sharing my life experiences, reflections and insights as a mother, a writer, an Occupational Therapist, an unschooler, and and a spiritual being having a human experience

Posts tagged ‘homeschool life with dog’

Words can’t possibly describe….

I am grateful for our dog, Olive.

Olive came to live in our home one year ago.  She was our neighbor’s dog and I remember when I first met her, she was a small, adorable puppy.   A few years later, Olive became my daughter’s best friend.  Abby would go to visit Olive and we would take her for walks together and sometimes Abby would just bring Olive to our yard to play.

And then Olive became our magic angel who helped my daughter out of her fear and rage that went along with the severe anxiety that began to overtake my daughter’s  life when she was 8 years old.  We would sometimes bring Olive into Abby’s bedroom when she awoke in a rage.  Like magic, seeing Olive could help her calm down and begin to move out of  fear and be able to engage in life, to eat a meal or stop her aggressive behavior.

And so when our neighbors told us they were moving in a few weeks and the house they were renting did not allow all three of their dogs and asked us if we wanted to have Olive, what else could we have said?  Sure, my husband and I thought about it and discussed it privately for a few days.  We were already considering getting our daughter a dog in the future, possibly in a few months.

So Olive came to live in our home, first temporarily but knowing it could be permanent.

Olive more than tolerated our exuberant and energetic youngest child, Jason who was not yet 2 when she came to live with us.  We watched the two of them very closely in the beginning and had some couch “resource guarding behavior” to deal with initially but Olive otherwise had nothing but kisses and love for our toddler.  I am sure it helped that he gave her treats whenever he could get a hold of them and often as many treats as he could give her.

I am even more grateful for my daughter, Abby, thanking me for Olive. 

I am happy to say that one year later, and much time and effort helping my daughter with her anxiety disordrer (OCD), she spontaneously thanked me for her dog, Olive.  It is exciting to see her running up to Olive and saying “I love my puppy!”

Abby, gave me a Thank You card the other day. She thanked me for giving her:  life, love, giving to her, our cat, Peanut and Olive.  It was one of those miraculous moments of motherhood that you cherish forever.  One that erases hours, days and years of challenges.  For my daughter, it was also a monumental point for her given her experiences over the past year or so.  An expression of her new ability to write and express herself on her own and an amazing turning point in her life with severe anxiety- a sign of the “real Abby” the beautiful soul who is without fear and is pure love and joy. A reminder to the rest of us as to who she really is.

Today Abby asked me, “Why is Olive always already outside when I wake up?”

I resisted the urge to say, ‘Because you wake up so late and often don’t get out of bed until 9:30 or later’.  Instead, I saw her need and interest in spending time with her dog (something to be celebrated!)  in the morning and told her that I could bring Olive inside for her.  And I joyfully, brought Olive back in the house.

I realize that there are not words to describe or  fully express the magnificence of these small but huge leaps for my daughter.  She has always loved Olive and continued to when Olive came to live with us.  Yet, within days of Olive moving into our home, Olive became part of my daughter’s anxiety disorder.  She could not touch Olive for some time, maybe with her arm or the back of her hand and then later only if she had washed her hands for a certain length of time (read: a very long time).  She quickly grew unable to feed Olive- she couldn’t touch the container that held her food, and for some time, she couldn’t hold her leash.

At the beginning of this year, my sister, an animal love, dog behaviorist and kindred spirit with my daughter,   began coming to visit monthly, and spend time with Abby and Olive.  With those visits combined with Abby and Olive  taking a local dog training class, we have seen  improvements with my daughter being able to do more with Olive and improvements with her anxiety.   I used to have to bring Olive to Abby when she was in a “stuck place” and I would say, “Her’s your dog, Abby.  Olive loves you no matter what.”

Take all that I have described and multiply it in your mind by 1000 and now you have a glimmer of understanding of her life over the past year.

