Empty nest is furry and full

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dog

All the best stories start at the beginning. This one does too.

We used to have two amazing “family dogs.” A majestic and protective German Shepherd called Ace, and a fluffy black “backup dog,” named Jagger.

We had over thirteen wonderful years which came to an end when both dogs passed from aging within three weeks of each other this fall. Let their epitaph be that those dogs helped raise some pretty amazing kids if I do say so myself.

I like to imagine our dogs hanging out at the Rainbow Bridge telling the other pets how they raised an Eagle Scout and salutatorian and made sure their soccer balls always got “recycled.”

No dog could have asked for better kids to love them and we could not have asked for better dogs to love us.

Still, there was a time I swore that when those dogs were peacefully gone I would not want any more dogs. I was going to be done.

In my mind, I was going to enjoy a peaceful home.

Delivery men and meter readers would come and go without incident. In my mind, it was going to be somewhat awesome to be so free of daily dog responsibilities.

In reality? It was awful. Coming home to an empty home and yard after Jagger had passed was just sad. It felt like a house and not quite like “home.”

Flown

It should be noted that our youngest child graduated from high school in June and has now joined her brother at college. This is all normal and wonderful.

“Healthy birds fly,” a dear friend assures me. She is right. We raise our children with strong roots in order to give them wings. We could not be prouder.

It is still challenging, however, for a hands-on and endless hugs mama of two decades to suddenly find herself with all this attention, time, love and care and no one at home to slather it on.

Enter the Empty Nest Dogs.

Almost on a whim, we adopted two cute “fur babies” on the same day because we love to make really impulsive decisions in bulk.

In theory, these were “family dogs.” In reality, my empty nest mama heart took them both as my own. I am here to assure you that empty nest fur babies, ‘er dogs, are awesome!

Have your children grown and flown? Small dogs will absolutely fill that void left by grown children. Need a snuggle? Small dog! Want to ensure you never go to the bathroom alone? Small dogs will never let you be lonely.

I think the theory is that since you encourage them to go potty, they want to do the same for you? Empty Nest Dogs also fill a void left with the no longer need to nurture small humans.

Tired of making meals or yourself and perhaps, at most, an agreeable spouse? Need someone to turn up their nose at meals you offer? Small dog!

I have spent more time, mental energy and money trying to find something the smaller dog will actually eat than I did choosing what to feed our human offspring. It is ridiculous how picky a creature that routinely licks its own hind end can be about meals.

Need to experience more bodily fluids? Small dogs to the rescue! So far our smallest dog has actually thrown up in my bed and caused me to touch poo. So he’s basically a toddler.

The children joke that no matter what Jackson does, I make excuses. “He has his reasons” has become the rallying cry for the world’s most spoiled dog.

Recently he scaled the dining room table and ate the Thanksgiving apple pie. A pie I had painstakingly baked wholly from scratch, it should be noted.

Photo evidence of him standing on the table was presented to me.

My reaction? “Oh my gosh, my little guy made it all the way up there. So proud!”

In fact, as I was editing this GirlWonder informed me that she has actually coined a phrase for when Jackson does something terrible and I condone it: “Jackscuses.”

Jump

It’s just so delightful to have something so cute and sweet and snuggly who is super excited to see me when I come home.

These dogs meet me at the door with nothing but love and adoration. My kids are pretty great but they just don’t hop up and down over my arrival the way Jackson and Nova do.

I’m just a sucker for cuddly beings that adore me.

This explains how I have come to say that I didn’t set out to be an obsessed pet mom, but here I am loving it.

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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