Dog Helps Fill Empty Nest
Stella the Labradoodle is a joyful companion.
Before our student went off to school, she had a chat with a neighbor who mentioned to her how much I was going to miss the daughter, who cracked, "My mom will be fine, she's got Stella!"
Now who is Stella, you might ask? Well none other than a two-year-old Labradoodle, dubbed "happiness rolled up in a rug!" by another neighbor.
Stella is a 60-pound shaggy bundle of love to be sure, and my constant companion these days.
She and I went to the Heurich Dog Park this week in the middle of the day, and sadly there were no other attendees. It reminded me of when my daughter was a toddler and we would drive around to different playgrounds until we found one with other kids and caregivers in it. When we lived in Adams-Morgan, there was only one tot lot, and everyone who had care of the 4-and-under set would be at that playground during that critical pre-lunch, pre-nap time. We had a very active toddler-centric social life with playgroups, etc. Once we moved to Maryland, there was a playground in every neighborhood but no kids, at least during weekday mornings.
That problem solved itself once the child started pre-school and mom went back to work. But standing in the empty dog park on a beautiful fall day with Stella gave me an eerie sense of déjà vu.
Stella came into our lives at the beginning of 2009. Our family had been dogless for about 18 months at that point. We knew that we should get a new dog before the child left for college so they could bond, and we were all having envious random encounters with other people's dogs. Finally we responded to an ad from a breeder in Hagerstown, and next thing you know, we had the cutest bundle of curly headed home with us.
She is truly a joyful addition to our nest, and has unbounded enthusiasm for everything – our cat, the mailman, all the dogs walking by, the squirrels, and all our neighbors. Her favorite place to hang out is at the front door, half in the house and half on the porch. If the door is closed, she sits on the stairs where she can see out the window and keep an eye out on the world. She makes us laugh when she tries to get in on the conversation with her squeaky toy, and greets us enthusiastically when we return home, whether we've been gone 20 minutes or eight hours.
Just imagine how she'll react when the daughter comes home for Thanksgiving. We'll all be enthusiastic for that visit.