Words can hurt.
And these are some of the most painful:
My sweet yet skittish yellow Lab, Callie, is dying.
She has progressive kidney disease. “Progressive” generally seems like a good word in my world. Here, not so much.
This is a slow, agonizing process that has taken its toll on me, and on her, over the last several months. I keep telling myself that “Everyday is a Gift” because I believe in focusing on the Silver Lining. But when you see your beloved dog become lethargic and shrink before you, all the platitudes in the world don’t help. My heart hurts.
This morning, I needed to take Callie to the vet for her bi-weekly subcutaneous fluid injections. Due to the frequency of tests, procedures, and general poking and prodding, Callie has developed uncontrollable fear-shaking as soon as I grab my purse and try to act normal, “cheerfully” trying to coax her into the garage, then the car. Most days I am successful and she eventually jumps in. Even then, success is short-lived. As soon as we arrive at the vet, she inevitably refuses to emerge from the car, and I am forced to enlist the help of a Jules vet tech/nurse. I open the drivers side door as they open the passenger door, hoping to compassionately scare her out my side. The whole process makes me wonder if it’s harming more than its helping.
But today was different.
Today, Callie wouldn’t move. She saw my purse. She noticed the leashes in my hand, one for her and the other for Moxie, who has been her warm, sisterly moral support in this entire process. And she wasn’t budging.
I proceeded to the garage and opened the door, looking behind somewhat casually, only to find that Moxie was the only one joining me. Moxie jumped in the car and I went back for Callie.
Callie still wasn’t budging. And her shaking kept pace with my ever-increasing heartbeat. Her fear lead to my anxiety.
How can I get her treatment if I can’t get her TO treatment?
I tried to bribe her with treats. I tried to sweet-talk her. My eyes welled up with tears and I tried some Heart Focused breathing. Nothing worked for her. She didn’t budge.
Resigned, I went to get Moxie out of the car. Except now, Moxie wouldn’t budge. We were all at a stalemate. And my anxiety turned to frustration. The irony that the dog who needed to leave, wouldn’t…and the dog that didn’t need to leave, wouldn’t stay.
And then I just let go.
I thought, What would happen if I just went with it? Instead of forcing either situation, what if I just worked with what I had?
Would changing my attitude change the situation?
I took a deep breath and exhaled again, looking out from the darkened garage into the bright sun of the Day. I focused on my Heart Focused breathing…and a solution arose.
I called Jules and asked if they did House Calls. They did, and for a hefty sum, but they did. I scheduled one for later in the day.
And then I got in my car and closed the door… and headed to Starbucks. I turned up “Stay Gold” by First Aid Kit and I sang, petted Moxie, and drove. And the tension fell away.
Sometimes, we want to believe that everything is an even/or. Things seem Black or White. Stay or Go. Happy or Sad. Easy or Difficult.
But what about all of those various shades in between? What if I just existed in those moments, those places, and allowed solutions to present themselves? What then?
My ex-husband reminded me lately that I have given Callie 10 years that she otherwise wouldn’t have had. (Due to her behavioural fear issues, she was scheduled for “termination”.) This gives me perspective.
Time is truly precious.
And in these final months, I can choose to focus on the end or I can just live in the Present, enjoying the shared moments, being grateful, and finding new solutions somewhere in the middle.