Retriever's departure was for the best, but empty doghouse syndrome lingers

NEIGHBORS

November 08, 1993|By LYN BACKE

Until recently, I had never really experienced the "empty nest" syndrome, even though my daughter has long since been out on her own.

She was away at school from her senior year in high school, through college, and by the time I realized she truly didn't live at home any more we were both used to the rhythm of contact and visits we'd established.

As I write, however, I am bereft, and lonely, and at sixes and sevens and various other "loss" adjectives. On Wednesday last, we shipped our "extra" dog to North Dakota -- a dog I thought I'd never even bonded with -- and the longed-for quiet of our mornings and our returns home seem terribly empty.

Rusty is a trained companion dog my husband inherited last spring when a friend died. A 3-year-old golden retriever, Rusty was great company for our chocolate Labrador, but he obviously wasn't happy. He didn't have work to do, and he had to share the human attention. He was losing his training, and didn't seem to be getting anything rewarding to replace it.

It was wisely suggested that we first contact the organization that originally trained Rusty to find a new job for him.

BINGO! At 7:30 the next morning we were at Baltimore-Washington International Airport (that's another story), Rusty was on his way to North Dakota, and I was waging a losing battle with my tear ducts. How do dogs manage the precious invasiveness of their affection? How do they get past our barriers completely undetected, until we suddenly realize that they have set up housekeeping, and we're glad that tea is on when we

come home?

I know it was best for Rusty. He needs to do what he was trained for. I know it was best for us, in our very small home. I know, too, he'll have a place in my heart forever. I'm new to pet ownership, and the realities of its heartaches as well as its joys.

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One way to avoid the angst of loss or lesser self-absorption is to get involved with problem solving, either for oneself or for others.

The YWCA of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County offers an excellent opportunity tomorrow evening, with an orientation program that both explains the many programs it offers women and their families, and outlines many volunteer opportunities within the organization.

There's extraordinary depth in our YWCA, with activities, workshops, training seminars, counseling programs, business forums, excursions and much more.

The orientation program will be held at 7:30 p.m. at 40 State Circle in Annapolis.

For more information, call 268-5093.

*

More on getting involved with others: the League of Women Voters holds its annual citizens' lobbying course, The Art of Advocacy, on Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Joint Hearing Room of the Legislative Services Building in Annapolis.

The league has sponsored the course for 20 years. The purpose is to inform individuals and organizations how they can most effectively reach lawmakers on issues.

The course is taught by professional lobbyists and members of the General Assembly.

Workshops on Saturday include The Legislative Process, Working with the Media, How to Work with Legislative Staff, Mobilizing Grass-roots Support, and many others; a mock committee hearing will be held.

League members will pay $25 for the six-hour course; for nonmembers the fee is $35. For information or registration, call 269-0232.

*

Wednesday is the deadline for ordering sub sandwiches being sold by the Annapolis High School Band and Orchestra Parents Association.

The sandwiches will be available Nov. 20, and can be eaten as is, or frozen.

Call 224-4003 to order, or for more information.

*

The Annapolis Senior Center is providing flu shots tomorrow at 1 p.m. The cost is $5.

The forecast for flu this winter is truly scary (I'm even seriously considering getting my first shot). Older people are particularly at risk.

For more information on the shots, what's involved, and scheduling, call 222-1818.

*

The focus of the Junior League's grant program is the family. Nonprofit organizations that seek support for programs that reinforce family strength and effectiveness are invited to apply for grants up to $1,000.

To request an application, call 263-5358. The deadline for submission is one week from today.

*

A reminder that Thursday is Veterans Day. Most federal offices, including most Naval Academy offices, will be closed. A Marine Corps wreath-laying ceremony is planned at the grave of Maj. Gen. Ben Fuller, 15th commandant of the Marine Corps, at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Naval Academy cemetery.

The ceremony is part of the 218th Marine Corps birthday celebration.

*

It's impossible, or at least irresponsible, to write a community activities column in this season without mentioning at least one pre-Christmas craft sale.

It's equally impossible to list them all.

Representative is the Annapolis Jaycees Holiday Craft Show on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Medford National Guard Armory at Hudson and Willow streets, near Solomons Island Road.

For information, call 573-0917. While you're there, be creative about your Christmas giving -- it's a wonderful opportunity to tell someone they're special, by honoring their special interests.

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