Abby may have a long way to go with her anxiety and maybe a lifetime of managing OCD, yet, to see her enjoying her dog brings us hope.  We want our children to be happy. When a child has had an experience of pure hell;  an experience that takes away her childhood  innocence , as her parent, you just want to take it all away and make it all better.    As much as I have wanted to take away her pain,  I have always known that I can’t do that.   It is her life to live and my job is to love her  and provide support and encouragement for her.  I can comfort her, but I can not take away the ‘bad’stuff, nor can I always make it better.

So to hear Abby thank me for her dog and to see her joyfully and spontaneously run  up to Olive and hug her and spend time with her is truly an amazing and beautiful sight to behold.  Our daughter is coming back.  She is showing wonderful moments of her true self, without the fear and anxiety and it fills my heart with joy and gratitude.


Life with a dog… 11 months and counting

Our dog, Olive, came to live with us in late October of 2010.  She was our neighbor’s dog.  We met her as a cute little puppy and got to know her as we assisted our neighbors with dog sitting on occasion.   My daughter, the animal lover who has wanted a dog of her own, enjoyed helping take care of the dogs across the street.  She then had opportunities to take Olive for walks and got to bring her to our yard for visits.  My neighbor described that when Olive would hear Abby’s voice outside their house, she would get all excited and come running to the door.  Olive became my daughter’s best friend.

Then in early  2010, my daughter’s irrational fears, nighttime difficulties  and over hand washing grew into full-blown dysfunctional Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).  It was a crazy time for the entire family.  Through the most difficult times, she begged for a dog, saying that a dog would “make it better”.  We realized that a dog would not really make it better but as we learned to cope and help her navigate this disruptive anxiety disorder, we considered the idea of a dog.  We did witness how our neighbor’s dog, coming over and at times into Abby’s room could take her from a state of rage to a more calm and rational place.

Then in October, we learned our neighbor’s were moving due to a job change.  They were looking for rental property and could not find any that would allow all 3 of their dogs.  They came to my husband and I quietly and asked if we wanted Olive.  We did not have much time to make a decision.  We choose to take her temporarily and they agreed and had others who could take her if it did not work out for us.   We told our children it was only temporary to give us time to figure out if this was going to work for us.

I have had cats since I have lived on my own and am clearly a “cat person”.  My husband grew up with dogs but dogs who lived outside.  We would have been happy to continue through life without a dog.  Cats are self maintaining.  They bathe themselves and use a liter box. They can even be left home alone for a few days with plenty of water, food and clean liter boxes.   We have always been able to find someone to check in on our cats when we have been away.

So just prior to Halloween, 2010, Olive came to live with us and a few days later we watched our neighbors drive off in their moving truck- off to live several states away.  Olive was on her best behavior when we first got her.  I vividly recall that first night as we ate dinner, she sat quietly at a distance from the table.   We had to fix our fence to be able to let her run in the back yard and I can recall standing outside with her on a leash in the dark before bed.   Sometimes, I was happy to be standing outside in the quiet of my yard at night.

Somehow, after Olive came into our home, her place with my daughter changed.   The first few nights, Olive slept in my daughter’s bedroom but then something changed.  I am not sure what, other than Abby’s OCD- the part of her brain that is not functioning as it should and giving her false messages of danger. Olive was no longer an escape from her anxieties and fears but now part of our family and part of her issues.   Because we took Olive in on such short notice, we had no expectations for our daughter as to her role in caring for Olive.  We hoped she would take to caring for Olive and it would become her activity, something she enjoyed.  Yet, as time passed, we saw that Abby’s irrational fears and anxieties and inability to touch things now included Olive, feeding Olive, taking her outside, and even petting Olive.

We made our first trip with Olive over Thanksgiving and even my non-dog mother declared her a great  dog and she was welcome at her home.  Olive is a great dog with a wonderful temperament.  She is an ideal dog for a family with a toddler.  She gets along great with our cat who I think despite her air of superiority, is happy to have an animal companion.  She gives that away when she hides from and then jumps out at Olive, running from her, knowing despite being much smaller, she the cat with claws, has the upper hand.

