I can’t believe that it’s only been three years since my rescue dog, Oliver Wallace Doodle (aka Ollie! Ollie Wally Doodle! Doodle! Doodlebug!) graced my life. Ollie turned my life upside down, and I’ve never been happier to wake up early and practice routine. Before he came to me, Ollie did not have it easy. From what the rescue organization I worked with could piece together, Ollie had had at least three different owners and had been abandoned at least three times. The thought of my little sweet Doodlebug all by himself in the world breaks my heart, because he’s made my life so much richer.
Our rescue dogs rescue us
I may have given Ollie a stable home and loads of love and snacks, but Ollie has rescued me, too. Especially these last months, Ollie has been my source of companionship. I don’t know what I would have done without him.
Ollie’s taught me so much about living a good life. The following don’t even scratch the surface.
I appreciate mornings (at least a little bit more)
Until Ollie came into my life, it took me about an hour to get out of bed in the morning. No more! Ollie has taught me over the last three years to better appreciate mornings. I said better. I’m not a morning person, and I never will be one, but snuggles with Ollie after he’s had his breakfast, and I’ve had my coffee help me to face the day. I certainly don’t dilly dally in bed anymore!
Snuggles make most things better
Speaking of snuggles, they really do improve things. Ollie took to me almost immediately, but over the last few months, he’s taken to crawling into my lap and falling asleep. It melts my heart every time to see my rescue dog so secure. Having a snuggle buddy makes life sweeter.
Listen to our bodies—and have persistence
Earlier this year, as you know, my poor Ollie had to have surgery after a dietary indiscretion. It took months to diagnose him, and it took persistence, because it looked an awful lot like an allergy, or perhaps just aging. Had we had to sprint down the stairs a couple of times a night for the rest of Ollie’s life, we would have done it, but we’re both so glad that we don’t. Ollie does not miss his Donut of Despair.
When our bodies tell us that something is wrong, get to the bottom of it.
Play’s the thing!
Play every day—Ollie has taught me to take time to just horse around. Silly fetch (tossing a whole bunch of toys at once) cracks me up every time, as does watching Ollie skid to a stop and then gallop back with his latest BarkBox treasure. Ollie reminds me to stop and enjoy life for a little bit.
SNACKS (or remaining very focused on a goal)
I really didn’t need to learn about snacks, but Ollie’s love of them knows no bounds. His single-minded focus on all things food cracks me up. Shops that have provided him with snacks? He wants in! When we stay at my parents’ house, his Gaga (my mom—long story about the name) gives him tidbits. Anticipating the sound of the breakfast cart makes Ollie spin with anticipation. I mean that literally. He jumps and spins.
Sometimes, his love of snacks gets him into trouble (see above), and so we do need to learn to adapt to circumstances. When a snack isn’t right for us, we should resist it (alas, no snack ever seems wrong for my Ollie—this is where I get to teach him).
He’s also recently developed a “I have to go out” fake out that involves going to the door, and then, when I get up to let him out, running over to the snacks. Not cool, Ollie, and I don’t reward it, but I do admire the ingenuity. And I could use more focus on my goals. Everything should boil down to snacks.
Live in the moment
Ollie’s life before me was not easy, and, like other rescue dogs, he has residual anxiety from it. However, he also lives in the moment. If he has snuggles, snacks, walks, and playtime with his human, he’s set. He lives in the present. If he doesn’t like his present, he moves to change it (c’mon! Human! SNACKS!). I learn from this.
Walk, even when you don’t feel like it
For someone who blogs incessantly about her walks, it may come as a surprise that sometimes, I really just want to bin the idea and watch TV. However, dogs need walks, even if it’s just a short one. With Ollie, I have zero excuses. Granted, Ollie and I don’t go far on crappy days, as we have a mutual agreement, but we get out for at least a little walk every day. Most days, it’s much longer, a decision sometimes made once we’re out there. Most days, I’m grateful that he got me out into the world.
Take the time to notice things
Ollie likes to keep up with the news of the world, and he makes sure to stop and check all of his messages while we’re on our walk (sometimes we have to negotiate). He stops to notice, though, and I’ve noticed things I would have missed had he not slowed me down. Noticing the world around me is an unending source of delight and joy, but it’s easy to forget sometimes. I’m grateful for Ollie’s reminder.
Consistency doesn’t have to be boring
I have a big need for novelty in my life. Curiosity about what’s around the bend makes me who I am. Routines do not come naturally to me, even when they’re good for me. Dogs need routine. We get up, we have breakfast, we play, we have couch snuggles and snacks, and head out for a morning business run. We hang out, take a walk, and then have dinner. More play, more snuggles, and sleep.
Ollie’s given structure to my days that they didn’t have before. Sometimes I need to shake things up a bit, but having a pattern has been good for me. And Ollie’s perpetual present helps to remind me that it’s never boring.
And, one other thing: Ollie eats the same thing, every day (the only exception was when we were experimenting with his diet, pre-surgery). Once in my life, I want to experience the excitement that he feels every single day, getting the exact same thing in his bowl, every single time. We should all be so lucky.
Take a Nap
Dogs nap. A lot. I love naps, but I’m not very good at them. Ollie’s taught me that taking a few moments out of my day for a quick snooze, cuddled up with my favorite pup, can make a day so much better. Good boy, Ollie.
We’re better together
Rescue dogs, especially my Ollie, can experience separation anxiety. The pandemic certainly hasn’t helped this any. This is something that we’re working on, and he’s getting better about trusting that I will come home (though sometimes, better than others).
However, we’re better together. I miss him when I’m away. My little friend sits at my hip on this sofa every day. He’s my constant companion, my daily dose of love and affection, and I’m happier when we’re together.
Do you have a rescue dog?
What have you learned from your rescue dog? Let me know in the comments! If you’re thinking about adopting a rescue dog, check out this post on what to consider beforehand.
I love you, Ollie! You are a good boy! And, I am so glad that YOU are MY doggy!