Many of you know I adopted a puppy at the end of 2014. After not having a very young dog in my home for nearly 20 years it took time for me to get up to speed on all the tasks associated with raising a puppy. The potty training, feeding schedule, puppy proofing my house, teaching manners and making sure Bailey didn’t chase after my cats was pretty much a full time job for the first four months. The constant demand on my time reminded me of a lesson I learned from Sophie during her illness: Balance life for other family members.
How I learned to balance life for other family members
When Sophie became paralyzed I went into crisis mode. Taking care of her needs was the most important part of my life, so she literally wouldn’t die. I poured over scores of websites and magazine articles so I could learn everything about paralyzed dogs. And just as I did with Bailey, I had to develop a daily routine, learn how handle her incontinence; find supplies like diapers, an orthopedic bed and a way to transport her around the house and outdoors.
I spent so much time on Sophie’s needs, I almost forgot there were two other dogs, three cats and of course a human husband in the family too. Shadow, Cody, Sport, Spike, Tiger and Ken were all very patient during this transition period. But it wasn’t fair to any of them that I spent all of my time tending to Sophie. I knew I had to find a way to balance my schedule so I didn’t neglect their needs. Plus I missed spending time with the other members of my family.
If you’ve ever been in crisis mode, you know that finding a way to balance life for other family members is really hard, even if you have good intentions. I discovered that when I set aside time each day to take Cody and Shadow for a walk, Sophie would inevitably have some sort of disaster as we headed out the door. Whether it was peeing (or worse) all over herself or getting stuck in a tangled position, the mishap became the emergency I had to address immediately. And unfortunately these disasters happened when I was least prepared for them. It seemed like Sophie always got her legs horribly tangled, right before a walk.
Delays and flexibility became my “new normal” way of life
My dogs were patient. They knew that eventually we would resume our walk. And because I knew Sophie was safe, I was able to focus all my attention on Shadow and Cody. This flexibility transferred to other aspects of my family’s life. Sometimes it meant Ken and I would go to a later showing of a movie. Or it meant Sport, Spike and Tiger would push playtime back a few minutes. But everyone was onboard with the interruptions and delays.
They knew it wasn’t a matter of when we did things, but the fact we spent time together. And when we had family time, everyone knew I did it from my heart. They felt the love I have for them.
If you’re wondering if I was ever able to balance life for my other family members, all I can say is, “Yes I did, sometimes.”