Recovering after a surgery, the doctor said the best thing I could do was get up and walk. I started walking way back when I quit smoking, mostly to keep the weight off. I enjoyed walking with my buddies in my old neighborhood. Life was good.

Now, a divorce later and 30 pounds lighter, I live in the historic part of a Florida river town. There are great places to walk. But I needed a buddy.

Years ago, when I lived alone, I had a sidekick poodle mix. She was my best friend. After I rescued her, I joyfully helped her raise three unplanned puppies.

Maybe it was again time to consider a dog to share space with me and the cat.

Pandemic Creates Small Dog Shortage

I was already signed on as a kitten foster momma at the local Humane Society, so I checked there and with other local rescue operations. Lots of large dogs were available, but small dogs all over the world found homes during the pandemic.

Just like the rest of the lonely people, I wanted a lap warmer for winter days and a small, warm body curled up at the foot of the bed.

A friend and I talked about her puppy and our pending divorces. We were both wearing our engagement rings on our right hands. I hadn’t considered a puppy, but why not? You know what she said?

“Sell that rock and get the puppy you really want.”

My sister echoed the sentiment: “Get off your cheap ass and get the puppy of your dreams.” I did my research about the puppy of my dreams – a mini Australian Shepard. Sis has a mini Aussie. I knew the breed could be a challenge. Just what the doctor ordered, right?

Note of Warning

If you are on the fence about getting a puppy, DO NOT GET A PUPPY. I don’t regret my decision, but here’s what I know now for true.

Puppies are loud and make a mess. They wake you up and chew your best shoes. They nip and dig.

Puppies are smart and will run away. Also, they are expensive.

Puppies are puppies for three to four years. And then they grow up. A much-loved puppy will give you more wonderful moments that you ever hoped to have.

Joys of Puppy Love

Let me introduce Lassie, the two-pound cotton ball who changed my life. She is still very much puppy at seven months, and every day is a grand adventure for both of us and the cat – and all the critters in the barnyard.

When I got her, I could barely walk from the house to the car. Now we walk for miles, making friends with every butterfly, dog, and person we pass. Everyone loves Lassie.

At first, Missy the Cat, was leery. She was twice the size of Lassie and wanted nothing to do with that tongue inside a furball, gobbling down all her Meow Mix.

When I shared my cat food dilemma with my pet store consultant, she turned me on to these wonderfully stinky bits of freeze-dried salmon and a puppy chow made with fish. Who knew?

She also turned me on to some shampoo that costs way more than my own and a silly little dog hat Lassie won’t wear but loves to chew. Puppies are a bad idea if you struggle with retail therapy, as I do. But I believe with grandchildren, retail therapy is much worse. We need someone to spoil. Just sayin’.

Separation Anxiety

I will be leaving Lassie for the first time when Sis and I fly to Arizona to pack up Mom’s house and get it ready to sell. We are lucky daughters because Mom seems happier than ever since moving into her assisted living digs during pandemic.

She often ends phone calls with, “Gotta run. I’m meeting the girls…” for breakfast or bridge or bingo. She has a full life, and we are grateful.

I’ll miss Lassie and leave her only with the most trusted family members, just like Mom did us when we were pups. Never having children, I understand now that feeling of losing a child in a crowd or fearing the worst as an innocent pup chases a ball into the street.

Lassie broke free a couple times. For her, it was a fun game of chase. For me, it caused such an adrenaline flow, I shivered and cried uncontrollably when she was back in my arms. Loving a puppy is all encompassing.

Since my plan is to live to 100, I’ll probably outlive Lassie. That will be heartbreaking, a big reason people over 60 opt not to replace pets when they die. Fact is, for me, I don’t know how I lived without a dog for as long as I did.

I’ve learned it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission. I should have just taken a puppy home 25 years ago. I might still be married.

Like Cats and Dogs

I’ve always had cats. Trust me, dogs are different. Together, they are unbeatable. My pets have become each other’s best friend. Yesterday, Missy the Cat brought home a live mouse. Carried it right into the kitchen and let it loose before I knew what was going on.

That mouse (we named him Maui Mouse) jumped under the seat of a kitchen stool and let the cat gently bat at its tail hanging down. The dog herded them both stool to stool, wagging her whole body in glee.

This was not a dream. In the end, Maui ran for the door with Missy and Lassie in a slow, tiny-stepped chase – just like a cartoon. That was worth every bit of puppy aggravation I’ve grumbled about since adding her to my family.

Life is long. Live it up. Consider a pet if you think it will make you happier. You’ll always have a walking buddy and a best friend who loves to see you come back, even if you’re only going to the bathroom.

Have you had a puppy? Would you consider buying one now? What breed would you choose? Are you prepared to take care of a puppy or do you prefer the grown alternative? Please share your thoughts and let’s have a pet chat!

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