You came into our lives less than 2 years ago, yet it seems like a lifetime. You have completely changed Ian and me. Before you, we did not believe that we could give up our selfish lifestyle of going and doing whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. You showed me that love overcomes that. That I am capable of sacrifice for love; yes, I knew this from marriage, but our love is different. You actually NEED us, and depend on us for life. If I have something to do, I know that Ian can care for himself- feed himself and relieve himself. You showed me that love makes any inconvenience okay. Love makes me not care when I have to improvise how to clean up your poop, when I run out of poop bags on our walk. Love has shown me that caring for another being is far more important than going out, working, and working out. It is not a burden to stay home, I actually enjoy slowing down and spending time with you. And this love is not finite. In fact, it grows exponentially. You have shown me that I have more love in me to give. That I am not as selfish as I once was, that I do in fact have a motherly instinct. You might be the best life teacher I’ve had in my adult life. I love you, Badger.
You know that we adopted your brother, Rocco, almost a year ago. With your guidance, he has grown from a little puppy into a sweet young boy.
Adopting a puppy was so much more work than expected. House training took longer than expected; obedience training has taken a long time (adult dogs typically come knowing basic commands); outings take more planning – and patience! Our family grew, and our love continues to grow! You have taught your dad and I to work as a team, to split the work and help each other out when we need to. All of this, preparing us for the next big step: welcoming the newest addition to our family, a human puppy- a baby!
Your newest little brother will be joining us in a couple short months! I am so excited to meet him. We don’t get to pick him, like we picked Rocco. This is the little guy that we made, and we know he’s the right match for us. I can’t wait for you to meet him. I can’t wait to see you with him. I know you will be a caring big brother, a wonderful nanny dog.
Thank you, Badger, for the love you have given me, the love you brought out of me, and for convincing us that our pair should actually be a pack.
Adopting Badger has been one of the most rewarding decisions I have ever made. In addition to his low maintenance and endless love, I have learned quite a bit about life from this young man. Below is a short list of my observations.
1. Take advantage of opportunities that present themselves. Badger typically demonstrates this when we are on a run this hot summer and come across a puddle. No matter how often we stop for drinks out of my camel back, if he finds a puddle, he’s going swimming! Applied to human life, this behavior may be as simple as using the restroom I walk past before going into a meeting, but may also be as big as speaking up when a life-changing opportunity arises, such as at a networking event. If you want to cool down, go for a swim. People will mostly be supportive, if not merely entertained by your unconventional behavior.
2. It’s okay to say, “No.” I don’t have a good image for this one, but Badger constantly reminds me that its okay to say, “no,” or, “no, thank you.” Here are some examples.
We are on a run, and come to a stop light. He sits like a good boy, so I try to give him a treat. He sniffs, but is not interested, so moves his head. Its okay, you don’t have to eat treats, especially in the middle of a workout.
I’m cooking dinner, and he is patiently laying down next to the kitchen. I think it is awesome that he will eat (raw) veggies, so I often experiment to see what he will eat. He won’t eat raw spinach. He’ll sniff, lick, and drop it on the floor. Which I take to mean, “No thank you, Mommy.”
Another running example. I’ll ask, “Are you thirsty?” He responds by turning his head and getting ready for, “Okay. Let’s Go!” meaning, “No thank you. I just drank out of that puddle that presented itself to me. Now I can’t drink anymore until I do my business.”
This is a major lesson that I (and many others) need to learn. Badger exhibits confidence in knowing himself and knowing what he wants or needs. To that end, he is confident enough to refuse my offerings. This is an extremely important lesson. One should knowing yourself, your ability, and your bandwidth to successfully complete something before accepting more work, setting training goals, or more extracurricular responsibility. Not knowing how to say no will throw life off balance. At work, we call it, “exercising your ‘no’ muscle.” Just like your body needs physical exercise, your mind needs mental and behavior exercises to operate the way you want it to. Remember to say, “no” when you don’t want to do something. If you really don’t like something, speak up! Its even okay to vehemently say no.
3. Be patient, but persistent. Patience and persistence will pay off. If things aren’t going your way don’t try to force them. Make your presence and desires known, but don’t be pushy about it. Stay calm. Eventually things will turn your way. I know, I cave every day and eventually give Badger a piece of food from the kitchen or my plate. He will wait an hour (eternity to doggies) patiently watching and waiting. As long as he listens and responds appropriately, he will get what he wants.
4. Be grateful, everyday. Like most Americans, I tend to spend my mornings worrying about all the tasks I have to complete that day. What needs to be done at work? How am I going to fit my training into this week’s schedule? You know the drill. Badger, on the other hand, wakes up every morning, get this, happy. He is so excited to see me & Ian, that he has a soft bed, that he has the chance to go outside to run, that he has a tasty meal waiting for him when he returns. He loves us and shows us his gratitude with excitement and affection, every day! This might be the most important lesson Badger has taught me. To love life, because I have everything I need. I love my family and the life we have together. This is all you need to be grateful. Everyday is an opportunity to love life again.
5. Enjoy the journey, the destination is not so important. Every morning Badger & I go out for an adventure. Sometimes we just go around in our neighborhood, sometimes we hop in the car and go a little farther. No matter what, he is stoked to go. It doesn’t matter if we repeat a normal loop, go to the park to sniff around, go off into the trails. Every day is an adventure, we always eventually end up at home; he’s excited for the experience and the time we spend together. Love what you do, live your life. You won’t end up anywhere unless you take a journey, so make the best of the excursion you’re on.