On paper it was not a good idea, as many a friend advised. A dog? Really? How will that work out in your high-fuelled, traveling, work-filled life?
Of course there were more who thought it a good idea. I’d grown up with multiple Labs, I adore dogs, oh and I’m a ‘lonely soul’ – ‘a dog will be a great companion’.
I listened to everybody. And then to nobody; wrote a little list of how I thought I would manage – and that was that. Lord Archie Archibald of Keizer arrived in my life. A 10-week bundle of joy, fluff, fun and naughtiness.
For those of you who read my blogs regularly, you’ll know it was love at first sight. I’d met him when he was only 5-weeks old, and I knew that wriggling black boy in the 7-strong litter was the one. He was feisty, he nibbled my ear, he wouldn’t settle; he was alert, aware, with piercing clear eyes that only needed to look into mine once… and I was gone.
I thought I had it sorted. He’d grow up well behaved, by my side at all times. I’d take him on the tube then a short walk to work. I’d even built in 5 months working from home to settle us in, train him, create a routine – and we’d be ready to meet the world head on.
But as life would often have it – it didn’t go quite to plan. Archie got a painful bone condition and ended up in hospital, twice – 6 weeks of poor health and medication; it threw us. Secondly, his owner then followed suit (although to be fair I’m aware my health isn’t always the best so I should have been more prepared). My back-up plan of my parents day-care then wobbled, as Mum fractured her pelvis (thank goodness it wasn’t Archie who knocked her over). Not to mention there was the fact that Little Archie, (as my mum still calls him!) grew into a 36 kilo canine with all the traits he’d had as a new-born: naughty, cheeky, headstrong.
As his first birthday is upon us, he is very much still that 5-week pup – just bigger, heavier and able to pull me (and anyone else I know) over with a sudden tug. He loves to chew (the post, the paper, in fact anything that gets him attention) and at 12-weeks old he jumped up at the locked back door, placed his mouth around the bunch of keys in the lock, attempted to turn them clockwise, whilst pressing his paw down on the handle. The Great Escape failed. But I had an idea of the ‘grown up’ he was to become.
So, you may ask, what’s the point of today’s doggy discourse? My thought is this: sometimes in life the pros and cons you write on a piece of paper do not matter. What your head says needs to be ignored. Your mind must be quietened. And you just follow your intuition.
Has Archie made my life harder? Yes. Is he greatly limiting my upcoming house move? Yes. Where I go on holiday. When I go out. What time I get back. Yes. Yes. Yes.
But… and the but is big, the love that bursts from my heart is so large that sometimes when I am with him I cry because he is so wonderful. He has taught me patience. I’m a slow learner on this, but it’s working. My house is still super-clean and I shower far too often, but I am more relaxed. Mariana walked into my home a couple of weeks ago and said she had never seen it like this. From Archie’s hairs to toys everywhere it was a ‘mess’. Now for me this is good… I am letting go of my need for perfection.
And that’s just the start. I see my parents more frequently (thank you Mum and Dad for taking such great care of my bundle of joy). I walk more. I work less. Archie and I are building a routine and I finally have a bed-time which has helped with my sleep. And more than ever I am in the present moment, as we play, cuddle and play some more. I am thinking of moving to the country, something I have always wanted. And who knows what will come of the 4-week road-trip Archie and I are currently planning together over the spring.
Archie and I are still a work in progress – we’ve a good way to go. Luke, my wonderful canine consultant, has helped us from the start (thank you Luke for all the fabulous training support!). Getting Arch not to pull on the lead continues to challenge. Over-excitedly jumping up when he meets someone, we address daily. And his love of chewing everything in his second home (sorry Mum and Dad!) I fear may never wane. Not to mention my crumbling social life.
Yet, with all of these issues, when I close my eyes and quieten my mind there is something so deep inside me, a knowing, that Archie is meant to be in my life. Despite all the years of indecision about getting a dog, the ongoing turmoil my intelligent, cheeky companion has brought into my life, it’s a knowing we are supposed to be.
So I guess what I am trying to say is sometimes in life, it may not be easy, it may not make sense, your lists don’t help and advice is just that – advice, but not the answer. You, and only You know what is right. I say, follow your intuition. Follow your joy. And somehow it will all work out.