Mental Health Mondays…they really should be a thing.
I had to scoop up Simon’s puke with my bare hands.
I hope you’re having a better morning than me.
I read an article the other day written by a woman who basically laid out her argument for why people thinking of or calling their pets babies is an insult to mothers everywhere, herself particularly included. We live in a world where everyone gets to state their opinion, so I guess I’d like to take a moment to pawnder my own thoughts on such an argument.
You see, I find myself having been and being two different people. I like to think that pre-dog I was a good person. I cared about the world, was considerate of other cultures, tried to reel in my judgmental nature, and I always deferred to those who I suspected knew better than me, such as older adults who liked to give me “advice” about my future, while still staying true to myself and my own nature.
Yet, post-adopting dogs, because of the trials and tribulations such events are known to cause, I find myself more compassionate, caring, and loving than ever before, not to mention more active and happy because of them too (see Living Life with a High-Energy Dog). Simon and Rosee have taught me that when you love something so much you are willing to put up with its highs, lows, and even eccentricities, and put in the effort, no matter how tiring, to ensure that that something stays content and happy for the rest of its life. And I think, perhaps that is where my opinion differs from the insulted author.
I would go to the end of the world for my dogs, put myself in between them and an attacker, examine their poop with my bare hands to check for certain illnesses, get sprayed with errant pee when Simon doesn’t pay attention to where he’s going, put out hundreds of dollars on toys, medicine, and treats, and so much more. In fact, I have done all of this, just like I’m sure so many other pet owners and lovers have done for their own bundles of joy.
Pets, like real human babies, do much more for people than simply take up space in their homes.
So you see, I was a good person.
So, you may have read this once or twice throughout your time on this blog, but I have a dog. This dog is named Simon. Simon likes to play. If allowed, Simon would probably play up to twenty-three hours a day. You say, “No, that’s physically impossible! A dog couldn’t and wouldn’t stay awake for so long just to play.” And I would be fast to answer, “Clearly, you just haven’t met Simon.” Of course, I don’t mean this rudely or in an over-inflated kind of way. I honestly believe that if Simon had his way he would stay awake and play with his squeaky toys for twenty-three hours a day!
The truth of the matter is when Simon was little he always had a very difficult time giving himself boundaries. Simon would be tired because he had been awake all day long, yet he would fight any attempts his body made to actually fall asleep. As a puppy Simon would valiantly battle Sleep and Exhaustion, looking to put them in their place and rise above their glaring drowsy-inducing abilities as only Simon could. However, even the best knight could not win the battle or the war and snoozing was soon heard throughout the land.
That doesn’t mean that there were no battle wounds though.
As a little guy my sister Theresa and I basically had to force Simon to rest. This meant pushing him into a nice quiet room by himself, with his bed set up so that he would have no choice but to sleep. And he slept, after about an hour or so of whining first. We tried other methods as well, putting him in his kennel with a sheet over it to make him feel a little more content and willing to sleep, except not so much. We tethered him to his bed in the front room, thinking that with nowhere to go he would eventually submit. He did. . . .eventually. We would ignore him, take away all of his toys, be quiet and still, and yet he would sit there staring and whining at us. His little puppy eyes would be begging to close every three seconds and still his dogged spirit to remain awake would persist.
And man, he is so grouchy when he’s tired, but won’t sleep. He snarls and snaps a little more than usual. He runs slower. He jumps up a little bit more. He’s much more talkative about everything, crying just because he can. In fact, I think he cries because he doesn’t know what else to do with himself. He knows he’s tired, I know he’s tired and yet he still persists in acting like “How dare you insinuate I am anything other than perfectly wide awake!”
Why does he do this? I only know that Simon, since the time my family adopted him at six weeks old to now (currently at three and a half years old) has always had an almost insurmountable amount of energy constantly bottled up inside his little 75lb body. He’s the type of dog that needs to go on a walk at least once a day, no if, ands, or buts. If Simon doesn’t get his daily walk he is truly a monster. He will be awake from six in the morning to ten at night. He will jump on every counter, look constantly for food, rush into the garage through the cat door any chance he gets, pick wrestling matches with Rosee all afternoon, want to play with his squeaky toy outside regardless of the weather, and constantly bark at whoever is around him. He’s just got so much energy coursing through his veins that he needs some type of outlet, and walks are a good start. Our daily walks consist of forty-five minutes to an hour of fast-paced walking, taking rights and lefts, relentless in our pursuit of new corners to explore in our neighborhoods. And I don’t write this to brag. I write this for awareness.
I’m sure Simon is not the only dog who has insatiable levels of energy. Truth is I just never knew dogs like him existed until I got one of my own. All the dogs I had met in my past had been the usual suspects, maintaining more balanced levels of energy, and I guess being more “normal” in that when they were tired they actually laid down and rested. Simon, still to this day has a difficult time doing this. Even before his daily walks, he usually needs to play with his squeaky toys for about thirty minutes, and then after his walks he walks around the house not really laying down until about a half hour after we first got back. You could say this is just his time to calm and cool down, and this may be true. However, he doesn’t just cool off, he jumps up on the couches, barks at strange noises, and goes in and out the back door about five times, then he finally, finally lays down.
Rosee, while maybe not being his polar opposite, has shown me over time that most dogs see sense in listening to their inner voices when it comes to being tired and needing rest. The only inner voice Simon seems to listen to is “Food!” The point is, Rosee may also be an energetic and upbeat dog, but even she pales in comparison to the ball of vigor that is her brother. So, while Rosee appreciates her daily walks as much as Simon, when we drag her outside in the afternoon on at least two separate occasions she usually fails to grasp the necessity of such hefty endeavors. She hardly appreciates being forced outside to watch Simon run after some silly ball, even if it squeaks!
The fact remains that before Simon, and Rosee too, I was what could potentially be called a couch potato. I enjoyed watching television, reading books, and surfing the web. Not many of my extra-curricular activities included doing much of anything too active. Yet, the moment my mom came home with a ten pound bundle that became known as Simon (he went through many names his first few days) life would cease to be laid back or God-forbid boring ever again.
Getting a dog, especially one with such a high energy level like Simon was certainly an adjustment, one that even three years later I still am getting used to. It’s the daily walks, the multiple daily sessions of playing fetch, the weekend trips to the lake or the beach, and the hour-long hikes at local reserves. Life has become so much more involved and exciting since getting dogs and practically being forced to turn my potato-lifestyle into one more reminiscent of the Energizer Bunny.
Dogs are a commitment. High-energy dogs feel like a commitment and a half. There are some days where I would give anything just to put Simon in the backyard and leave him there because he just won’t leave me alone. Other days he is still bouncing off the walls, but I appreciate his ability to make me move throughout the day. Most days though, all the looks of endless love he throws my way in between his whines for attention make me love him even more than the day before.
So, don’t be daunted by a pup that has a seemingly endless love for life and all it has to offer. Instead take a lesson from that pup. Throw yourself into life and whatever makes you happy with wild abandon, you might just be glad you did.