It’s the dead of winter. You’re lucky to see six solid hours of daylight, the sun barely able to push it’s weak rays through the ever-present cloud cover. There’s a constant layer of snow mixed with gravel on the ground, mostly compressed into a sheet of ice. It’s cold. The last thing you want to do is get up early and walk two, adorably neurotic dogs, one of which thinks his life’s mission is to see just how long he can take to find the perfect place to empty his bladder. (Ten to 15 minutes. Did I mention it’s cold?) Then comes the great balancing act during afternoon naptime: do you walk the dogs? Do you let the baby sleep? Do you wear the baby outside (in the cold) while walking the dogs and hope said baby doesn’t fall asleep because Lord help you if he doesn’t stay asleep as soon as you take him out of the carrier?!
I love my dogs. I never once questioned bringing them with us when we moved to Helsinki, even having seen first hand the horrors of pets flying. (A few years in the airline industry are eye opening, in so many ways.) But love is blind. Or just delusional. The stress of taking care of a newborn, along with two beagle mixes, while living in the most urban place you can imagine, was probably not something anyone could have conveyed to me. Besides, I’ve always been the type of person who has to learn for herself.
Learn I did. The hard way. After recieving a complaint from the landlord about the dogs barking constantly when no one was home, my stress level went through the roof. (Impressive, seeing as we live on the ground floor of a five floor building.) Of course, I told my mom about this, and after a few weeks of discussion, she and my dad agreed to take Whiskey and Einstein. I felt like the world rolled off my shoulders. These were after all, my babies. I couldn’t trust their well-being to just anyone.
Once again, I dealt with the complications of sending pets overseas. Not only was it quite a bit easier this time around (only one visit to the vet, which happens to be across the street from our apartment), but was also half the price. My poor Dad, however, ended up having to drive three hours north to a different airport because the flight availability didn’t take pets into the local airport. The dogs were required to arrive between Tuesday and Thursday, and had an overnight at the pet hotel in Frankfurt. (Fancy!) This meant that they left Helsinki on the Tuesday before we flew back to the States (a Saturday). So they had a few days to settle in without us.
If the dogs had enjoyed our house in the Midwest (complete with fenced yard), it was nothing to the joy I saw in them when they were running around my parents property. Five acres, unfenced, a pond in the front yard, deer roaming the neighborhood, which is surrounded by large lots and farmland. They’re not the friendliest to the neighbor dogs, but the neighbors are not within “spitting distance”, as my dad would say. As much as my dad was talking tough about training the dogs and having them behave a certain way, he’s a total softy.
The dogs are not allowed on the furniture, but I’ve caught Dad “ignoring” Whiskey as he snoozed on the couch. He throws a tennis ball for Einstein daily (the only beagle I’ve ever known to play fetch), and he practically prepares gourmet meals for them every night. My heart is happy knowing that my boys are so well cared for, even while I miss their company. Although, it is nice to see Little Man roll around on the floor and NOT come up covered in dog hair. I couldn’t have asked for a better solution. My parents had been wanting a dog (singular), but my mom didn’t want to train a puppy. I think my dad is astonished with how smart Whiskey and Einstein are. Whiskey is just a bit ornery (I think he gets that from me). But it’s obvious that both my parents are happy about the new arrangement. I know the boys are loving their new freedom and having the ability to run as much as they want. I can relax so much more and not worry about how long I’ve been out, or when the dogs need to be walked. Hubster and I are even planning some trips in the near future. It would’ve been such a shame to live in Europe and not travel!