13 November 2012

A Special Day

Who knows what today is?

I'll give you a hint...

A 9 month old Border Collie

You Give Up?

OK, I'll tell you all. Today is the five year anniversary of when this red and white pup came into my life. It was just a little over two months since I lost Met. My life had been shattered literally, but the entrance of Thane signified hope for the future.

He had a very big day- this country Border Collie. His flight required two plane trips and landed in Portland  at night. Heck, I was normally getting settled for shows and bed when we took off from here for the airport.

One of the first things I realized was just how much I had taught Met. I couldn't believe it. It'd been so long since I had a dog that didn't know how to walk beside my chair on a leash. It was mind-boggling. It was scary. There was even some wonderment if I had bitten off more than I could chew- could I really do this again with as much as my disabilities had progressed over the past decade.

Thane was to be a challenge for sure. He had a doggie door before- none here. He had the ability to pee and poop where he wanted- not here He did not like this stupid new owner who was insisting he was going to busy on the leash- yup in the pouring down rain, no less. Oh did we battle over this one- I know how NOT to approach that next time around! vbg

There were times- many of them, when I felt the likelihood for this to become a successful partnership was slim at best- and yet we managed to triumph over the obstacles that brought that dreaded R word to mind. I figured at this point, after our victory, there was nothing that could hold us back

How wrong could I have been!

Thane had unexplained symptoms- dulled and slowed responses, wandering lameness, falling off edges of sidewalks as though he had peripheral deficits, seizures, bruising and bleeding issues, and the symptoms kept mounting until he collapsed. They were bizarre, scary and the vet NEVER used any of her training to help me decipher what could be happening. It was up to me to research and suggest what to test him for.  Thanks to Sharon at After Gadget blog, who knows tick borne diseases better than she would like I am sure, I got a diagnosis for Thane before it was too late.

It was to be a long journey back- a journey being fought amidst undiagnosed hypothyroidism (because noone would listen to me) We made it back from Lyme, but the setbacks from hypo (which included months without my sidekick in public) and severe gluten intolerance (caused by mishandling his hypo) were difficult and are newly being addressed.

Today when I look back at the last five years, I have to admit, this is not the journey I envisioned when I welcomed this healthy redhead into my life. I realize though, that just like Met taught me about vaccinosis and how not to address hypothyroidism, Thane taught me about Lyme Disease- how it is everywhere despite what his previous vet keeps telling people. Thane is also teaching me about other modes of treatment in hypothyroidism- about treating the individual instead of the labs, and about Gluten Intolerance, a disorder I knew nothing about this past June, yet now am living the benefits alongside Thane of a gluten free life. Above all though, he has taught me about a dog's love for his deafblind handler- experiencing him saving my life time and again will never become something I take forgranted. When will people just drive already and forget about their phone, radio, makeup, how late they are- snicker

There've been days when this journey has been so much like Mets was that I just want to flee- start all over and recognize that dark bump on his abdomen as a tick- get him help then. I can't do that though. Instead I will take these lessons that were Thane's to teach and be grateful that I can use this knowledge to help others avoid our heartbreaks.

Sometimes I wonder why both my dogs wound up with long term and/ or chronic conditions like they did. I struggle with it from time to time, but in the end I realize that this is a partnership- one of teaching and working together as a team. These were their lessons to impart.

It wouldn't be much of a partnership, if I were the only one doing the teaching now would it?

At the end of the day, it may seem like this partnership has been filled with more sorrow than triumph, but I don't look at it that way. Because of Thane, I have grown as a trainer (trying to determine the best way to teach what seemed unteachable with him). I've advanced in my mobility skills thanks to Lyme and I've learned how to truly trust a guide unconditionally in traffic emergencies.

This redhead and me, well, we were just meant to be together