January 16, 2017
Last Fall, I knew that I wanted to get a dog, eventually. Of course it wasn’t time yet. I was all-in at work, with projects and people depending on me more than ever before. I was halfway through my Masters degree with thesis approaching. The holidays were coming up which meant obligations and travel that would just be complicated with a puppy in the mix. No, last Fall was definitely not the time to get a dog…but one Facebook picture had “eventually” looking like it was going to be a lot sooner.
When a friend associated with STAT foster agency posted some pictures of a litter of puppies just born to a rescued pit/bulldog mix mama one picture stopped my scrolling in its tracks. I started thinking about my life and how self-focused and task-oriented it had become. At the same time I had become unregulated, unhealthy, and scraping by on emotional threads from the constant wake-work-study-work-sleep routine. Could having a pet actually be a good thing? Could caring for a puppy help to put another’s needs ahead of my own and get me in a better routine and healthier life?
A week after meeting my dear, sweet Austen, I found out it was true.
Not only did Austen add structure and consideration to my days, she also filled some spaces in my heart. We got into a routine in the mornings that started with cuddling (tile floors are cold to puppy paws), bathroom, and breakfast – which meant I wasn’t rushing out the door to work anymore but taking time to eat, pray, and ease into my day. Lunches were salads at home and a walk with Austen instead of paying for fried chicken and crinkle fries with coworkers. The cuddles paid off for both of us more than I realized. One morning I woke up a little late and had to rush through our routine a bit. After a minute I noticed Austen was still in her crate with the door wide open, apparently waiting for me to come sit so we could have our cuddle time. The second I sat down on the floor she hopped into my lap and put her head on my shoulder. Have to admit I teared up a bit as I realized the lesson Austen was teaching me about life in general. We may get busy, but cuddles come first. Love comes first. Work is important, but love comes first. Health is essential, but love comes first. When life gets crazy, love first. Thanks to fostering and adopting through STAT and having Austen in my life, I have learned to love first, and that’s our Happy Tail.
– Chrissy Watson