A few weeks ago I was hit hard with an award that has stuck in my head and left me pondering as so many of Kristine's post do. The Shiva the Dog's Perseverance Award was given with these simple words:
The title of this blog should tell you why this crew was a shoe-in for the Perseverance Award. With six very different dogs to care for and train, I don’t know how the author does it. Like last year’s winners, I am starting to think she’s part cyborg. Robo-Mama. However, every post she writes about her crazy canines is filled with so much love that she can’t be anything but pure heart.
It has taken many, many mistakes to realize I am dealing with a multiple family of animals. For some reason I have tried to operate like I have one dog instead of six, because that is all I have known. I remember when we would visit pups from our litter, who were the owners of their first and only dog and I would walk away with horrible envy. I remembered how easy one dog was, or even two. How simple the routines and focus you could have on a couple of dogs and the realization of the double workload I had waiting when I got home. I almost came to dread it.
I’ve done some bizarre things trying to catch up to all of you one dog owners. I remember one time trying to teach Brut about five different lessons all at the same time that were completely out in left field. All I did was aggravate the hell out of him and walked away feeling like a complete ass. And since I have huge expectations that I don’t think even God can meet some days, I’ve always felt under some kind of pressure trying to the same things the other kids were doing. When I came to realize the limitations I had with just the number of dogs in our home, I kept finding myself slowly taking a several steps back to adjust my thinking to accommodate the number..
I had to learn to take everything in pieces. Didn’t matter what it was. Whether it would be who gets walked and how far, training, behavior issues anything. Which meant for me there could be days, weeks or even months before returning to certain issues and I had to learn to accept that.
Another thing I really had to take in was the fact that not every dog is going to get everything they may need. If I walk two dogs one day, the rest had to accept that they were not getting one and I had to find a way to deal with the guilt of being a horrible dog mom. Which is much easier said than done. One of the many gifts of having multiple dogs I soon came to realize is that there is some level of understanding that some may get more attention than others on some days or others. It is like a child that gets to go on an adventure and come home and share about it and for the most part sets me free from that burden of guilt that let’s me know everything is OK.
There are days when one dog gets full attention for one reason or another. And I am learning how to live with that with the acceptance that there is a reason for that. I don’t know how many times I’ve come home from being gone all day and all they have had is the basic of food, water, shelter and love and have to know that those simple needs are enough for that day.
I have had to learn to rely on playtime to make up for the lack of walk time each gets. I have been learning how to be creative with not just physical exercise, but mental as well in order to compensate for a less structure walk schedule and adjust food amounts accordingly.
And I have beat my head many times against my personal wall, have felt less than, and have try to shove my myself to meet my ridiculous expectations. And while these are commons themes in my life, I have struggle with what I felt was the living proof of my failures by comparing to others. It has been overwhelming the difference just the amount of dog bodies in this home for some time and that’s not even mentioning our two cats and our duck. Nine living beings who need to be tended to every day. I haven’t had that many animals in my life all put together and to have them all at once…it still blows my mind.
It has taken quite a bit of time for your compliments, encouragement and praise to soak in, but I am getting there. Being part of blogging community has been my rest, my rock and my comfort and has probably been the only reason I’ve been able to make it through. Of course besides my husband who constantly must deal with my “dog mom flop” belief. Believe me that boy has been dealing with me far too long on his own, he has needed all of you as well. J
Thank you so much Kristine. Your words truly hit home.
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Current blog look inspired and dedicated to Silver. The late Momma Dog of the 24 Paws of Love.