At times, I do grumble about having a dog because I feel that we have the dog for my daughter and yet she can not usually do the simple things like feed her and take her outside.  Things are much better than those first few months~for Abby and with Olive.  Abby has participated in Canine Good Citizen Class with Olive and my sister has been coming about once per month and spending time with Abby and Olive with dog training.  Olive is more comfortable and now begs at the table and follows us when we have food.  She also is attention seeking at times and has wiggled her way between Jason, the toddler, and another person to get affection.  She likes to sit in our lap even though she is about 37 pounds.

Olive has become our family dog.  Jason calls her “my dog” and enjoys giving her treats- often many treats- but this makes for a good relationship with the two of them.  She barks a lot when she is outside.  She didn’t bark at all the first week or so that we had her.  She rarely barks in the house.  She is a great dog.  Yet, I do ask the question, “Why is there a dog in my house?” at times because I am still a cat person.

We are going to take our first trip where Olive can not come and so we needed to find someone to watch Olive.  Before Olive came to live with us, and we contemplated getting a dog for our daughter, we figured our wonderful neighbors across the street could dog sit for us.  The ones who gave us Olive and moved several states away.

I found a homeschool family with a young daughter who loves animals so much she started her own pet sitting business.   We had met them  several months ago and so they came over to meet Olive and will be coming over to take care of her when we are gone.   It feels good to hire another young girl who loves animals like my daughter with a mom that I know and trust.  I am not sure how Olive will do with us gone as she is so used to us being here during the day.  It is rare that we are gone for more than maybe 4 fours at a time.  Olive’s previous owners, our former neighbors both worked full-time and so she has lived that life.  Yet, she has been with us for almost a year and has grown accustomed to us being around.  I know we will pick up all the toys in the living room.  She has chewed a few toys on days when we were gone for a long stretch of time but only one toy per incident and I would say less than 5 times total.

I have come to appreciate aspects of life with a dog.  The happy, tail-wagging greeting whenever we return home.  Her unconditional love and acceptance of us as we are.  She listens well and can be trained easily with treats.  She does come when you call her (unless she is in pursuit of a cat or rabbit) and tolerates bathes and nail clippings as well hair cuts in a calm manner.   She is happy to go off in a corner when given a good bone.  She has learned to get off the couch when people are sitting on it~ well, will move as told, we are working on this.  Our youngest, Jason, has learned to be gentle and loves Olive.  Our oldest has learned to tolerate a dog in his home and even has helped to care for her.  I think having pets is wonderful for children.  We had a dog when I was young, but my sister, like my daughter, loved the dog and took full care of our dog.  I was very sad when our dog ran away from home and we never found him.  We only had him for about 3 or 4 years.

Olive is really a part of our family now even though some aspect of me still resists this.  When my husband had a heart attack and was in the hospital for 12 days, it seamed that Olive sat at the top of the stairs, almost watching over us but also waiting for him to come home.  I think my husband has bonded more with Olive than I have.  That part of me that still resists having a dog has not fully accepted that she is with us permanently now.  When our neighbors were still trying to sell their house, across the street from us, there was this possibility that they would move back but once they sold the house and new people moved in, that door closed.   It has been about 6 months now since that time.

My husband’s heart attack happened just shortly after our new neighbors moved in.  So now, that we are getting back to “regular life” do I find myself reflecting once again on life with a dog.   I feel that I am only now beginning to step back and reflect on life with a dog.  I know I could re read this post and likely want to re write it or start over.  Writing the post has propelled me in to thinking about it from a different perspective.  This post reflects where I am now (or where I was as a wrote it).  In my commitment to writing on a regular basis, I will share it for all to see.  Know that even now, I see it with a new perspective and possibly an altered title.  It is what it is: life with a dog, 11 months now and counting.

Life with a dog, Thanksmas Holiday…people loving but “in your face” with other dogs

Olive has been in our home for over 3  weeks and we took our first trip with her.  Luckily, my parents had come to visit recently  and got to meet Olive.  My mother, not a fan of dogs, declared her the gentlest dog she has ever met and went as far as to say she could come to her house.  Perfect!

