks as a family, we laugh and play with him constantly. He is a family collaboration in every way and having this little life to look out for has bonded us on another level. Each of my daughters has a totally unique relationship with him, and it’s so cool to see the different ways they rise to the challenge to meet his needs. This was never the case with our other dogs. Sad, but true.
The life lessons we’ve picked up on our doggie (mis)adventures are plentiful. I’ve used our past experiences (formerly referred to as failures) as excuses not to try again. I’ve been embarrassed that we couldn’t get this right. When enough time had passed and Dave and I could have a non-emotional talk about it, I realized that quitting on something that was a huge family goal was not a precedent I wanted to set.
We see this in life all the time, don’t we? “Oh, she’s giving up dating because she doesn’t want to get hurt again”, or “he didn’t make the team last year, so he’s not going to waste time practicing this year”. Negative experiences leave scars. Those scars can handcuff us, or embolden us, it’s our choice. We see it in Real Estate all the time, as well. A very common “real estate scar” is people who purchased at the peak of the bubble, or who have a short sale or foreclosure in their past. They resign themselves to “never making a mistake again”, and make their decisions from a place of pain and/or fear. I have one client who summed it up so well for me last week. He said that he has “paralysis due to analysis”. Isn’t that brilliant? He is aware that the scars from real estate decisions he made in the past were causing him to over-analyze and miss out on current opportunities. It can be hard to stop criticizing the reflection in the rear view mirror and focus on the bright spots on the road ahead, but it’s imperative to push past this behavior pattern.
We hope that overcoming this hurdle in our lives will help us relate to clients who are stuck in situations that are not ideal, as well. If nothing else, it gives us some fun pictures to share to put smiles on some faces, right?! Here are some of our faves of Clancy: