They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
How about teaching an old dog to like a new home?
We’ve been trying to acclimate Magic and Molly to their new residence by taking them over for brief periods of time and making it a purely fun occasion. They get treated with snacks of their favorite food (Cesar, which I call the McDonald’s of dog food). They find new squeaky toys hidden in various places. They get to go for walks.
We hope to make every experience in this new place a positive one.
But still, they’re nervous.
Especially Magic, who is the eldest.
In years past, they traveled with us to Florida on several occasions and were wonderful travelers, making themselves at home in any of the various hotels we stopped at along the way, and settling into the Naples house quickly and comfortably. But it’s clear they don’t quite get what’s going on here, why we drive over to this strange place every couple of days, why mom and dad are so eager to make it fun and keep using those high pitched “ain’t this grand” voices (like they use at the vet or the groomer’s).
Even I’m aware that I sound a little desperate, trying to cajole them into liking something just because I like it.
Magic wanders around the house with his plume-like tail dusting the floor, dogging my every step (pun intended) lest I disappear from sight and leave him behind in this weird place. Molly flops down on the chilled tile in the foyer, but persistently raises her head and stares at me with a worried expression, panting slightly for emphasis.
Truth be told, I understand their wariness only too well. How am I going to acclimate myself to all the changes that are about to unfold? As much as I want this and feel like it’s the right move at the right time, there’s no denying it’s an apocalyptic change in our lives. In all the packing and planning, it’s easy enough to forget that so many things will never be the same again. And for someone like me, who thrives on routine and safety and sameness, that’s a frightening concept.
I’ve been wearing my optimism and excitement like a shield, keeping my fears at bay. But somewhere inside me is a skittery old dog who isn’t quite sure what the hell is going on or whether she’s going to like it.
Learning new tricks isn’t always easy. But I do have one advantage over the canine members of my family. I have better recall of times when change has worked to my advantage. I have better recollection of my own abilities to overcome temporary hardship and come out happier on the other side.
I have the ability to reason – and so I understand that one moment of uneasiness or discomfort does not spell the end of the world.
And so we will persevere in our journey of acclimation to things new and different.
And look forward to our just reward in the end.