Lessons from a Puppy

Being in the work world, no matter what your profession, can be challenging and sometimes discouraging. It can be a roller coaster. Some days you are on top of the world and other days the naysayers and the negative energy gets to you. Some days I leave the office and I am dragging my tail.

After one particularly bad day I came to be reminded that I had to go to the humane society with my 11-year-old daughter. She had decided about a month before that she wanted to be a volunteer and my husband and I were quite pleased that she took the doginitiative and wanted to help out. Of course, after we praised her up and down and after much back slapping she informed us that because she was under 12, she needed a parent with her, each and every time she volunteered. Because of the initial fuss we had made about her wonderful decision to help out, we couldn’t gracefully decline going along without looking bad. Now, I grew up on a farm and I love animals, but my husband never had pets until he met me. So guess who was going to be the parent volunteer.

When I got home after my bad, bad day, I was reminded that tonight was our first night to be volunteers. My silent thoughts raced quickly. Could I lie and tell her we got a call and they are closed? Could I just say I’m too tired? Could I fake illness? None were options without teaching her the wrong lessons and she looked so excited about her first night. I said “O.K.” with as much enthusiasm as I could muster and we were off.

In the beginning we were doing pretty much what we expected. Walking unruly, untrained but sweet dogs who needed some love and a home. My daughter and I talked and laughed as the dogs would become tangled around our legs, and the larger ones would practically pull her around the outdoor path provided for exercise. After a while we were asked if we could bathe a puppy who wasn’t being adopted as quickly as they normally are, because it seems he was quite dirty and smelly. We went to get him and his condition was not exaggerated. He was dark brown with downy long hair. He had the face of a Collie with a long nose and beautiful eyes, but his fur was actually sticky and he stunk like urine. He had been abandoned but if we could get him cleaned up he would surely be adopted because he was the sweetest thing. My daughter and I went to work.

We were shown to the small bathing area in the back. It was only large enough for the raised dog washing station, a sink, my daughter and me. With the door closed, we had little room to maneuver. We lifted the big puppy into the sink and tried to reassure him that this was not going to be something bad, but of course he was shaking like a leaf. We carefully made sure the water was warm but the sprayer was still on the strong side which was scaring the puppy. As we were moving around and spraying down the puppy, we unknowingly knocked over a large bottle of shampoo. The puppy was trying to escape and we were trying to spray him down and shampoo him. We were becoming soaked ourselves in this Laurel and Hardy attempt to wash this puppy. All of the sudden we realized the gallon size shampoo had spilled on the tile floor. Since my hands were busy, my daughter Sara grabbed the bottle and I tried to find the cover. While watching her do this, I wasn’t watching where I was spraying because I was still holding the squirmy puppy and I realized I was spraying water on the ceiling. I grabbed it quickly, but now the water was dripping down onto the shampoo loaded floor and it was becoming very slippery for Sara and me to move around. Just as we were in full chaos, dog2there was a knock at the door from the executive supervisor who said “Is everything okay?” We both busted out laughing. We looked like a bad Lucille Ball episode. Our hair was dripping and our clothes and shoes were wet and slimy with soap and water, but the puppy looked great. We dried him off and fluffed his hair. He was as cute as a bunny and was adopted the very next day.

I would go crazy but for my family. They really do bring you back to earth and help you to remember what’s really special and important, and what needs to be left at the office. Family and humor cannot be overrated. We need both to overcome those things that bring us down and to make our lives fun.

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