Thursday, February 12, 2009

Easy, Emma

Emma’s recent surgery for a luxating patella in her left hind leg went well. However, her long post-op recovery period has become a greater test for us both. She’s now in her second eight-week period of restricted activity in which she has to remain in the house or, if she’s outside, she has to be on a leash. Emma doesn’t mind being house bound in the middle of winter here at the ranch. With her short coat, she’s doesn’t clamor to be outside just to be outside. She sits with me in my office or lies in her favorite chair in the greenhouse. But when I get ready to take her out for her daily walk, she is beside herself. Emma jumps, barks, and repeatedly takes excited bow positions, knowing we’re off to recess.

At our last check-up, Dr. Egger encouraged me in this second eight weeks to put Emma on a longer lead line when we walked so she could vary her gait more as she traveled down the road. He also liked the idea that Emma would be pulling on the lease or lead line because this technically forces Emma to drive off her hind legs and strengthens them. It made sense for a full and healthy recovery for Emma. Unfortunately, there’s now just one catch. As Emma drives forward on her own, she drags me along. While her legs get stronger, so does her sense of her own leadership in our partnership. And of late, my daily mantra as I tag along behind has been, “Easy, Emma, easy.”

Little did I know when I picked out that cute little Boston Terrier puppy face online three years ago, that so much of my life would be taken up in thinking about and figuring out a way to understand and deal with a strong willed, tireless dog who would need intensive care. She challenges me and I want to give up. She challenges me and I know I can’t give up. Some days I think to myself, surely this isn’t what I’m supposed to be doing with my life right now: walking two miles everyday on a forced march. What was I thinking?

I remember I was looking for companionship and that I have. Emma is eminently loyal. I remind myself that sometimes in life things or events come into our life for a reason. So I look to see what it is Emma has to teach me. She requires steadiness, perseverance, thoughtfulness, firmness, boundary setting, and a day in which recess never ends. I struggle most against the focus, discipline, and firmness it requires to be Emma’s partner. However, Emma is that wonderfully tough dog who runs as far I want to run; plays fetch and Frisbee all some summer afternoon; and adores learning new tricks and playing hide and seek. And while her activity level makes me tired and I believe she should be with an eight-year old boy, Emma hops up next to me on the couch and curls up beside me in a polar fleece blanket we share.

While I’m figuring out little by little that Emma has good reasons to be in my life other than those I anticipated when she first came home with me, I know I appreciate that Emma requires I pay attention, that I walk out the door and share her joy de vie, and that I consistently and firmly set boundaries in my relationship with her. Perhaps, Emma makes sure I keep growing up and that I enjoy the journey along the way through play and a joyous presence in each and every moment. I wouldn't doubt she's saying to me when we play and I’m often preoccupied with the next need of the day, “Easy, Mary, easy.”

1 comment:

cassidy said...

PERFECT! haha this one is great mom, especially the "easy, Mary" part because I think it is soooooo true :)