labradoodle

Should We Get a Second Dog?

Ray and I have begun talking about getting another dog.

Lexie, our Labradoodle, will be 9 years old in July. That’s close to 2/3 of the way through her expected lifetime.

She is the sweetest, smartest dog in the world. I know that’s what everyone says about their dog, but she actually is the sweetest and smartest.

Lexie, 2015

She has a sweet life, too. Because Ray and I are essentially retired, she is with us almost around the clock. When we are home in Asheville, we never leave her for more than a few hours. And that isn’t often. She loves to ride in the car, so we take her with us in her Jeep even when we run errands. Yes, that wasn’t a typo. The Jeep is hers. We bought it several years ago to make sure she has a comfortable riding experience.

She is intimately acquainted with all of the restaurants in town that allow dogs on their outdoor patios and decks, and she gets treats from lots of people who work in dog-friendly stores.

She has three of her own Orvis dog beds, and has learned that our living room couch, chairs and even our bed is not off limits as we cautioned her when we brought her home eight years ago. She gets groomed monthly, her “servant” Greg lives with her when we are out of town, and she is allowed to demand her walk every day at 4pm by nudging, spinning and barking.

Basically she is a diva.

And, we love her and get tons of joy out of watching her run, play and go crazy when we come home.

So, why would we consider a second dog?

Good question. We think a second dog might keep Lexie active and playful as she ages. We think it would be fun to get double dog licks and even more unconditional adoration. And, maybe most importantly, we think it might help us when the time comes for Lexie to leave us.

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At the same time, we have discussed the cons.

Lexie and the new dog might not actually become the buddies we want them to become. Lexie might resent an interloper and consider us the only companions she needs. If they do become buddies, we might be surprised how much trouble they can get in together. And, the cost is not insignificant. As someone once told me, “Two dogs are 10 times the work and 100 times the cost”. Vets, grooming, food, pet sitting, Orvis beds…. the list goes on and on.

TheDogPress.com

Searching the internet, I found three questions that dog owners should ask themselves about this important decision …

  1. Do you have the financial means to have a second dog?
  2. Do you have the time to train another dog?
  3. Are you healthy enough to take on the physical activity a second dog will require?

Financially, we can swing it, although we have avoided looking too closely at what we’re spending on Lexie. (The Jeep certainly skews the total.) We have enough time, too, since we are in our semi-retirement years. Healthy? So far so good.

Basically, we could do it. But do we really want to?

Here what I’m asking myself:

  • What will it be like having another 55-60 pound dog in the house? (Yep, we both like big dogs)
  • What about having two dogs in the back seat of the Jeep?
  • Would we really take two big dogs to restaurant patios?
  • Will dog-friendly friends feel a little less dog-friendly at the greeting they will no doubt get at our door?
  • Will we be lucky a second time around in finding a dog with Lexie’s temperament and smarts?

We haven’t made a decision yet… although not deciding is kind of like deciding, isn’t it?

All I know is that every time we see a cute little puppy… or two fun-loving dogs playing together … the urge strikes again.

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Opinions welcome. What do you think?

Cathy Green

p.s. Here’s a cute site about the pros and cons of two dogs.

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Where Is “Home”? Figuring It Out In Your 60s

Several years ago, when I was in my late 50’s and my husband was in his early 60’s, we stopped working full time in our business. With a management team in place, we were able to spend half of the year in St. Petersburg, Florida (where our company is located) and half in St. George, Maine. But we talked often about our future retirement years. Where would we call home? Did we want to stay in Florida or Maine… or move somewhere else?

Not everyone, of course, has an option. Health issues, financial constraints or family obligations might make this a moot point. But for those of us with some freedom to choose, the decision can be fun … and difficult.

A recent article in USA Today reported that retirement moves, which dropped sharply during the recession, are making a comeback. Florida is gaining 55,000 retirees each year, Arizona has seen an 18% increase and South Carolina 6%. North Carolina is a choice for many “half-backs” who don’t want to stay in Florida, but don’t want to return to the North either.

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I’m not sure what percentage of retirees actually make a move to another city, but one survey seems to indicate that if people decide to move, it is usually going to be before age 65.

