“But mmmooooommmm! He’s FREE!!!” My children were jumping and shouting and whining and gigging all at once, which can only be caused by one thing — a “free” puppy. While I love dogs, and especially puppies, I’m also realistic enough to know that a “free” puppy really isn’t.
Sure, we might walk away with him, smelling of that irresistible puppy breath and snuggling into the children’s laps for the drive home, but by the end of the day that “free” pup will need food, a collar, a water bowl, treats, and a place to sleep. Later, there will be vet bills, buying new shoes to replace the ones he chewed, and flea and tick preventatives. That dog will end up costing as much as a new set of tires over the course of one year! That’s just money, not time.
We then will have to plan for his care when we go on vacation or are away for more than the typical work day. He will need walks and belly rubs and a safe place to play inside or out. He will become part of our family, have his own Christmas ornament if not his own tree. That dog will infect our hearts even when he’s pooped in the house again. He will be the one my son talks to when he can’t talk to me. My daughter will find comfort in stroking his fur when she feels alone. That furry friend will remind our family of how it feels to receive unconditional love.
As long as he’s fed, he will forgive us for absently stepping on his paw or failing to brush our teeth. Although he is keenly aware when our clothes smell of another, he will simply rub up against us to make us “his” again. He will find his tribe, and he will be loyal. A friend of mine used to say when we were young and single, “I’ll get married when I find someone who loves me as much as my mama or my dog.”
How do pets do that? How do they get into our lives and into our hearts in ways that we wonder, “Why am I out here in the rain in the dark at 4:00 am in the cold holding a leash so that a dog can pee?” or we ponder, “Would I also sleep on the floor with my husband if he just had surgery and couldn’t get on the bed?”
I still mourn the precious pet I lost in August 2009 so much that I wonder if it’s wrong of me. Just thinking of her makes me tear up, but that dog… She peed on David’s pillow more than once after we had first gotten married, and he moved into our house. She never accepted him as one of our tribe, and he was never overly fond of her, but he was good to her. Her hearing failed and then her vision deteriorated. She then became incontinent, and we suspected some dementia. The last time she saw me she still wagged her tail when I walked in the room.
There aren’t many things besides children and lovers from whom we would tolerate requiring such hard work, yet love anyway. Pets do that to us. The reward is bigger than the work we put in even when the work is significant. When we love our children, we don’t mind so much when they need us to feed them at 1:00 am and then wake crying at 2:30 am and then need feeding again at 3.45 am, and we have a meeting at work at 8:00 am. We just do it and then we do it again the next day.
When I was dating David, I was telling a friend about the outrageously disgusting noise he makes when he brushes his teeth and clears his sinuses. She told me this important thing, “You know you’re in trouble when that noise becomes endearing. It’s when the noise doesn’t bother you, that you need to worry.” Over twenty years later I’m not sure that the noise is endearing, but it is comforting. It is him. In OUR bathroom sharing the ordinary and the extraordinary with me every day.
Why keto is like puppy love
And that is how I feel about keto. It can be a complete pain in the patootie to get started. In the beginning it makes NOTHING easy – shopping, eating out, eating with others, getting keto flu, buying smaller clothes – wait, buying smaller clothes? Yes. Smaller clothes have been an important part of this journey for me. I had to learn to cook differently, but I also got rid of medications for pain and inflammation.At first, grocery shopping took much longer because I had to read every label and every ingredient list. When I finally started buying ingredients instead of buying foods with ingredients, it got easier. And I got healthier.
Ordering in restaurants or eating with friends took courage when I first started. There were times when I worried that they would think I was being too picky or “difficult”, but the health rewards have been worth it. Just like caring for a pet or a human loved one, keto is about caring for yourself. When you take the time to do the work, you will reap the benefits.
Has it been easy? Not always. Has it been worth it? Without a doubt. Keto is delicious, and I feel amazing! I have a life that is just about all I have ever wanted. Will I do it for the rest of my life? Yes! Keto has likely extended my life. Unless I get hit by a car at 4:00 am standing in the rain in the dark holding a leash so that my dog can pee.
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