I got together with a friend for a cup of coffee last week, and she mentioned while we were doing the schedule juggle that time off with a puppy is basically like maternity leave. It kind of is. It certainly hasn’t been vacation, and there have been far more bodily fluids involved than I ever imagined, but Gibson’s been with us for sixty-three days, and I don’t really remember what life was like before she arrived. I am one of those people, posting puppy pictures on my Facebook, making new friends who I know only as “Parka’s Mom” or “Luna’s Dad,” doting over her maladies and behavioral quirks, chatting about poop casually with other dog parents, and frequenting the pet supply store to restock her favorite bones and toys — the toys which typically keep her insanely strong little jaws busy for all of about two and a half minutes per $10 spent.
And we’ve had our moments. But we’ve also had moments like the one a few minutes ago, where she toddled into the office to lean against my leg for a second after she woke up from a nap on the sofa, testing out her new-found daytime relative freedom. I followed her out to the living room and sat down on the floor with her — my pitch could wait — and we traded a snuggle. Her ears pasted back against her head, her whole body in a wag, as if to say “thank you.” She’s a total handful. And I wouldn’t trade her for anything.
So today, as I plan future projects, and know that I won’t always get to spend every day here, moving according to our rhythms, and receiving snuggles whenever I (or she) pleases, I’m letting myself feel so incredibly grateful for the two months I’ve been able to spend in between full time projects… two months of play dates, and walks, and classes, and vet visits, and trips, and socialization efforts, that are helping our little street dog grow into a really delightful little young lady. Maybe even, someday, a canine good citizen, if we keep up the hard work.
Soon, this blog is likely to drift back to conversations about balancing work and life, since there’s new work and some more changes on the horizon. But for now, I’m just really grateful that the universe conspired to give me this time. Today. Where, for the first time, Gibson’s laying on the dog bed in my home office, whining occasionally because she’d rather be elsewhere, but then self-soothing. I hope, someday, that she can be an office dog… and a moment like this one stokes that hope. So if you’ll excuse me, there’s a little time left on the egg timer of my pawternity leave, and I’m going to go savor it.