Back to Decatur with Dogs
In 2015, Ina and I moved to Thomaston, Georgia and lived in our brother’s house.
It’s not that we wanted to move away from Atlanta, but it afforded me the opportunity to quit my day job and join Ina in a life of self-employment.
Moving was little trouble. She drove the U-haul and I followed behind in our car with our puppy, Wilkes.
While we lived in Thomaston, we adopted a companion for her - Molena - and so our family grew from two moms with a pup to two moms, two pups.
After establishing that we could make a living by working for ourselves, we decided it was time to return to Atlanta.
We knew we'd need to rent until we can grow our business more, and our first criteria was a grassy backyard for the dogs.
Ina scoped out the perfect place, near our previous residence in Decatur, and we moved in over Thanksgiving weekend.
This time, we had help from three strong guys: our brother, our 14 year-old nephew and his friend.
They drove the U-haul, Ina drove their car (so they could have return transportation to their home in Forsyth), and I drove our car with Wilkes and Molena in the backseat.
Wilkes loves to travel; her long bout with motion sickness as a puppy did nothing to deter her enthusiasm for adventures.
Molena hates to travel. She shivers and shakes, pants and drools, and generally acts as though the sky is falling.
But she always willingly gets in the car and remains docile, if anxiety ridden.
If only change felt as good as my bed...
The drive to our new home went smoothly, despite heavy traffic.
The dogs were well-behaved during the 90 minute trip, and eagerly hopped out of the car to explore their new backyard when we arrived.
While they didn’t enjoy being left alone as we unloaded the truck, they dealt with it with minimal whining.
I was surprised and pleased, having worried that Mo would be a handful, or that Wilkes would need to stop along the way to poop.
Later, when we were alone with them, we brought them inside our new home and showed them around.
Molena spent the first three years of her life as a shelter dog, and new places often make her nervous.
She was indeed unsettled.
Wilkes explored with her trademark curiosity, happy to go and do anything as long as her pack is with her.
So while Wilkes was jogging from room to room with her nose to the floor, Molena looked up at windows and around at the chaos of unpacked boxes with anxiety.
I understood how she felt but wasn’t exactly sure how to mollify her, so I gave her lots of hugs.
I knew we needed to establish routines, but I didn’t anticipate it being quick and easy.
Routine is crucial for Mo's mental well-being, and in Thomaston she was queen of the castle: she understood and expected certain eating times, walking routes, naps, her "evening chew" before going to bed, and bed time.
She thrived in her small world.
The first night in our new home, we put Wilkes' and Mo's beds in the dining room.
Only a hall separated them from us, but they felt far away.
I’m accustomed to having them sleep right outside our bedroom. Wilkes’ deep snore and Mo’s sleep-talking are comforting to me.
But they stayed in their beds in the dining room and slept through the night, exhausted I’m sure, from the day’s activities.
The new clubhouse comes with a sunny spot
The next day Wilkes woke with her usual zest for life, but Molena seemed as wary as the day before.
She jumped whenever we opened a box or moved furniture, and gave everything the side-eye as she passed.
We petted her reassuringly, and kept her eating schedule in place.
That night, we relocated their beds to Ina’s office. It’s a cozy room, next door to our bedroom.
We situated their beds side-by-side and left the door open.
I loved the new location! I could hear Wilkes snore like a freight train and Molena turn over and over in her bed to get settled (she's also like the Princess and the Pea).
What I didn't expect was the effect sleeping in Ina's office would have on Mo's state of mind.
She seemed calmer and more content.
Ina's office immediately became Mo's place to go.
She's always hung out with Ina when she's at work, but now she does it with joy.
Ina's office is her clubhouse.
She spends time in there as often as we let her during the day, and eagerly hops into bed at night.
She sleeps through like a champ.
She’s also gained more confidence.
She began using her dog door throughout the day - heading outside alone or with us or Wilkes to check out her new domain.
She reverently nuzzles the grass in her backyard, explores the house with less side-eye, and occasionally breaks out into zoomies with Wilkes.
Managing the inside chaos - by unpacking and putting everything into its place - has helped as well.
The dining table may be different, the bookcases and tv, sofa and side chairs may not be where they were before, but they're in place.
We've stopped spending most of our days unpacking and moving in.
Our own routine is reasserting itself: working with clients, taking walks, preparing meals, and settling before the fire with books, or watching back-to-back episodes of House, M.D. while the dogs have their evening chew.
My office is the only chaotic zone left and Molena looks at it from the doorway before entering with some trepidation.
She doesn't spend much time in there, unlike inquisitive Wilkes, who pokes her head into open boxes in search of something wonderful.
But everywhere else, Molena is comfortable.
Ironically, our Wilkes, for all her curiosity and eagerness for adventure, has taken somewhat longer to establish satisfaction with the new house.
She’s not frightened, like Molena, but discontent.
Highly intelligent and athletic, she’s a dog who embraces ennui, so finding her happiness has been a little more difficult.
She prefers being outside all the time, as long as her pack is with her. She wants to meet new people as often as possible. She wants to do tricks, chase balls and explore new places.
Taking her on excursions, like to the vet or for a walk through the neighborhood helps, and we’re thinking perhaps a playdate or two every week will settle her down.
Meanwhile, all four of us are embracing our new community.
The relocation was a great one for us as a couple and as a business, and I believe it will be great for the whole family in time.
As our routines become ingrained, and Molena finds comfort in them while Wilkes finds satisfaction.
Happy dogs, happy family.