The other morning, Tucker and I walked up Arlington Ridge to Prospect Park, which overlooks the city of Washington D.C. and Arlington VA. From there I can see the Washington Monument, the Pentagon, Arlington Cemetery…and all the cars stuck in morning rush hour on 395 :). I was in a particularly reflective mood for some reason that morning and it got me thinking of the ways Tucker has changed me in the year and a half since we’ve brought him home:
1) Mornings are great: I have to say, I love my morning weekday and Sunday walks with him (my husband lets me sleep in on Saturdays while he goes running with Tucker or to the park with him). In the DC area, it is very busy and I constantly feel on the go. Before Tucker, I was never a morning person. I would get up about 30 minutes before I had to leave for work, eat breakfast, get ready and off to the Metro I went. Now I get up most weekday mornings at 6 or earlier so that Tucker and I have plenty of time to go out, come back in and eat our breakfasts and settle a bit before our morning walk. The mornings are mostly peaceful- fairly light traffic around the neighborhoods and most of the foot traffic is a few people getting an early metro or people with some of our favorite 4 legged friends. Not only is it great exercise for both of us, but it gets me prepared for the day at hand. When I have to travel or have to be somewhere early for work and my husband walks him, I often feel like I’ve missed out on something. Are there some mornings where I would rather just stay in bed? Absolutely…mostly on those rainy mornings where I have to balance an umbrella and a golden retriever. However, it’s probably my favorite walk of the day.
2) Meeting people: I am an introvert. Once you get to know me, I open up and am silly and love to talk…but I generally shy away from big social settings. Having a golden retriever puppy, EVERYONE wants to pet your dog. We’ve met a lot of our neighbors and their dogs (I admit, I don’t know a lot of their names-its mostly ‘Fluffy’s mom, Bella Boo Bear’s Mom, etc) but there’s a sense of community that I didn’t feel before we got Tucker. We take Tucker most places that we can–wineries, running races, dog friendly restaurants and our newest adventure yesterday: the Washington Nationals Pups in the Park event. Yes, we took him to a baseball game–and he performed phenomenally well. Tucker is a conversation starter and that has helped me break the ice and has even helped me in situations when he isn’t with me.
3) Partnerships are stronger and better: I’m an individual through and through. My husband doesn’t define me and I don’t define my husband. Prior to Tucker, my husband and I enjoyed doing things together, but many nights we might watch one things on TV and then go our separate ways- maybe me watching something in the bedroom, while he stayed out in the living room. Or we approached things differently. This may be a longer way of saying that we weren’t always a unified team. When Tucker came into our lives, we had to become a team- who took him out and when, who fed him and when, etc. When he’s gotten sick as sometimes our pups do, I’ve been a stressed out mess and Jason has been the balance. The calm in any storm. Not only does that help me but it helps Tucker too. This also leads to my second favorite walk: Family Walk. Every night after we’ve had our dinner, we walk Tucker around the neighborhoods for our nightly “family walk.” We talk about our day, what’s going on in the world, etc. I admit, the growing partnership hasn’t always been easy and there have been bumps in the road but there’s no one I’d rather do it with.
4) Persistence is key: This is not my favorite Tucker life lesson as sometimes it shows my weaker side with him, but he has taught me that sometimes if you really want something, persistence is key. This is where I sometimes Mommy fail. You know how they teach you in obedience that if your dog barks because he wants something, to ignore him? Easier said than done when you are trying to get something done and he’s barking for his special bone in the cabinet. I usually start strong- ignoring, making sure I don’t give in to his barking too soon, etc. Some days, he does just get it at the first bark. However, he has learned that if he is persistent, and barks but then behaves perfectly, he will get a reward. We’ll get there soon enough with the good behavior, but it takes persistence—–and sometimes a little bark.
5) Life is for living, loving and smiling: I think this might be part of Tucker’s mantra. A woman walking her two small dogs the other day stopped me to tell me that Tucker was the happiest dog she’s seen. And he really is. He is frequently smiling and has an air about him that he loves life. The world can be a scary place-how often do we turn on the TV to see horrific news? Do yourself a favor–the next time life gets you down, turn ‘off’ (or mute if you can’t turn off completely) and play with your dog- or if you don’t have one, take a walk-chances are you will find a dog that wouldn’t mind another friend!