The older I get, the better I get at knowing, and understanding, myself. Foibles and flaws? Got tons of them. And, I am aware of almost every one. You might think I am oblivious to them, but I’m not. I am painfully aware, and have analyzed every single one – over and over again.
For instance, I not only know I have a problem with the Big C.A., Conflict Avoidance, but I can actually admit I have a black belt in it.
Oh, I don’t avoid every conflict, I’m actually quite good at dealing with them sometimes, but if it involves something I am afraid of I can avoid it like nobody’s business.
I can pretend not to see it.
“I can’t SEEEE YOUUUUU! I’m covering my eyes now!”
I can pretend not to hear it.
“Nah! Nah! Nah! I’ve got my fingers in my ears! I can’t hear you!”
I can even pretend that it will go away if I just ignore it long enough.
“POOF! All gone!”
Fear and me? We don’t do well together. In fact, I think I boarded him up behind some hidden room in my house. Much easier to avoid him that way.
Of course, the downside of avoiding all the things you are afraid of is that it eventually has a way of coming back to you. Karma. It’s a bitch. Or maybe it’s just a boomerang? Anyway, life has a way of making sure you cannot ignore that which you fear indefinitely.
Ignore a bill long enough and the bill collector will come a’banging on your door. Avoid the fact that you cannot keep growing your business if you don’t hire someone and eventually you get burned out. Pretend you don’t see that warning light in your car dashboard and eventually it WILL break down and leave you stranded on some deserted road.
You can’t live in denial forever. Fear will hunt you down and make you look it in the face.
I am starting to realize that living this way, avoiding that which I fear, has impacts that go beyond me.
In an attempt to avoid that which I fear (losing someone or something I love), I have placed two of my dogs in the uncomfortable position of trying to keep up, even though their bodies were clearly telling me they cannot. I have been acting as if they are still young and vibrant dogs in order to avoid admitting the truth, they are getting older, and as they get older they getting closer to saying goodbye. (God, how I would like to avoid that.)
Daisy is starting to slow down. No. Not just slow down. Her body is starting to show her age in all sorts of ways (she will be eleven in November).
Her eyes have become cloudy with cataracts and her sight is causing her some trouble when it comes to going outside at night. Her sense of smell seems weaker too. The super sleuth, the master of sniffing out the smallest piece of food in a pile of leaves, now struggles to find the one I just placed on her paw.
Instead of running off to explore the woods, she now stays within sight of me, afraid to wander too far away from me and worried about trying to keep up.
She has a little sway to her hips now. The kind you see in older dogs whose back legs have become weak with arthritis and over use. Her legs are definitely not as strong as they used to be. Jumping up on the couch is no longer as easy as it used to be either. There is a slight pause now, as if her front legs may not be able to pull her body all the way up and onto the couch.
Naps and cuddling are much more preferable to her now too. She still loves to go for rides and go to the dog park, but her stamina is not what it was a few years ago. Taking three-mile walks tires her out. Two miles or less are more to her liking.
And it’s not just Daisy, Cupcake is slowing down too. Dog park jaunts are not as thrilling for her. She has been happy to stay home from time to time. On those days, she doesn’t even bark in protest when we leave her behind.
When she does go to the dog park, she often lags behind, stopping to sniff or to saunter along at her own pace.
Hills are something she dislikes now too. The steep inclines at Minnehaha Falls Dog Park are too much for her ankles. They have been known to give out from time to time, causing her to stumble and sometimes fall. Rimadyl is her friend.
Like Daisy, Cupcake is also more affectionate and cuddly than before. She prefers long naps and hanging out at home versus gallivanting around town. Old age suits her. She doesn’t seem to mind it much.
I wish I felt the same way.
I remember when Sharon from Grouchy Puppy would talk about the beauty she saw in her aging dog, Cleo. I would marvel at how well she handled it all. How could she stay rooted in the moment all the while knowing she was getting one day closer to losing her?
Conflict avoidance can seem so much easier than truth sometimes. That is, until you realize that your inability to see and hear is not just impacting you, it is impacting your friends too. Old age and death are hard to deny. They come whether we choose to see them or not. So I am doing my best to NOT avoid seeing what is really happening and to acknowledge it. I am trying to REALLY see what is before me so I can enjoy our time together, at whatever pace that may be.
Unfortunately, WordPress.com doesn’t allow Java script so I can’t provide a direct link to the linky, but you can join here.
If you are one of those people who loves to watch dog videos on YouTube, then you’ve likely heard of Maymo. He’s a Beagle who is not only cute, but humorous. He’s pretty much game for anything. He will wear a wig, balance a pumpkin on his head or wear a silly costume for Halloween.
Now he has a partner in crime, Penny. The two of them are just too much cuteness to bear. Seriously irresistible.
I think it’s their stoic faces that makes me laugh the most. How they can manage to look so nonplussed while doing the most hilarious things?
Take a look and you’ll see what I mean.
And in case you haven’t had enough of Penny and Maymo, here is just one more.
God I love them!
