Pets Bring Joy and Unconditional Love,
But Give Them Time, Guidance and Be Flexible For a Peaceful, Happy Home...
Bridget as a young adult/pup
Bridget Sparkeltek Chantilly
(yes, my four year old at the time named her)Since I began writing this blog in 2008, my family has been my muse and my own home the epi-center of my focus. What a perfect place to start-- from an interior designer's lens but more importantly from my own personal vantage point of raising a family, living and building my two homes (our New York City apartment and our beach cottage in East Hampton) bit by bit. Over these years my own dog was in the midst, happily posing for the many camera angles. Our Standard Poodle Bridget frolicked throughout our garden as I took photos capturing our plantings, served as a pretty focus in the background of many of decorating posts (especially perched under our dining table where she loved to sleep), and among the many photographs of my kids as they helped me cook, paint, decorate and build our "nest." The blog has been an archive of my life as I share my thoughts with you about decorating, architecture and home.
The subject of bringing a dog into your home has not yet graced my editorial calendar until now, but with the recent passing of our beautiful, wonderful, amazing Bridget I am now checking in and seeing the importance of writing about pets in a home. We were blessed to have had the most regal, loving, devoted and truly the sweetest angel of a being in our lives for seventeen years! When Bridget was young (we adopted her at seven weeks old from a farm in Novia Scotia) she giddily ran circles in our back yard on weekends when we arrived at our country home in East Hampton after a long drive from New York City. But, she was just as happy playing off-leash in central park each morning before 8 am, or trotting alongside my husband for his morning runs. My daughter taught her to jump rails just like a pony, and boy was she good at it. Everyone in our circle of friends knew about and loved Bridget because of her lovely personality. She had boundless energy, a big heart and she was such a happy soul, not to mention she could adapt to almost any environment. She brought endless love to our family.
Over the years I noted homes where the dog in their life is not happy, and at times these creatures seem to hold the family hostage. They may have barking or separation or stranger anxiety or chewing problems. I think it is important to understand that a dog needs a lot of your time and commitment, but they need limits as well. Often times, people seem to rush into adopting a dog and then they cannot follow through to give the pet what it needs.
I've been around animals my whole life and as a former horse owner, I quickly learned that animals want your guidance. The best horse back riders are those who take charge and although they are kind to the horse, they guide. Dogs are the same. They do not want to rule your home, although they may seem like they do, trust me they do not. They want to protect you maybe, but remember they are pack animals and you are their leader. You set the rules. In a home where that is quickly established you will have a happy home. This can be subtle, and while I do not profess to be an animal trainer of any sorts, I know it to be true.
We must put in the hard work to reap the benefits of the love we get back with pets. This is certainly a metaphor for life-- nothing comes easy in life and with every benefit there is often hard work. If we read manuals on parenting and dog owning sometimes the rules don't work for that particular dog. So, we improvise and we stay flexible but we don't cave altogether and let them run the show.
We were so very lucky to have Bridget for seventeen years, and she was simply an easy dog to own, then she got old. The last year was a little rough, she was sick and could hardly walk. We carried her up and down stairs, we fed her special food, and basically kept her alive and happy. I knew she was getting towards the end of her life but she also seemed content most of the time. She would look up at me with her beautiful doe-eyes and seemed grateful for all the love we gave her. Even though we made sacrifices, it was worth it.
Bridget running on the beach
for her birthday this past July