Habits get no respect.
There are drug habits. Creatures of habit. Nun’s habits.
I have a dog habit. And it’s been a life saver.
A Good Thing Dogs Are Boring
Most dogs appreciate a structured life.
They want to be fed at a certain time. They look for their people when they expect them to come home. Heck, my Honey even barks when she’s tired and wants to go to bed.
When you have to work late or want to go out with friends, dogs are a royal pain.
But when everything around you is chaos, it’s nice to have a reminder to eat, walk, and sleep on a regular schedule.
That’s what dogs do. They’re the cute, fuzzy, playful version of Google alerts.
The Downside of Independence
For the past two years, I’ve lived what some people only dream about. Yep, I work from home.
And no, I don’t stay in my pajamas all day.
In truth, it’s difficult at times.
I can’t raid the kitchen for cookies when I get a case of the mid-day munchies (because I don’t buy myself cookies). There’s no one around to bounce an idea off. And it’s hard to stay motivated when no one is going to see the work you do.
For an extrovert like me, working alone can be tough.
It’s a good thing I have my furry little habit to keep me organized.
A Day With Habit Dog
My husband has taken over caring for Honey in the mornings. But she still structures both of our lives.
One of us usually gets up early while Honey sleeps in until 6:30 with whoever decides to stay in bed. By 6:45 she’s getting restless and hungry. Time to feed the dog.
After breakfast, it’s squeaky time. Honey has to celebrate eating with a rousing game of keep away or tug with her noisiest toy.
Before leaving for work, my husband takes Honey on a short walk. I follow-up a few hours later with a much longer one.
Then it’s nap time. And more nap time. And yep, even more nap time. Until Honey reminds us that it’s dinner time.
Honey keeps a keen eye on me while I’m cooking. Although she has already eaten, she never knows when I might toss her a morsel for dessert.
Honey gets more squeaky play time with my husband, an evening nap, and maybe another short walk before heading off to bed.
No matter what is going on around the edge, Honey creates a framework for everything else we do.
Habit Dog Afloat
Our house is under contract. We’re selling everything we own on May 9. Once the closing happens, we’ll start shopping for our next home—a small sailboat.
Both my husband and I worry about how we’ll respond to such a different life.
Yes, there’s bad weather and shoals to worry about. There are expensive mechanical failures. There is money to run out of.
But I think both of us worry about how we’ll structure our time and wonder if we will create a meaningful life with a purpose.
Luckily, we’ll still have Honey as our regular habit.
Whether on land or sea, Honey needs to eat. Honey needs her walks. Honey needs to play. Honey needs to nap.
In a way, Honey’s activity list is not unlike the regular schedule of prayer and worship monastic monks follow all over the world. Or perhaps I should compare her “I need a biscuit” midday bark to a muezzin calling faithful muslims to prayer throughout the day.
Honey and her habits ground me. When I don’t know where to go next or what to do, I know I have to be ready for an afternoon walk or to prepare her dinner on time.
I have a dog habit. And no matter what else happens, I can count on that to structure my day. And my life.
Your Turn: How do you feel about the habits your pets add to your life? Is it freeing, restricting, or something else?