I am the last person you would ever think would get a dog. My parents still tell the story about how, as a child, I let the neighbor’s dog out while we were watching it and it ran away. I am not sure what it is, but dogs just never clicked with me. Yes, I thought they were cute and loved meeting my sister’s or a friend’s new addition but never walked away wanting one of my own. Then, I had kids and my daughter, in particular, talked constantly about wanting a dog. I brushed her off and told her she could get one when she goes to college. We had the same discussion every single morning as she would pet all the neighbors’ dogs on our street while waiting for the school bus.
Then COVID-19 hit. Immediately I lost my mind. Like seriously…I lost my mind. The impact of the pandemic on my business was overwhelming, and having my kids home all day and not being able to give them the attention they needed left me feeling tremendous guilt. I also looked into the future of the coming weeks and months, including the insane possibility that the kids may not be able to go to overnight summer camp, something they seriously live and die for. Oh, and my daughter’s birthday was coming up shortly, which she had been planning for months. Of course, those plans were now out the window and she was feeling depressed.
So something just snapped in me when my daughter started talking about getting a dog the first few days of the lockdown. Something told me NOW was the time to get a dog. If not now, then when? Our whole family is home and can devote all of this extra time to training and caring for a dog. It seemed the puppy pandemic craze was taking over the country and we, too, were swept up in it!
I started doing some initial research with my kids (my son was on board, too, of course). We researched which dog would be right for our family and talked about all the different options during family walks. We soon landed on a Cavapoo and I joined an online chat room about them. The next thing you know, a friend of a friend that lives nearby reached out and said they were driving to Ohio to pick up a Cavapoo puppy and there was one or two left in the litter that hadn’t been claimed. They would be happy to bring another puppy back with them for us. I called the breeder and she said they were unfortunately all taken. But then . . . she called back an hour later and said one was now available and we had to decide then and there. Spontaneously, I said, “YES, we will take him!” We now have the most adorable fluffy white and brown Cavapoo puppy as part of our family.
Within 24 hours of having this puppy, my entire outlook on dogs has changed, as has my world. I know this sounds absurd, but it felt really similar to bringing home my two babies from the hospital. Now that we have had our “Zoomie” (named after the Zoom call phenomenon of this pandemic AND the fact that he has these crazy ‘zoomies’ all the time!) for two weeks, I can tell you all the ways this puppy has been a life saver for my family, business and my own mental health:
1) Joy, Love & Happiness – Most importantly, this puppy has brought so much positivity to our household during such an awful time. Anytime I feel sad or upset, I grab him and instantly melt and become more at ease. Seriously! I love seeing how happy my kids are with him and how much love they already have for him.
2) Waking Up – Yes, I know it sucks to have to wake up at 6:30 a.m. with a puppy every morning, but I honestly feel good about having a reason to get up and out of bed during a time like this. As a business owner, having my alone time after I get the puppy up allows me time alone in my office to work and do some great stuff without the distractions of everyone else in the house. Also, he puts me in a peaceful mood as he sits on my lap chilling out while I am working away on my laptop. Around 9 a.m., I take him up to the kids’ rooms who are dead asleep and just let him give them kisses and tell them they have to get up to take him out. It has been a great way to get them out of bed when they really don’t need to.
3) Creativity – I am so used to just doing, doing, doing. This puppy has forced me to take a break every hour to take him out to potty and get outside into the fresh air. In these breaks, my mind has been able to recharge and think outside the box. I finally came up with a pivot idea for my business which has brought me more excitement and energy than I have felt in a long time!
4) Patience – I have had to learn to take a breath and come to terms with the fact that I don’t have control over everything. Zoomie may want to sniff around outside for five minutes and I need to just take a breath and let him lead me. I can’t force him. This patience is something I need to incorporate on a bigger scale with my business as we wait and see what happens with the world, so Zoomie is helping me take these baby steps.
5) New Perspective – Enjoying having this puppy so much and now understanding all of the wonderful aspects of having a pet has made me realize that I have only been seeing things from one perspective all of this time. It has opened me up to the realization that right now in the country people are seeing things from totally different perspectives as well. As a business owner, I need to understand and respect other perspectives and be ready for a business concept that will work for everyone.
6) Learning (Means New Business Prospects!) – Having a dog has forced me to learn so many new things about being a pet owner and the industry as a whole. I now realize how much opportunity I have missed out on over the past decade by not doing more pet-focused promotions, as there is so much opportunity in this space!
7) Leadership – With the puppy being a living thing, the responsibility we have to take care of him is totally different from our other daily responsibilities. My kids can’t blow me off or negotiate their way out of taking the puppy out or feeding him like they can with other things like cleaning their rooms or taking out the trash. And I have had to trust them to take care of him and not jump in and do it for them so they realize it’s not something they can just blow off. This is the same with my employees. When it comes to the business struggling or persevering, I have realized I need to trust my employees to appreciate the importance and urgency of the situation and step up.
8) Routine – Having a routine has always been very important to me and something we were losing under this pandemic. Now that we have Zoomie, we have to have a routine. Having the routine is very important for work because it allows me to truly keep a schedule and make sure I am as productive as I can be which also helps with my schedule for keeping the kids on track with their work, cleaning the house, and cooking three meals a day!
Will I have a different perspective on all of this a year from now? I am sure I will. I might think I was nuts for making such a huge long-term decision during a relatively short-term crisis. For example, when we are back to school and running around on the weekends with school and birthday parties, and my husband is back in the office and I am the one left doing everything for Zoomie, will I have regrets or resentment? I actually don’t think so. In just two weeks, we have fallen in love with this puppy and he has been such therapy for our family. There is no way we will second guess the decision given the positive impact he has had on all our lives!