Lupin is 12 weeks old today. I picked her up just over 3 weeks ago and began the puppy tending duties that are not dissimilar to managing a newborn child (although having had two baby humans myself, I won’t compare it completely!). The management, the attention. The setting up the house to “puppy proof” it. The toilet trips, meals, and getting out and about in just the right amounts.
The last time I had a puppy was when we got Stella, which was ten years ago. At that time, I was nearing the third trimester of pregnancy with my first child and that seemed like a very logical time for me to get a puppy. I soon realized most people didn’t share my opinion.
You’re getting a puppy? And you’re about to have a baby?
Yes, I replied. Prior to everyone else’s input, I hadn’t really considered it anything other than a very logical thing to do. I told my husband very matter of factly that no child of mine was going to be raised without a dog in the house and that was that. But the look on most people’s faces told me that they thought I was insane.
This time around, I am probably the busiest that I have been for a long time. I can barely keep up. I’m completely redoing my membership program from the ground up. It’s winter, which makes the outside horsey duties quite a lot of work. I have a family and two kiddies at home who recently began homeschooling. I have some family members who are unwell who need some extra love. There are the usual bits and pieces of life. Not complaints, just what is at the moment. And so, my life pattern has told me that it was the perfect time to bring an extra furry family member into the fold.
But you know what? It IS the perfect time. Lupin takes me outside and makes me walk a whole lap around the farm morning and night, rain, hail, or shine- even when my brain tells me I need to keep working at the computer. She finds delight in the mud and the puddles and in the crunching on the leaves that have come to rest on the tracks in the autumn and are making their way into the soil, that I might miss if she didn’t call them to my attention.
Because of Lupin, I have seen the sunrise every morning and I have crunched my way through the frosts, and I take little breaks throughout the day to tend to her when I would have kept going at my desk.
Our animals do that. They anchor us to a routine of purpose that sits outside ourselves and the pressures that everything brings.
When everything else feels loose and potentially chaotic, my animals are still there. Still thrilled to see me in the morning, in the case of Lupin, and still gently calling out for their feed and ready for a rub on the forehead, in the case of my horses.
Many people who I know who don’t own or tend to animals ask me if I feel weighed down or restricted by them, and I could see how it’s possible to view it like that. But to me, they are the opposite. They are what keep me in sync with the day and with the seasons. If I’m happy, sad, angry or anything in between, they still require I show up and be in life, no matter what.
The secret is, they’re the ones doing me a favour, not the other way around.