Lessons from a Lab

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Well, it has been some time since I have come here and noted what I am doing and how I am doing it. It seems I only pop in here to note big changes, and there has been a very significant shift in my perspective...and it is all because of my Labrador retriever.

In October of 2008, I found myself to be overworked, stressed and somewhat lonesome due to new work responsibilities. I never had time for my friends, family called to make sure I was still around and I noticed that my hubby and I were two people that were over-committed. What made me think getting ANOTHER Labrador retriever was the answer, I will never know.

I had pleasantly forgotten the troubles of training a puppy, since Thunder (our yellow) was 5 years old. But how quickly I remembered when the wee pup cried all night and did it's business all over! But, CoCo was perfect in every way. She required attention, was overly affectionate, and filled up a gap in my life that I needed to fill.

We noticed that CoCo was limping and favoring her right hind leg over the left about two months ago. There was nothing serious and it only happened once or twice. When it seemed that every day she was sore, we restricted her activity (out of fear and ignorance) and made a vet appointment. We were informed that she had hip dysplasia on both hind hips, moreso and the left. This was two weeks ago.

We are unable to afford the VERY expensive surgery to have her hips replaced. That was a tough realization. She is an affectionate and laid back kind of dog--no 'Marley' tendencies other than the odd preoccupation with socks and a run-in with a silk duvet cover that I will not allow to ruin her good name! She is my buddy and I was heartbroken that I couldn't 'save' her. It was somewhere between sobbing on her shoulder and drying my tears that I realized that she would have the only kind of support we could provide: love.

I remembered the vet did say that with regular activity, weight loss (yep, her 66 pounds was 20% too much), and some supplements she would be able to live with less pain. We have restricted CoCo's food, Thunder's too for good measure as she was looking a little tubby. We got her started on some supplements. And, trust me when I say: it is nothing but pure love that gets me out of bed at 6 am to walk my dogs. We have walked together every day since her vet appointment; this Friday will be the two week mark.

CoCo is moving very well. She hasn't been stiff in the morning since we started and she is very excited about getting out for her morning walks. Thunder has taken it upon herself (as the older dog) to represent the two of them at 6 in the morning; certainly, it must take some bravery as I am not much of a morning person! CoCo somehow understands that the supplements are necessary as she never seems to mind but doesn't seem to care for them.

I have gained more energy in the past week and a half than I thought possible. I am getting to work a bit earlier, and I am prepared to face my day. My hubby and I switch days (he is even less a morning person than I!), but yesterday morning we walked together. I have always struggled with committing to exercise. My friends and family are surprised that I am still walking her in the mornings--they seem to think that I could leave it for later, while I know she needs the attention consistently.

I know that I will be up every day at 6 am to walk my dogs. It is good for them and it is good for me. I am grateful to have such wonderful companions that take care of me as much as I try to take care of them. And, while it isn't the surgery that would make CoCo pain free for the rest of her life, it is all that I have to give...well that, and a whole lotta love.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    oh - i am fighting back (and losing . . . ) the tears!

    i know your dear companions are so very loyal and loving - your kindness and care mean EVERYTHING to them . . .
    many owners would not be up the challenge . . .

    i think you and your hubby have huge hearts and a brave constitution to get up so early for your pup-pals every single day!

    i hope your doggies' fitness improves steadily
    best wishes
    3120 days ago
    Aw! That is such a touching story! I'm sure she is very appreciative of the supplements & the walks. It sounds like both dogs are very excited about them each morning. Sometimes the best support we can give is love & I think you're doing a fantastic job! And you & your husband are reaping some healthy benefits, too.
    3125 days ago
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