It's nearly April! This means we're not only fully into Spring, but it's also an ideal moment to check in on those well-intentioned promises you made to yourself nearly three months ago (time flies!). OR, if you're like me, you will take this time of rebirth and rejuvenation to set a few better-late-than-never New Year's Resolutions.
Berlin enjoying our hike. This is a bittersweet picture.[/caption]
Normally I might feel guilty about not proclaiming these back in January, but I had good reason. At the time the road ahead was unclear and I had difficulty focusing on a light at the end of the tunnel. I'll speak more about this, and the resulting potentially life-saving lesson, Berlin and I learned last December a little bit later.
Now, without further ado, and in hopes of inspiring you to check-in or create resolutions of your own, here are my personal goals for the remainder of this year..and beyond.
Help Berlin master some new behaviors, like "Bow" and "Roll-Over". We've already made progress on the former and boy does she look adorable when she picks up what I'm asking her to do and then proudly enjoys a small treat.
Try a new activity. Namely, an Obstacle Course Race..that I'll train for with my best girl Berlin of course. How she does love jumping on ledges and benches..now I'll just have to jump on up there with her!
Fill in gaps regarding Berlin's health and wellness. This is the big one.
Some (many?) may disagree, but dogs are like children. I find many parents of human children become offended at such a statement, which is often an invitation for comparison. I invite such an analysis (and ultimately realize we may never see eye-to-eye).
My dogs have and will always be a part of the family. I play the role of parent, providing rules, guidelines and love. My dog plays the role of child, looking to me for structure, security and compassion. Ultimately, we are friends who feel incomplete when not together. It is an immeasurable bond.
More importantly, I take responsibility for my dog: providing nourishment, supplying shelter, socializing, protecting her from those seeking to cause her harm, preventing her from hurting others, and keeping her safe. Falling back on any one of these can have consequences for her, myself or even others. It is a lot to manage but I do it gladly. It may not mean, picking her up from school and packing her lunch (although it might with the popularity of doggie daycares) but I am responsible for the life of another living thing. I take that seriously, and yet, anyone can make mistakes.
A few days after a newly discovered coastal hike I noticed something was a little different on my walks with Berlin. Her normal "morning-constitutional" had become loose. In fact, over three days, it was growing progressively loose. By the third day, even the products of our evening walks had digressed. Berlin is not one to get into anything she shouldn't, and I mean anything (I've left an entire meal on the coffee table only to return to it untouched minutes later), so with nothing else out of the ordinary, I committed to keeping a closer eye on her.
It wasn't long before Berlin's condition escalated. I returned from errands that same evening to find Berlin had been sick, from both ends, all over the apartment. This is only the third time she had been sick in the nearly 5 years I've shared with her. The first was post spay surgery and the second resolved itself within a morning. Given her track record, I was optimistic that this too would pass quickly. Plus, knowing her increasing anxiety at the vet, I did not want to add any additional stress with a hopefully unnecessary visit. To my heartache, over the next 12 hours she got sick, in one form or another, every 1-2 hours. When I thought she was making progress (you have to feel pretty good to be rolling over for belly rubs right?), I would just as quickly see her face turn yellow as she prepared for the next release. My amazing little girl would even get off the bed and sit by the door to let me know she needed to go outside to relieve herself from her backside. With no reprieve and the color of the discharge turning to red, I headed to the vet at the break of day.
Ultimately, Berlin was suffering from a potentially fatal colon infection. My best guess is that she contracted it after licking something hazardous off of her paw, most likely from the hiking trail, which also acted as a horse trail. I don't see many horses with pooper-scoopers behind them and yet I assumed that it was not an issue since we had been on numerous similar hikes before this one. She was given fluids and 3 shots. If she did not improve that day they were going to request to keep her overnight. Luckily the treatments worked and gradually her strength, appetite and healthy bodily functions returned. I've never been so happy whipping out the potty bag and I cried like a baby when she ate her first meal post-medicine.
From this I return to my last, and most important New Year's Resolution: Fill in gaps regarding Berlin's health and wellness. Spring brings longer days, blooming flowers and green grass, and with it pollen, fertilizer (or in our case, manure) and other various harmful, if not deadly, yard treatments. To combat these toxins I now wipe Berlin's paws off with a damp cloth after every hike, walk and potty break. She is learning to enjoy it..rolling over for those belly rubs we both love so much as I gently clean off each toe, nail and paw pad.
Berlin may not be able to verbally share her own resolution with me but I know she is looking forward to another active, but more importantly, safe and healthy 2015. I hope you are too!
I'll leave you with a little something to make you smile..though I wonder if this dog is singing along or feeling Whitney's torment..
This post is dedicated to my beloved Zorro, if I had only been so lucky with you.