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Puppies can fill the empty nest

It’s been a few years since my parents had children living at home.

Until last weekend, their house has been spotless, extremely well-organised, tranquil, and with a very orderly flower garden.

It was a pristine empty nest.

Five years ago, my siblings and I were three rowdy teens running about the house, making a mess.

We played noisy music, always had friends over, ate all the food in the pantry and left dishes on the bench.

We didn’t tidy our rooms enough and left trails of belongings strewn through the house.

We watched TV, played video games, and bought old, noisy cars which leaked oil on the driveway.

All in all, in retrospect, we were a right nuisance.

For five years, my Mum has kept the house in perfect form.

A house free from disorder after two decades of raising children,

And up until last weekend, it must have been cathartic for my Mum to live in such a house.

But nothing lasts forever.

Last week young newcomers Reg and Sid became the family’s newest members.

The two brothers are 10-week-old Jack Russell Terriers, and they are first-rate disturbers of the peace.

The little dogs, weighing in at just over 2kg, yap, fight, bite, wee, and dig with a speed and persistence that would test the patience of the saintliest owner.

We spent last Saturday constructing a fence to try and contain them down one side of the house, but after one night, young Sid had found the weak spot, digging into the softer soil of a flowerbed.

We discovered him in the morning, floundering like an earthworm on the dirt, trapped beneath the fence.

Security upgrades were needed to prevent future escape attempts.

My Mum and Dad had it good; they finally had control over their environment.

And just when the house was at its loveliest, they introduced two agents of chaos to let loose among the roses.

When I next come home, I’ll need to beware where I step, and if I’m enjoying a quiet moment, I know I can expect to be interrupted by howling, and relaxing in the garden will now be a ringside seat in 12 rounds of premium dog fighting.

But despite the insanity and patience-testing trials of puppy adoption, the two little fellows are quite charming.

I’m pleased that my parents have taken this approach to fill their empty nest.

They could have sold the family home and moved to the Bay of Islands, leaving us kids nowhere to move back to when we’re between flats, or back for the summer, or taking a rest from university, or any other situation where, like a boomerang, we need to come back.

Those two hounds should pretty well lock Mum and Dad at that house for a decade or more, giving my siblings and me a much-needed lifeline to sort out a steady job and a place of our own.

As I always say to my old man regarding adult responsibilities: “one of these days, eh?”.

All I can say is when I am in my parents’ shoes, my young-adult kids will be on their own, because I’m moving to Tahiti.

Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age who regularly writes about education. He is originally from Wellington and is interested in environmental issues and public transport.

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