We’re back to a family of four – our beloved Charlie is going to be a Hoadley for good. We were all brokenhearted when our time fostering him came to an end last fall. We had cared for him for a year while our friend, Paul, was deployed. Paul called Ben a couple weeks ago and asked if we’d be interested in adopting him. Knowing how much Charlie means to Paul (and us), both of our gut reactions was an immediate YES. If Charlie needs a home, we’re going to give it to him. But then all of the logistics rushed into my mind. I remembered that Ben leaves in two months. And that weimaraners are large and need lots of exercise and attention – and I can’t walk them at the same time without getting my arms ripped out and/or falling on my face. And dog food isn’t cheap. The timing just isn’t right. On and on, the worries and scrutinization of the details dominated my thoughts.
To Ben, it was a no-brainer to take him. It took me awhile to come to my decision. My heart was all in, but I couldn’t ignore those pesky practical details that kept running through my head. Recognizing that I would be the one taking on the responsibility of caring for 165+ pounds of puppy by myself, Ben left the final say up to me. For about a week, I mulled over every aspect of this decision – the timing, the logistics, the finances, the joys, the fears.
I’m not known for being a person who takes risks. And when I do, there’s often a lot of calculating and examining of all of the possible outcomes – and usually dwelling a little bit too much on what could go wrong and how to keep that from happening. I rarely let the risk to reward ratio skew very far my comfort zone. I get even more cautious when there are substantial uncertainties and things beyond my control – that whole “control what I can control” mantra has its blessings along with a tinge of restrictive powerlessness.
So I took my time making the decision about adopting Charlie. True to form, I overanalyzed. I worried about the details. I tried to come up with a plan and a schedule that would prevent potential issues. My brain was pretty busy. And somewhere in all of this processing, an aspect that had been lurking in the background seized the spotlight: Ben‘s not going to be here. Sure, I’ve been telling myself he’s leaving soon, that I’ll be strong, that I can handle this. But I haven’t really let myself think about how much our daily life is going to change, how much I’ll miss him, how hard it will be to have him deployed halfway around the world. I don’t want to dwell on that. But this decision made me think about how life would be without him here. And I wasn’t quite ready for that.
Cue the emotional overload. If this kept up, fear was going to dictate my decision.
In a moment of clarity, I reigned all the crazy worries in, and I decided to choose the thing that was going to make me the happiest. Details and uncertainties and potential disasters and budget concerns control enough decisions in our lives, and these things can keep us from what would bring us the most joy. It was time to make a decision that would make me happy – with that alone being enough of a reason to choose it. So I said yes to taking Charlie. I quieted those fears and the endless questions. I thought instead of the great love Charlie shares with his people, the great snuggles he gives, the way he huffs when he’s frustrated, and his obsession with morning breath. His presence would comfort me in Ben’s absence. And that’s all I needed to know that welcoming him into our home was the right decision.
I took Nimitz with me to pick Charlie up from DFW on Friday night. Watching their reunion was one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen. Nim attacked Charlie with kisses, his tail was wiggling so intensely that his whole body swayed with excitement. He’s never acted so animated with any of our foster pups – and those greetings are always pretty peppy, so that’s saying something. I’d like to think that it’s because he remembered Charlie. And Charlie seemed to remember me; as I connected the leash to his collar, he fervently licked me and wiggled with glee. Or he may have just been really happy to be out of his crate after a long day of travel from Jacksonville. The transition back to life as an Oklahoma dog has seemed to go well for him – Charlie has shown no signs of stress since he’s been here. He’s putting up with his “little” brother’s antics, playing tug-of-war, and he’s reclaimed his old spot on the couch. It’s almost like he never left. He seems to feel at home here.
This experience has taught me that sometimes it’s okay to let your heart win, and to recognize that long-term benefits trump short-term challenges. Choosing joy can be reason enough. And I choose joy.