My family of origin gets together each year alternating holidays, Christmas or Thanksgiving.  This was a Thanksgiving year and so we gather at my parent’s house on Lake Murray to celebrate Thanksmas.  We enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving celebration along with our Christmas gift exchange and we also celebrate November birthdays.  Its a fun festive time with all 5 cousins together (my brother’s kids and mine) and my sister always has some combination of her dogs.  This year we had Olive along with my sister’s dog, Choctaw aka, ivory and ebony.

Both people loving dogs but we found out both Alpha Dogs.     My sister worked her dog behavior magic and had them co-existing well together after a heated first encounter.  I learned even more about dogs over the weekend.  (I have absorbed so much over the years from my sister. ) Olive, a terrier mix, loves people but other dogs, not so much.  I learned how face to face dog to dog encounters are threatening.  A good dog greeting is nose to tail.  I watched in amazement as my sister guided Olive and showed her how to be less “in your face” with her dog, Choctaw.  It was great.  We had our own personal in home dog behaviorist trainer for free!

The drive to my parents house takes just over 2 hours and we hardly knew Olive was with us in the back of the car in her crate.  She made no sounds.  She adjusted well to my parent’s house and then on day 3 when my sister arrived, she began her dog training with my daughter Abby with the guidance of my  sister.  Olive even got her own goodie bag of gifts from my sister, premium treats and chew toys, a new leash with attachable scoop bag holder and bag refills, as well as dog training items.  My sister had a campaign on facebook to  convince me why my daughter needed a dog and was very excited to supply the dog supplies.  She even gifted us with an additional gift card for dog expenses.  This was very much appreciated since my husband has been underemployed for over 2 years now.

So the holiday with a dog was rather calm.  She did manage to christen my parents creme colored carpet, due to a bit of an upset stomach.  Somehow I wasn’t in the room when it happened and I heard no complaints about it.  She got to go on her first ( well, I am not sure  if it was her first) boat ride.  But her first boat ride on my mom’s boat on the lake.  She seamed to be very happy being around all the people and especially the kids who she greeted eagerly with kisses and full body wagging.

So on our way home, Olive got to ride at my daughter’s feet despite protests from my oldest child.  With all our “stuff” in the car, she barely had any room to move but got to enjoy being with us.  I declared Olive, the best behaved member of our family.

Life with a dog, week two

We have had Olive for 2 weeks now.  My biggest challenge has been keeping an eye on her with Jason, who is 22 months old.  One of the first days we had her, I went into the living room to check on them and found Jason with both hands gripped onto the fur around her eyes.  I quickly went to him and told him to let go.  “Gentle with the doggie, we don’t want to hurt her, ” I keep repeating. 

Olive has tolerated Jason well.  A few times she turned her head to him as if to say, “Stop” but most of the time she is wagging her tail and licking his face.  It’s a good thing she is not a small dog.  A small dog would not be a good fit with a 28 pound, active, energetic, larger than life toddler.

Walking Olive, even at night, has been an unexpected enjoyment.  It has given me a few minutes to step outside alone, get some fresh air and view the stars.  I don’t feel burdened by the added responsibility of having a dog.  I also know that the experience of caring for the dog can be very therapeutic for my daughter and because animals bring her such joy, it is a pleasure to be able to do this for her during what has been a tulmotous time for her. 

The larger challenge is caring for Olive despite the demands of my daughter declaring she is “her dog” and she will take care of him.  I have made it clear that we took Olive on as a family responsibility and I do not mind caring for her.  I also have not expected my oldest son to care for her other than checking on her when we leave him alone with her.  He was less than thrilled at the idea of having a dog, and his initial acceptance wore off about day three.  His tolerance for having a dog living in our house has increased  recently.  Or maybe it is just because of his new iPod touch and celebration of his thirteenth birthday.  Despite his “big brother” ways, he knows how much his sister loves animals and on some level can appreciate how much having Olive in our home means to his sister.

