They say that a key component of happiness is connecting with others. I believe this to be true not only for people, but also for dogs. In the short six months that these puppies have been a part of our lives we have established a deep bond. I had been warned that getting two puppies from the same litter could make it more difficult to attach to the humans since they have each other. There is no doubt that Koda and Summer have that intense twin connection, but they both are also very attached to the humans in this house. Upon entering the room we are greeted with tail wagging, excited piddling on the floor, and jumping up. If we are anywhere low enough for them to reach then it’s kisses all over our faces, necks, heads, etc… I am as eager to see them as they are to see me. It is our connection that is a spirit elevator. Obviously my close-knit family provides that, but so do friendships.
I love a fun evening talking and laughing with my girlfriends, or hour long phone conversations with old friends that live far away, or even exchanging short texts with memes, gifs, and emojis. With a husband and four kids, squeezing in social times has not always been easy. My interaction with other women usually revolved around the activities of my children: playgroups, park dates, carpooling to dance class, sitting in the football stands, basketball bleachers, or baseball fields. We met volunteering together in the classrooms or lugging ice chests of gatorades and sliced oranges out to soccer fields of red-faced sweaty fourth graders. I was a stay-at-home mother of four children, living in a house with legos, Rugrats, Arthur, and Disney VHS tapes. Interaction with adults was vital, even Barney knew the importance of friends.
When all of my children were finally in school, I suddenly had this seven hour gap of time in my day that was mine. The house would be quiet, the only sign of life being that of Kitty and Dot, who would follow me around and settle in front of a sunny window or on an unmade bed close-by. My friends who shared my new-found-freedom would meet me for shopping, lunch, or even a movie matinee. This child-free socialization with other women was glorious! Our conversations tended to circle around our children, but we were sitting in restaurants we wanted to eat in, not ones with dirty plastic ball pits. Laughing and sharing stories with one another filled up my tank for the hours of mothering energy I would need once the afternoon school bus deposited my rowdy kids back at the house. We counted on one another for help, advice, a place to vent, and connection.
The stage that I am currently in is a bit different, three of my four children have gone off to college, graduated and are working. My baby will be leaving for college in less than a year. The women I connect with are from my interests and activities, not my children’s. Bible study, tennis team, writing class, and our neighborhood are where I have forged close friendships. We chat about kids, puppies, husbands, and books. We cry, laugh, and listen. We sip wine and we sip coffee. We are foodies, frequenting delicious restaurants. Our time together and our connection is valued.
At the same time, the older I get I find myself content under a blanket on the sofa, reading a good book or Netflixing a favorite show. These hours of calm solitary activity are something I’ve learned to savor, especially when balanced with busy times with our large family, two energetic puppies and a morning or afternoon out with friends. I believe in the theory that interaction and connection with others is essential for living a long happy and healthy life.
Just this week Koda and Summer have reminded of their strong connection. I’ve had to let only one dog out into the yard at a time, so they do not run too hard with their healing stitches. When one dog is out sniffing and romping on the grass, the other is at the window watching with her nose pressed against the glass. They greet each other with kisses and nose nuzzling in the mornings when they emerge from their separate crates. They both eagerly follow me upstairs now that I have expanded their boundaries. They simply want two things: to be together and to be wherever I am. If one of the keys to happiness is connecting with others then odds are pretty high that these dogs and I will be happy in life.