While my husband didn’t think my overbooked schedule or our cluttered house could handle fostering a dog, we both learned a few lessons, and I gained the gift of structure from the most surprising source.
by Linda Roggli
On an impulse (sound familiar?), when an opportunity arose through a local organization, I volunteered to foster an abandoned sheltie, fully expecting to wait several months for an abandoned doggie in need of love to show up in my life. Several weeks ago, yet far sooner than I expected, the subject line “Possible Foster” popped up in my inbox.
I opened the e-mail: “We may be getting a 12-week-old puppy. Could you take her?” A puppy? Training and teething and 3 a.m. bathroom breaks? Oh, I was far too busy to deal with a puppy. And completely unprepared.
Like any over-committed adult with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD), however, I said, “Yes.” I told myself that someone out there would want to adopt a cute little puppy soon. I could certainly handle it for a few weeks.
Back at the Roggli ranch (as my husband, Victor, likes to call our house), there was instant skepticism from the love of my life. “You don’t need a puppy now,” he said, maddeningly rational. “You have too much on your plate already.”
“Oh, it’s just temporary,” I assured him, as he rolled his eyes. “I’m not keeping her.”
But I had forgotten about sweet puppy breath. And puppy kisses. And silky puppy fur. Her enormous ears made her look a bit like Dumbo the Flying Sheltie. Even Victor was charmed. He dubbed her Milli because she was as tiny as a millimeter or a milligram, while I tried to steel myself against getting too attached.
I hadn’t counted on the immediate imposition of structure in my otherwise often aimless ADD/ADHD life. (Sure, I’m a coach, but first and foremost, I’m an ADDiva!) Suddenly, the moment-to-moment needs of a five-pound baby dog consumed my time. Bathroom breaks. Accidents. Naps. Puppy food. More bathroom breaks. I wasn’t getting anything done!
After I fretted about it for several days, I realized I might was well go with the flow. So, I now go to bed at 10 p.m., which is Milli’s bedtime. I get up at 4 a.m. for a potty break and again at 6 a.m. to fix her breakfast. When she naps in the morning and afternoon, I find a few minutes to write posts and answer e-mails. Mainly, though, I do laundry -- notably the rugs that have fallen victim to her “need to go” impulses (why can’t she hit the piddle pads designed for that very purpose?).
In the days since Milli came into my life, I’ve puppy-proofed the house -- with baby gates we had in the attic from 15 years ago! -- and, of course, I have fallen in love with a five-pound puppy.
I’ve already e-mailed Sherri, the rescue coordinator, asking for adoption papers. Victor is still rolling his eyes, but he is charmed by her joie de vivre, too.
Milli has been a gift -- in so many surprising ways. She’s helped me regain my schedule and create structure in my days. Best of all, she’s given me much-needed perspective on my ADD/ADHD life, helping sort the clutter from the essentials I need to be balanced and happy.
And she still has that puppy breath.Ah, bliss.