*Warning - if you’re going to start reading this post, please read it all the way through so you get the full story!*
I am a crazy dog person.
I am so smitten with my dog, I can’t even handle it sometimes. He makes me so, so happy.
I take him on the road with me, Bryan and I trade off taking him to our work spaces, he follows us from room to room when we’re at home, and he’s very very loved.
This dog has had some adventures, and a few misadventures…
- He’s been on multiple music tours, and has been to nearly as many states as any current presidential candidate.
- He has spent many summers on the Cheyenne River Reservation in LaPlant, South Dakota. He doesn’t help with construction, but he sure boosts morale!
- He sits in on music lessons, putting students at ease. It’s much easier to laugh at yourself after making a mistake when there’s a dog in the room.
- He ate a toy as a puppy, and had to have it cut out of his stomach. The vet said his stomach lining was so irritated that she couldn’t believe that he hadn’t been crying non-stop. This is when we discovered his high tolerance for pain.
- He busted into a friend’s closet and doubled his weight in just 20 minutes after finding their dog’s unattended bag of food. (That time the vet told us she had never seen a dog's ribcage ever spread out so widely...the next day he pooped 8 times.)
- He suffered a dislocated hip, broken leg and multiple lacerations after being hit by a car on the reservation. The next day, he gave all of the kids kisses as they signed his cast.
- And most recently, we found a tumor in Chip’s mouth.
And the tumor was cancerous.
After discussing our options (Chip is only 5, he’s strong, and he has a high pain tolerance) Bryan and I made a choice, and hoped that it was the right one.
Every pet owner has to make a decision sometimes, and it’s tricky. There are a lot of factors. Money, peace, and making sure that your animal doesn’t suffer. It’s hard to figure out how to justify causing your animal pain, hoping that it will be worth it.
We made our decision, and Chip had the tumor and part of his jaw bone removed.
He recovered well, his stitches are out, and with the exception of his tongue hanging out the side of his mouth once in a while, he looks exactly the same.
And then we started the waiting game.
The vet was optimistic that they had gotten it all, and we waited for test results.
For two weeks, we waited to find out if the cancer was gone, or if it had spread.
So for these two weeks, I've reflected on how much I love Chip, and how he has made me a better person.
Here are just a few lessons that I’ve learned from this special pup.
1) Ignore time.
Chip doesn’t understand time. He has no concept of it. Whether he stays home alone for 3 minutes or 3 hours, his reaction upon my return is always the same. Tail flailing as he greets me, he’s just glad that I’m there.
He’s never waiting for the next thing, and he doesn’t dwell on the past. He lives in the moment. He takes each moment as it comes.
This dog is a zen master.
2) Be an optimist.
Chip always assumes the best is about to happen.
When meeting a new person - Chip assumes that he’s going to like him or her. He’s never suspicious. He doesn’t look for someone to be dishonest or hurtful, he just thinks that every person wants to be his friend. In fact, he’s quite certain of it.
In addition -
He never gets food from the table. NEVER. However...
When I’m eating, he hangs out at my feet just in case something slips off my plate. It never does. But he’s there.
Waiting. Hoping. Prepared.
Just. In. Case.
3) Enjoy eating.
Sticking with the topic of food -
Have you ever seen a lab eat? Granted, Chip is a lab mutt, but he has that same quality.
He LOVES to eat.
It’s one of his great joys.
As an American woman, I don’t often give myself permission to LOVE eating.
It's hard wired in my brain. I either eat healthy food because I should, or I feel guilty about eating things that I shouldn’t have.
Just imagine how it would feel to really enjoy every single meal.
It's one of my new life goals.
4) Say I love you first, and say it often.
When it comes to Chip, he shows all of his cards.
He wears his heart on his sleeve...er...fur.
He doesn't hold back his affection, he doesn't play it cool. He's never waiting to see if the other person/dog/cat/squirrel feels the same way.
He takes a chance. He puts himself out there, not worrying about what comes back to him.
He loves first.
So - with all of these thoughts running through my head the last few weeks, I have realized that no matter what, the way that I look at Chip has forever changed. And whatever time we have left together, I’ll make sure that I do my best to learn as many lessons as I can from him.
Two weeks ago we brought Chip to the vet. He came home swollen and groggy, and for two weeks we kept him in the cone, kept him from running and playing, kept him quiet and calm.
For two weeks we waited to hear the results.
And with tears in my eyes, I joyfully type these words to you - they got it.
They got it all.
Chip is now tumor and cancer free.
Chip’s pathology came back clean, and I get to enjoy these lessons, and more years with my pet.
I know that many of you have met and also love Chip, and I feel very confident reminding you - he loves you too.
And for those of you who don’t know him, well, he's quite certain that he loves you.
Here’s to many more years of learning from the least judgmental teacher I’ve ever had.
(P.S. Know any dog or animal lovers? Please share this post with them! And please comment below with any of your own pet stories!)