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Fritter Away

Fritter Away

Fritter Away

When we finally sit down at night, leaving a list of to-dos untouched because we’re just too exhausted, how often do we pick up our phones? Or think about cleaning one more crevice? Or, get up to make tomorrow morning easier by prepping a meal?

Why don’t we make our precious, few down moments precisely that? We all need to recharge. And, if sleep is the only time we rejuvenate, we’re not our best selves (for us or anyone we love or interact with). 

I’ve conscientiously taken a break from home-alone training with Mabel—partly because Sasha (Mabel’s pet sitter) was out of town for a week and somewhat because I’m going to Asheville at the end of the month (if you’re also heading to the IAABC conference, please stop by and say hi). 

But, mostly, I just wanted to enjoy time with Mabel. My sweet girl needed twice daily eye drops before we’d had a chance to do any cooperative care training. It took me far too long to find the right walking paths for Mabel to be a dog and exert energy. And, the drastic schedule changes of Mabel going to rough and rowdy daycare, then getting every virus, parasite, and infection going around, and being stuck at home with me was overwhelming for me. I can’t imagine what the uncertainty was like for Mabel.

So, for now, we play fun, easy games during training time. Walks are for sniffing and exploring. Mabel recently discovered the joy of gyrating and grumbling in freshly cut grass, which makes me laugh. I much prefer wiping slivers of sod off her fur to cleaning Mabel after she rolled in poop or vomit. Lately, when I’m done working and doing chores, I choose quiet time with my dog. 

And, without me trying or toiling, something magical happened. Mabel now chooses to walk upstairs to her room, where I want her to relax (again) when I’m not home and sleep all by herself. My sweet girl stays asleep, even if I grab a snack from the kitchen. And, when I quietly check on her, she’s snoring, farting, and blowfish breathing so loudly that I have to tip-toe away to chuckle.

I still don’t believe Mabel has separation anxiety. I think she was struggling with being home alone because our schedule was constantly changing due to illness after illness (minor, thankfully), and we’d yet to find a day-to-day rhythm that worked for us both.

I now often look at Mabel and think, “My sweet girl loves her life.” Yet, even two months ago, I didn’t have space to let her run, romp, and zoom. I worried Mabel would never feel confident and comfortable enough in our home to love being home alone. I knew Mabel knew she was loved and trusted me, but she needed more time to settle in. The other day, a person at the park said, “That’s one happy dog,” I was elated.

So, let’s not judge ourselves for taking time off from training our dogs—pauses are vital to progress. Let’s speak kindly to our hearts when our bodies are tired and need to rest. And let’s prioritize unproductive time, especially if it brings us and our dog(s) joy.
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