Welcome to 2019! I’m not one for rituals, but this is my third annual New Year’s Resolution post and I have to admit I like the routine. It gives me a chance to reflect on the previous year and share my goals for the future. So, after some soul-searching, I came up with a New Year’s Resolution you can actually achieve.
It’s the resolution that you don’t have to be perfect.
What the heck does she mean?
Let me start by saying this story is about being kind and forgiving to yourself. It’s about striving to be the best caretaker for your paralyzed dog or cat, but knowing you have limitations. Whether it’s due to finances, health related-limits or time constraints; everyone has restrictions in their life that prevent them from being the “perfect caretaker.”
You’ve taken on an exhausting job being the 24/7 caretaker for your disabled fur kid. And I know many of you are doing this all on your own. So, in 2019 please make the resolution to exercise the right to give yourself a break and be imperfect from time to time.
The idea for this story came from a pet mom
The idea about “imperfection” originally came from a pet mom named Susan G. who sent me an insightful email two years ago.
She said, “I want to encourage anyone who has a handicapped pup to relax and give yourself time to adjust to the situation.”
Susan and her family adopted a 10-year-old paralyzed Chihuahua mix named Foxy Brown. The 12lb. dog was hit by a car five months before Susan adopted her. The accident left Foxy Brown paralyzed and incontinent.
Susan’s comment made me realize that people put “too much” pressure on themselves after their pet suffers a traumatic event. They want to instantly become expert caretakers. But that isn’t a realistic goal.
The emails I receive prove it
Every week I get emails from well-meaning people who ask me to teach them “everything” they need to know about taking care of their newly diagnosed paralyzed pet. They actually use those words.
Their intentions are noble. They love their dog and are afraid they’ll let them down by not knowing how to take care of them. But it isn’t possible to learn everything all at once. Becoming a good caretaker is a process. We need to take a breath and give into the fact we aren’t perfect.
I do as they ask and send pages of information
I email people information they can print, photos of products they might need and links to daily care stories from the website. And while I do this, I wonder how much of the information will make sense to them at this early stage. I worry they will get overwhelmed and give up.
The good news is that we animal people are resilient. We figure things out because we love our fur kids. And before I know it, I start to see the pet mom or dad who wrote to me is now leaving helpful comments for another person. Most of us do become the experts we want to be.
How to implement this resolution you can actually achieve
Whether you’re a new caretaker or you’ve been at it a while here’s how I recommend you achieve imperfection:
- Be patient with yourself as you learn all there is in taking care of a disabled pet 24/7.
- Plan a daily routine for your dog’s care, but know it’s alright to tweak it as needed.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you have to delete a task or skip it for the day.
- It’s okay to ask for help. Enlist a spouse, friend, relative or child to help with some of the ongoing duties. That can include attending to your dog or pitching in with household chores so you can be the caretaker.
- It’s okay to recruit outside help like a pet sitter to look in on your dog while you’re at work or away from home. It’s even okay to hire a professional to help while you’re at home.
- Give yourself permission to feel frustrated and overwhelmed from time to time.
- It’s alright to feel sad for your dog or cat and worry about their future health. It’s even okay to feel sad for yourself.
- Understand that it’s normal to be concerned about finances and how you’re going to pay for tests, treatments or surgery.
- Know that reaching out to others for financial help isn’t a failure. It’s looking out for the well-being of your pup.
- Perfection doesn’t mean being with your dog 24/7. Take time for yourself to socialize with friends and family.
My goals for 2019
Since I started Lessons From A Paralyzed Dog, I’ve wanted to write a book that teaches people what to do when they take their newly diagnosed paralyzed dog or cat home from the hospital. After putting this goal on the backburner for 5 years, I plan to get it done in 2019.
In the meantime, I want to wish everyone Happy New Year! I hope it’s a year of love, compassion, health and peace. Thank you for your continued support to Lessons From A Paralyzed Dog and your understanding this blog is my way of honoring my paralyzed pup, Sophie.