As I write this, Louie, four months after his arrival, is sleeping and snoring in back of my chair. Into my life he has brought many smiles, much happiness, a significant amount of work and some aggravation.
“Ed, you need a dog to help you get through this,” Susan commented.
“Susan, a dog is so much work and I don’t have the energy I used to,” I answered.
For the past five years my wife has been alternating taking care of her mother with her sister, which requires Susan to be away from home every other month, and sometimes longer. Her mother’s home is 300 miles away from where we live.
Having Susan away from home for over 6 months a year eventually got to me and resulted in an anxiety attack and a trip to the emergency room of our local hospital.
After my anxiety attack, I remembered Susan’s advice about getting a dog, but my brain kept shouting at me how much work a dog requires and that I was in my 70s with diminished energy. I argued with myself for over a year, and eventually my heart told me to override my brain and that I indeed needed a dog in my life.
Picking a friend
Then the questions started: What kind of dog would be best? Should I get a mixed breed or a pedigree? What about a rescue dog? Should I get a puppy from a breeder? It took me months of thinking and research to answer these questions.
One of the things that concerned me about a puppy was it might outlive us, which at first had me leaning towards an older, rescue dog. But then I thought with a rescue dog there might be more behavior or health problems down the road and this also concerned me.
And then there was Vito.
Vito was a French bulldog puppy Susan and I had encountered a number of years before on an anniversary trip. He was so cute we asked the young couple who owned him his name and if we could take his picture. They said we could, and I framed the picture and put it on a bookcase outside our bedroom. Whenever I looked at Vito, he made me smile.
I decided to check the traits of a French bulldog and learned the breed was a good choice for retirees because French bulldogs do not require much exercise, do not shed much, sleep a great deal, and are people friendly. I contacted a local pet service store owner who knew a reliable breeder.
“Louie” arrived in the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis while Susan was away taking care of her mother. He was 14 weeks old. “Buyers regret” hit me the first night when I had to get up at two o’clock in the morning to take him out to our back porch where I had set up puppy pads so he could do his business.
I prepared for Louie’s arrival. I read Brandon McMillan’s book on effective training techniques, Lucky Dog Lessons; I checked online for recommendations for the best food; and I also researched the best crate, toys, and treats for a French bulldog puppy. What I wasn’t able to research was the huge impact taking care of a puppy would have on my energy level, my time, and my life in general.
As I write this, Louie, four months after his arrival, is sleeping and snoring in back of my chair. He has brought into my life many smiles, much happiness, a significant amount of work, and some aggravation. I walk him, feed him, play with him, and take him outside a number of times a day, 7 days a week. He has a lot of puppy energy and can be naughty, (chewing on any books he can get hold of), but I love him and he quickly forgives me when I’m impatient with him. I do my best to return his forgiving spirit.
I have thought a number of times over the last 4 months if it would have been better to adopt an older dog, and I’m not completely sure I made the best decision to buy a puppy, even though our daughter has promised to take care of Louie if anything happens to us.
As Louie grows older he is getting easier to take care of, and he brings joy and smiles to those who meet him. Susan loves him and often says he has made our home a happier place to be. As for me, I can’t imagine not being able to see his less than beautiful face and ridiculous bat ears every morning which starts my days with a smile.
I guess adopting a pussycat or an older dog would have been a smarter, safer, and less expensive choice to help me deal with Susan’s being away so much, but as I continue to hear Louie’s snores behind me, and remember how much happiness he has brought into our home and into our neighborhood, I’m glad I listened to my heart when it urged me to overrule my brain.