Speaking from a strictly personal perspective, 2015 has been an extraordinary year. It started off with a heaping dose of frenzied, capital-A Action. When the New Year rung in, Kristy and I were wrapping up a long visit to our family and friends back east. We had made a road trip out of it, and we hit the road back to Colorado early in the morning on January 2nd. Our custom, on the several occasions we’ve driven that route, is to break up the trip into two overnight stays: heading west, that has equated to a night in a hotel somewhere in Indiana—usually in South Bend or thereabouts—followed by another night with one of my relatives in Des Moines; the final push is a day of driving from Des Moines to our place in Colorado. Well, occasion be damned, on this particular January 2nd, we were feeling fine, and about halfway through the day we decided we were going to push through all the way to my uncle John’s place south of Des Moines. We did it. Bedraggled and wired, but we did it.
I probably should have begun with something that transpired in December 2014, shortly before we left for our trip back east: We bought a home. Yep, we bought the place, took a two-week vacation, then came back, signed more paperwork, and moved on in. For some reason, probably the fact that we were tired from our trip, and were feeling residual feelings of blech from having moved a few times in the preceding handful of years, this particular process of packing, moving, and unpacking was exceptionally taxing, draining, and unpleasant. We survived, obviously, but I’m glad it’s over with.
The most prominent wall in our new place was a hideous, overwhelming, oppressive shade of red that completely grated on our sensibilities. There were other questionable shades of other colors in other rooms, too. We needed to paint. So we went to Lowe’s, we kvetched over shades of paint, we settled on certain complicated shades of gray, we bought the paint, we bought the primer, we bought the brushes, we bought the floor coverings and the painter’s tape and the whole nine yards, and we painted. The hideous red wall, I should note, required two coats of high-quality primer and two coats of paint-plus-primer. Combine that with high and vaulted ceilings, and you have a recipe for an arduous task.
As we oofed and strained and endured our way through our painting project, we figured now was as good a time as any to start thinking about getting another dog. Long story short, we got another dog: Gus.
The next few weeks—months, really—were rough. We still had our painting project to finish, we weren’t finished settling in, and we had a puppy to train. Gus had a hard time sleeping through the night for a while. Once that passed, we were confronted with the new challenge of Willow’s (our older, original dog) and Gus’s increasingly contentious interactions. Well, that isn’t as accurate as I could put it. To put it more truthfully, Willow was starting to get way too rough with Gus. It seemed clear that she was tired of having him around and didn’t want to have to share anything with him, whether it be our attention, her toys, whatever. It was surprisingly stressful. I was caught off guard by how much it affected me: I found myself escalating into anger very quickly. I knew I had to change my behavior, but I also knew that we had to intervene in the dogs’ behavior. We got a trainer, and it helped quite a bit. Now that almost a year has passed, though, and they’ve continued to settle in and Willow has grown more comfortable with Gus, I think the best remedy for it has been the simple passage of time. Time really does heal; it really does smooth over the rough spots.