Wednesday, June 13, 2012

For Me

My son came home recently and was surprised to find a new puppy.  "Who's puppy," he asked?  "Mine," I answered.  "Yours." he questioned.  You see I am not as fond of 4 legged creatures as he and his dad are.  In fact, I am always kind of neutral to them.

I decided I wanted a puppy last winter.  I wanted a sweet cuddly puppy that would grow up to love me.  How desperate does that make me sound?

I got my husband a kitten when he first got sick.  That cat hates everyone but him.  She curls up on his lap.and snuggles in at bedtime.  When he has bad spells, the cat seems to sense it and stays close to him.

I know how much time, effort and money a puppy costs.  I am a caregiver to a husband with Alzheimer's Disease.  I don't have time to care for anything else or so it seemed, but I needed someone/thing to care back.  Don't get me wrong.  I have a great support system: family members, a best friend from forever, church family, ect. but I wanted/needed just a little bit more.  When everyone else goes home to a loving family, I am sometimes lonely.  I'm not sure I should say that, because it might be misunderstood.  My husband was and most of the time still is kind and caring.  He still tries to remember to put the coffee on for me before we go to bed so it is ready for me in the mornings.  But Alzheimer's is not a kind and caring disease.  It takes so much of our loved ones that sometimes there is not much leftover.

My puppy is eating my house up, but I got her some chew bones so hopefully she will stop.  We put our shoes up so she won't eat them up anymore.  The dirty clothes basket can not sit on the floor any more or our clothes are chewed up.  Even though she is a handful, I am so glad I have her.  I chat to her in the mornings and tell her what my plans are for the day.  In the evenings, she curls up and I tell her the events of the day.  Due to his disease, my husband has difficulty following simple conversations, so we keep verbal conversations simple and to the point.

Being a caregiver is a demanding job.  The ongoing grief of loosing my husband piece by piece is very difficult to handle.  I do not want to think of myself as a victim because I am not.  So much care is needed and will continue to be needed as the disease progresses and he will be unable to take care of him self at all.  Neither my husband or I would have chosen this path, but we are on it now.  

I think having a puppy helps me deal with my new reality.    A puppy helps to keep things light and easy going.  She doesn't add to my stress, she helps me deal with the stress.  Yes, I have added to my workload, but so do my favorite pastimes of gardening and quilting.  Just as I get something good from the them, I get something positive and rewarding out of caring for the puppy.  I think that this positive and rewarding experience brings a positive outlook to my care giving.

So the surprising answer was, "That is MY puppy."  I take care of her.  I pay for all of her needs, but I get so much more.  She brings a lot of joy to this house and to me.  And I got her - for ME.  


  1. Debbie,

    Congratulations on the new family member. As a dog person who has been 'dog-less' since my last long-time canine companion went on ahead in 1996, I can certainly understand your joy with a new puppy.

    We have two cats in our house and one or the other of them always seems to be near. They don't appear to have chosen favorites between my husband and I, but they definitely give (and demand) different things from each of us.

    And you are right. Companion animals provide so much more than companionship for those hours when the only other conversational partners are the house plants. Don't get me wrong, I get a lot of enjoyment out of the plants, but they just aren't all that responsive, laughing out loud.

  2. Family member is right. Sophie is my baby. Since Jim has been sick and in ICU, I wasn't able to get home enough to take care of her. She is vacationing at Suzi's. She is able to play with her Tanner. I really miss Sophie when I go home, but I know she is enjoying her stay over and play date with Tanner. Thanks, Debbie