As has been evident from my past posts and book, The Freshly Single Man, my wife of 25 years died six years ago. I was left with two sons and a dog. My existence was a mess. I was thrown into a life altering situation where I had to learn quickly how to manage my son’s lives, a household and a dog while continuing with my professional career. It was not easy, but over time, I learned how to survive, and I prided myself in taking command of my new life.
A year ago, my dog, Cinder, died. That dog and I went through a lot together. After my wife’s death, she wasted away to nothing, depressed that her main care giver was no longer there to care for her. But, she and I formed a new bond, and when my sons’ left for college and law school, that dog and I were there for each other. After Cinder’s death, it took a year for me to reach the point of even considering a new dog. Not only was I morning her death, but I had developed a new life. I could do anything that I wanted to whenever I wanted to. I was foot loose and fancy free. I was not sure that a dog would fit into this new lifestyle of mine.
But, there was something missing in my life, and I was becoming so regimented in my habits that any little intrusion into my daily routine would become a great annoyance to me. I did not want to admit that there was anything that I could not address quickly and get back to the routine that I had developed. My life had fallen into a rut. Perhaps I was not as foot loose and fancy free as I thought.
While my youngest son was home from college for the summer, we began talking about getting a puppy. I told him that I did not think that I was ready but that I would look into it. As any good college student would do, he got on the internet and found a dog breeder with a litter about to go home. With more than a little trepidation, my son and I drove to New Hampshire and I got a puppy.
My life was turned upside down! The routine that I had developed was gone. The puppy, Rory, was not housebroken and really had little desire to make inroads in that direction. Every waking hour was spent feeding, walking, cleaning up after or watching the newest member of my family. It was like having a baby again. I became very depressed. I began to think that I had made a huge mistake in acquiring this “8 pounds of hell”.
As a few weeks have gone by, I am beginning to learn how to deal with this puppy business. It has not been easy, but we are making headway. She at least seems to understand outside from inside and that what I expect her to do outside, I do not expect her to do inside. It is a start. More importantly, she clearly wants to please me. There is nothing more gratifying than looking down into the face of a puppy and realizing that they will do anything just for a little attention. We are bonding.
Now, in looking at the bigger picture of my life, I needed a puppy. I needed something in my life that I could not fully control, something that would shake up my life, something that would cause me to reassess what is important to me. It has not been an easy thing, for change brings insecurity and insecurity brings discomfort and sadness. But, it also brings a new beginning, a new way of looking at things, a reordering of life. Now and then, a puppy is not a bad thing.
For more information on how to address life’s issues as a suddenly single man, read my book, The Freshly Single Man.