Even peaceable kingdoms have challenging times. In the last two weeks both of my beloved dogs have had major surgery, and for too many days I’ve feared they might die. It’s been a time of gritted teeth, wrung hands, and tension. And important lessons.
Logan, my German shepherd, ruptured a ligament in his knee and had a tibial plateau leveling osteotomy, meaning that his tibia was broken and reset at a new angle with a steel plate and screws. Because of problems with his medication and arthritic hips, his pain got so great that he had to go back to the hospital for a week. Now he’s home and walking, and the surgery has been a miracle. But, oh, the worry. He has six more weeks of confinement before he can run free.
Phoebe, my beagle, had a massive tumor on her spleen, which was removed with her problematic gallbladder and a piece of her liver. For a week I feared that the tumor was malignant, but the pathologist found no cancer. A happy day! But it didn’t last long because in the next couple of weeks Phoebe must also have an eye removed for suspected melanoma. Like Logan, she has a long recovery ahead of her.
With both dogs, I keep thinking: It’s not fair! How much are such good, loving animals expected to take?
Still, if I squint just right when I look at them, I can see beauty in the hardship. Phoebe and Logan have shown courage and patience. They’ve tried to cooperate. They haven’t complained. They’ve embodied resilience. And they’ve lived only in the present, taking each day, pain-filled or not, as it came.
Phoebe was so cheerful on the day after her surgery that the vet said no one could believe she’d had an operation. He let her visit Logan, and she ran into his kennel. As he whined a happy greeting, she, in always-hungry beagle fashion, licked his bowl clean.
The dogs don’t know they face more weeks of trials, just as we humans don’t know what our future holds. Still, instead of brooding and feeling anxious about what may lie ahead, as I’d surely do, the dogs enjoy the simple pleasures they have now – warm beds, full stomachs, sun streaming through the window, human friends who visit them.
As they snore peacefully around me in the kitchen, I remind myself that animals have much to teach. With each breath, Logan and Phoebe are setting an example of grace under pressure. I hope I’ll remember them next time I face adversity. I’d like to follow in their pawsteps.