Almost nine months ago I adopted the cutest little puppy. She had these adorably floppy ears and tubby little belly that would make anyone fall in love with her instantly, and I definitely did. I put in my adoption application immediately after meeting her. I won't pretend like raising a puppy has been easy. We spent many nights of our first weeks together crying. Me because listening to her cry and whine in the crate was basically torture and her because she wanted out of the crate. We've come a long way since those early days of crate training and potty training. Here are a few of the life lessons I've learned from adopting this little love bug.
1. Sometimes we show our love through actions. Ok, ok, occasionally I get jealous when my puppy gets more cuddly with other people than she is with me. But when I take a step back, I realize that she shows me how much she loves me by leaning on my legs when she's afraid of other dogs at the dog park, by snuggling into my neck early in the morning before we have to get up, by following me into the bathroom, and in so many other little ways. It's ok that she doesn't like to cuddle with me on the couch because she shows me she loves so many other ways, I just need to pay more attention to the little ways she chooses to show me she loves me.
2. Clear communication is vital. When I give her a confusing command she doesn't know how to respond, and of course doesn't listen to me. And I can't get mad at her because it's really my fault for not communicating clearly with her. This totally translates into any relationship with humans too. If we want to understand and to be understood by each other, we need to clearly communicate to each other what we want and need.
3. Making the bed right away in the morning actually helps to be more productive throughout the day. I think it's something about doing one small chore right away in the morning, but I've found that I'm a lot more productive the entire day if I've done just this one boring chore right away. And also if I don't make the bed before I leave my adorable little puppy will chew on the sheets.
4. Trust is a two way street. I've been off-leash training Ellie, and one of my neighbors gave the best advice when I was freaking out about how far away from me she would wander, "you have trust that your bond is strong enough that she won't run away from you, just as she has to trust that you aren't going to leave her out here alone". Once I started thinking like that letting her off the leash to run around in the park with her friends was a lot easier and I am able to stay calm when she gets a little more adventurous and starts exploring her boundaries.
5. Time Management. I never realized how much time I wasted everyday until I had to account for the needs of both myself and my puppy. Suddenly my leisurely 1.5 hour morning had 45 minutes already accounted for with a walk for the puppy and giving her breakfast. When I stopped wasting so much time, I realized that my own morning routine really only takes 45 minutes. I just shower quicker and take breakfast on the road.
6. There's always time for cuddles or tug o' war. No matter how busy I am or how quickly I need to get out the door for work, somehow her cute little face begging for 5 more minutes of snuggles or play draws me back in, but I don't ever regret it because I know life is short and these are the moments I treasure the most.