As I am writing this I am sitting next to my two dogs. They are both lying down, but Rio unfortunately is wearing one of those very cumbersome Elizabethan collars. She just underwent surgery a week ago and we are looking at to 8 -10 weeks of lying low with little in the form of physical activity and lots and lots of management. On the other hand, Deuce is not recuperating, and as such, he is ready to do what we do every morning – chasing after the ball or hiking.
Yep, sometimes I am overwhelmed. I am constantly having to plan when and how to go from one activity to the next while working with clients as I try to keep my sanity. I guess this is a good example where I need to really dial up my “Zen”. Zen in taking some time to take stock in how to move Rio safely from one spot to the other, in remembering to wrap her cast when it’s wet outside and she needs to go pee in a hurry.
Having systems in place is very helpful. My systems include ways by which I can keep all the medication times and dosages straight. The same goes in planning what to do with her when I am outside exercising Deuce. Instead of throwing it all in at the last minute, I establish new routines. Simple things such as Rio not being able to eat out of her customary food bowl, can really wreak havoc on the list of do’s & don’ts that we need to follow for her recuperation.
Besides deciding what kind of activities she can still do so that she gets some mental stimulation, and as best as possible keeping her life as intact as possible, I also make sure I follow the household routines for Deuce.
Yes, there is also the emotional component: it is hard to go play with your healthy dog (s) while the other one rests in her crate. When I feel a bit down I quickly remind myself of our ultimate goal behind the surgery: Rio will be able to do all the activities she loves to do, but with being pain free. I even tell her (more for my benefit, mind you, than hers) that this is not her new life, just her new life for right now and that we will get through this together by focusing on what needs to happen and keeping the eye on the big picture: no (more) pain and back to lots of fun as we did before.
It is also important to take stock of activities that both dogs can enjoy such as chewing a tasty bone, getting some one-on-one training or even getting brushed for tasty treats.
I cannot say this enough, slowing down has been tremendously helpful in keeping my sanity as well as rolling with the punches. Of course, it helps when John can then dedicate some one-on-one attention to both dogs.
A solution, of course, is one can also hire competent help when the need arises. Perhaps someone that can stop by and give Rio a break from the plastic (hideous) cone and take her out to eliminate. Or what about having a favorite person read a story to her, while Deuce and I go sheepherding? Or having someone come to take Deuce for a walk?
It is important too to not underestimate physical touch and closeness. In my case, one of my dogs wants it because she is not feeling totally “normal” and the other is stressed due to thunder in the vicinity. I take a big sigh and relax into my role of caregiver as I gravitate like a tired planet around the sun between the two dogs, delivering words of encouragement as well as some TTouches.