Sunday, December 20, 2009

SOLD! 3935 Fremont Ave N

Learning New Tricks from an Old Dog

I have been watching Chewie, my 13 year old Chow/Keshound mix, grow into a grand old dog. I say "grand" as he continues to do many of the things he has always done - chase squirrels, beg for people food, stand on top of the living room radiator to bark at the mail carrier - and he reminds me growing old doesn't have to mean giving up the things you love to do. You just do them differently.

Chewie just learned a new trick last month (say "pray" and he does!), and he's adapted to his few limitations quite well. He will wait for us to help him get on the bed instead of trying to make the jump himself, he takes the stairs a little more cautiously, and he's learned if he doesn't listen to a command right away, we may just assume Chewie can't hear us and he won't have to respond at all. Not a bad place to be if you're Chewie.

Chewie was my first dog when I moved to Camden. I remember it was about this time of year, a few days before Christmas, when Chewie came into our lives. My boyfriend and I stopped at the Humane Society in Golden Valley. We were thinking of getting an older dog, and we were considering several - and then I saw Chewie. He was the cutest ball of fur I'd ever seen, and when we went to "interview" him he immediately peed twice and pooped once - as if saying "I dare you to take me home" and of course we did. He had a cold and my boyfriend started a sneezing match with him on the counter as I filled out the paperwork to make him our little sneezing fur ball.

Chewie was an instant hit with friends and family. He was just too adorable for his own good. He was also unbelievably smart - house broken in less than a week, he never chewed or destroyed anything except for a jade plant that attacked him once, and he learned his parlor tricks readily. Sit, stay, down, speak, shake, wave, balance treat on nose, heel, and occasionally - roll over - but his fluffy tail would get in the way on that one. If David Letterman had a category for "tricks only stupid people teach their dogs" we would have qualified - we thought it was funny to put Chewie in a "sit" and then place a treat in our back pocket and say "steal"- and he took the treat out of our pocket. Hmmm - that probably wasn't the best idea . . .

Although Chewie is extremely smart - there is a Chow side too - loyal to the family, steadfast in his devotion to us, and just a touch of unpredictability. He has required us to be diligent about maintaining our alpha status, and he continues to look us straight in the eye when given a command, as if to say - "I love you, but that request is pretty damn stupid and I'll do it but only for you."

When I started dating Robert, who is now my husband, he eventually told me he knew winning over Chewie was going to make-or-break the whole deal. Luckily Robert grew up with some really amazing hunting dogs with names like King and Bo - and he moved into the alpha male spot right away, winning Chewie over with long walks, lots of praise, and I suspect an Oreo or two along the way. With Chewie's stamp of approval, Robert became his second dad.

Watching Chewie grow old with grace and dignity is a reminder although aging is inevitable, how you manage it is entirely up to you. Chewie's approach is very simple - take one step at a time, get enough sleep, don't eat too much, go for as many long walks as possible, and ignore the things in life that really irritate you. A simple plan all of us should probably learn from.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Growing Into a New Career

Growth is something everyone needs from time to time. Some folks embrace growth and the change it brings; others fear the change and avoid growth, refusing to take the risk or challenge their fear of failure.

Taking on a new career has brought growth to my doorstep. I am learning new skills and discovering interesting things about myself, particularly what my strengths are and what my potential could be - as well as what could be road blocks to success.

I actually haven't "felt" this good in years. I almost feel as though somewhere after college I got off track and never really got back on - although most folks thought I was doing just fine - I personally never felt that way.

There are times when I am scared. Being scared of failure is an obvious thing; however, have you ever contemplated the fear of success?

Sounds silly - I know. Isn't success in a new career or hobby or project what everyone is striving for? But what if success changes your values, your priorities, your dreams and goals - will you like the person you become?

I look back at the last 5 years of my life and I recognize I've done some amazing things within my realm. I met and married a wonderful man, received several awards for my community work, pursued a life-long dream of working for a nonprofit and then finding the courage to change course and work for myself. Throw in raising the puppy from the depths of purgatory and I probably accomplished a lot.

As I'm off on this new adventure, I do stop and wonder at times who will I become, as I am changing - I can feel it and its impacting how I live. Some folks would tell me not to worry about it and let it happen; others understand my fears and recognize I'm growing into not only a new career but my own skin - something I should have done years ago.

I am thankful for the support my husband, my family, and my friends have given me, and I hope regardless of the outcome of my career change - I get to know myself a little better, so I can make better decisions in the future as I move on to the next stage of my life. No matter what happens - I am thankful to have the opportunity to grow.