I’ve written about Millie the Wonderdog before, and how she is simply the happiest dog I’ve ever known, despite having some problems she has to face. Well, that was BEFORE she took a notable turn for the worse a couple of weeks ago. You see, as her hip dysplasia finally got the better of her, she got to the point where she could no longer stand up without help, and no longer use the ramp we installed for her to get over the front porch stairs. Yup, each morning one of us has to set her on her feet, and whenever she needs to go outside, one of us has to carry her down, then back up the stairs when she is done.
And she’s still the happiest dog I’ve ever known.
Despite many changes for her and for us, Millie simply does not let the changing circumstances get her down. About two years ago, when her hip dysplasia really started to kick in, it became clear that she could no longer get on, or off the bed on her own. Glenda bought her a nice, thick dog bed, and placed it at the foot of ours. Millie immediately knew it was for her, wagged in appreciation, and laid down upon it—something she would do every night for the next two years.
But now the floor is cold, and that hurts her already fragile joints…
So we’ve taken to picking her up, and putting her back on the bed with us, and she is ecstatic. The moment I move to pick her up, her tail begins to wag furiously. In the middle of the night, every night since she’s been back on the bed, she’s awakened me by either panting in delight, the way dogs do when they’re ecstatic, or by kissing my hand, or, by both.
And, no, she cannot go down the stairs to her back yard, to do her twice daily patrols of the yard, anymore, nor can I carry her safely up and down the two flights of stairs. But, she does go out front, where we only need to carry her up or down four stairs. And she wags as I bend down to pick her up to take her out. And when she is done doing her business, she always turns to make sure one of us is there. As we catch eyes, there goes that tail again, as she walks over, and leans against me to make it easier for me to pick her up (remember, she is a 60 lb dog…).
And when we come back in, she doesn’t head for the spot on the floor where the 7:00AM sun is hitting, no. She has a spot about 1.5 feet from that. You see, being a smart and observant girl, she’s figured out that that is the place where the sunlight coming through the window will last the longest. She just has to wait for it to reach her. And, more often than not, she nods off to sleep, a gentle “thump, thump” coming from her still wagging tail.
This beautiful, elderly dog, enduring so much pain, but exuding so much joy, has taught me a lot.
Millie Wonderdog’s Secrets to a Happy Life:
* Surround yourself with those you love. Those are the ones you can rest with, and knowing that is priceless. And always let them know they are loved.
*Focus of the good parts, not the bad. Oh, to be sure, we must acknowledge them, BUT, Millie, though being in pain, clearly enjoys the cuddle time involved in being picked up. She clearly LOVES having one of us in sight the entire time she is in her front yard, taking care of things. In short, let the good in life be the locus of your focus!
*Anticipate change, and plan accordingly. Sure, Millie could get instant gratification lying down in a sliver of sunlight that would move and disappear in less than half an hour. Or, she could do what she does, which is pay attention to where the sun will be hitting the longest, and choose that as the resting spot, anticipating the blessing of warm sunlight to come.
Friends, life is tough. Anyone saying anything else is trying to sell you something. But, in my 56 years, I have consistently seen that no matter how difficult a circumstance, no matter the depth of pain, there is always some bit of blessing to be found. Circumstance changes, but God remains constant. So, choose love, anticipate change, and control the locus of your focus! Oh, and give a big sloppy wet kiss to someone you love, just because… Live Loved, Give Love, Be the change this world so desperately needs… And, when no one is watching, just wag your butt a little.