I think there has only been a period of nine months in my entire life that I have not had a dog. I’m not even sure I know how to live without a dog—actually, without multiple dogs. Currently, I have four. I have had many other pets over the years, including cats, snakes, mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, a chinchilla, African tree frogs, salamanders and even a parakeet. But ultimately I am a dog person. I like most dogs better than most people. (It’s true. Sorry.)
Right now I share my home with my husband Brian (who, by the way, thinks two is a good number), and four rescued dogs. The oldest, Georgia Rae, is 8 and looks like a mini golden retriever; Chad Harper is 7 and is a border collie/long-haired standard dachshund mix; Emmy Lou just turned 4 and, though she was born to a cocker spaniel mom, she is the spitting image of a chihuahua; and Lucy T, our redhead, is 3 and seems to be a Papillion/long-haired mini-dachshund mix. All of these dogs have huge personalities and came to us with varying degrees of emotional issues (except for Emmy, who was a puppy when adopted). As Frey, a veterinarian, says on page 13, I truly believe that there is no one better on this planet to be raising these dogs.
Like so many pet owners, including Stephanie Takes-Desbiens, whose story is on page 12, I have often wrestled with how and when to say goodbye to many, many dogs (and other pets) over the years. I have agonized about “how much” to do, to spend, to lose sleep, to interrupt everyone’s life—when caring for a loved pet. The irony of writing this column today is that I am in the middle of a huge life-changing experience with our sweet little Emmy Lou, who is suffering with her second flare-up from intervertebral disc disease. We have opted for a non-surgical approach and have had great success with acupuncture, combined with meds and crate rest. Emmy fully recovered from her first flare-up, but just yesterday became incapacitated with her second. We knew it was likely to happen, but to see a dog running happily at 7 a.m. and then gradually lose all mobility by 3 p.m. is quite shocking. Today, as I held her and loved her while she was having her acupuncture, I felt her body relax and knew through her big brown eyes and constant kisses that I was for sure doing the right thing. Her vet is optimistic and I am also feeling OK about continuing to provide this type of care. As long as she can be kept comfortable and happy, I am on the “dog mom” job.
Naturally, I love this issue of My Generation. Whether it’s a dog, a cat or a wild horse, I believe that we grow as humans by caring for and loving a pet. I hope you enjoy the stories and columns we have put together for you in our All About Pets issue. And be sure to also take a minute to check out the information on the next Maine Senior Guide Expo. Whether you’re a “senior” or not, there is some really good stuff here that you may find useful as you care for a family member—or perhaps think about the next phase of your own life. See pages 31–35 for all the details. If you happen to come to the Expo—Oct. 5 in Freeport—stop by and say hello to us at our booth.