When I first came into this family, both my parents (Gretchen and Ann) were teachers. What this meant for me was 10 months of one schedule and then 2 months of another or as I like to see it, 10 months of stress followed by 2 months of sleep and then some adventures. It was a pretty set schedule both during the school year and then outside of it. During the school year it was early rising, an early walk, and then 9-10 hours of work followed by an evening of grading papers and planning for the next day. Outside of the school year we got to sleep in a bit, our work was random –gardening, some classes, cleaning the house (finally!), purging old stuff and purchasing some new stuff — and we got a lot more exercise including my favorite activity — swimming.
Then Gretchen left teaching and we started our dog walking business. I was in heaven. Even though there weren’t anymore kids in my life (well, there were but not in the same mass quantities as when I accompanied Gretchen to school), there were now all sorts of dog pals and I got to spend every day outside walking and playing with. Ann was, of course, still in school and so the stress and the planning and the endless grading of papers (and the waking up early) still existed, but once I sent her on her way in the mornings (often walking with her to school), my day was spent with Gretchen and all of our dog clients.
It’s a pretty sweet life and it just got sweeter. Ann “retired” last year from teaching and what this has done to my predictable schedule can’t really be explained. Let’s just say that it’s less than predictable and while it’s taken me awhile to adjust, what I’m finding out is that each day is full of surprises (and no one is spending hours on the couch grading papers anymore!).
What makes my life particularly sweet these days is that I get to spend a lot of time with my human family. They get up early, but now the mornings are no longer rushed with school prep activities. It’s much more leisure. Gretchen spends time writing and Ann reads the paper with me on the couch. Then we go out for a walk and either pick up a dog walking client or spend some time bonding as a family. Which dogs we walk is pretty much different every day and with Gretchen’s work at the pool (Wellsprings K9), I get some quiet time to myself or alone with Momma Ann in the afternoons. Though sometimes I get to go to the pool with Gretchen and I have to admit, I like that too!
Of course, Gretchen explained to me the other day that things were gonna change soon. In the past, this would have made me nervous, but after 5 years of change, I’ve come to realize that it’s the way of my life…or perhaps the way of all life. You see, Momma Ann is going to go back to school though this time it will be as a student not a teacher. I’m really excited for her though from what I understand, our lives are going to be a bit different.
First, Ann has to get up way earlier than she did as a teacher so she can be to class by 7 in the morning. Oy! I love my slow mornings and I REALLY love my times with Momma Ann on the couch reading the comics so I have to admit, I’m not looking forward to that changing.
Next, by the time Ann comes home in the afternoon (around 1:30), Gretchen will be gone to her work a the pool. They won’t see each other until Gretchen comes home from work in the evening…just in time for Momma Ann to have to go to bed for her early rise in the morning.
What this means is that our time together as a family will be limited to a few afternoons a week and all day Sundays. Yep, that’s gonna take some getting used to. A nervous fellow, I do best when I am close to my family and I do best of all when we are all together. Yep, when we are walking together — all three of us — my tail lifts a bit higher, my prance is just a bit more prancier, and my head is held a bit prouder.
Luckily, time with my dog pals will remain and that will be a welcome constant in my life. In fact, after learning about our shifting schedule, I told my dog clients this week about my apprehension. Each of them had great advice.
Tyson said: Transitions are tough for me too, curly buddy. But what I realized is that my parents love me so much they’re always going to make certain I’m well taken care of, never alone for long, and given mountains of love and attention whenever we’re together. If I remember all of this then those changes in the schedule and the routines don’t bother me as much. I know your family loves you as much as mine loves me so just remember that and you’re gonna be fine!
I have yet to properly meet Kali and Carter (though I did briefly meet Carter by the lake a few weeks back), but Gretchen told me they offered these words of advice: Our Mom is a teacher/administrator and we know how tough that schedule can be (that’s why your Mom walks us). Sure, it’s predictable, but something has to be said for a little shake up in the routine. It keeps you fresh and on your toes and as hunting dogs, we know how important being alert can be. Stand tall, Rubin, and lift your head and tail proudly — that will be the best support you can offer your family during this transition and it will help you feel better too!
I get to meet Carter and Kali next week and while I’m a bit nervous, I have no doubt we’re going to be fast friends!
Roux’s advice comes from the fact that her Mom’s schedule is different every day so Roux’s advice was particularly helpful to me. She said: Patience is a very important attribute Rubin. I’ve had to learn to cultivate my own patience and while I’m still a work in progress, I’ve learned that it doesn’t help to get all stressed out when the schedule changes one more time. Instead, I like to lie on my bed, lick peanut butter out of my Kong, and take a long and well-deserved nap until my Mom gets home. Then and only then can I be that silly, wild Roux that everyone knows and loves. Of course, I’m silly and wild when you come for a walk, but that’s just because I can’t contain my excitement at seeing my friends!!!
Monty, being the oldest of my pals, offered this advice: Chill, Dude! As long as they don’t forget where the food and leash are kept, you’re golden! Just stay close by whoever is in the house and stare at them. That really helps them pay more attention to you. Works for me! And you know, I’m a master of transitions. As long as it doesn’t involve a car ride, I’m pretty relaxed when it comes to change!
And finally Woobie offered me probably the best advice this week because she has gone through one of the biggest transitions of late — her family had a baby and now Woobie’s whole world has shifted.
Woobie says: You know Rubin, I was always a happy go-lucky kind of gal. Whether we were going on a hike or walking to the lake or just hanging out at the house, I was content to be with my family and friends all the time. Even being left at home didn’t bother me because I knew you’d come by for a walk or my family would return home and lavish me in love and kisses. Now, with a new baby in the house, my responsibility to this family has grown exponentially! I have a baby to look after and while he can be loud at times, being near him makes me feel complete. I was meant to be a great doggy Big Sister and so my advice to you, Rubin, is to see the upcoming transitions as a time to fully embrace your role as “family dog” to its fullest. Be there for your parents. Love them no matter what and when they walk in the door after a long day (or night) wag and wiggle and make them feel like there’s no other place you’d like to be! Because really, isn’t that the truth of our lives?
Yep Woobie…it’s the truth…it truly has just gotten sweeter!
Until next week,