… 73 percent of people between 18 and 29 would consider a move when it’s time to stop working. That rate drops to 62 percent for people ages 30 to 49, then to 50 percent for ages 50 to 64. Among survey takers age 65 and older, only about 1 in 5 said they would consider moving.

I’ve talked to many people in their 50’s and 60’s, and decisions about moving generally involve sorting through a lot of information… and often dealing with strong emotions.

Ray and I spent a lot of time on our decision journey. We talked to friends. We discussed the pros and cons of staying in Florida or Maine. We explored other cities. We made a decision, reconsidered, and then decided again. Finally, even before retirement, we chose to move to Asheville, North Carolina. Here’s what we considered:

Closeness to immediate family

Given how irritating it is to travel by plane, we wanted to be able to see children and grandchildren (who don’t all live in the same cities) within a 4 to 5 hour drive … a drive that might also be reasonable for them to make to see us. Having brothers, sisters and other assorted relatives within that drivable range was an important consideration, too.

Availability and quality of healthcare

This was a big deal for us, not because we aren’t healthy, but because we hope to stay that way and want to be prepared if (when) we have issues later in life.

Moderate climate

As I write this (April), it’s still snowing in Maine and it is in the mid-80s in Florida. We love both of those states, but it’s 65 in Asheville. A climate that doesn’t get extremely cold or extremely hot was important to us, especially since we both enjoy playing golf.

Availability of things we like to do

We wanted to live in an interesting city with great restaurants and music that also had a wide variety of outdoor activities, including walking trails, concerts and art shows. Did I mention golf?

Probability of friends visiting us

Since we would be moving away from good, long-time friends in both Florida and Maine, we hoped that our new home would be a place they might like to visit.

A special house

We wanted a home that we would love and one that provided a peaceful setting – preferably with mountain views, song birds at our feeder, occasional bears and deer, a place for our labradoodle to run and quiet star-filled evenings.

Probability of establishing new friendships

We wanted to meet people who were interesting – but also, people who were interested in forming new friendships. A city with other “transplants” seemed ideal.

Getting back to our roots

This wasn’t something we consciously put on our list or talked much about when we were considering our move. However, Ray grew up in a nearby South Carolina town and traveled to the mountains of North Carolina as a boy. And I vacationed with my family in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee many times when I was a young girl living in Cincinnati. The mountains felt good to both of us.

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Everyone over 60 who considers moving to another city will have different criteria and priorities. However, one thing seems clear to me: If you’re going to do it, you should probably do it while you’re young enough to deal with the actual move, while you have the energy to work on establishing new relationships, while you are healthy enough to take the time you need to find good healthcare providers, and while you are mobile enough to learn your way around the area and enjoy what it has to offer.

For me, it’s been a great move. Cool mountain air, a fabulous new home, a quirky city, wonderful music and restaurants, many interesting new friends, lots of visitors and a comfortable drive to visit kids, grandkids and siblings.

Half-backs? I guess that’s us.

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Cathy Green

I Love Fall! (Or Is It Autumn?)

Fall is my favorite season. I have loved it since I was a young Cincinnati girl growing up on Vittmer Avenue, a cul-de-sac lined with large oak trees that turned bright yellow, brown and orange in October.

When I moved to Florida in the late 80’s, I missed fall so much that I traveled with Ray to Maine trying to “time” the peak colors each year. When we finally bought a home there, we stayed until mid to late October when our “leaving” tree would tell us it was time to go. That’s what we called a beautiful birch tree in our yard that turned bright colors before shedding its leaves and ushering in the beginning of winter.

fall pic

And now, living in one of the most desirable “leaf peeper” cities in the country – Asheville, NC – I get to see the spectacular changes in color at several different elevations over about six weeks. Traveling on the Blue Ridge Parkway almost every day – only 5 minutes from my home – is incredible.

