Retirement: This is how it should be
I was a very lucky dog. I lived my life with a family who loved me and kept me warm and safe. I had reached retirement age and had everything I wanted. Life was very good.
But then I began to notice that my people did not seem to be happy most of the time. They seemed worried but I could not tell why. So I just watched. One day soon after I noticed their distress, we went for a car ride to the local dog park. But instead of going in to play with the other dogs, they took me over to a man named Bob who was standing in an empty play yard. After a bit of talk, Bob took my leash and my family left. I was very confused and unhappy, even though Bob was very nice to me. I kept looking for my family but could not see them. Then Bob started touching me all over, offering me toys and treats (I was so upset, I really did not want them) and finally offered me a lunch of cat food—now that I could get into. I then met Bob’s dog Kobuk, who was very friendly and who I got along with instantaneously.
Finally my family came back, and they and Bob talked for a bit, then they hugged me, kissed me, started crying, and they left. I was devastated. I did not understand, but was afraid of what was happening. Bob took me to his car, and we drove off. I can’t remember ever being that scared and confused before.
We got to Bob’s house, and Kobuk showed me all the neat things to sniff and investigate. But I really wasn’t into it—I was so sad and confused. After a few more days, Bob took me for another car ride, and we stopped at a beautiful place way out in the country. I could only see one house—there were no others in sight. I got out and a wonderful, friendly woman named Suzanne came up to meet me. She was lovely, and I loved her right from the start. Bob and Suzanne talked for a bit while I lay at their feet, then Suzanne’s young son Brian come out to meet me—he was nice to me and did not get pushy—I really appreciated that. THEN 3 NEW DOGS came out—wow!! But they were all nice to me, and I liked them. We all hung out together while Bob and Suzanne talked. I was starting to relax and really enjoy myself.
But then it happened again. Bob left without taking me along. Again, my world was falling apart. Why was this happening to me? I was feeling terrible but Suzanne and her family of Brian and the dogs tried to calm my nerves. I must confess that they were doing a pretty good job. In my previous home, my name was Gulu, but Suzanne started calling me Goofy Girl, not in a nasty, hurtful way, but in a tender, loving way—I can get used to that.
As the days passed, I realized that this was my new home, and while it was not my former home, in its own way Suzanne’s home was very nice. And I slowly realized that I was feeling very comfortable and starting a new, and very fulfilling life. I was coming out of retirement because I was needed for some very important jobs. This was very exciting to realize that I was not only loved, but was NEEDED. Now that is what retirement should be all about.
Second, I needed to teach these younger dogs manners and how to behave in a respectful way—whew what a job that is, but I am up to it.
Third, because Suzanne and Brian and the dogs spend most of their time alone, with Jim, Suzanne’s husband working during the week in San Jose, I needed to be the ‘GSD presence’ to keep everyone feeling safe, and in reality safe. I can do that because I am a big, courageous German Shepherd.
So looking back, I still miss my old family, but I now am settled in with Suzanne and her family, and have a very important role to play in their lives. This is what retirement should be like—live in a warm and loving home, with an important job to do. I am living the second half of my life and loving it.