Who Are Your Lifesavers?

Jake and Ripley the Wonder Dog, my Golden Doodles

All through life, we have people who help us. Being social, tribal creatures, living in a complex dangerous world, most of us cannot be 100% self-sufficient. We all have lifesavers.

As a child, your lifesavers are your parental unit. Beyond the necessities of food and shelter you need things like  help figuring out your homework, or making sure you get your vaccinations, or bringing your band instrument to school when you forgot it before the big try-out. As a teen, you begin to rely on your peers. Need a shoulder to cry on or someone to hang with at the mall? Need a ride to the football game? You have a circle of people who support you, and you support in return. In college, I had a husband who was also studying engineering. He helped me with statics, I helped him with chemistry. We each had a homework/study group of classmates that worked together. As a newly employed graduate, I had slightly less-new peers to help me learn my craft and answer questions I was embarrassed to ask the boss.

As young parents, we needed a different circle of lifesavers. I was fortunate to live in the same city as both sets of grandparents, as well as my aunts, so we had people close by for advice, sympathy, emergencies. My ex rarely traveled on business, so the boys always had one parent and several grandparents around. We also developed good friends at a church we attended. The friends usually had children of similar ages, or teenagers who made great babysitters or dog walkers.

When we moved for job-related reasons, we found ourselves in a place where we did not know a single person in the entire state. When the people at the after-school center asked me for an emergency contact, I was dumbfounded. How do you tell someone you don’t know ANYONE? My office was about 20 minutes from the school, and my husband was an hour away. I bought our first cell phone – one of those heavy Motorola bricks – and remember sitting in the middle of Interstate I-25 in Denver during rush hour, my new car having stopped dead with a transmission fluid leak, and trying to figure out how to call the school, my husband, a tow truck, the Jeep service shop. We only moved there a couple of weeks prior, and didn’t know how to get hold of any co-workers, nor did I know any well enough to ask them, all strangers, to pick up my sons at school. Except during college, we had always been near family.

Gradually we developed friends, and  circles who could help each other. When we moved once again to another town, we had a better feel for how to integrate into a community, how to build an urban family of sorts. Everyone now had cell phones, and we found friends through work and Boy Scouts. The boys began their own cycle of making friends – their own lifesavers. We had neighborhood children who would watch our dogs when we are vacation.

It’s this last item that prompted me to write this blog. I am now an empty-nester. I live alone with my two dogs. I have nice neighbors, who are my age, or are older and retired, but I’m not close to any of them. There are no children or young teens for several blocks in every direction. I work directly with one of my best friends, and he and his family have helped me when I went on a trip without my wallet (for example). Many things, however, I have to hire. One of the most helpful people I have is my petsitter Briony.

Sounds silly, no? My dogs have access into the garage but I don’t have a doggie door into the house – it’s too rainy and muddy here, and my part-retriever pooches LOVE the rain. And one of my neighbors is a nasty psycho who gets hysterical when he hears any dogs barking (he sounds off air horns in the middle of the night, which is heard for blocks). When I travel on business, even for a day or two, I’d have to take them to the kennel the day BEFORE my trip, and sometimes couldn’t pick them up until the day after I returned. The good kennels are not very close, and many of them close at 5:30 or 6 pm, which means I’d have to leave work early.

Then I found Briony. She’s built a business doing petsitting, and has people working for her. I can go online and schedule the visits, have Jake and Ripley put inside at night, outside in the morning, left inside and checked on if it’s bad weather, fed, petted, played with, medicated, walked, and taken to the vet or groomer if needed. For extra fees, her employees will do supply runs, do a poop patrol, and even come and unlock your door if you lose your keys. As I’ve mentioned in earlier blogs, my company is starting up a new plant as well as doing the design phase of a second plant (in western Texas and Saskatchewan, respectively), so I am gone a LOT. Occasionally, I even take a vacation!

It may seem like a trivial thing, but for a while, it was one of the biggest stresses I had, always making sure the dogs were cared for, that I had a reservation at a kennel since they fill up quickly, planning extra time into my work trips, not to mention paying one or two nights extra because my flight schedules wouldn’t cooperate. Now, I have no worries about my pets, knowing they are cared for by great people.

What, or who, are your lifesavers, outside of your closest friend/confidante/family member? Is there something, someone, that takes a chunk of stress from your life? I’m interested!

Categories: Family, Friends, Travel, Work and Jobs

Tags: , ,

4 replies

  1. This is a fascinating observation you’ve made. For me and my wife, it was family. We travel for too much and often to have ever become close with “neighbors”. But beyond that, for many years, it was hired services (for pet sitting, etc.), because we lacked close friends for many, many years, besides each other and family. Only recently have we re-acquired close friends, and that is entirely due to our involvement in the Skeptical movement. We have found so many good people there, and it sometimes amazes me at the way we all seem to casually trust one another…

    • Oh, you are right! My very bestest friends, including my co-bloggers, are people I originally met online through skeptics group – mostly the JREF, and then later an IRC room that is open 24 hours per day. I go on trips with them, share hotel rooms, visit their homes. Unfortunately, none of them live close enough to me to swap dog-watching 🙂

    • Oh, you are right! My very bestest friends, including my co-bloggers, are people I originally met online through skeptics group – mostly the JREF, and then later an IRC room that is open 24 hours per day. I go on trips with them, share hotel rooms, visit their homes. Unfortunately, none of them live close enough to me to swap dog-watching 🙂

      It was some skeptic friends who let me hang at their house after Hurricane Ike knocked my power out for several days, and they let me bring my dogs.

  2. We never left our dog Dingo. My husband was always here, or I was here. Also when we would go on trips, since one of out daughters is disabled, there was always a grandmother that would come stay. Now however, our daughter can be left for longer times, and we finally broke down and left our dog at a doggy care hotel. The funny thing is that the one on line, run by the greyhound rescue group LOOKS the best. The one run by our local humane society as a fundraiser doesn’t look that good online. Plus, it costs a bit more. On a whim we thought, “well, let’s just visit.” We were sure we would use the greyhound rescue place. Our dog isn’t large, so we were horrified to find the greyhound rescue doggy daycare FULL of HUGE dogs. The type that tear apart a home if left alone. The site had great photographs, but the reality was a noisy facility, where our dog would be locked in a small cage most of the day. The humane society may not have had a great web design, but it is doggy heaven. Our dog gets a big room, which can be furnished with his own bed and toys, for nighttime. It has WALLS, not bars. During the day he can have his own private little yard, or join the day care group. The day care group is broken up into BIG dogs, and smaller and/or shy dogs. Dingo during his first stay found a cougar girlfriend that is 17 years old. When we picked Dingo up after his first visit, he was glad to see us, but also seemed to want to show us around his “camp”. Ever since, he has been a happy camper when we drop him off. It means my husband and I can now travel a bit more, and know our dog is not only safe, he’s having a great time. (the first time we left him we called the first 2 days until they told us to stop calling, he was having a great time and we needed to stop worrying). Our dogs ARE part of our family. They help keep us sane. Knowing they are being taken care of when we are gone IS a lifesaver! Ripley and Jake deserve the BEST, and I am so glad to know they get it!

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