This post was going to be all about our new puppy. I wanted to introduce her and explain why a long-time, cat-only person decided to try being a dog person. And I was also going to grouse about some of the puppy drama we've had. But I woke up this morning and I guess what I was writing just felt wrong in the face of even more horrible news. A mass shooting in Las Vegas at a concert. Of course the wretched situation in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands after Hurricane Maria. Texas and Florida recovering from their hurricanes. The earthquake in Mexico. News from Syria that September had the highest civilian casualty toll of the year. Add to that whatever number 45 might have to say - or tweet - about any of it, and things seem bleak.
Not that I'm directly affected by any of it. Because I'm not. I'm sitting pretty in my secluded country home, with my sweet, healthy daughter and our sweet, goofy, slightly annoying new puppy and two annoyed cats. And the most noteworthy thing that has happened to us recently is we've had to live with a puppy bashing about and sulking in a cone for two weeks.
Since Nettie came along, almost all my love and attention has been focused toward her. I felt like I didn't need anything else in my life as long as I had her. Which is full of problems; you don't have to tell me. But most of all, I think, it limited me, narrowed my range of what I could love and care about. Getting a puppy was hard for me. Honestly, what I thought was that I already have mother guilt every way to Sunday, always thinking I should be doing more for Nettie, or doing it better. I haven't even been giving my cats the attention I should be. How could I give a dog the attention it needed?
The answer is that I'm not doing it perfectly. I know little Leonard (figuratively speaking) would spend as much time getting belly rubs as I would dedicate to it. All day. I can't do that. But I found that I do have moments in the day to sit with another living being, besides Nettie, and give them some love and attention. I'm probably not the dog owner that I should be - yet - but I'm working on it.
As I sit here, Leonard is chewing the face off her comfort animal and scratching her cone in the next room. Nettie is having fun at Grandma's house. An old combine is harvesting the corn in the field south of my house. Without any news on, which is how I like it these days, it's easy to get sucked into an alternate reality where having a puppy that doesn't want to eat its lunch and a toddler who doesn't want to eat her lunch ruins your afternoon. That can feel like a big deal to me. Really. I pulled my hair out the first week Leonard had her cone and stitches and sutures. I had stress headaches, couldn't sleep. My family tried to help me, did help me, but I wasn't easy to console.
I guess sometimes I get invested in the idea that my life is hard, and that no one can help me. Maybe it's something that introverts do to keep themselves isolated. Maybe it's a protection mechanism. Or a neurosis. I don't know. But the truth is that today, I don't have anything to complain about. My loved ones are all well. My home is comfortable. I have all I need. So does my daughter and my puppy. Which is more than many, many people around the world can say. I don't know what I or any of us can do about that, except to continue to reach out to one another in the ways that we know how. Through word and song, through painting and cooking and gardening and crocheted blankets and snuggles and belly rubs; however we can give to and love each other, let's all do that.