Charli’s Angel: How A New Puppy Helped Me Heal

self-care Nov 15, 2022

This year, my birthday was a special one.

First of all, my college-aged son “surprised” me with a visit (well unlike last year’s “surprise visit”, my son couldn’t hold in his intended surprise visit and told me in advance). 

And, I adopted a new Golden Retriever puppy whom I named Charli. Charli came home with me at 10 weeks old on my birthday.

Charli is now my third Golden. The pattern illustrates that I wait six months between each of my dogs (Barney, Benji and now Charli) - from the last one’s passing to their adoption/homecoming of the newest pup.  You may remember that my beloved Benji passed away in February.

Welcoming A New (Furry) Lease on Life

It has been a whirlwind of adjustments for me – from a “bachelorette” lifestyle of late night salsa dancing and finally being able to enjoy solitude and freedom with no kids around (my two young adult children were away all summer), no responsibilities, and a new lease on life since my separation. 

…to a lifestyle that’s akin to having a newborn! But, this time I am an empty nester single parent. The birth and adoption of Charli entails adjustments as well as welcoming a bit of chaos and routine into my life.

Charli is extremely smart, curious and has a calm disposition, at least initially. However, I need to contain his exuberant energy! Perhaps he feeds off mine!?

Now that I’ve had precious Charli with me for 2 1/2 months, here are are a few ideas I’ve reflected on and would like to share with you:

Celebrating the Cycle of Life

It’s like Benji’s spirit has come back through my new puppy Charli. He is a true gift bringing joy, companionship, connection and unconditional love. And, a breath of fresh air who has brought new life and light into my previously quiet, somber home.

Even though they are from different breeders (Barney and Benji were from the same breeder in Canada), they all look alike. Admittedly, I intentionally picked a pup with a similar light color fur coat and look.

I find myself often calling Charli “Benji” and I feel awful about that. But, unlike Benji who “failed” his pet therapy exam twice, Charli is destined to become a therapy dog. That’s my plan –  but of course we both need lots of training.

Goldens are innately beautiful souls. From their funny personalities to their friendly and confident demeanor to their expressive eyes and gorgeous golden coat, people are naturally drawn to this breed.

Embracing Chaos

What might look like chaos and mess, can be re-thought of as training (for both human and animal) and development!

  • Housetraining accidents: These happened initially — mostly because I was out of my routine and needed to remember how to train puppies. I was so busy taking off the first few weeks to be present with Charli, his energy and busy/curious mind, I did not have time to read my “how to” puppy “manual” that the breeder sent home with him.
  • Messy home: Just like a baby, there are toys all over the place, Charli brings in grass and dirt following his walks. Crates and playpens on every floor - Charli is into EVERYTHING and everything goes into his mouth (he’s a Golden) and needs to be contained for safety reasons.
  • Water, water everywhere: The breeder picked Charli in part because of his love of water, like his mommy (I swim laps daily during the summer months). He was always the last puppy to leave the baby swimming pool. At home, he dumps his water bowls everywhere to create a “swimming pool” and lies in it.
  • Constant Activity: Despite his initial calm disposition, Charli has become very exuberant and, what some may call, naughty. At times, I get impatient, resent him and start missing Benji - at least the adult Benji I remember. But I keep reminding myself that Benji was also a very smart but mischievous puppy; in fact, my family wanted to “return” him within the first year of his puppyhood.
  • And, just like a baby, he’s always putting something in his mouth…from socks to stuffed animals to a live toad (yes a REAL toad!) and, yesterday, a live jumping spider cricket!
  • Disrupted work routine: It’s hard to work with this cute furry face around and I’m also feeling guilty that I can’t play all day; and then feeling guilty for putting him in his playpen or crate so that I can focus on work, uninterrupted.

Focusing on the Positive

  • Sleep Time: Charli got used to his crate immediately - no crying, no barking - and he continues to sleep through the night; in fact, he slept through the night from the very first night onwards!!! This is unheard of. This is a bonus and means that I can even  sleep in, go out at night with friends, dance, go on dates and then come home to my sweet baby boy.
  • Training Star: Charli is very quiet and accommodating. In fact, I still have yet to hear a bark come out of him. He learns commands quickly and is eager to be trained.
  • Activity Buddy: As a high-energy person who loves the outdoors, I now have a walking buddy and in the summer, I’ll have a swimming buddy!
  • New Friends: Being so sweet and accommodating, I take Charli on many outings; he attracts lots of attention and I have met plenty of new people through our adventures.

Lesson for Readers: Focus on the positive wherever possible…sure life can be messy but it doesn’t have to be perfect. Embrace mess and chaos. Take joy in the little things. Mourn those who are lost to us but move on with intention, gratitude and purpose.

Indeed, as I move through this new phase with adult children and a new puppy, I want to help you discover the “new” in your life too and appreciate how you can see “loss” in a new light and leverage it for opportunities and a new lease on life.

My coaching style is perfect for those who feel stuck and want to break out of current patterns and embrace the unexpected and the scary in order to feel free and empowered. 

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Until next time,

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