Sharing the lessons along the way…

Posts tagged ‘lessons from dogs’


tea bag love

What Would Duke Do?

Several weeks back, no matter where I was turning, there was a barrier.  Some of the barriers were biting and hurtful.  I couldn’t help but think that if Duke were here, I would feel better and figure out how best to move over, through, above or around the barriers.

I asked myself daily WWDD?  The answer was always that he would be love.  He would love so much that no one around him could feel anything other than special.  Everyone would feel his/her ability to rise to any occasion.  He would remind me that hurtful, biting, stinging things thrown in my direction were merely evidence that someone needed some extra love sent their way.

His love for me would then allow me to have the strength to do just that—to be love.

Sometimes it doesn’t come as easily as believing in rainbows.  Fear and ego serves no real purpose on the mission.  The mission to be the change essentially is to be love and fear and ego only serve to block the way forward.

buddha dog

I haven’t yet let go of the notion that if Duke were sleeping in the next room because he was my center of gravity.  He was my go-to guru on all things.

He could always figure out some magical dog antic way to make me let go of whatever it was I was holding onto so tightly.

Since June, I have actually had to find it and maintain it on my own.  He taught me how to do it independent of him, after all.  It just isn’t always that easy.

Duke would certainly always be love and I will do my best to follow his lead.

Day 12 and really happy to be back in the routine of writing everyday!  Go Team Pepper 2015!



Where’s My Other Shoe?

mo one day at a time

I was conditioned at an early age to anticipate the other shoe dropping.  I watched that shoe drop all around me as a child, so as young adult, I still held my breath wondering when it would.  Sometimes it did, and sometimes it didn’t, but the only times I remembered were the times that shoe fell hard.

For probably 15 years, I have worked on retraining my brain and redirecting my energy so that I didn’t create a shoe falling from the sky.  For a long time, I really didn’t even find myself holding my breath at all.

Now, I find myself holding my breath.  I hold it about Amore’s heart, and I hold it about how well I am moving about since the pump removal.  If I can notice that I am holding it, I can remind myself that today is all that matters, and I can breathe out.

I didn’t notice I was holding my breath until Monday, but I am sure I held it all weekend with Amore.  I let out my breath enough to sleep in my bed instead of the floor with him, and to take Duke to the Homeless Emergency Project on Monday.

Breathing out was possible because someone was with him while I was gone.  Yesterday, he was alone and I realized after my third hour at HEP that I was holding my breath until he was checked on and I heard he was ok.

Monday I also had some trouble driving, and realized I was holding my breath.  I am waiting for the moment my leg won’t drive me because of what I remember about losing my ability to drive when my illness first started.  I am holding my breath waiting for the other shoe.  Maybe there aren’t shoes up there waiting to fall from the sky.

Amore isn’t holding his breath.  If anything, he is acting like nothing ever happened over the weekend.  He does what he can and then rests, but he is only living for the moment.  He only cares about what is happening right now.

I am trying to follow his lead.  Today is really all that matters.  Things happen, but they aren’t shoes, they are just things.  When they happen, I deal with them.

Living for today, like my dogs do, means that whatever happens is embraced.  The trick for humans (me) is to work at not attaching that good or bad label to what happens.  It won’t be a shoe.  Both shoes are right here, right now.  There is no other shoe.

Detour: Amore for Mi Amore

Mi Amore

I wasn’t sure if I would do this, but I have to take you on a little detour today.

On Tuesday, the day of my epiphany and pump dose decrease to 70%, I also found out that one of my 12-year-old dogs has a bad tumor.  This thing has grown fast in recent weeks.

Today, the vet will try to remove this very large, still growing every day, tumor that hurts him.

Amore is no stranger to surgeries as he is a big goofy dog who has blown out both ACL’s—the first of which happened to be around the time I was in a wheelchair when my illness first started.  He has fallen off decks, chairs and has broken teeth on more than one occasion.

He is the best brother an intuitive, dominant, and relatively needy dog like Duke could have ever hoped to have.  He is nurturing, patient, sweet and never ends a roughhousing play session with anything more than a kiss for his brother.

As the Scooby-Doo of the household, he jumps at his own shadow, and in recent years, barks at moving things he can no longer see very clearly.  His big brown eyes express everything you might need to know about how he feels just the same as they did when he was a pup.

In his 12 years, he has been the epitome of his name.  Even at 12, he still gets easily excitable, but he is only love.

Please take a moment today to send some love his way.

It is very much appreciated!

Dogs, Love and Change

In their lifetime, they’ve had front row seats for my workaholism, my rapid physical decline, my heartache, my loss of everything including them, my ascent back to better health, my branching out to create a better life for us, and various uses of adaptive equipment along the way.

They have never missed a beat.  They have adapted quickly to any change I have brought our way.  And now is no different for them.

Of course, I am talking about my 12-year-old lab mix dogs.

When a cane was introduced about a decade ago, they adapted quickly—far more quickly than I did.  They didn’t mind the walker, manual chair or power wheelchair.  They only struggled to get close enough to me through those items.  Duke became my helper dog early—on his own—and still keeps his hawk eyes on me to make sure I am ok.

When the cane was reintroduced last month, we all adapted. photo (3)

Fast forward to our first official power wheelchair daily walk Saturday.

As if they had never walked with a walking dog momma, they couldn’t have been more perfect.

They paid attention to me and where I was going next and they even used the bathroom in spots that meant I didn’t even have to get up to pick it up.

They were quick on their feet when the chair would slip and slide up a curbing or over debris on the sidewalk.

I was anxious about starting us back out taking our walks from the power chair as I shared last Friday, but they eased that immediately.

I was sad we had to go backwards in mobility.  They reminded me that they don’t care as long as we still get out there together to walk.

Each walk since then, I have been able to be more present with them and less unsure about this new chair.

I have the most perfect dogs in all the land.  They have already taught me more about adapting to change than any human ever could in their lifetime.

Kitt O'Malley

Bipolar Writer and Mental Health Advocate


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