Watching Olive with our cat, Peanut continues to be one of my favorite aspects of this experience.  Olive will just wag her tail with excitement when she sees Peanut but has learned that getting too close is not a good idea.  Peanut is an inside only cat but has her front claws.  Peanut seems to tolerate Olive.  The unfortunate thing is that if Peanut were still a kitten, she might actually enjoy having a dog in the house as a playmate.  I remember how different her reaction was to my sister’s dog at our house when she was still a kitten compared to when she was past a year or so of age.  At least she gets exercise with Olive chasing her and maybe she is really enjoying the game of hide and seek.  She only needs to hide in one spot briefly and Olive will spend most of her time sniffing and waiting in the spot where her scent is even though she has moved to another location.  She walks about the house with an aire of confidence “this is my domain and I am the queen”.  And Olive is just happy to see her, us, anyone really.

Reading the book, I, Jack, has given me a better appreciation for the possible thoughts of a dog.  I, Jack, is a wonderful book written by Patricia Finney and told from the perspective and voice of the family dog, Jack.  I read it years ago with my oldest child and recently checked it out of the library again and read it with my 8-year-old daughter.  We both enjoyed reading it together before bedtime and she even read ahead without me because she was enjoying it so much.  I was glad I had read it before but really enjoyed it as much the second time.

And so here we are two weeks in and wondering still if this is temporary or permanent.  It is a funny thing to all of a sudden with less than two weeks notice have a dog, and have your neighbor’s dog who is your daughter’s “Best friend” (her words).  I think the suddenness of it all has been an adjustment for her maybe even more so than for the rest of us.  Change is not easy for her and having our wonderful neighbors move was a big enough change let alone taking in one of their dogs.  No matter what the outcome of this experience, I am grateful for this time we have with Olive for my daughter and for all of us.  It surely has made the sudden move of our neighbors an easier transition for my daughter who would have been heartbroken to have to say goodbye to Olive.

Life with a dog, week one

We brought a dog into our home on October 29, 2010.  It was to be a temporary situation that could become permanent.  It was fun and novel for 2 days and I began blogging daily with the hopes that would continue at least for the initial weeks.

By day three,  Olive, the dog, was no longer a fun new exciting guest but someone to take care of, an added responsibility.   The excitement had worn off for my oldest child, Harrison, who was not very happy with the presence of a dog 24/7 in our home and had made it clear to us that he did not like the idea of having a dog but had agreed to a 3 week trial with Olive.  My daughter, the one who has been begging for a dog, was not jumping in to take care of the dog spontaneously and resisting to some degree especially to take the dog outside in cold weather.

With the initial excitement of something new in our lives, behind me,  I began to see more clearly all the responsibilities involved in caring for a dog; exercise, walks, feeding her, preventing fleas, attention and the challenge of keeping an eye on Jason, the toddler, with the dog.

A new responsibility added tension to our family dynamics, and more to get done in  our daily  “routine” or lack of routine.  Our days have been difficult juggling the schedules and needs of three children and two adults and a cat.  Since the youngest became a toddler, which happened fast as he began walking at 8 months of age, life has been a whirlwind for me.  Seams we get one aspect of life settled down and another challenge appears.  And so once again, life was beginning to “settle down” and here we have a dog!  What was I thinking?



Life with a dog, day two: waking up with a dog

October 29 we began our journey with Olive.  We survived our first outing to the park.  We enjoyed dinner as a family and Olive surprised me with how well-behaved she was.  She did not beg for food but sat calmly at our feet. She did fill the mission, one of the things I always thought would be good about having a dog, cleaning the floor. (note: see prior post, describing my relationship with house cleaning)

We carved pumpkins together.  Jason, 21 months old made hardly any mess with the pumpkins and was not interested in sticking his hands in the gooey mess, despite our anticipations and preparations with paper bags opened and spread on table and floor.  It was a fun family evening, a rare occurrence for us.  Only minor squabbles over the pumpkin scooping devices but no yelling or storming off.

I magically pulled cookie dough out of the freezer (made a few weeks ago and frozen, an amazing new trick I) and popped them in the oven for a treat.  We could have been on a Leave It to Beaver episode.  Maybe having a dog will be better than I expected, bring our family together.  This dog is so well-behaved. 

