Joel & MiniThis past weekend, amidst all of the restoring of websites from our recent hacking experience, we had a little visitor. Joel and I have been wondering if we should get a dog for almost a year now. It’s been a big dilemma – now that we both work at home, have a nice dog-friendly, fenced-in yard and have simpler lives, we have time to care for a dog, right? And who wouldn’t want to see the unconditional love and unabashed excitement that only a dog seems to possess?

Doggone Dilemma
So for about a year, we’ve been making lists of pros and cons. On our list of pros were things like, having a dog to love and play with, going for walks with the dog – and even a sense of finally settling into our simple life – previously so fast-paced. On the list of cons? You probably guessed this, since I know how smart our readers are about this stuff. The work. The dependency, which would require us to take care of the needs of an animal before our own. Yeah, yeah, I know – looks a bit selfish right? Actually, if you think about it, I spent years in corporate, putting the company’s needs before my own. Remember, I was a workaholic, right? So for the care and feeding of my employer, I lacked sleep, sacrificed weekends and personal time, never had many hobbies, etc. So being a little selfish is actually quite good for me right now, but we coaches like to call it “self-care” – because everyone needs it, but no one thinks they “should” for fear of looking selfish. Funny how our minds work, huh?

So you can see that this selfish thing really played into the dilemma – couldn’t we open up our lives to care for a dog? (I’m not even going there with the parenting thing – all parents deserve heaps of gold medals, massages and vacations, in my opinion!) The answer was, we were willing to experiment and give it a try.

Yes, Saba Has An SPCA
In the way of life’s coincidences, we happened upon Suzan, who started the SPCA in Saba (more on that in another post), walking two rescue dogs. Both were small and cute, housebroken and around 7 months. Both had pretty good manners, even before obedience training – which, by the way, consists of the Saban dog owners giving you advice on what worked for them. The dog that got our attention is Minuette, or Mini for short. Mini is small, delicate and very cute.

Trial Run
So Mini came home to our cottage for a weekend trial run. We three were very excited. We spent a lot of time with Mini on our laps, getting a lot of attention. We walked Mini, and yes, like good citizens of this island, we brought poop-bags along for quick disposal of the evidence of our jaunt. We met a lot of kids and other dog owners, who wanted to stop and pet Mini – or whose dogs wanted to do the “hello sniff” common in dog world.

Mini stayed near us and was essentially the perfect dog – save a couple of accidents in the house (okay, we would have had to work on the housebroken thing). Luckily, the cleanup was quick and easy – she’s small, it helps.

Uh Oh
The first night, I started to notice signs of allergy. Those of you who know me will not be surprised – or maybe you’re saying, is she allergic to EVERYTHING? Not really, just about 75 foods and now, dogs. I never knew this because I had never owned a dog. Tight, itchy skin, irritated breathing, the whole works. Kind of like sitting for too long in a smoky bar (oh, did I mention I’m kind of allergic to cigarettes?). In my mind, I wanted to believe that I was just being sensitive to the dog smell and I’d get over it. My body felt otherwise.

The next morning, Joel got up first – and I think this was the deciding factor for him. See, Joel really needs his morning cup of coffee. We don’t have one of those fancy, automatic timed coffee makers here. We have a grinder & coffee press – all of which spells manual labor before the holy grail of java can be consumed. Except there was cute little Mini, needing to do her morning business. Before the coffee. Since I had done poop patrol all day on Friday, Joel decided it was his turn this time.

Confessions of A Caffeine Addict
By the middle of the day on Saturday, he admitted that he was not sure he wanted to have the work of a dog. If something as simple and mundane as the foregoing of caffeine to walk the dog seemed hard, what about the rest of it? The weekends away, island hopping vacations, visits back to the US, flea & tick patrol, cleaning muddy feet, etc. How can one wrap their brains around this when an un-caffeinated (decaffeinated?) walk in perfect weather seems so hard?

Needless to say, Joel was thankful that I was allergic. In fact, he’s never been so thankful for these allergies I have. The dilemma was no longer. We didn’t have to talk about this awful, “selfish” part playing into our miserable attempt at dog-ownership, when there are so many parents who would shake their heads at us.

Selfish or Self-Care?
I have to say though, that leaving my workaholic ways somehow feels like being an “empty-nester” – and every empty-nester I talk to says things like “once this cat goes, no more pets!” They are ready to live their golden years in simplicity, proud, but happy that they can focus only on themselves. Did I get it right? Well, at least Pat & Eddie, our Saban neighbors said that to us just last week – with their youngest about to graduate from college in North Carolina. Now I can’t imagine how that feels, but I can say that I feel something like the tremendous relief of a simple life. I don’t think Joel & I, Pat & Eddie or any of the rest of us are selfish when we want to focus on ourselves for awhile. Self-care is hard because we think it’s wrong. And yet, it feels so right. It’s healing. It heals others, just being in the presence of this calm. Everyone deserves to feel this at times in their lives. And if nothing else, it prepares you for plane emergencies, when the flight attendant says, “Place the oxygen mask on yourself, before attempting to help anyone else” – with picture showing the ultimate irony of mother & child.

Mini is a great dog and we know she’ll be adopted soon. If anyone wants to come to Saba for vacation and leave with a really great dog – let us know. We’ll hook you up with Suzan – and maybe even get you a free place to stay or some free dives while you’re here!