This I Believe

Fran - Bessemer, Alabama
Entered on January 28, 2008
Age Group: 50 - 65

THIS I BELIEVE

I believe in a lot of things—-kindness, compassion, generosity, friendship, and love to name a few. But, on a cold winter morning in January (yes, it does actually get cold in the Sunny South) I thought intently about a belief that could sum up what really is important to me at this point in time. I glanced down and stared at the floor and my gaze followed the grain of the well-worn path throughout that room and into the living area where it was hidden in part by several overstuffed dog bed—some occupied and some not. Suddenly, it all became so clear—I believe in hardwood floors! Let me explain!

Five years ago, my husband and I decided to finally build our retirement home in the middle of several sparsely inhabited acres. As this house is in a rural setting, we knew our five dogs would be in and out of our house several times a day tracking in whatever happened to be stuck to their paws from the surrounding woods. This thought brought a perplexing problem to the surface. As the house was new, the plans called for some hardwood in the entrance and dining room, but the rest of the house would be carpeted. So, unless we could cordon off an area for our dogs, they would be tracking debris in daily. At best, I would be vacuuming constantly or, worse yet, down on my hands and knees scrubbing dirt, grime, and the occasional potty stain from the woven pile! This anticipated drudgery kept me awake at night dreading the day the house was complete! After talking it over with my husband, we decided to bite the bullet and, except for the bathrooms, pay a good bit more to have hardwoods installed throughout the whole house. After construction was complete, we did a final walk through to admire all the shiny newness of the interior and exterior especially the dark, lustrous tone of the hardwoods. Scatter rugs were placed in strategic spots so that contact with the surface would be limited. We even took off our street shoes and put on slippers when we entered our front door! But, unfortunately, dogs can’t wear booties and even if they could, the time and trouble to make sure their paws were covered would be prohibitive. So, our canine crew took over the house and along the way we started opening our home to more stray, unwanted dogs. Two of our rescued pups went to live with our daughter, but at this time we are the proud “Dog Dad and Mom” of thirteen canines of varying sizes, breeds and temperaments. In addition, two old cats are in residence, albeit cautious of their canine “brothers and sisters”. They all settled into a normally calm and agreeable family bond with only a snarl now and then if one dog wanders too close to another’s dog bed!

This household of furry friends could not be possible had it not been for the hardwoods. Carpet cleaning would have taken up way too much time, energy and caused significant stress. It would just not have been worth the initial beauty of carpet to sacrifice the closeness of these beloved dogs. As my only child had been murdered years before, our dogs’ physical presence in the house became imperative as the cloud of chronic depression was threatening to overshadow any joy I could feel. These once unwanted dogs came to me in a time of deep sorrow. They licked the tears from my cheeks and have helped to heal the pain in my heart where the brokenness hurt more than words could describe. They have given me a reason and a passion to care about what happens each day. Now, with dust mop in hand, each Saturday I go through the house sweeping up a neat pile of dog hair and occasionally a damp swipe across the floor gets up any ground in dirt. I believe in hardwoods that make life so much easier so I can focus on what is important—spending time with deserving and grateful canine companions. They have given me so much more in return! They have given me back my life and my smile!