There wasn’t going to be a New Year’s resolution post this year. But while I was listening to music on the treadmill and the world around me turned quiet, except for the thoughts in my head, I reflected on the previous year. I thought about the comments readers sent me about their paralyzed pets. Most people were at the beginning of their journey in caring for a disabled dog or cat. They were full questions like: how to choose a dog wheelchair, how to express a dog’s bladder and how to keep their pet safe.
It made me wonder what their lives will be like next year and if they know how to prepare for caretaker burnout.
Let me explain this “less than uplifting” New Year’s Resolution
It’s not that I wish caretaker burnout on anyone, but if you are lucky your paralyzed fur kid will live a long time. That means your duties as a special needs pet parent will be needed for a long time. I don’t want you to wake up one morning with the feeling that you can’t do it anymore. So, this New Year’s Resolution post will help you make a plan.
The second reason for this time of reflection is that I lost too many loved ones last year. My cousin passed away from cancer and during the battle we unexpectedly lost his wife. Then on New Year’s Eve, I said goodbye to my dearest childhood friend. Marcy and I became friends the instant we met when we were 13 years-old. She was bossy (in a good way), fun and completely boy crazy. She had a great memory for details and even when we were grown-ups, with families of our own, Marcy would remind me of an incident or place we visited with exact precision.
One important part of her gift was that she remembered what each of us wore at every event. I think that was because she loved to shop, especially for other people. So, I wasn’t surprised when her husband, Duane, met me with a birthday present at the funeral. Even though her health wasn’t good, my friend found a way to give me a beautiful jewelry box and a make one final memory.
She had these words inscribed: Best Friends Forever, Love Marcy.
I hope you’ll understand my need to reflect.
How to prepare for caretaker burnout
I know you love your paralyzed pet. You wouldn’t be reading this blog if you didn’t. So, it is important to remember the number one way to show your love is by taking good care of yourself.
- Be patient with yourself as you learn all there is in taking care of a disabled pet 24/7. Before long, you will be an expert.
- Plan a daily routine for you and your dog. Tweak the schedule as needed. Include 3-4 bathroom breaks to express your pet, regular feeding times, goofy playtime and exercise time with a dog wheelchair.
- Schedule rehab time for exercises you do at home with your dog or at a clinic.
- Enlist a spouse, friend, relative or child to help with some of the ongoing duties. That can include attending to the needs of your dog or pitching in with household chores.
- Join the Lessons From A Paralyzed Dog Facebook page for ongoing support from other pet parent caregivers.
- Download our free Essential Guide of Products for Paralyzed Dogs. It lists common products you’ll need to take care of your pet and where to find them. All of the products come as recommendations from other caretakers.
- Take occasional respite time away from your dog or cat to socialize with friends.
- Go to a movie or out to dinner.
- Train a trusted friend or hire a professional pet sitter to stay with your fur kid. Mini vacations are essential to your well-being.
- Subscribe to our newsletter so you’ll know about the latest products, research and treatment for paralyzed pets.
Goals for the coming year
Lessons From A Paralyzed Dog just turned 4 years-old, but instead of expanding our goals for the year, I plan to get back to the basics. I want every pet owner to feel secure about being a caregiver from the day their dog or cat receives a diagnosis. To accomplish this, you’ll be seeing more “how to” posts for caretakers. And I plan to write a free downloadable e-book that will guide owners through the first few weeks of bringing their paralyzed pet home from the hospital. I’ll be reaching out to readers for suggestions for this project.
Happy New Year to everyone. I hope it is a year of love, compassion, health and peace. Thanks for your continued support to Lessons From A Paralyzed Dog and my way of honoring my paralyzed pup, Sophie.