I’ve heard it before that it takes a village to raise a child and I believe that it is best if you have that village. I think it takes the same when a beloved pet becomes ill. It is certainly best to have that village when your canine gets hit with a likely DM “diagnosis”. The thing is, though, that it may take some heightened awareness to see that village, and sometimes, that village will include those who you will never meet, or some that you will meet briefly and never see again.
A funny thing happens when a pet gets sick. The outpouring of love and concern comes, and you may be lucky enough to have some physical help in caring for a pet that has a disabling condition. But people don’t think of our pets as humans (and of course they are not) but a lot of times the needs and feelings of the caregiver can be quite similar to that of caregiving to a human being. However, people don’t ask if they can come take your dog for a walk, or drive them to PT for you, or bring you dinner because you’ve just food prepped for your canine for the upcoming week. Caring for a DM pet is exhausting, make no mistake about it. And then there are always the people that just don’t get it at all. They think, its just a dog and wonder why you care for them as you would a person.
Let me speak a bit about love for a moment and dare break down a complicated emotion to a mere black and white scenario.I have often told my kids that most of life takes place in between the black and whites. I have said that it is in between the black and white that you find your options, creativity, possibilities and adventure, and that most of life and its’ answers will be found in between the A and Z. However, love, at least to me, is one of the those things that takes place outside of that area. Love is really a black and white kind of thing to me, its an outlier. I am either in love or I’m not. I either love you or I don’t. I can not ever remember saying in my life that I kind of, sort of love someone. I either do or I don’t. I love my dog, and I believe whole heartedly that in his own way, he loves me with all he’s got.
I don’t have anyone to help me walk Trakker or take him to PT, but I do have family who will cook for me and help give meds, and the like. I also have many friends who have sent me information or given me recommendations on medical care. Those same friends have offered to help me pay for his care and talked about what options “we” have going forward. They pray, and have checked in with me and asked about him regularly and let me tell you it has meant the world to me.
I have learned though that sometimes that village shows up in places and in people you would have not imagined. It showed up this weekend on the beach where a young man and his dog in wheels were playing and frolicking in the Pacific Ocean showing me that there is life after paralysis. I stopped him and we talked for a long while while his happy dog vied for my attention and licked my hands. It showed up with the children who ran up to pet my Shepherd and asked if he was a police dog and if they could please pet him. It showed up in the likes that a picture of my boy received in my online FB support page for DM. Every like and every stroke of a strangers hand meant something. Every time someone shows Trakker love it shows up and makes me feel like I am not alone. My extended village showed up over 100 times this weekend.
So if you ever feel alone in it, youre not. Just look in places you may not have looked in before and you will see love in the village that will pull you through.
Sending my love to all the DM canines and their families.