I’ve never been the type of person to put a lot of energy into developing resolutions as the new year dawns, but decided this year to use the opportunity to try something I ordinarily wouldn’t. As you have followed this blog and perhaps our Facebook page, you hear mention from time to time (well, maybe fairly regularly) of our dog Mattie, who inspired me to create the company, and also through her actions and images I’ve had of her, inspired both our logo and company name. She is quite literally, our “logo-dog.” I wonder how she feels about being the Jerry West of the canine world? She has been the central focus of our lives since we adopted Mattie almost 11 years ago.
Through those years, we have worked hard to try and give her the life we know she deserves. Some of our inspiration is also to ‘make up’ for abuse she received as a puppy, having been turned in by a caring woman who said only “If you don’t take her, my husband will kill her” to the rescue volunteer as she dropped an 8 week old puppy off and disappeared into the night. Given the earnest effort we put into her care on a daily basis, I am hopeful that if Mattie were to rate her life with us, we’d receive TWO PAWS up from her. My only area of concern for our effectiveness has been maintaining her health as she ages. Stiffness, periodic lameness in the hind legs, complicated by 4 knee surgeries during her life doesn’t help matters. (By the way, if you need some non-medical advice for a luxating patella, I’m your guy).
After years of regular veterinary care, surgeries and recovery, we moved in 2013 into the specialty service realm of acupuncture treatment at our local veterinary hospital. In a matter of months, Mattie transformed from a dog who had to be carried up the stairs at bedtime every night, to one who runs up and down the stairs at will. Daily pain medicines gave way to simple glucosamine supplements. Even her demeanor, never to be confused with calmness (as our UPS delivery person will certify) has mellowed and she has seemed to be more at peace with herself, and most importantly, more comfortable. So while we were very happy with the outcome, of what I initially thought to be a dubious endeavor, I also have the feeling that she is at a plateau. Regular improvement in mobility has become more maintenance and upkeep treatments. And while I suppose at 11 years old, with NFL running back knees, I should be happy with that, we wanted to try something new.
So we set out to central PA to the home of an animal communicator, who I was strongly encouraged to visit by a fellow photographer who’s opinion I trust, to witness her gift. We are getting to the part now of doing something I wouldn’t ordinarily have done. But it is for Mattie, and worst case scenario, I figured it would be a nice day together for our family, and so long as we were together, that was in many ways more important than what we were actually doing.
Upon arrival and after brief introductions, we got right down to business. With little fore-knowledge of us, and essentially no knowledge of Mattie, the communicator visually assessed Mattie, followed by a physical touching all over her body to see what was happening. Fairly quickly, the communicator zeroed on in Mattie’s hind legs, and shared with us that Mattie communicated to her as a puppy she had been struck repeatedly on the left side of her face, and also on her back end. As a result, she has developed a ‘hyper-vigilant’ personality and works to protect herself, and her family from harm (cue UPS person knocking on door or her other favorite, the portable torture machine commonly referred to as a vacuum cleaner). After some conversation and more observation, we were taught methods to help Mattie release her pent up negative energy, to re-connect with her body, and to help her relax, and simply enjoy being a dog, rather than carrying the burden of family protector and ever-vigilant watcher. Suffice to say, despite some initial trepidation I had, the visit has me hopeful more progress is possible for Mattie. Since our return home, and her experience communicating with us, we have seen a much more calm dog, a dog without any leg lameness (so far!!) and one who seems genuinely in tune with us. Most amazingly, the first foray with the vacuum resulted in Mattie lazily lying on the couch, ignoring it as it passed by going about it’s business. In an ordinary day, by observing her reaction to the vacuum, one would think a raw pork chop is taped to the top and that Mattie hadn’t eaten in 4 days…..
All this to say, perhaps there is an opportunity in the new year for you to consider something you might not ordinarily do for the benefit of your furry family member(s). Had I not used the Christmas and New Year season as ‘an excuse’ to find our way to the communicator, we would have missed out on a session that clearly benefitted Mattie, and I truly believe has led to an increase in her quality of life. Your mileage may vary from ours in terms of what you are comfortable doing yourself, or subjecting your pet to, but hopefully you’ll take the opportunity to do something…whatever that turns out to be, to give your pet some comfort and support that you might not even know they need. We did, we took a chance, and we are grateful.
Until next time, Happy New Year and best wishes for a successful 2014!