Uncomfortable Transitions


So, about that first night with objectively (check my facebook posts and specifically the one by my friend Kristen Chang) the cutest puppy on the planet… Oh, now I understand why people’s faces drastically contorted when I told them we were getting a puppy. Is he adorable? Yes. Have we had super fun playing with him already? Yes. Have I asked myself what I was thinking? Uh… yeah!

The challenge

The first night, he got zero sleep, after our wonderful breeder, Mary from Waushara Pups, told us that Charlie was sleeping each night until 6:00 am. I’m 47, so losing sleep like this is not a good practice for a myriad of reasons. Then, after talking with my mom, who is traveling to Spain about managing my brother Ed’s affairs while she’s away, (Ed is my brother with special needs), I once again got some much-needed perspective.

My brother was born mentally retarded (as we grew up calling it or Cognitively Disabled in today’s terms), so my mother has had to tend to his needs for his entire life. After 58 years of caring for someone who requires constant medicine to prevent epileptic seizures, regular diaper changes, bathing when my brother is operating on all cylinders, must constantly adapt to an ever-changing environment.

Recently, a medication change (the never-ending quality of life fight to balance his medications) caused his electrolytes to drop so that meant a few days in the hospital to figure out what was wrong. My brother is unable to speak, so this further complicates the issue and adds additional stress to my mom’s already challenging life.

A new perspective

As I was thinking about two days with Charlie, I thought about my mom taking care fo Ed and how uncomfortable her life has been. And, as the next legal guardian for my brother, I too would have to assume these responsibilities should something happen to my mom. Resting in the car after stopping into the office for a “pawternity leave” break, I called my mom to talk about the pupster. We started talking about Charlie and how intense it was to raise a puppy. I told her how it wasn’t really easy given how easy my life has been over the past five years or so from a parenting intensity perspective (no infants in over 17 years). She replied, “Yeah, my life has never been easy. But, it’s all about perspective. I just rethink about my situation and how fortunate I am to have Ed’s issues.”

The whole “rethink” is a core principle of great leadership. If we’re going to grow as leaders, easy will be temporary at best and frequently rare. Life is hard for those who want to get better. After talking to my mom, I had a renewed appreciation for training my puppy and couldn’t wait to get home. Good thing I had that “rethinking” moment before I walked through the door.

Putting it in practice

In Charlie’s first hour and a half alone in the kennel during the day, he pooped on everything. I’m talking toys, mats, chewables and the kennel itself. On the bright side, he wasn’t yelling or anything like that. So, I calmly and appreciably cleaned and disinfected floor, his cage, and threw everything else in the washer and dryer with a smile on my face. Honestly, it took me about 35 minutes to get Charlie cleaned (so he doesn’t get used to being poop-covered) and the situation back to normal.

Thankfully, I’m on “pawternity leave”, so I could take time to handle a situation like this. Had this happened to my wife when she had to return to work for an important meeting, it would be, “Goodbye Charlie” (my wife wouldn’t actually get rid of him, but this is much more interesting than my happy-go-lucky reaction). Uncomfortable transition? Yes. Will this be a comfortable situation “soon”? Yes. Will there be another uncomfortable situation coming my way? No doubt!



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