It’s funny how things become “normal” simply because you adjust your routine and expectations. We’ve made several small changes to our home environment over the past couple of months and now it’s hard to remember how things were before.
For instance, about a year and a half ago we spent a fortune (and a week camped out upstairs) having our downstairs floors resurfaced. We had the disgusting laminate ripped out and a combination of stone and wood floors installed. Stone was put in at the entryway as well as the kitchen/breakfast nook. Hickory wood flooring was installed in the dining and living room as well as Richard’s office. We were thrilled with the results.
A couple of months ago, we put an area rug in the living room. Maggie kept jumping off the sofa and the hard wood was causing her difficulty. And Denny seemed more secure walking on the rug. Then we put a runner down to partially cover the area from the entryway to the breakfast nook, giving Denny an area in the middle that was more secure to walk on. Then a second runner was put down to make a more complete walkway through the living room so that Denny never had to touch the wood. Then a throw rug went down in Richard’s office, so there was more area for him to walk without slipping.
We stopped Denny from trying to climb the stairs around the time he had his surgery on his spine. We started carrying him up at night when it was time for bed. We’ve continued this but now that we’re concerned about not giving his back the proper support when we carry him, we have started to have him lie down in a donut bed and us carry his bed up. He’s even now to the point that we drop the bed at the foot of the stairs and he climbs in, awaiting his serfs to carry him up for the night. Oh yeah, he’s enjoying that bit!
The thing is, we’ve been through all sorts of things with several dogs over the past few years. Alfie didn’t see too well and never got used to the stairs, so we carried him up every night. He slept between us so he wouldn’t fall off the bed. He was often sick on the bed, so we started putting a towel down in front of him for easy clean up.
When he stopped eating we started syringe feeding him. Every morning before leaving for work and then again when we got home. As his condition deteriorated we would add crushed pills to the mixture. Then daily injections. And then eventually I was giving him IV fluids. It became so routine that when we lost him I felt lost myself. What would I do with all this extra time I suddenly had? It always felt like there was something I should be doing.
Sammy would never have been able to manage stairs either so he was carried as well. He also had to sleep with his head slightly elevated, so I got used to him sleeping in the crook of my arm with his head on my shoulder. I’d often have to adjust him during the night to make sure his airway was open. And of course there was the copious amounts of drool & phlegm he shared with me during the night. Sometimes it would get too much for him and we’d have to get up in the wee hours to go turn the vaporizer on to thin it out. Many was the night I’d nearly fall asleep on the spare bathroom floor while holding him towards the steam.
I walked around the house holding him often, giving gentle taps to his back to help break up the congestion. I seemed to always have a towel around my shoulder to catch the drool. I’d laugh and compare myself to a mom with a colicky newborn. It became routine. And then when we lost Sammy, I again felt lost. Life around the house was too “simple.”
I miss both of those boys very much and would gladly go back to doing whatever routine I needed to do in order to have them here with us.
My point is not to dwell on our past losses or heartaches, but to acknowledge that sometimes you just have to crack on and deal with stuff. You adjust. You conform. You do whatever it takes to make life the best it can be.
I remember reading an interview with a woman who was a cancer patient. She said she got so tired of people telling her how brave she was. She said she wanted to scream at them that she wasn’t brave – she just didn’t have a choice. She was the hand she was dealt and she had to get on with trying to live her life.
The joy and happiness and love that these furkids have brought to our lives cannot be measured. Our lives would’ve been so empty without them. So whatever we have to do now, and whatever we have to do in the future, it is totally worth it. And after all, it is part of the commitment we made when we brought them into our lives. I suppose that is the most frustrating part about being involved in a Rescue. So many people don’t take that commitment seriously. The sheer stupidity of people who contact us with their pathetic excuses as to why they want to abandon their dog is sickening. The dog was never really a member of their family. They didn’t really love it unconditionally. It was an amusing distraction for a while and now they’re bored of it and ready for a new toy. If that weren’t the case, then they would find a way to make it work.