Did I say we have a cat?  And indoor only petite white cat.  Had we gotten the dog when the cat was a kitten, I think she would have enjoyed the dog, a playmate.  Our cat, Peanut, is 4 years old, and well, is a cat.  She is not so sure why there is this dog in our house and why is it staying?  Olive is eager to play with her but in her gentle way. 

Our biggest issue the first night was the Olive’s middle of the night mission to find the cat.  Olive is sleeping in Abby’s bed with her at Abby’s request and much to Abby’s delight but she slept right next to Abby not at the end of her bed where Abby set her Scooby Doo blanket for her.  And Olive jumping up and down off the bed was a bit disturbing to Abby’s sleep and my husband’s who is a light sleeper.  Somehow Olive even pushed Harrison’s door open ( note: our oldest son who is not excited about this dog experience; see first life with Dog Post, The dog who fell into our lap).  And Harrison got her out, went back to sleep and somehow told us the story later in the morning  in an amused rather than irate manner.

Olive is very interested in Peanut but only sniffs her and wags her tail intently.  She only chases Peanut if the cat runs past her and has shown no signs of wanting to hurt the cat.  We are hopeful but still cautious.  She is much larger than the cat, maybe 40 or 50 pounds (I don’t even know, is this something I should know, feels like it is) and the cat is about 6 pounds and well, dog instincts, it could happen by accident.  Her owners feel she would not hurt a fly, they have had her for 3 1/2 years  and got her as a small puppy.  Peanut does have her front claws and despite being a cat, she is very curious about this dog and will come out and sniff Olive and isn’t in hiding all the time like many cats would be.  Curiousity.  Who knows, they might even become friends.  Both desperately want a furry playmate.  (We got Peanut as a small kitten, our third cat, but our other two were elderly and not interested in playing with Peanut and have since left this lifetime.)

This was going much better than I expected.  I woke up that morning before everyone else and went to the computer to write as I do when this happens, not often but has been happening more lately.  Jason even slept in and even past my husband getting up, he sleeps with us and usually gets up when I do.   Life with a dog has been a pleasant surprise.  I began day two excited and energized by our new experience.

Life with a dog, day one: preparations, people issues and the park

October 29 Olive came to stay at our house. 

Abby decided she wanted to get her at 11:30.  I had said before lunch would be good so it was before Jason needed to nap.  Abby was excited but the change and excitement only flared her issues and compulsions.  She needed to  shower which means she is stressed and it brings her more stress.  Thins have to be exact with towel placement and soap and there is no way to accurately describe the experience.  (Her issues look very much like OCD and we have been working with professionals and with her but not labeling her.)

Our children mirror us.  Their issues mirror ours.  I become compulsive and rule oriented when I am stressed.  I even beginning cleaning when I am stressed (cleaning is  not my thing, I would sooner be writing or outside mowing the  yard or doing anything other than cleaning my house).  So when Abby’s issues flare up, I in turn, become more stressed.  It is a challenge and one that I have been working on as well.  There is much more background to all of this but I add it here to paint the picture as best I can without rambling on endlessly.

Somehow we got past the “getting ready” part and over the fact that it was past 11:30 when we went to get Olive.  Somehow, I had added the stress of going to the park with Olive after we got her and ate some lunch.  Sounds insane but Jason needed play time outside as did Abby and Olive.  My friend had contacted me about meeting at a park and was willing to drive to a park 5 minutes from my house.  I tend to function well on spontaneuity.  I needed to get out and be around adult friends.  My son would get to see his friend even though he was stressed over the time because Dad, (my husband, Don) was coming home at 2:30 to take him out selling popcorn for  Boy Scouts.  The last week to sell and my son was coming close to his goal of selling $2500 in popcorn which was the amount needed to qualify for a scholarship account. 

Don’s the salesman, and like father like son.  They both enjoy it and the time together.  Power to them.  Selling is not my thing.  I would rather be cleaning my house than out selling popcorn.  Scheduled, punctual, orderly….these are words that describe my husband, not me.  My son thrives on “scheduled” and has always been time conscious.  My lack of sense of time, how much time it takes to do things, is one of my biggest challenges. 