You can subscribe to Maymo’s channel at Maymo
I had planned to write about pancreatitis, but changed my mind at the last minute and decided to write about canine vaccinations.
Let me state up front, I am not one of those people who is going to tell you to avoid vaccinating your pet. While I may believe that we are over-vaccinating our pets, I am not someone who believes we should skip them altogether. The risks are too great to assume we know better than our veterinarians.
Instead, I want to share my own experience with vaccinations and what I do now to, hopefully, prevent the same thing from happening again.
Indy was the very first dog I had ever adopted. She came into my life at a time when I was really missing my childhood dog, Alicia. Adopting a new dog after losing one that had been a part of my life for 15 years was hard, but saying yes to adopting Indy was never in question. She picked me as much as I picked her.
Indy was a Shepherd/Collie mix and the absolutely perfect dog one could ever have. She was well-trained, attentive, smart, a quick learner and very, very sweet. I loved her with my whole heart. Some of my favorite memories of her are of our walks together in the woods. I used to love hearing her rumble up behind me to catch up after she had stopped to sniff something alongside the trail. The sound of her thundering feet when she ran, the smile on her face when she knew we were heading out on the trail, and the swish of her tail in complete happiness; these were all things I loved about her. She was a very special dog.
Like most pet owners, I was diligent about getting Indy in for her vaccinations and yearly check ups. When she was 9 years old, I brought her in for her usual vet visit. Everything that visit was normal, completely normal, even the vaccination portion of the visit. Indy received all her vaccinations at once – rabies, canine parvovirus, distemper and bordatella, and appeared to be fine. But, as it turned out, all was not fine.
The next morning Indy had a major seizure and was rushed to the vet and then on to the emergency vet. She had to be given Valium to stop another seizure and to let her body rest. The vets suspected that Indy was having a reaction to the vaccinations she had been given the day before. The rabies vaccine seemed to be one of greatest concern.
Indy spent the night at the emergency vet so they could observe her in case she were to have another seizure. She was released the next day – groggy and disoriented.
At home, she recovered quickly and soon we were taking our walks in the woods again. All was well.
Until the next month.
Indy had another seizure. We made another trip to the vet, but by then she seemed to have recovered. I was given a Valium pill to take home with me as a precaution. I was nervous and afraid and worried. The next month, Indy had yet another seizure, and then another one the month after that. As the months went one, Indy’s seizures increased in frequency. Now they were every 3 weeks, then every two and finally every week.
Each time she came out of it extremely disoriented and unable to really understand me. She would stumble around the house, despite our best efforts to keep her lying down. She would eventually collapse on the floor and sometimes drool. Often she would sleep the rest of the day, her body exhausted from the seizure. Sometimes she had accidents as her body was wracked by the seizure. It was so sad to see her this way.
When her seizures became more frequent (every other day), we made the difficult decision to say goodbye. It was probably one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make. She was one of the best dogs a girl could ever want.
In every other way, Indy was a healthy 10-year-old dog, but her quality of life was not what it had been. She was not the happy dog she used to be. Each seizure seemed to take something from her, leaving a confused empty shell of a dog behind. We said good-bye with her lying in my arms.
What I learned
What I did not know then but I know now is that the rabies vaccine can cause serious side effects. It is also the one that can be the hardest on your dog’s system. The vaccine stimulates an animal’s immune system in order to create protection from specific infectious diseases. This can create mild symptoms, ranging from soreness at the injection site to fever and allergic reactions, to severe reactions like seizures, muscle weakness, autoimmune diseases, etc. Because of the virulence of the rabies vaccination, it is best to avoid giving it with the other vaccinations.
Don’t give any other vaccination in combination with the rabies shot. Veterinarians have reported that risk of reaction increases with the number of vaccinations given. Request that your veterinarian not give your dog a combination shot and wait a few weeks before giving another vaccination.
What I do now
I can never know for sure that it was the rabies vaccine that caused Indy’s seizures, but in all likelihood it was the culprit. Although it is not a an experience I ever wanted, my experience with Indy did teach me a lesson I will carry with me the rest of my life – my dogs will always receive the rabies vaccine separately from the rest of their vaccinations. It is not an option for me.
My vet is aware of my concerns and supports me fully. We usually schedule my dog’s rabies vaccinations so they are 3 weeks before or after their other core vaccinations. This may be a slightly more expensive route to go, but the peace of mind I get in return is worth it. Does this mean none of my dogs will ever experience what Indy went through? No. I know there is never a guarantee of that, but it does make me feel like I am doing everything I can to reduce the chances it will happen again. Titers are another route to go if you choose to do so. I have chosen not to do so. Yet.
Disclosure: Please keep in mind that while I have consulted professionals regarding Indy’s care, this post is not advice on how to heal your pet, but more of a cautionary tale that may be worth heeding. As always, please consult your vet before making any health decisions for your pets.
This post is part of the Caring for Critters Round Robin hosted by Heart Like a Dog. You can find a huge list of helpful posts about a variety of pet illnesses and needs by clicking on the image above. Check out last yesterday’s post from Cascadian Nomads on the dangers of Salmon poisoning.