Big dogs and little owners: How I avoided a midlife crisis

Dogs were always part of my life. Big dogs, little dogs, slobbery dogs, messy dogs. The works.

My family bred St. Bernards when I was a young child. We did the dog show thing too and I showed in the puppy class. My dad even became a dog show judge. Having five St. Bernards in the house and kennel just seemed pretty normal growing up.

A friend I hadn’t spoken to in about 40 years reached out to me on Facebook. He shared a fond memory about our pride and joy, Mr. Jack. My dad used to bring Jack to school for show and tell and the kids just loved him.  He was HUGE and I hadn’t realized how many people he had touched. Or slobbered on.

And so it began.

Mr. Jack The St. Bernard with My Dad
Mr. Jack The St. Bernard with My Dad

We also had a Bedlington Terrier, a Cocker Spaniel, a Dachshund, a Golden Retriever, a Great Dane and a Dandi Dinmont Terrier over the years. But as lovely as these other dogs were, none ever held a candle to Mr. Jack, all 260 lbs of him.

Some where along the line, we put old family movies on DVD and so much footage included the dogs!

I was so surprised at my reaction to absorbing the memories of my childhood with these animals. They symbolized so much love and memory of a time that was a good, solid childhood.  I couldn’t stop thinking about the Saints and the role they played in my personal development.

As an adult myself, I started out with a persnickety cat named Hundleby. And then got a Golden Retriever named Yoffi with my husband. What a doll. Yoffi was followed by another gorgeous creamy Golden named Jasper. If you’ve known a Golden, you know how sensitive and lovely they are. After 20 years of Golden Retriever love, I decided I just couldn’t handle another one emotionally after Jasper died.

Suzy_Jasper_2012-I thought we should switch things up.

After all, I turned 50 that year and it’s the thing to do, right?

I didn’t quite understand my attraction to the need for change at the time, but I trusted my gut.

My family wasn’t quite on board yet. Switching breeds seemed like we weren’t being loyal and respectful to Jasper’s memory. And, let’s face it. Goldens are amazing.

Because of our family’s lifestyle, we really needed a dog that was an awesome swimmer. So I suggested a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. They’re so cute, small and easy. Well, with three teenage sons, that went over like a lead balloon.  Too small and dainty for them.

Could this could be it? I wondered if this was my chance to share my life with another big, beautiful dog.

As soon as I realized I was actually thinking this, I also realized how good I felt. Full-circle. Warm. Happy.

So, even though I’m under 5 ft. tall, I suggested….a Newfoundland.

Yes, a giant, stinky, slobbery, messy Landseer Newf. Certainly not dainty. Great swimmer, perfect family dog. And the research began.  Hubby was on board right away.  Kids didn’t really understand what we were getting ourselves into, lol.

Enter Niko the Newf.

Suzy and Niko the Newf, 2015
Suzy and Niko the Newf 2015

Niko comes from Quebec. We got him at 40 lbs and 12 weeks old. He’s been a JOY and a MESS and a lot of FUN! And I didn’t remember the unusual combination of PUPPY and LARGE DOG. That combination of energy and not really knowing your size is hysterical and crazy.

Did I say mess?

Newf owners love to brag about all the strange places they find slobber.

We like to call them flying floogers. I found a 7 footer last week! And the amount of mess is quite remarkable overall. The mess from a Golden is NOTHING compared to a Newf. It’s a whole different level of mess. But we welcome it and love our baby gates. And have invested in a lint roller company. And have them everywhere…even the car.

The bottom line is that I’m so excited to know that my family will have the wonderful memories of life with Niko, just as I did with Mr. Jack, Roxy, Brandy, Fluffy and Gambler the St. Bernards from the 1970s. May all these wonderful animals rest in peace together, somewhere over the rainbow bridge.

Who ever knew that having a large beautiful dog in my life again would be so meaningful for me and my family? ME….that’s who! It took a couple of decades to figure it out, but ironically, it all became crystal clear the year I turned 50.

That’s what regret-proofing your life is all about.  Once you recognize what’s meaningful to you, you have to trust your gut and do something about it.

Need a little help? NO PROBLEM – If you’re ready to bust out of your midlife funk, click here for your FREE download: 10 surprisingly simple steps to bust out of your midlife funk and get started!

 

 

 

 

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