Driving home from a weekend trip to Ellijay, GA my junior year of college, I stopped into a strip mall to get road-trip snacks. An older couple was standing by their car with their trunk open full of puppies. I stopped because I cannot resist puppies. I looked and played with them for a few minutes, no intention of getting one because a puppy was the last thing I needed being 20 years old, living in an apartment that did not allow dogs with a roommate who did not like dogs and lacking enough maturity to take care of another living thing beyond my house plants.
One dog stood out from the rest; she had a coat that was identical to the color of my hair and the shirt I was wearing and she had the sweetest disposition. We were kindred spirits, I just knew it. I was a practical college student and tended to make responsible decisions (the irresponsible ones came post college) so I drove away knowing that it was the right idea not to get a puppy. As I drove off, I began day-dreaming about that puppy; I named her, I imagined playing with her and then the tears started rolling down my face. I had to have that puppy. I immediately turned around, drove back to the strip mall, got my pup and went into the supermarket to buy puppy stuff. I was glowing with love for my new baby, Elli.
Elli has been with me throughout my adult life and every big life event to date. She has taught me about loyalty, unconditional love and friendship. She was with me during a breakup with a long term college boyfriend, traveled with me as I left home after college, accepted and loved my new boyfriend, now husband, and his dog, protected me during pregnancy, listened to me say I’d never stop giving her as much love and affection just because we had a baby, adjusted to new baby and accepted that I was now too tired and preoccupied to give her what I had before, and overall has loved me and been there with me through every event of great significance to me.
Elli is almost 14 years old now and aging quickly. She is losing her hearing, though she always seems to hear the treat bag open, and is arthritic. She briefly faced cancer but conquered it easily. I have noticed the decline in her movements and getting up from laying down progress faster than I expected. Each time I see her slowly amble outside, it breaks my heart seeing my first baby and loyal friend getting old.
My veterinarian and I have been talking over the course of the last year about different approaches to make her more comfortable and move more easily. We have now started what he refers to as “a multi modal approach.” We will look at all areas of her life and manage them with at-home physical therapy, food and treats to help her joints, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and possibly at-home steroid shots later on. It will be a gradual process but so far I am noticing improvement in her ability to get up and move around. She is eating more and hopefully, will put on some weight.
While I was hoping for a “one pill quick fix” to bring back my beloved dog’s youth, I realize that the multi-modal approach is what will get her everything she needs to have better quality of life even if time cannot be reversed. My wonderful veterinarian and Elli have awakened me to the idea that I need a multi-modal approach in my own life. I think I unknowingly am searching for that one thing that will inspire me, fix “issues”, and make me feel better even though there is nothing inherently wrong.
I often think that a new haircut will give me invigorated hope, a new outfit (instead of my mom uniform) will make me better, or bee pollen granules will magically make me healthier, energetic and blissful. Subconsciously, I hope just one of these things will give me less tension, more beauty, more energy, more patience or better health. Yet, as I search for that one thing, I also know it does not exist.
Maybe my multi-modal approach would begin with looking at the beauty that I am enveloped with and examining what I truly want out of life. Slowly, I might add in meditation, exercise, acceptance, and a mental lasso. I might make some diet changes or chip off unnecessary stressors or time wasters. The goal for Elli in this approach is to make her comfortable and better her quality of life; I believe I need the same things.
Elli has been with me for so long that I cannot imagine her not. Both of our once bright, copper hair now has streaks of grey and we both sigh with relief when we lay down at nights. Growing older with my friend has been an interesting journey and I see great hope for us in our new approach to life.