Guest Blogger: Claudia Hufham – Claudiareinvented
When I was growing up, we had a dog that was the smartest, cutest thing ever. His name was Winkie and my parents brought him home to us when I was five. He was an adorable Heinz 57 mutt that was all white with one black eye and ear. He would chase a tennis ball anywhere and would often be seen pacing back and forth outside the fence at the neighborhood tennis court waiting for my Dad to finish playing. There were even times he would sneak onto the court in the middle of one of Dad’s games, just to chase the ball. My parents had to put Winkie to sleep when I was 21 years old. He had just worn out. My heart was broken. We had lost a member of our family and I vowed to never feel that way about an animal again.
Never Say Never
I kept that promise to myself for 38 years! After moving into the house where I grew up, and remodeled it, I began to entertain―with the urging of my kids―the idea of adopting a rescue dog. I was enjoying not having anyone or anything to care for for the first time in almost 30 years! I didn’t hate being able to come and go; leave for a weekend and not have to worry about anything. But at the same time, having a dog there when I got home, wagging tail and all, sounded kind of nice. The pros and cons were swirling in my head.
Then one day a friend of mine, Carlie, who knew I was considering getting a dog and was herself a vet tech, sent me a picture of dog saying, “I think I found your dog.”
Love At First Sight
That face melted my heart. He was a stray and she had found him the night before on her way home from work wandering the streets. He had jumped right up into her car without hesitation. She told me that she would check him for heartworms and a chip, but if all was well, and if I wanted him, he was mine. A few days later, my son and I arranged to meet this skinny, uncared-for dog.
We needed to make sure he liked us and we liked him and he was cool with my son’s dog, Bear. I was happy and apprehensive at the same time. A dog is a big responsibility. Did I really want to do this? We met at a local park and to tell you the truth; the dog wasn’t very interested in me, my son, or Bear the dog. He just wanted to sniff every blade of grass. He was just happy to be there. For me, well, I fell in love at first sight.
After learning about the dog and before I’d said “yes,” I would catch myself wondering what it would be like to have a dog. I’d have to get up and let him out and feed him, even on Saturday and Sunday. But how nice it would be to come home to a wagging tail and someone that was always glad to see me. I would have to walk him because the backyard wasn’t fenced in, but hey, I needed some exercise. I would have to spend money on dog food, toys, treats and vet bills. After meeting him, all my concerns faded into the background and I couldn’t wait to get him home.
Rokko, needless to say, has added so much to my life. When I lost my job and I came home upset, he didn’t leave my lap. He knew something was not right and he wanted to make everything better. When we went to bed that night he was right up against me all night. So who was taking care of whom? How is it that he knows how to make me feel better without even saying a word?
I’ve realized that there is a lot I can learn from this K-9 best friend.
Don’t Worry, Be Happy
He is up for anything! Whether it’s laying around on the couch watching movies, playing antler ring toss, or going to Starbucks for a pupachino. He is happy just to be with me! Or maybe just to be! Oh what a great feeling this must be. To just be happy… period.
I often wonder what his past was like. Did he appreciate laying around on the couch or under the covers in the bed because of what his life used to be like? My feeling is that he has forgotten the past. He lives in the here and now and is happy.
Every Day is a New Day
My new alarm clock – nowadays my alarm doesn’t need to go off because Rokko is ready to get up and move before the rooster crows. It usually starts by him moving around under the covers, moving the covers with his nose until his head is out. Then he almost patiently waits for me to stir. If I show even half a sign of starting to wake, he is up and laying on top of me. If that doesn’t work, he roots his nose under my neck and lifts me up off the bed. Ok, ok I’m up! Once he knows I am up and out of the bed, he leaps down and runs down the hall, knowing that I am going to let him out, and better yet, FEED him! Every meal―even though it’s the same thing every time―is the best thing ever!