I agree to go to the park about 1pm, letting my friend know clearly that we could be late or a no-show.  (I have learned to live in the moment from this experience with my daughter and have been a maybe to most events to avoid the pressure of feeling like “we have to get there on time”.)  I figure we can stay until 2:30 and get home so the boys can go out selling popcorn.  Sounded reasonable. 

I talk to my friend just before 1pm, she is just leaving, one other friend will join us at the park.  I need to feed everyone and then go.  I have Harrison call her back 10 minutes later to have her pick him up so he can go hang with his friend and I have no pressure of when we leave.  We eat and about 20 munutes later, they pick him up and I wonder, why did I just send my biggest help out of the  house?  I don’t make the best decisions when I am stressed.

Somehow, we make it out of the house about 10 minutes later, dog crated in the back of the car,  kids buckled, water bottles and even some snacks. 

We are homeschoolers who have come to enjoy the freedom and luxury of going to the park on a weekday and having the park almost to ourselves.  When we got to the park it was apparent that either large amounts of homeschoolers had all come out at once or school was out.  More people at the park and more dogs.

I am comfortable with Olive around other people, other dogs,  not so sure.  My friend had her dog, they even looked a lot a like, but he got too personal with her and she let him know she didn’t like it.  Might be all normal dog behavior but a growling dog on a leash held by an 8-year-old who is not quite strong enough to handle her when she pulls really hard and me needing to watch the busy always in motion 21 month old who was too close to the growling dog for my comfort….  Was I crazy?

Crazy for taking on this dog and going to the park our first day?  But my friends were there and boy did I need to talk.  I like to get out of the house when I am stressed and getting out with my friends has not been easy lately.  I was so glad to be there.  Talking to my friends, while keeping an eye on Jason who decided to walk around on the  6 inch wide concrete blocks that form a wall around some playground equipment.  It is built into a hill and so in some areas the concrete blocks are maybe 6 inches from the ground on the opposite side but at the highest point it is about a 3 foot drop.  Did I say I have an issue with heights and Jason has no fear of heights?  Not that this is about heights, just the thought of him falling on the concrete blocks a distance of 3 feet brings to mind head injury. Did I mention I used to work at a rehabilitation hospital with head injury patients?  I worked with adults not on the pediatric unit but when I see rocks, there is neural connection in my brain to head injury.

I was enjoying myself and at first Abby walked around with the dog and even talked with one of the girls of my friend, someone she knows but is new to us, and new people are not Abby’s thing unlike me who loves meeting new people.  But then, Abby was ready to go and nervous to walk around with the other dogs present and being crowded with people.  And I was finally enjoying talking with my friends in between chasing Jason who would suddenly dart off into the woods where there is  a small creek area, dry but there are rocks!

And then it was 2:15 and Harrison approached insisting I call Don and it was time to go home.  I was not ready to go home.  I was finally out of the house and with two friends who I really enjoyed talking to and Jason was reasonably content.  I talk to my husband who is a bit upset because I knew they had plans to go out and sell.  He had planned this a week ago, it was on the calendar. Ugh…I knew all of this of course, but I needed to be out with my friends.  I needed it for my sanity.  My sanity is essential to the sanity of my family. 

My husband gave in as he has learned to do and agreed to get Harrison’s scout shirt from the house and meet us at the park and then take the popcorn out of the van and move it to the Corolla and loose about 20 minutes of selling time.

Relieved?  No, I felt guilty.  I am working on that.  I need to take care of me.  I can’t forget about my sanity and my needs.  We all know what that looks like.  So they come and go and Abby is standing there ready to leave.  She doesn’t want to take the dog to the car, or walk her or… In a huff, I bring the dog to the car.  Why do we have a dog?

I want to talk without my daughter standing over my shoulder.  I give her missions to check on the dog, I offer to stand so I can watch her.  The car is parked facing the park entrance and very close by.  I mange to get a few minutes or so without her standing over me.  I tell her 15 minutes, 3:00, but forget to make it clear that I want 15 minutes without her glued to my side.

We leave about 3:15.  I am calmer.   I had time out and go to talk more than I usually do.  Jason falls asleep in the car on the way home.