“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.”
― Ram Dass
This has been a funny summer. I think it’s because of this guy over here to the left.
Today Kai is 14 weeks. He looks like he’s about 2 years old. Watching him go from fitting in the palm of Mike’s hand to being too heavy to pick up in such a short period of time has really fine-tuned my perspective about time, life in general, and being in the moment.
You always hear people allude to this. Where did the time go? Seems like just yesterday. You blink and it’s gone. Where was I? Nothing like a fast-growing puppy to blow that up in a size 72 font.
Because we feel like the 8 week to 20 week window is the most important determining factor of the dog you will have for many years to come, the summer has been filled with 5:15 a.m. training episodes (don’t ask), weekly handling class, twice weekly puppy obedience class, multiple trips out to places where different kinds of people roam (Home Depot, PetSmart, the mechanic, the hairstylist, the grocery store…you name it), swim class, organized play dates with different breeds of dogs, reading The Monks of New Skete and training handouts, buying abnormal amounts of treats, learning about weird things like beef tripe, getting lots of blood marks from sharp puppy teeth (enter “OFF” and the water bottle) and so on. All this, mind you, while not catching Parvo which our vet tells us is chronic in the North State.
So how exactly does this work? It’s not healthy for the puppy to be in isolation during his key socialization windows, but if you take them out, they could get Parvo and die. However, if they don’t get Parvo and die, and you don’t take them out and socialize them, they can easily become neurotic, interact poorly with other animals and people, and not be as happy and well adjusted as you may hope. This has been a key fulcrum in balancing our summer.
What this has meant is that Mike and I have had to break up swim meets for our competitive swimming teen. This is weird and different because we have all been going together since 4th grade and he’s going into his junior year of high school. Somebody goes and somebody stays home. The person who stays home goes through withdrawals. That’s been me for the first 2.5 meets of the summer. Last weekend was finally my weekend to go watch my son swim.
We hightailed it up to Weaverville where I’d rented a great place 15 miles out in Lewiston on Airbnb. We were going to take Kai originally until our vet said she’d rather us not have his little pre-vaccinated paws out walking around and he’s way too big to carry. One more time for the divide and conquer.
As we are driving there, my son gets a freaked out look on his face.
“I can’t stay out here, Mom. I only have one bar.” This as we pass through beautiful forest brimming with towering pines and interspersed with green meadows.
“That’s fine. You can find someone to camp with and stay at the pool.”
It was settled. He would sleep on the ground and I would sleep in one of the three cushy beds.
So after the day’s races and following activities, I retired to my large 3 bedroom place in the woods, under star-blanketed skies. Nobody was around and the air was still and peaceful. The house looked out over a meadow on one side and up into a forest on the other. I could lay on this one bed that said DREAM on it and look out a high window straight into the trees. After the constant vigilance of having a puppy in training, just being able to lay still in silence and watch the trees was complete luxury.
I never touched any of the TVs. I got more sleep those two nights than I’ve had any night this summer. I had fantastic dreams (about dogs!) And I sunk into each moment, appreciating the fullness of both the puppy reality and the swim meet weekend reality.
As the weekend went by, and we returned to the routine of early morning trainings and liver treats, I brought back the thought that all these moments are precious gifts of the present for which I’m so grateful. Sometimes breaking our patterns is just what we need to be present and remember how special each moment really is.