2023 was a wild year for me. I use this space a lot to talk about my family and relate the chaos of raising kids to life as a fundraiser, and the last year was no different.
My kids turned 2 and 5 in 2023, and they continued to prove correct the greatest parenting wisdom my mom shared with me: “the days are long, but the years are short.”
However, when I look back at the last year, another series of changes in my family jumps out.
Our oldest “child” was our English Cream Golden Retriever, Rosie. My wife and I took her home just a few months after we got married, and she was the lucky dog that got to enjoy life as the pet of a young couple with two incomes and no children.
She grew from a wild puppy to a calm, gentle adult dog, who gracefully welcomed a cat and two children into her house as she grew.
Sadly, we lost Rosie last March at only seven years old. Like many dogs of her breed, cancer cut her life short, though we were grateful she was sick for only a matter of days before she passed, avoiding a prolonged struggle and poor quality of life.
In a house with young kids, this prompted a lot of hard conversations. From grappling with death for the first time to coping with a house that was suddenly quieter, it was a huge adjustment for everyone.
And naturally, with young kids at home, we were quickly hit with a new question: “when can we get a new puppy?”
My wife and I weren’t even ready to think about that question. While we are both dog people through and through, we knew it would be some time before we were ready to have another four-legged friend in our house.
So, we devised a plan. We’d spend some time around puppies so our kids could get used to the energy of a young dog. They were used to a dog who was aging, gentle, and very calm; we knew a puppy would be an adjustment, so we thought it would be best to slowly introduce them to what was coming when a new dog eventually came home.
The plan was great. The execution…not so much.
On our first outing to play with puppies, we met a 12-week-old sheepadoodle who was playful, energetic, and so very cute. She had an instant bond with our 5-year-old, who after a few minutes of playing with her, looked up at us and said “Can we take her home with us?”
In hindsight, I should have realized that would happen.
Powerless to say no to the bond we were watching develop before our eyes, we adopted the dog, and that sweet black-and-white puppy became our newest family member, Lexi.
Lexi has brought love, energy, and an abundance of playfulness into our house. She’s also brought every bit of the chaos you’d expect with a puppy: constant messes, a love for chewing things that aren’t hers, and a teething phase that inspired us to lovingly call her our “sharkadoodle.”
We’re the first to acknowledge that we were completely insane bringing a puppy home with two small children. Yet, we wouldn’t change a single thing about that decision.
It’s why I look at patience and perseverance as defining characteristics of the last year. Saying goodbye to Rosie and coping with that loss in our family took a level of perseverance I wasn’t fully prepared for. At the same time, welcoming Lexi into our house has required a new level of patience while she matures through the most challenging months of the puppy stage. However, at the end of it all, I wouldn’t change a single thing about it: I’m so grateful for the years of love we had from Rosie, and equally grateful for the years of love ahead of us with Lexi.
Normally by this point, I have bullet points and a clean list of lessons to relate a story back to life as a fundraiser, but I’d like to think my experience in 2023 relates back to a more foundational lesson for fundraisers.
The year has caused me to reflect on the ways we have to embody patience and perseverance in our profession. There are days when the work simply takes the wind out of your sails, and you have to persevere through unexpected hardship. At the same time, there are times when the pace of the work is overwhelming, and you have to take a deep breath and maintain a calm, patient mindset.
However, at the end of it all, it’s all worth it:
a mission that’s growing, like a house filled with a dog’s love, is worth it.
We all battled through something in 2023, and we will in 2024 as well: but as long as we stay grounded in our focus on the greater good, it will all be worth it.
For ways Team Kat & Mousse can help click here! Or drop us a note for a free consultation about your Fundraising efforts (or you new holiday pups!)