Friday, May 28, 2010

Old Lessons Re-learned from a Puppy

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Some old lessons are repeated throughout our lives. I marvel that I continue learning the old ones over and over and again. Almost never new lessons—merely new variations on the same old truths. I suppose it makes sense that after one reaches a certain age this is the case. You have learned the essential rules by which life works. You just keep hoping to get a different result and maybe skirt the rules every so often.

One rule I see popping up repeatedly in my life is often stated in this homely way: “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” Great wisdom is often wrapped in such simple old aphorisms, isn’t it? Everything that we desire has a price and life is about making our way through thousands of choices each day. A great percentage of those choices come down to what price we are willing to pay for the comfort, joy, or whatever that we desire.

No question those choices and trade-offs apply to individuals, groups, even nations. On a daily basis, we decide, as individuals or groups, what we want and the price we are willing to pay. We get one thing and give up another. Sometimes it seems like a lose-lose proposition, but we make the choices anyway and blindly hope it will all work out for the best. Worst of all, we frequently ignore the old lesson and embrace a choice without considering the consequences. We simply grab what we want, then recoil in astonishment when the bill comes due. Sometimes we even rail and rant that the price isn’t fair. Most often the price is a shock simply because we made our choice without investigating the cost. We expected “a free lunch”.

Adding a puppy to our house is a small and, in the big picture, inconsequential example of this old truism. We wanted, no, “craved” the love, companionship, joy, and just plain fun of having a dog again. We especially wanted to get a puppy, since The Husband and I have never raised a puppy together. The two dogs that we acquired after we joined our lives were rescues. They couldn’t have been better companions and lived long healthy lives making immeasurable contributions to our home. When the time came to get another dog, we assessed the cost of taking on a puppy and made our choice. A puppy it would be.

With a choice such as this one, there is no delayed first payment. No, “Pay the first installment next year, interest free for six months.” No, the bills begin arriving the day the puppy arrives and these aren’t bills that you can stall on. Payment is simply extracted. No questions asked, no excuses accepted, no exceptions made.

My aching back is one of the prices I am paying and certainly the one that has the most impact. All the bending that is involved in having a 10 week old puppy, is putting a major kink in my bad-to-begin-with back. Today, I am “limping” along on Tylenol and Stop Pain—my pain killers of choice.

On the other hand, love is a remarkable balm that soothes all wounds. Not for a moment would I trade the joy of this fur-ball of mystery and energy for less back pain. I just accomplish even less than usual these days. Certainly, “There is no free lunch” in this case, but I am mighty glad we made the choice. Our lives are richer, and I suspect that there are many familiar life-lessons we will re-learn thanks to a certain Shetland Sheepdog who now owns our hearts.