My nightly routine has consisted of my dog, GiGi, meeting me at the door howling in excitement, as I would rub around her ears vigorously. Her howls grew louder and longer as I would back away and then we began a catch-me-if-you-can game around the huge island in my apartment. She’s tall enough to see me from the other side, but I would run just fast enough to keep her from getting me, as she would stop whimpering with zeal looking like she was wondering if she could jump over the counter to get to me. I always ended up laughing hysterically at her galloping and howling and chasing me with her nails clicking and clacking on the dark wood laminate floors until I would finally let her catch me with her tail spinning around circles like a helicopter.
About a month ago, a friend was over taking care of GiGi for me. She had previously witnessed our reindeer games and wanted to play too, but this time GiGi slipped rounding one of the corners and came up limping. My friend felt so bad and there was no way I was going to let myself get mad at her for playing a game I had both taught her and played a hundred times before.
I gave GiGi a few days to see if she would walk it off, but those few days turned into a few weeks. Most of her discomfort seemed to be emanating from her lower back, so I found a mobile pet chiropractor to come look at her.I knew until things were aligned, the pain would remain. Dr. Erin was amazing with GiGi and two visits later her back was restored to the factory settings. Unfortunately, it became apparent that GiGi’s rear right knee was injured as well. Almost $400 in and I now needed to take her to the vet, whom Dr. Erin was pretty sure would recommend surgery.
Overwhelmed, I again ignored the situation and continued to baby he, taking her out only to go to the bathroom and always using the elevator. Basically, I was just hoping and praying that she would just get better. Yet, I could hear my own words echoing back to me from men’s group about how some people say they’re giving “it” up to God when in reality, they’re not facing the problem. “They give good language to indecisiveness and inactivity,” I remember explaining. I believe the band, Rush, worded it, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”
I finally took her to her vet today, embarrassingly over a month after her injury. GiGi sat so sweetly as the woman pulled and twisted her leg and determined that she had a partial tear of her CCL ligament, which is similar to our ACL. Today’s bill was almost $200 and all I left with was some painkillers, an estimate for a $3100 surgery and my big ole 9 yr. old pup, still limping.
Only two and a half years ago, we had been a pack of five. Our bulldog, UGA, had not yet been bitten by a brown recluse, which led to our having to put him down. My wife, Lori, was still alive and my stepson, Samuel, still lived with us. In two short months, GiGi and I were reduced to a pack of two. My majestic Rhodesian Ridgeback has been an amazing companion through these two years, so how could I even let the thought in my head about putting her down? But that wasn’t the thought I hated inside me. It was that once again, I was thinking about taking the easy way out. I was making this decision to avoid the deeper questions within me.
How could I work extra to pay for the surgery while also being home to help her recover? Nope!
How could I make this kind of decision without someone to bounce it off of? Almost.
Am I enough to handle the situations in front of me? Bingo
I had a friend recently tell me his new hack for not getting overwhelmed by all of the things he could be involved in: “focus on the things that only you can do.” That sounds like a great plan, but surveying my landscape only reminds me that every decision and every act of carrying out that decision falls on solely on me.
I was putting together a TV stand at church this week and was trying to make sense of the instructions (which I was only using because I was doing this for someone else and therefore found it more important that I didn’t mess it up which brings up another question — why do I work harder for others than for myself?) the diagram was unclear, so I called Allen over to confirm my idea. He agreed and I went on confidently with the project. I realized at that moment how much I miss that kind of voice in my life. Just someone to say, “I think you’re on the right track,” or ask, “Have you thought of this?”
But I am where I am so I have to go back to the biggest question I keep asking myself. If I am the one writing the story of my life, which includes what I want my main character to be like, then how would want him (me) to act in this moment? I would want me to make an informed decision and go all in. how many people have done all in for me for me these last two years when I had trouble walking out my new life?
Therefore, I will schedule the surgery and take care of my dog. I will not just give up. It will one day be important for others to see, but it will forever be important for me.
I have no idea how I’m going to handle all the rehab her surgery will require but looking at her curled up on her bed across the living room from me, I do know that I don’t want to spend the rest of my life hanging my head when I think of her... for what I did to her and for how I gave up on myself. Deciding to not give up is a muscle I want to grow, so perhaps we are both going to come out of this stronger than we’ve been in a long time. Maybe ever!
Now, I just have to figure out what to do with my two vehicles that both need work and my tooth that’s been bothering me for almost a month. As my 26 yr. old daughter texted me a few months back, “Adulting is hard!”