Here are a few of the reasons that I love fall so much…

  • The changing colors of the leaves always amaze me. I take more pictures in the fall than in any other season and most of them are of yellow, red and orange trees glowing in the sunshine. My cell phone has at least 100 of those photos right now. Here’s one:

Tree in yard

  • The air is crisp and clean. I have good hair days, I can wear light jackets and there’s a spring in my step. Lexie, our Labradoodle, is thrilled because she gets to be outside with us – running around the yard, hiking or going to festivals called Pumpkinfest, Octoberfest or Pecan Harvest Fest in small cities all over Western North Carolina.
  • I enjoy a fall wardrobe. I look better in sweaters and scarves, and they feel “cozy”. Bathing suit and bare legs season is over (thank god!) And, fortunately, orange, yellow and black clothing looks good on me.
  • Halloween is a great holiday. I like the scary ads and ghost stories, the Halloween pop-up stores, corn stalks, pumpkins, candy corn and parties. I don’t go to the haunted houses, but I read about them and might just get courageous enough to walk through one someday.
  • A fire in the fireplace on those first cool evenings is a special treat. The hypnotic flames, combined with the smell and warmth of a fire, makes me want to bundle up on the couch with a blanket and listen to James Taylor and Bruce Hornsby.
  • It’s time for crockpots and chili – my kind of comfort food! And, I love the strange looking squash, the thousand varieties of apples and the weird-shaped pumpkins that are everywhere – in stores, restaurants and at roadside vegetable stands.
  • It’s great to decorate the house with fun things … witches, ghosts, black cats, pumpkins, candles, cinnamon brooms, door wreaths and mums. And, the color orange – a bold, optimistic and uplifting color – is everywhere you look!

Just one thing has been bugging me this fall. For the first time that I can recall, it dawned on me to question why this wonderful season – unlike the others – has two names: fall and autumn. If you don’t know the answer to this either, I found a blog that seems to provide an answer. It seems to be one of those British vs. American things!

Whether you call it fall or autumn – it’s a great time of year, so enjoy!

Cathy Green

 

I’m a Sucker for Valentine’s Day

OK. I admit it. I like to receive Valentine’s Day cards, roses and candy just as much in my 60’s as I did in my teens, 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.

This February 14th, I woke up to find four cards around the house and a box of candy with red silk ribbon on the breakfast table. The cards were pretty … and all of them had sweet, loving, romantic hand-written notes in them. Ahhhhh, right?

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I gave Ray two cards, too. One was romantic … and one was risqué (he said he wished he had seen that one to buy for me. Interestingly, in past years, we have given each other the same card several times.)

Here’s what the Huffington Post reported about Valentine’s Day:

The National Retail Federation polled 6,417 consumers in early January 2014 to ask about their Valentine’s Day plans. It turns out, 54 percent of Americans will celebrate with loved ones this year and the average amount they will spend on candy, cards, dinner and gifts is $133.91. That number is slightly higher than last year’s average of $130.97.

However, men plan to spend twice as much as women on gifts alone — $108.38 compared to $49.41, respectively.

In total, the survey estimates that Americans will spend close to $17.3 billion celebrating love.

So, I know that Valentine’s Day means a lot of money for Hallmark, candy companies, restaurants and florists. I know that many people – of all ages – say that setting aside a day to be romantic is silly – that we should express our love for our partners every day. I know that a lot of us stay away from restaurants on “amateur night”. I know that candy is fattening. I know that florists inflate the cost of red roses.

I know all of these things but I still look forward to the cards, the notes, the flowers and the kisses that come along with celebration of the day.

There was only one time in our 25 years together than I can remember not giving or receiving cards. We were in the early years of starting our new business and had just returned from separate business trips. We came back to a very busy day in the office. At 7:00pm, we left and decided to grab a bite to eat before going home.

We walked into one of our favorite restaurants on a Wednesday night, February 14, and were shocked at hordes of people everywhere. We couldn’t get a table … not even a seat at the bar. “What’s going on?” we wanted to know.

Valentine’s Day! How did that sneak up on us? We looked at each other and laughed. No cards, flowers or candy that year, but we did have a nice quiet evening at home with take-out food which was just what we needed anyway.

Other than that, we’ve always “celebrated” … always with cards… sometimes candy… sometimes flowers… and sometimes dinner out.

Romance is nice at any age, don’t you think?

Cathy Green

p.s. Here’s one more stat from the National Retail Federation: $815 million is estimated to be spent in 2014 on Valentine’s Day goodies for pets. Did Ray and I get Valentine’s Day gifts this year for Lexie (our Labradoodle) and Blue (our Maine Coon cat)? Of course we did!

