Deconstruction of a Sort

The intention of this post is to amplify some of the lessons from the last week or so. First, I want to assure you that Zoey is really and truly bouncing. She is choosing to eat some, wagging her tail, seeking attention from other members of the family, including Harper B for Bestie...

I suspect Zoey wants Harper to clean her up after our adventures in "so sorry but you WILL eat (and wear) this high fat yogurt!"

Thank goodness we worked to put weight on Zoey!! Five days of refusing to eat was easier because she started off with a cushion.

Zoey is having a recurrence of Lymphoma -- this was confirmed.

At this moment, there are four things we (Sparkle and I) want to highlight from this experience that seem important to keep in mind; while this is about dogs, feel free to substitute human or hedgehog or whatever matters to you. 

Nobody knows your dog better. If you think something is NQR (Not Quite Right), it is likely that something is NQR. In a berner, not eating is a GIANT billboard with flashing lights saying NQR. Trust your dog's ability to communicate, and your ability to understand.

I cannot stress enough the value of a solid veterinary team. Build the relationships with your team the way you build all important relationships -- with respect, communication, genuine regard, and spending money (only sort of kidding -- don't be Scrooge when it comes to your veterinarian).

When I call and say, "something is NQR with Zoey" I am in that clinic within hours. That kind of a relationship did not happen overnight or just because I wanted it. Rather, I have tried hard to be the kind of client who is deserving of that level of trust, and I am careful not to abuse it. 

A dog is not a car that you deliver to a mechanic for repair. See #1 -- I am the expert when it comes to my dog. But see #2 -- the veterinary team brings expertise I lack. Hence #3...

It is a plus-size mistake to give up rowing the boat with your team, and so you have to put on the big girl panties, dry the tears, and grab your oar. If you find yourself on the shore while others are rowing off with your dog, you screwed up #2 and have a shitty team, plain and simple, and that is YOUR fault -- not theirs. WE pick the team for our dogs.

Never stop rowing with the team -- ever. Sometimes they row harder and sometimes you do -- but always everyone understands the direction and the plan and the fact that we are in this sometimes rickety boat together. 

I said to our veterinarian -- "Given the whole quality of life thing, I am worried about the not eating. Between the cerenia and the pred, she should be eating. I am worried that the two antiobiotics might be too much -- is it possible to dial back and see if it makes a difference?"

Two things are important about that. First, I *know* I have a veterinarian who will consider my input -- that reflects something important about HER. Second, I am willing to speak up. As a professional with a fancy degree from a top university, I absolutely know the limits of any single person's knowledge, and I know the importance of a team; asking questions and offering observations is MY JOB in all this.

She did what a good professional does -- she listened and she thought about it. I could see the wheels turning as she considered the implications, and the whole benefit vs. burden equation we are constantly working through. Zoey came off one antibiotic, and started eating again (and has to have her temperature taken twice a day -- sorry, Zoey!). Could be a coincidence that she started eating -- or not. No way to know, and it doesn't matter.

If the veterinarian had thought both antibiotics were absolutely critical, Zoey would have stayed on both; rowing together means working together, and trusting each other's expertise. When the goal is quality palliative care and optimal quality of life, nobody should go rogue.

The fourth one is super important and I will address more in a future blog, but it is worth mentioning now.

There is no such thing as perfection. As long as we are living here on earth, we must expect mistakes -- the should of, would of, and could of. Teamwork reduces the risk of errors, but does not eliminate the need to maintain a healthy supply of grace for yourself and others. When Zoey is no longer in the care of her earthly team, she will get Perfection -- until then, she has to settle for us.

Luckily, a dog freely gives what is too often so hard for humans -- immediate, unconditional grace and forgiveness for our imperfections. 

We can learn a lot from a dog.


Claire says, "good thing she mentioned grace and forgiveness given the mud wrestling extravaganza this morning."

Have a terrific and bouncy kind of day!


by Cousin Julie on Tue, 10/24/2017 - 09:08

Breathing a little easier this morning. Dori, from the movie Finding Nemo, keeps singing through my mind "Just keep swimming just keep swimming "

by Peggy F-S on Tue, 10/24/2017 - 10:07

I am so glad Zoey is eating, always a great sign. Everything crossed here that she keeps on feeling better and better. Your words ring so true to me. I feel I have a great team that listens to me as well. I am also blessed to have a great emergency clinic near by that has served me well when my team is not available. Being an advocate for my dogs has always been much easier than being an advocate for myself.

by Kris (from Cape Cod) on Tue, 10/24/2017 - 10:28

Thank you for sharing this journey you're on with us. Your blog has helped me become a better advocate for my dogs. My thoughts are with you and your family, both two legged and four.

by joan on Tue, 10/24/2017 - 11:16

Glad to hear things are looking up for the ol' gal!

by SharonM on Tue, 10/24/2017 - 12:02

SO well said. I am sorry that you have the experiences to be able to so eloquently state how to be the best advocate for your dog. But I also think many of us are benefiting from the time, effort and thought you (and Sparkle) put into sharing. I am so happy that Zoey is getting a bounce. Every good day is yours to keep.

by Tina on Tue, 10/24/2017 - 12:36

So happy to hear she is eating! I'm thinking of you and wishing mama Zoey continued bounce and happiness! And thanks for this message, I needed to hear it today.

by Debbie S. on Tue, 10/24/2017 - 17:54

Very happy Zoey is getting a bounce.
Thank you for sharing and teaching.

by CA Heidi on Tue, 10/24/2017 - 18:46

Sharon, you said that perfectly.

I am so sorry that Zoey's liver is involved, but am equally happy that you and your great team (of which I consider myself a willing cheerleader) are seeing a bounce after all your hard rowing.

Today, and in all the days to come, you have a lot of people rooting for you all, with so much love.



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