Love is Unconditional
Having the love of a dog is one of the most precious things in life. He loves me for who I am and doesn’t care if the house is dirty, the bed is unmade, or I don’t have on makeup and my hair is a mess. He is always happy to see me when we wake up in the morning or even if I come back in from taking the garbage out! It’s as if I have been gone forever and he is just as happy to see me as if I had been. When I walk in and he runs in circles, tail wagging, and is just beside himself that I am home; well, that can turn a bad day into a good one instantly.
Take Time to Play
Often after coming home from work and I let the dog out, he is standing at the sliding glass door with a stick or a ball, tail wagging, and this look in his eyes that is hard to resist. He just wants to play. I think of all the things I have to do, but then suddenly none of them seem important. I step outside and I throw the ball or stick and he is in absolute euphoria and the things that I thought I had to do suddenly don’t seem as important.
Forgive and Forget
When Rokko does something he’s not supposed to, which isn’t very often, scolding him is heartbreaking! The hanging of the head and sad eyes. He has it mastered! He usually curls up on the couch, or his bed, and sulks for a while; but soon he is up, in my face licking me like nothing ever happened.
Persistence Pays Off
Often when I am sitting at my computer typing away, Rokko comes in and roots his nose up under my arm. If I don’t pay attention, he does it again and again until I stop and talk to him, pet him and realize that he needs something from me. Sometimes he needs to go out, sometimes it’s just my attention he is craving. Either way, I am happy to stop what I am doing and love on him. That’s way better than what I was doing anyway.
When someone walks past our house and Rokko can see them out the window, he lets them know with his very loud―and sometimes scary―bark that the best thing for them is to just keep on walking! He is the protector and wards off all evil. I know with every fiber of my being that he would protect me from anything and everything.
Protect the Ones You Love
He will stand guard, running from window to window to door, making sure that the people (especially the mailman, enemy numero uno), or other dogs keep on walking down the street. He is also good at letting me know a leaf is moving, or a rabbit has invaded the territory. All making me feel very secure. That’s his job!
Sniff Out the Possibilities
When Carlie first found Rokko, she named him Nosey. He is a sniffer! It’s the way he gets around in this world. Watching him with a new person or dog is so funny to me, he sniffs them, checks them out, and always tail wagging and ears back, is happy to have a new friend. Now I am not saying that I sniff people, but I take from his enthusiasm for new things, to appreciate the opportunity to meet someone or do something different. Instead of dreading the unknown, I’ve learned to be excited to have the experience.
Take Time to Snuggle
We have a routine when I get home. I let him out, go get the mail, let him back in, feed him and then I sit down on the couch and all 65 lbs. of dog sits on my lap. He buries his nose in my chest and I kiss his head. We sit like that for a few minutes, just me and him. Rokko time.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
What didn’t cross my mind was that he had mostly white hair and my wardrobe is 98% black. Not a good combination. Now my house is where dog hair is not only a fashion accessory, but also a condiment. How is he not bald?? I have accepted the fact that in all my clothes, no matter if I’ve lint rolled them, or they just came out of the wash, are going to have dog hair embedded in them. It’s ok. No one cares. I live my life as if nothing is a miracle and Rokko lives his life as if everything is a miracle
Don’t Live in the Past
Every day is a new day. Never does Rokko wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Each morning, he is happy to see me, to get fed, be let out, and sit on my lap. He never hangs onto what happened yesterday or even worries about tomorrow. He lives in the moment.
It’s All Worth It
The love of my dog, Rokko, is worth every dog hair, muddy paw print, under my feet stumble, being woken up early, and every dollar spent. I have no doubt that he has made me a better person. They say to dance like nobody’s watching, but Rokko and I are going to live like someone left the gate open! I often wonder, who rescued whom?
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About the Author
Claudia Hufham is a blogger, mom to two grown kids and a Boxer/American Bulldog, who found herself looking for a new career at age 59. In her quest to reinvent herself and save her sanity, she started a blog. Her humor and down to earth story telling of her life lessons have led her to be featured on sites like Feedspot.com. You can read more from Claudia at Claudiareinvented. You can follow Claudia on her Instagram and FaceBook Page as well.
Claudiareinvented is featured on Feedspot as one of the Top 10 Women Over 50 Blogs