As August this year began, it felt a bit more like Christmas to me. Why?
Well at the end of each calendar year, I carefully curate a Vale post to the clients we’ve lost. I’ve never reached Instagram’s photo carousel limit of 10. But here we were, still deep in a Brissie ‘winter’, already having said particularly sad goodbyes to exactly that many clients, colleagues and friends - Archie, Penny, Diesel, Tully, Banksy, Lady, Harvey, Ollie, Minnie and Ernie.
As mother of a newly 12-year-old pup, it makes sense that our close community is a similar age. But it’s highlighted my responsibility, as a human always talking about canine longevity, to balance the score by talking a little more about the second part of our brand promise: day-to-day wellness. At any age.
And although I started suburban pup when our firstborn goldenchild was 5, its genesis was the day we brought Vin home. We didn’t even get to the car before he’d cracked my wary heart open; and a split second later came the realisation that he was likely to ‘move out of home’ (see, I can’t even say it yet) before I did.
In grappling with this weird version of parenthood (and perhaps knowing there weren’t human kids on the way to perhaps buffer the blow a little), I decided the only way to catch my breath was this: to eventually be able to hand-on-heart say ‘I could not have loved you more’. Love and time. It’s all we’ve all got really.
But humans are busy. And OMD, I have a deep-seated habit of living my life in the future. So it wasn’t til Vin turned 7 that I realised he wasn’t 5 anymore, and not until he turned 11 that I realised he wasn’t 7…
As it happens, Vin also didn’t realise he was 7, and sustained a half tear in the famous cruciate ligament in his 11th year – while utterly yahooing on the couch in a BEST-EVER play with our neighbour’s small human 😊
And suddenly my focus was pulled to the present. And Vin’s hour-by-hour wellness. Which until that point I’d taken for granted, because he sported all the hallmarks of eating awesome food.
And this is exactly where I find my wiser clients and their humans; where day-to-day wellness takes on new importance and meaning. Being present together. Keeping things comfortable. Savouring small meals. And what an honour this bit is. BUT….
My parting challenge to you, please, is to remember to live like this NOW. Us humans are a key part of our pups’ holistic wellness. So put the phone down. Make eye contact. Throw the ball one more time before bed. OF COURSE feed them for longevity, but do so because you’re going to live THE MOST out of each of those extra days together.
And for the other end of this humanity-affirming journey - and particularly to the humans of Archie, Penny, Diesel, Tully, Banksy, Lady, Harvey, Ollie, Minnie and Ernie - I offer you a little mantra in their tribute. It’s from a poem about walking elder dogs by Lynn Ungar, which I came across thanks to the great Doghouse Sessions, and which I repeated to myself constantly during Vin’s wobbliest sniffari-only months:
Walk just long enough to remember
That love is not an antidote to death,
But loss is not the opposite of life.
Yours in wellness and longevity, always, Anna x
Photo courtesy @whereisarchiesleeping