I grew up in a cat household. We only had one cat named sugar, but she lived until the age of 17 and was a central part of our family life. Probably because of this upbringing I have never been a big fan of dogs, but now in my homestay in Ireland I am surprised that I really, really enjoy having a few of these beasts around.
In addition a lovely family of 4 people, I am also living with their 2 canine siblings; Rowan and Lycah. To be honest, I was a little apprehensive about how I would get along with a house full of dogs. I have had problems with animal allergies in the past. But living with these two furballs has been real cool so far. My favorite part of my after work routine is to sit down on the small couch with a book. Rowan and Lycah reliably hop up on the couch with me and we compete for space between the three of us.
I’ve written before about the challenges of culture shock and generally being removed from my systems of support while abroad in Ireland. I have found that my furry friends are also helpful in helping me to cope. They are a reminder for me to stay in the moment. To look away from a screen for a few minutes and just enjoy the company around me. Its a lesson that I hope to apply to my life outside of dogs as well.
I think I want to get myself a dog when I return to the states. This means that I’ll need to use these next few months in Ireland to practice. I’ve been adding Lycah and Rowan to my weekly walks along the canal. I’ve found that, in Ireland, people are more likely to leave their dogs off the leash. I don’t think I’m quite comfortable enough for that yet.
In any case, living with dogs at my homestay has helped me to feel welcomed, centered and fulfilled while living abroad. Its small things like this that help me to thrive when living abroad for long periods of time. Don’t sweat the small stuff, embrace the little bits of good around you!