7 Life Lessons learnt from Picasso

Before I tell you what these lessons are, allow me to tell you about Picasso. A few years ago, my daughter and son asked if they could have a dog or a pet. As I ‘m not a fan of cats, we agreed that the only common pet to us all is a dog and that they would have to wait until the older one is in secondary school before they could get one. The rationale for this is that they need to be able to take some responsibility for the dog and therefore the timing had to be right.

A few months ago, I found myself in a position whereby my son was about to start secondary school and my friend, Barbara told me about a breeder whose daughter lives close to her. Within a day of hearing about this, the kids and I made up our minds that we would get one of the puppies but we first had to clear it with my husband. Luckily for us, he agreed to the idea on the condition that he’s not involved in his care and the puppy isn’t allowed to roam around anyhow in the house. We all agreed to fulfil our parts of the bargain including the kids taking responsibility for the dog. We initially made contact with the breeder and within a few weeks, we brought Picasso home at 8 weeks old. He is an adorable pure breed, Bichon Frise, with dark, probing, and beautiful eyes that can melt anyone’s hardened heart.

Before we went to pick Picasso up, we prepared so much for his arrival, cleared out our utility room, bought furniture such as crates, beds, toys, treats, booked vaccination appointments and even threw some things out to make room for him in our already cramped house. I also bought a book on how to raise a happy puppy which I read within 2 days. My internet activity for at least two weeks before his arrival would show that I spent most of my browsing time visiting dogs sites etc. Everything came to a halt for Picasso. My reading went out of the roof and even our family conversations centred around this new pet we were expecting.

Something however happened after two days of Picasso arriving home. Not only did he cry for two days like a baby, but I never imagined that it would entail a lot of work i.e. cleaning, feeding and monitoring. I couldn’t quite remember if it was that hard looking after my kids when they were babies. Understandably, it was new for him as much as it was for us and he missed his mother and litter mates. Nevertheless nothing prepared me for how much of my time would be required to nurture this beautiful creature. Despite the kids doing their part, I discovered that I was the one with the main responsibility for this dog that they wanted. Some mornings when they were tired, I was the one who had to get up early to feed him etc.

This made me re-think my position on this new addition that could potentially be part of our family for another 14-17 years. As such I concluded that I needed to do away with him and that I couldn’t possibly be thinking right when I agreed to go along with the idea. I contacted the breeder about returning Picasso but the breeder had already left for Romania and so I registered to an online shop where I could sell him. Not only did my kids cry their eyes out and made me feel guilty for thinking of such a cruel idea, Picasso himself looked very sad on that same day such that my daughter believed that he somehow knew what I was up to. Surprisingly within a week of living with us, Picasso had blended in with our family and we had started to kind of make provisions for him in whatever we did either in making outing plans or rostering who’s looking after him, feeding, grooming etc. It was therefore not too shocking when I changed my mind about giving him away or selling him. It’s been 4 weeks since we brought Picasso home and I thought I’d share a few things that I learnt from this little, furry creature with you.

1. Everyone wants a beautiful wife, husband or even marriage but not everyone really understands how much input is required from them or that they will need to roll up their sleeves and work hard at complementing each other or at the marriage. I certainly didn’t know I would have to do so much at the beginning to raise this puppy. No marriage becomes great by doing nothing. We have to work at it and it only works when everyone works as a team. Most things including marriage initially seem very beautiful in anticipation until you know the scores. But that should not be a deterrent but with perseverance, you should reap a good reward.

2. We complain of not having enough time and give excuses for not doing certain things when what we really lack is structure and not time. I never thought I had any more time to spare until Picasso joined us and I can realistically say that he is forking out at least a minimum of 2-3 hours out of my already stretched time per day. So my question is, where did these extra time come from? What should you be doing that you are making excuses about? Kiss your excuses goodbye and do it now!

3. Once you bring that woman home, seal that marriage or bring those babies into the world, there is no looking back. Unlike Picasso that I could potentially sell or give away, a marriage or children cannot be given away just like that or sold, and therefore one needs to be really sure that they can commit to this for life. As a lot has already gone into preparing for Picasso, money spent and expectations raised, I decided to stick with my commitment. Of course it is still hard but it is getting better by each day.

4. Reading and counselling may help in preparing you for marriage or raising kids but it’s a different ball game when reality comes knocking. Starting your life with a new spouse or having a new baby requires continuous updating of your skills, knowledge, prayers and being able to adapt to these people. So you will need to be patient and get to know them well. You will need to trust your inner instincts too and much more than that, seek God’s counsel. I had to pray about my decision to sell Picasso but in the end felt that it was not the right move.

5. God does meet more than our needs and therefore will sometimes meet the not-so-serious ones just to show you how much he loves you and is interested in you. I only realised a few days ago that Picasso is part of God’s gift to me/us this year. Every July when I celebrate my birthday, I always ask God for a gift and I did the same thing this year. We found out about Picasso a week after my birthday but I did not make any connection between him and my request until a few days ago when I was making prayers of thanksgiving to God and I suddenly had this impression upon my heart and felt led to thank God for giving him to us. I believe that having Picasso has brought us all together to focus on one thing and to work as a great team together, each bearing his own weight. Even my husband who initially did not want to be involved has now started showing interest and playing with Picasso.

6. You still have to maintain whatever God gives you even if it is a gift from him. Just like Picasso is a gift from God to us, so are our families and spouses but we still need to ensure that we take care of them, value, nurture and love them. It is going to take a lot of commitment because they depend on us and we don’t always feel like waking up to feed Picasso but we have to because he also depends on us.

7. The rewards of commitment and loving/nurturing your loved ones are well worth it. The joy of seeing Picasso so happy and bouncing about our home is so much. I can’t possibly explain the feeling I get when he hears my voice and he’s trying to break free from anything or anyone in his way so he can come and lick me or greet me. It’s made the sacrifices of these past few weeks worth it. How much more are the rewards of the sacrifices that we make for our closest and dearest. In fact if we learn to see them as doing what we should be doing, they won’t appear so burdensome.