Happy Sunday everyone! I hope you all had a safe and happy weekend and are ready to tackle the week ahead. I had a busy, but productive, weekend doing some off-service call. It was really challenging but also a great learning opportunity which I will speak more to another day. I’m promised myself that there would be no more medicine talk for the rest of the weekend (boundaries are healthy, right?).
So, in more exciting news, I’ve adopted my first pet! I’ve been dreaming about this moment for a long long time and have been a pet lover all my life. I was fortunate enough growing up to have the sweetest dog. He was sassy, affectionate, energetic, and incredibly loving. His name was Tucker (I come from a long line of Leaf’s fans – don’t hold it against me!) and he was a Portuguese Water Dog. Here’s a picture of my sweet buddy:
Unfortunately, in January 2017, my family had to make the difficult decision to say goodbye to my lovely boy. He was just shy of his thirteenth birthday and had recently been diagnosed with a metastatic hepatic malignancy. At the time, I was across the country in British Columbia preparing for my first residency interviews. I was devastated and continue to miss Tucker each and every day. I’ve had some time to process this shared loss and have learned a little bit about myself and the role animals have in keeping me well. Tucker helped keep me physically active – we would swim, walk, run, and play. He provided emotional comfort – his over-zealous greetings and our hours of cuddling on the sofa still bring a smile to my face. When Tucker passed away, so many rituals, routines, and comforts passed with him. My family home felt eerily quiet and I felt lost.
Some months down the road, although my heart is still heavy, I have begun to heal. I know that Tucker couldn’t have possibly been around for ever and, most days, I’m able to accept that. This experience has also helped to reveal an added layer of empathy in my professional practice. A self-proclaimed “dog person”, I had difficulty understanding of different people would become so attached to different animals…until I had to respond to dismissive comments about losing my special pet: “I bet that’s hard, but he’s just a dog right?”. These comments were challenging but also illuminating to what seems like an obvious truth – people are different. We all have varying relationship preferences, emotional needs, life goals, temperaments…the list goes on and on; however, just because I might not identify as an “iguana enthusiast” or “fish fanatic” does not mean that I can’t appreciate and relate to the underlying emotion. Moreover, if others struggle to relate to my sense of loss, I can place myself in their shoes and understand that I might also be emotionally ambivalent we were discussing the loss of a gerbil. Irregardless of which side I am on, my hope is to recognize these natural variations in human emotion and perception and acknowledge them with respect and an inquisitive mind.
On a happier note, as I mentioned earlier, I have adopted my own pet. For those of you who I haven’t connected with on Twitter, this is Gatsby, a 3-month old, 900g rescue from a local shelter. I already adore this energetic little dude and am looking forward to building new rituals and routines.
Do you have any pets? How do your furry friends keep you well? I’d love to hear about them or even see photos! Have a great week ahead!