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.
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 every Internet website and story I could find to 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 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’ll know that finding a way to balance life for other family members is really hard, even if you have good intentions. I found that even 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 that I had to immediately fix. Unfortunately these disasters happened whether or not I prepared for them, so even if Sophie had been lying flat on her bed, her legs always got horribly tangled right before a walk.
Delays and flexibility became the “new normal” way of life for my family.
Eventually everyone knew that we would resume our walk and because I knew Sophie was safe I could focus all my attention on Shadow and Cody. Sometimes this flexibility meant that Ken and I would go to a later showing of a movie or that Sport, Spike and Tiger would push playtime back a few minutes, but everyone was onboard about the interruptions.
They knew it wasn’t a matter of when we did things, but the fact that we spent time together and that my family 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 that YES I DID ‘sometimes’, but my family knew I was always striving to get there.