Earlier this year, I finally summoned the courage to begin a new relationship.
Yes, the decision required a LOT of thought and prayer.
Was it wise to open my heart again?
Could I even trust my judgment and discernment after my tumultuous last few years?
After nearly a year of COVID-induced isolation, I decided having plants as my only living companions was not enough. So, I swallowed hard and took the plunge.
I decided it was time to reopen my heart!
Yes, friends, I got a puppy! 
My new fellow is an English Cream Golden Retriever. My research-ad-nauseum-self evaluated a lot of different breeds but decided that the temperament and the health history of this line of Golden Retrievers would be a good choice for me.

 I've had a dog most of my life. Our last beloved Golden, Summer, died in 2016 after 14 faithful years as a best friend to my daughter and a wonderful companion to our entire family. But I'd never had a puppy during the "solo" seasons of life when it was all up to me.
Yes, having a Golden Retriever means dealing with lots of shedding. But it also means enjoying the sweetest temperament you can imagine!

 After relentless lobbying and encouragement by my daughter, I took the plunge. I said "yes" to the mess!
Hobbs is now seven months old. I brought him home in early January and he provided the added delight of enticing my daughter to work from my home in Georgia for several weeks to help me with new puppy training and to enjoy some puppy snuggles.

What have I learned from this new relationship over the last several months?
-Enjoy each day! It’s hard not to have a happy start to one’s day when greeted by a wagging tail in the morning!
-Morning and evening walks with my dog are great for my heart and for my mental health.
(As Dr. Kenneth Cooper used to say on his radio program: “Walk your dog, whether or not you have one!”)
-Dogs have EQ. (Emotional intelligence) They just do. I can’t speak for cats (I’m allergic), but dogs seem to sense when you need some encouragement, comfort or play. Non-dog lovers might not share this sentiment, but I believe that dogs are a gift from God! They are faithful, loving, forgiving, and full of joy.
-Parenting is challenging (and expensive), whether with children or puppies! Waking up in the middle of the night, disciplining, thinking about the needs of another, doctor visits…it all requires self-sacrifice and an uber dose of patience. But who wants to just focus on themselves? Not me!
-Play is an important part of life. With the many serious issues facing our country and world, I had definitely gotten bogged down thinking about the many injustices and seemingly unsolvable problems in America today. Engaging in some good, old fashioned tug-a-war or a little run with my puppy provides a great and healthy pressure-release valve.
-Admit when you need help. I was convinced that I could handle the obedience training myself by just watching and following You-Tube videos. Wrong-o. It didn’t take me long to realize I needed some expert assistance with my high-energy puppy. What a great difference that made! Yes, I need to be consistent to make sure the positive behavior “sticks,” but I’m thankful that I asked for help.
-Love involves risk but also provides great rewards. I remember hearing someone say they didn’t want to get a dog because they couldn’t handle losing it one day. Staying in a hermetically sealed emotional bubble certainly would be safer, but what a price to pay to avoid future hurt!
Yesterday, two groups of people stopped me on my evening walk with Hobbs. Both asked if they could pet him (nice manners). And both sets remarked: “He looks so happy!” (Yes, he is).
I’m delighted to say that I am, too!


"There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."

Proverbs 18:24