“Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.”
― Truman Capote
“If I only knew then, what I know now…” I had a wonderful conversation with a neighbour the other day about being a pet parent that has ruminated with me over the past week. We were discussing what it was like to have pets when we were a young adult starting out versus the people we have evolved into after a long road of various furry friends who come in and out of our lives. I can remember what our dogs life looked like when I was a small child, and when I think about it, I feel sad. We had a run at the side of the house, it was a dirt patch, surrounded by a chain link fence under the pine trees that was about four feet wide by fourteen feet long, not much of place to recreate in. Exercise for our pets looked rather bleak, we would open up the door letting our dog out to run up and down and do it’s business and when the barking became incessant and annoying, we would yell at him to come in. That was what an outing consisted of for our pooches, heart breaking when I think of it now. When I was in my last year of high school my parents bought me a Sheltie, she was to be my responsibility. I can remember trying to take her for walks, she went from being afraid to leave the yard to pulling so hard on the choke chain that she would gag herself. It wasn’t a pleasant experience, so she was subjected to the same treatment as the other four legged friends who came before her, I’d open that side door and let her out into the run, where should would become anxious and drive the nearby residents nuts. It wasn’t until I started dating a young man that liked to hike that life began to change for my dear girl…we started going for long treks in the woods…and she loved it! I will admit, we didn’t explore the neighbourhood, but on the weekend we would drive out to some lovely trail and let her walk along with us and we watched her transform into a much happier and calm dog. When she passed, I realized with the next dog that walks weren’t something that should only occur on the weekends, every morning I would put on the leash and we would go for a stroll to help her burn off some energy and we would repeat that same experience in the afternoon. By the time we took in a second dog, our walks went from fifteen minutes to a half hour, which extended to an hour on a good day! Hind sight is 20/20! I look back at the food I would feed my pets, the vets we chose, the list goes on and on, and I wish I could have a chat with that person . If only I had a time machine, I would go back and inform that person the err of her ways! Instead of regret though, I am grateful for the life lessons and what each furry friend helped me learn! I do think of Noel and Sargie and that wretched poop filled pen that I would bemoan about cleaning and wish that I wasn’t such an ass about making it a nice place for them to do their business, that I didn’t see it was an honour to have those two beautiful souls to love and care for! I no longer see poop scooping as an annoyance, I scout the back yard for land mines without frustration and I feel blessed that I have a four legged friend to share my abode with! I walk realizing how lucky I am to have a companion! When it’s time to go to the vet I realize that although budgets are important and living within my means is an intelligent practice, I also understand what regret and remorse feel like and how lonely life can be without a best friend in it, and I don’t worry about the dollar amount. It’s easy to know the right thing to do after something has happened, but none of us have a crystal ball. What we need to do is turn our remorse into wisdom, because once we are enlightened, we won’t return to darkness! Experience is what you get when you realize the outcome wasn’t as good as you might have hoped for. Maturity is often the most valuable thing you have to offer, so I know with each furry friend I share my life with, their experience and mine will become richer and richer!