This is the first time in four months where I feel I'm able to sit down and enjoy a moment of stillness. And in this quiet space, many emotions arise. Sadness at the loss of four wonderful puppies, with whom I've had the pleasure of raising all summer, seems to come first. Then, a sense of relief, knowing I am responsible for far fewer activities each day comes next. Finally, the spaciousness of hope makes its way into my awareness. It is in this optimism, I know my capacity to love has increased exponentially through my experience with these dogs--each growing to reveal their unique, fun, feisty, and snugly personalities--and, for that, I am forever grateful!
My sharing today is really cathartic in nature. I want to honor my past few months of learning, commitment, and love to these puppies. I want to let any residual sadness of loss be replaced with the overwhelming sense of love that these dogs now share with their new families. Mostly, I just want to share their cuteness with you. I mean, really, who doesn't just adore puppies!! Their soft coat, their sweet breath, and their simultaneous sense of innocence and curiosity about the the world.
In a nutshell, here are some of the important things I learned with raising four furry boys this summer:
- About 20% of dogs reject their pups. After Kai gave birth to all four dogs, in a slightly traumatic, almost-having-to-have-a-C-section kind of way, she nipped at them. In fact, she even drew blood on one little guy's head. For the next 24 hours, she would growl at them if they were even placed near her.
- This leads to lesson two--one can survive for days at a time only getting two-hour increments of sleep at a time. Parents, you probably already know this. But, for me, this was new. We had to bottle feed the pups every two hours, round the clock, for the first few days. Then, thanks to Dr. Thompson at All About Pets, we learned how to coerce Kai into the nursing process. This took another week or so before Kai nurse voluntarily. Still, Kai wouldn't sleep with them, and we had to let her out of her crate throughout the night to feed the pups. I think it took at least four weeks before I had a meltdown about needing sleep. This period of sleeplessness definitely added to my inner strength (and appreciate for a full night's rest!)
- Meditation doesn't have to be with your eyes closed. My early morning meditation routine was interrupted all summer due to early feeding and play times. Instead of having to sit with my eyes closed, breathing into each moment, I found that the gift of being present (and in a joyful state) can add just as much benefit to my day. I'd spend an hour watching them eat, wrestle, play, and explore... all before they would each curl up on my lap to go back to sleep. Amazing how such a busy experience can bring you back to what's really important in life!
- Teamwork is essential! We cleaned LOTS of poop piles, and poopy carpets, towels, toys, and trays. Thankfully, Steve was there every step of the way, helping hose down what needed it each morning and afternoon. And, a visit from my mom on numerous accounts helped tremendously. I was reminded, once again, that I've come a long way in being able to receive help from others (and at the same time, provide them an opportunity to give).
- Playtime is FUN!!! Puppies are continually exploring their environment, and looking for something new to play with! Now that they're gone, I've got all sorts of fun ideas for my future! They are good reminders to explore our world with enthusiasm!
- Be ready for anything! Change happens at any moment--and that could mean your favorite shirt getting a hole ripped in it right before work. Staying on your toes, and flexible with the outcomes, helps us (and especially me through this experience) to be ready for whatever is to come. It also helps me to recognize that we are ALL changing every moment... so don't ever expect the same from anyone.
- Although there are many more lessons, the final one I'll share here is that LOVE ALWAYS WINS! When we are willing to open our heart to the magic of the experience, to the joy others can share in our lives (whether they have two our four legs), incredible things can happen. And, while there may be moments of sadness, frustration, irritation, or uncertainty, the experience of it all can make room for MORE LOVE in the next.
I quickly learned that any day is always better with a puppy in it, and I had the pleasure of sharing these little guys with many around me. Thanks for letting me share them with you here, and may your heart be buoyant and bright as a result of your viewing of them!
(BTW, you can hover over the photos for a description)