I’ve never really considered myself a “dog person.” When I was young, I believe under the age of 10, my family had dogs on a couple of occasions. But most of my adolescent years were spent sans dog. My dog fixes have been relegated to indulging with my friends and their stories and pictures of their dogs.
As some know, my family adopted Rinny, an almost three-year old Staffordshire Bull Terrier in May. We also had to take her back to the adoption shelter after two biting incidents between her and my 10-year-old daughter.
Rinny was a part of our home and family for just three months. But three weeks after not having her in our home, I’ve realized just how important she was. And not just Rinny. Not just a dog. What I’ve realized is the importance that life, living, breathing, activation, moving … all of these things; the importance those things have when you occupy a space.
The space could be your home or bedroom. It could be a park or an office cubicle. When we surround ourselves with living objects, we feed off that energy. It’s why there is music when you walk into the grocery store. It’s why random sculptures and art pieces are installed into public spaces. It’s the reason those feng shui books tell us to put a plant in a specific spot in our homes.
I’ve been “working from home” for nearly 15 months. We adopted Rinny nearly to the day of my one year anniversary of self employment. She quickly found her way into our hearts. But she also was cramping our schedule. Mine in particular. It was like having a toddler in the house all over again. Being away from home for more than a couple hours was out of the question.
I spent this past summer literally working from home, no longer a nomad at coffee shops around San Diego. If I was working in my office, Rinny was right there. When I moved to my DJ station in another part of the house, Rinny followed and would listen to music with me. When I needed to work in the garage, there she was, sprawled out on the concrete floor.
While I enjoyed her company, I also missed leaving the comforts of home to work elsewhere. It was my way of being around other people and being around their energy. That energy also included the sounds of the milk frother; the beeps of credit card machines; the hum of the music in the restaurant creeping past my earbuds and mixing in with the music in my ears.
With Rinny, I had her energy while I was at home. But more importantly, returning home to her I found an energy that I never knew was missing.
On the occasions that I or my family would leave her at home, we knew returning would always be an adventure. First there was her excitement of seeing us. Then it was looking around to see what she may have chewed on. There was the inevitable fixing of couch pillows and area rugs that were tossed around. There was sweeping and cleaning of any small messes that she made.
We were no longer just walking in the door and plopping down on the couch. We didn’t have to “wake” up the house -- open windows, doors, curtains, etc. Rinny was there the whole time keeping the house alive and warm.
I even noticed how much more alive the house was when my wife, Sheila, would return home from work. Rinny was of course excited to see her, but so was Sheila. And she would prepare to take her for an evening walk, which followed with refreshing her water and food bowls.
As humans we settle into a routine. And Sheila walking through the door doesn’t seem like an occasion to get excited and anxiously greet her. Or maybe it should be?
So here were are, a month into a dog-less life and walking in the door to complete silence is strange. Obviously being at home is a completely different experience. I’ve lost my shadow, the living, breathing thing that was giving me energy.
Rinny was never a barker. But man it’s really quiet without her around.
I think I may need to get a plant.