 

Via HumaneSocietyHBG.org

Via HumaneSocietyHBG.org

What Have I Done? A New Dog Comes Into My Life

Note for Fabulous Readers:  I just came across this piece that I wrote in 2009 about my dog Lexie … It’s more of an article than a blog, but it made me laugh so I thought I’d share it with you.

She came into my life on a Saturday morning. By Sunday, I was deep in the throes of postpartum depression.

Lexie, a one and a half year old labradoodle, seemed to be everything I wanted. A “good girl” who had been returned to a breeder after a divorce. A dog past the furniture chewing stage; a dog that was smart and trainable; a dog that wasn’t too big; a dog with a pretty black and white coat; and a dog that didn’t shed. My “dream” dog.

At 58 years of age, I had owned a dog only once … for two days. My dad and mom gave into my nine- year old temper tantrum and brought a puppy home from the pound. He died. The household trauma convinced my parents that it had been a bad idea. My sulking didn’t work. No more dogs.

I vowed to have a dog when I was on my own, away from my cruel dog-hating parents. But I got busy. I traveled a lot. I moved around the country. A Type A lifestyle didn’t accommodate kids or dogs. So I didn’t have either.

I adopted a couple of cats. They were cute (always), easy (most of the time) and playful (not too often) and I enjoyed having them around. But I yearned for the wagging tail of a loving dog when I walked through the door.

The day after my 58th birthday, I woke to an epiphany. If I adopted a dog that day, and it lived a typical dog lifespan of 12 to 15 years, I would be over 70 years old when I’d have to say goodbye. If not now, when?

My first alarm bell went off as we were bringing Lexie home in my brand new Mercedes. She hadn’t had a bath and her paws – which were considerably bigger than I had anticipated – were filthy. And her nails, one bump away from digging into my beautiful leather seats, were incredibly long. It dawned on me that this car would have to be her car too. How could that have slipped my mind?

Then we were home. I had never thought of my house as particularly small, but the space that a 50 pound dog takes up is quite surprising. My hardwood floors looked sadly vulnerable and my rooms appeared to have shrunk.

Cathy Green dog

 

Then, Lexie glued herself to me. She followed me relentlessly from room to room. She looked at me as if I was supposed to do something. I didn’t have a clue what that might be. Did she have to go to the bathroom? Was she hungry? How was I supposed to know these things?

And, she smelled. I hadn’t thought about what it would be like to have a doggy smell in my house. What exactly was I going to do about that?

The day was overwhelming. The night was worse.

Lexie’s previous owners, I realized, had shared their bed with her. So, my first problem was getting forty pounds of dog off of mine. Then, she decided to sleep beside me on the floor, where she could share her wide variety of noises and smells throughout the night.

I thought it might be a good idea for us to get to know each other better before we got so intimate, so I invited her to spend the evening in her big, new, expensive crate. The books about dog ownership extol the virtues of crates. They insist that dogs grow to love the comfort and security of a crate. That owners have peace of mind knowing their little ones are safe. Lexie, of course, hated the crate. As soon as the door closed, she threw herself against the sides, whined, cried, slobbered and hyperventilated. So much for the crate. She slept on the floor next to me.

By Sunday morning, I felt sick. What had I done? I had a whole new appreciation for first-time parents. And, when I looked at her I didn’t feel what I thought I would feel. She was a big, smelly, needy beast that I would have to walk, feed, exercise, play with, take to the vet, bathe, comb, discipline, clean up after and sleep near. Could I give her back, I wondered?

And then it happened. She sat in front of me, looked directly at me with her big, brown, sad-looking eyes and put her paw on my knee. My eyes locked on hers. We smiled. She owned me.

Cathy Green, November, 2009

2013 update:  Lexie is now 6 years old and totally owns me and Ray. We bought her a Jeep and a new home with four acres and lots of squirrels; she gets bathed, groomed and pampered constantly; she has two Orvis beds, five collars with her name on them, 50 neck scarves, a raincoat, a snow coat and doggy perfume; she eats the most expensive natural, organic food available in the pet store; she is familiar with almost all of the pet-friendly restaurant patios in Asheville and St. Petersburg, and, last but not least she has five pet sitters/walkers on call in case – god forbid – we have to leave her too long.  In other words, she has a great life… and she continues to make us smile.

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