Well, Easter weekend was a huge test for me. Mark and I had to drive from our home in Chilliwack to our daughter’s new apartment in Calgary in tandem with her in her own car. We were driving our truck loaded with the small amount of furniture she was taking.
The drive was a good ten hours each way and we did it in just two days, leaving Chilliwack early Saturday morning and returning about dinnertime Sunday night.
I was able to manage the drive quite fine. That might be because I’ve always loved driving, especially through the majestic British Columbia Rocky Mountains. It also helped that I did not have to deal with other people.
As soon as we exited the mountains and regained our cell phone signals, we knew we were close to Calgary. I realized that if Erin got homesick, she could look in our direction and see the mountains, hopefully making her feel closer to home.
Once we arrived in Calgary, we went straight to Erin’s apartment and began unloading her things. We quickly found out how tough it is moving up three flights of stairs – even if you’re in good physical shape like Erin is. Neither Mark and I can claim to be physically fit at 50+.
Unfortunately for Mark, Erin and I pooped out quite quickly. Kudos to Mark, though, he just kept plodding along. I was truly worried he might have a heart attack or something. I was all for leaving the last half to do in the morning before we left, but he’d hear none of it.
I know the stress of the move was affecting me when it came to a point where I couldn’t even keep my eyes open. I was so sleepy, the fact that I had back pain almost didn’t seem to matter. I lay down on sleeping bags on the floor and promptly passed out.
Erin’s apartment is adorable and her dog Athena took right to it. She seemed to really like sitting at the deck doors watching the activity outside.
Erin was quite pleased that her neighbors seemed really nice and all had pets as well.
I must admit, we were worried how Erin was going to handle the home sickness. She suffers anxiety attacks as well and is not used to living on her own.
The one thing that made her extremely anxious was the thought of how Athena would be received.
Athena is a blue nose Staffordshire Bull Terrior and is often erroneously thought to be a pit bull. I even called her that until I was corrected – not realizing the difference.
While living in Chilliwack, Erin was frequently accosted by rude, angry people who would yell at her or Athena, criticize Erin for owning what they considered to be a dangerous dog, and sometimes even lash out at Athena physically by kicking or hitting.
Athena never reacted.
Because Erin was concerned about the perceptions of others and wanted to make sure Athena was well-trained, she took her to private dog training sessions. They were the best thing she could have done as she came out of those sessions with a much higher confidence about managing Athena and dealing with the rude and angry people she met up with.
The trainer tested Athena specifically for reactive tendencies and Erin was absolutely thrilled to hear that Athena was an extremely non-reactive dog. We had seen evidence of this with our own two dogs Oliver and Frankie, as Oliver would turn on Athena when her playfulness got to be too much for him, and she never responded in kind.
A couple of days after we returned home, Erin called us and when I asked how she and Athena were doing, she burst into tears.
“Oh, Mom,” she said. “I love it here. The people here are so much more tolerant and understanding. They’re all super friendly to her and I don’t get rude reactions such as people crossing the street to get away from her when we approach.”
Perhaps this is because Calgary is a city with a small town atmosphere. It’s located right in the heart of Alberta ranch and farm country, and large breed dogs are much more commonly seen there.
I’m thrilled for her and Athena.
Now she just needs to find a way to make ends meet with a barely above minimum wage job in a quite high priced housing market. We’ve got our fingers crossed for her.
If the tenacity and strength she showed going to Calgary, getting four job interviews, accepting one job, and finding an apartment in just one week is any indication, she’ll do fine.