Belle is my puppy and I am 71 years old. Some said, “You are too old to get another dog.” Others suggested, “ Get another rescue dog. They are usually older and easier to handle.” My brother Bill’s counsel was the one I needed to hear. He said, “You will never realize the benefits of another dachshund until you have one.”
2 years ago my beloved dog, Ashley, died. The time since then has been spent grieving the loss of her. She was my constant companion on my lap and by my side and I have missed her. Just thinking about Ashley brings tears to my eyes. As I grieved my loss faith opened my heart for another puppy. My desire felt risky and I began spending much of my time trying to talk myself out of getting another sweet dachshund.
I slipped into the rut of denying myself the desire of my heart for a puppy through negative self-talk concerning the disadvantages of getting another dog. My self-talk turned into contempt against my age and my heart’s desire. I was completely depriving myself of cherishing the goodness of “something” to care for and to birth something new during this time of my life. My heart longed for more life than I was living. There was simply too much space creeping into my life as a woman alive with desire to age gracefully and love largely.
So I asked myself a question, “What if I shifted this up a bit?”
A smile lights up my face as I recall Bill’s words because he was right: I’ve discovered the benefit of Belle. And shift it up, I did with John. Belle arrived at our home weighing in at 5lbs. 9oz. and 9 weeks old. She is exactly what John and I need to add some bounce back into our life. Belle gets us up off our chairs and out of bed, she demands walking and feeding but mostly she requires lots of love. I’ve discovered I am not short of giving her just that as Belle’s presence has reignited my heart’s capacity to love and nurture the life she brings.
Recently I was recalling a time when Ashley was still with me. She and Regan (the dachshund who favors John) were outside doing their business. A 5 year-old girl who was visiting us was observing my interaction with my dogs. I was praising Ashley and Regan using words like “so good, you are the best doggies, so sweet, my favorites, I love you…” This little girl looked me in the eye and said, “I wish someone would talk to me like that.” I was saddened by her words. I wondered what words she was hearing regularly about herself that caused my words to resonate so deeply within her? I don’t have the answer to that question. It was enough that she voiced them, and I could take note of the kindness I wanted to shower her with while she remained with us.
Belle has brought those words back into my heart as I’ve found myself repeating them over and over to her. My dog trainer said that I cannot praise my puppy enough and that I need to speak words of praise to her consistently. How true this is…not just for Belle but also for the children, including my grandchildren, who cross my path. Belle has reminded me that I need to savor those words for myself as the little girl within me still longs for the approval and love of others.
I love Belle for the sweetness and goodness she has brought back into my 71 year-old heart. She is the dachie on my lap and follows me everywhere. John and I laugh daily at her antics as well as our own as we strive to be a couple with a new goal: To out live the Belle!
Mary Jane Hamilton loves her life living on Lake Michigan with her husband of 48+ years. It is her family that brings her the greatest joy especially her 6 grandchildren. MJ readily admits that she adores her dachshunds and rests in the comfort they provide. She smiles at life and “rolls with the punches”. MJ loves Jesus and beauty, MJ loves wind, waves and thunder, MJ loves fashion and good wine, MJ loves…&n