As you might have guessed in light of the fact that I’ve been silent here for the past two month, Life With Lacey is busy, busy, busy.
In fact, I had completely forgotten just how busy a tiny ball of fluff can be.
When we brought our new family member home from her birthplace at River Valley Shih Tzu in Lucascville, Ohio, she weighed just shy of 3 pounds and was a whirling dervish of energy and excitement. Now, two months later and two pounds heavier, she has settled quite nicely into daily life here in her new home, and is maturing into a lovely little canine companion.
As for me? Well, this old dog has learned some new tricks herself in the past few weeks. You won’t be surprised to learn that many of them can be applied to life in general.
Like Patience. Nothing reinforces this virtue like standing outside waiting for a puppy to find just the right spot to relieve themselves, especially when they have the attention span of a flea and are distracted by every blade of grass or piece of mulch or leaf they happen across. It can seem like the longest five minutes of your life. And then you have to do it all over again in an hour. But who can resist the excitement they find in those blades of grass and pieces of mulch? The stuff that’s just ho-hum ordinary to us is out-of-this world exciting to them.
I’ve also discovered the valuable of baby steps in acquiring new skills. Dogs learn best in small doses, with plenty of positive reinforcement along the way. Lacey developed a bit of separation anxiety, so i had to teach her how to stay home alone. I started out by putting up the baby gate in the room where she would be confined and leaving a couple of treats by the gate. When she didn’t seem bothered by that, I began telling her that I was “going bye-bye,” giving her a treat, and walking out the back door where I counted to five and came right back in. I (VERY) gradually increased the amount of time I was out of sight, never staying away long enough for her to get anxious or upset. The final steps included going out the door, opening the garage door, and then starting the car, followed by actually backing out and closing the garage door. And then driving around the block and coming back in. The neighbors probably thought I was nuts.
All this took about seven days, during which time we did not leave her alone at all. By the end of it, she was perfectly happy to say “bye-bye,” especially since she knew she’d be getting her favorite treat (cottage cheese) to help her over the initial hurdle of our departure.
I’ve tried to apply this gradual introduction of skills to everything she’s learning. It’s a luxury to have time and space to do that, but it pays off in the long run. And it reminds me to break my own to-do list down into manageable increments, even if it’s just in my mind. Like Lacey, I’m fortunate to have the luxury of time to get things done on my own schedule, so I can afford to manage my life in small doses.
Lacey’s brisk development has also reminded me how fast things change. If I felt like my grandson grew incredibly fast, the puppy growth timeline is exponentially faster. We’ve had her home with us for two months and she’s doubled her size. The pink bed that was huge when she first curled up in it now barely holds her. She no longer even fits into the puppy travel bag, but rides in the car buckled into her own car seat in the back. So when she has a rare moment of regression and chews up a sock or has a potty accident, or when she wakes me up at 4:00 in the morning, I realize this too will pass and before I know it she will be all grown up.
Because that’s the poignant thing about dog lives. They never last long enough.
So I’m pacing myself and enjoying every minute of Life With Lacey Li. Because she’s added so much joy to my life in general. And joy is certainly in short supply in today’s world isn’t it? I hope you’re finding some in your life as well.