Sometimes people talk about writing a letter to their younger selves. I haven’t found any service that will deliver one of those yet, so I hope you can benefit from my advice.

Train Earlier

Bailey earner her nickname as the best dog. No matter what you wanted to do, she was happy to do it with you, whether that was a long hike or a lazy day on the couch. Her easy-going nature made it easy to ignore her less appealing traits, like going through the trash, as well as her issues, like stress in the car. When I finally started training with her, when she was 8, she was able to pass the Canine Good Citizen test on the first try. The experience also helped with other issues, like the car stress. I only wish I had tried it sooner.

Don’t Live Downtown

Tivoli Theater DC
The landmark Tivoli Theater in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of DC, where we lived.

Don’t get me wrong: living downtown is the right choice for a lot of people, and it even seems to work out for a lot of dogs. However, living in one of the noisiest areas, in a place that required walking on one of the city’s busiest streets to get out of the building, was not a good choice for us. It was stressful to us noise-sensitive humans, and to our noise-phobic dog; a situation that was exacerbated by our own stress. It has been several years since we moved out, and I am still sometimes surprised to see him exhibit some of the stress reactions that built up in that period.

Be Careful Where You Feed the Cat

cat food ipod
When Nefertiti ate on the counter, she buried her food with anything she could find

Admittedly, our apartment (see above) was tiny. But it was still a bad idea to feed the cat on the counter. Before that, she had never shown any particular interest in counters. After that, she was convinced that counters were the source of all food. Several years and two moves later, she still jumps up on the counter to let us know she’s hungry.

Think Before You Visit

I normally love taking Sirius Black to National Parks, and, normally, he loves it too. But taking him to Murfreesboro for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Stones River was a bad idea. Because what happens at battlefield anniversaries? People fire cannons and dress up in uniforms. Anyway, we spent the entire day skirting the edges of the park, trying to stay as far as possible from the action.

None of these experiences were disastrous. But I think I could do it better a second time. Maybe you can do it better a first time.

Leave a Reply