Friday, January 25, 2013

Ups and Downs

Sometimes it's amazing how life can be chugging merrily along, everything going well, and then, boom, something happens that disrupts your happy journey and reminds you how little control you have of what tomorrow will bring.

Since Rigby came into my life I've experienced a couple of these moments and they've kept me a bit on edge and seem to be a constant reminder that no matter how hard you try and how long you plan you can never know what the future holds and if you keep putting off your dreams waiting for the perfect time, there is no perfect time, you just have to live your life within the imperfect parameters in which we all seem to exist.

The first of these moments happened the week I was in New Jersey to pick up Rigby.  I had called my husband to check in with him and he informed me that because of some problems with a pre-surgery EKG he'd had before I had left town, some minor surgery he was scheduled to undergo was going to be delayed until more tests could be run.  This was a bit of a shock to me, but being away from home it was difficult to get more information at that time.  

That one EKG lead to an echocardiogram, a stress test, several meetings with his primary care physicians, an appointment with a pharmacologist and then a couple appointments with a cardiologist.  The surgery that was initially planned was performed and there were weekly follow-up appointments with that doctor.  It seemed that we were constantly seeing doctors through the months of November and December.

Happily, Dan is doing well and adjusting to his new medications and we are both relieved that there are fewer visits to doctors scheduled in the near future.

When we first learned that the performance of Dan's heart was deteriorating and before we knew what this was going to mean for both of us, more than once I wondered to myself if I had made a mistake getting a puppy at this time.  Rigby ended up being home in the crate while we were at appointments, but other than that, there wasn't much of a change in how she was handled, so I'm very happy that I didn't over-react that week I picked her up and back out of getting a puppy.  She has also brought a lot of comedic relief to both of us at times that we needed a good laugh.

This week has again been a time that reminded me how quickly life can change.

Monday evening Rigby attended her second puppy kindergarten class.  A couple other puppy owners in the class commented that they had thought that their pups were full of energy until they saw Rigby.  Yes, she was full of energy, but she was also tuned in to me and listened very well and performed all that was asked of her with lots of enthusiasm and a great attitude.  I thoroughly enjoyed the class and was so proud of my clever puppy.

Later that night when I was going to take Rigby out for the final time before heading to bed, she ran down the basement steps ahead of me and, by the time I reached the base of the steps, I could see that she was limping.  I had no idea what had happened and I did my best to check out her foot/leg, but could find nothing to give me a clue as to what was wrong.  I decided to wait till the morning to see if Rigby was still limping or if this was a very temporary condition.

To my dismay, Tuesday morning Rigby was still limping on her front right foot and I knew that I had to get her to a vet to find out the cause of her lameness. By 10:00 a.m. I had her at the vet and, after a cursory exam, they decided to keep her for the day, while I went to my scheduled job, and take x-rays to see what they would show.

As it is with most visits to the vet, nothing definite was determined to be wrong with my pup.  A couple possible diagnoses were given to me, but because the only symptom was a limp, it's difficult to know for sure what is going on.  I'm hoping she just has a minor injury that will heal relatively quickly, but only time will tell as to how long this will take.

For now, Rigby is on limited activity and some medication.  We don't allow her to jump on or off the couch and she spends most of her time in her crate or in the playpen we fashioned by attaching the ex-pen to the front of her crate, giving her extra room to play with her toys and move about.  She is full of energy and not happy about losing play time with her brother Rocky.  And, after all the fun we had at class Monday night, it looks like we'll be staying home, at least for a week or so, and not participating with the other pups.

During our morning play time I am still doing some training, just trying to keep her activity level as low as I can.  Today we started a new game working scent discrimination using Altoid tins.  To start I just put a treat in an Altoid tin, showed it to her, closed the lid and put the tin on the floor.  When she picked it up and brought it to me I gave her the treat.  After doing this a few times I placed another empty tin on the floor with the one that had the treat.  When Rigby brought me the correct tin, she was rewarded with the treat.  We worked up to a total of five tins, four empty and one with the treats, and only once did she bring back the wrong tin.

I'll have to continue to find games to play with Rigby to keep her mind busy during this down time for her.  Just because she shouldn't be playing hard doesn't mean that her learning must stop and so, with a bit of an adjustment, life goes on.

To my way of thinking, there are a couple lessons to be learned here.  One being that there never seems to be a perfect time to branch out and try something new or different and if you sit around waiting for the perfect time life is just going to pass you by.  And the other is to remember that if your plans and hopes get disrupted by an unexpected and unwelcome occurrence, just take a bit of a detour and in time you'll be back on the track to your anticipated destination.

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