An Exercise in Empathy

According to Oxford, empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Some of you are probably thinking that empathy is reserved for humans. I thought so too and was quite excited to be embarking (no pun intended but that’s kinda funny) on a new adventure in humanness.

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Working on my “I care” face (which looks surprisingly like my “have you got any treats” face.)

But when I read about the nature of empathy, I realized that I feel this regularly, every time one of my people is upset, or sad, or hurt. It’s written in my canine DNA to go to the aid of my humans when they are in trouble. They’ve even done studies on the topic, including this one entitled “Dogs feel empathy for human suffering.”

The good news for me in this discovery is that human-ness and canine-ness may not be as far apart as I thought.

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Soaking up the snowy day happy vibes from T.

What got me thinking about empathy is my week of spending time in Logan’s world, the world of veterinarians and medications and restrictions. I’ve been a very healthy guy—an easy keeper they call me. I’ll eat pretty much anything that’s put in front of me without issue or repercussions (often finding my own snacks), I’m happy with a short walk but always up for a long one, I sleep through the night and am usually the last one out of bed in the morning.

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You’d be amazed what an easy keeper like me can find under a picnic table.

This past week I had to take painkillers that made my stomach feel a bit off, my walks were a good length but limited to on-leash, and I had to sleep with a life preserver around my neck. I know, I know, small potatoes compared to what Logan dealt with his last year. I realize my experience was just a taste of what he went through.

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I admit to a few moments of feeling sorry for myself.

Don’t get me wrong, Logan wouldn’t have had it any other way. Some dogs may have opted for an early exit rather than have their activities continually curtailed and spend every second week in a vet’s office, but that wasn’t Logan. He was a fighter, with a zest for life that carried him through his health trials with spunk and dignity.

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Logan’s final canal adventure in mid-August. Spunk and dignity.

My time in Logan’s world is almost up, at least for now. I’m spending less time in the life preserver and my stitches come out on Monday. After that it’s all systems go, life returns to normal.

If the lump they removed from my leg had been a malignant fibrosarcoma, I’d be telling a different story, but, hooray!, my easy keeper streak continues. The lab tests confirmed it was just a benign fibroma. I’m in the clear!celebration time

I’ll wrap up my thoughts on empathy with some words I’m going to try to live by:

“If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” – Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird11-Chico-empathy-chinooksky

 

 

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Senior? Who, Me?

I went to the vet yesterday for a routine exam and the 3-year rabies vaccination that I need to cross into the United States. The bill read “Examination (Senior)” and said I’d received a “Canine Geriatric Profile”. Ack! When did that happen? With five years between Logan and me, I’ve always been the pup, the youngster, the kid. I guess I kind of lost track of time. I’m about to head into the double digits!

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Time sure flies.

On the plus side, I had a put-it-on-the-fridge-worthy blood panel result for a dog my age. Kidneys, heart, liver, thyroid, red & white blood cells, blood sugar, all solidly in the normal range. I’ve even lost just over a kilo since I was last in. But the senior thing has me a bit freaked out. I know I’m not quite the bundle of energy I used to be, but geriatric?

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Waiting to go for a walk in Kananaskis. And who’s the old guy?

I hope it’s true that you’re only as old as you feel because that would make me six or seven at best. Although I do feel a bit older than that hanging out with my new friend, Ria. She’s three and a half and, man, that girl has some energy. Ria is a new member of the G & S family so you’ll be seeing more of her on Fur-idays in the future. Maybe I can even persuade her to write a guest blog. (Everyone who’d like to hear from Ria, raise your paws!)

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Ria and me at the Chestermere off-leash.

I’ve long striven to become more human. In fact, I’m hoping that my only-doggedness will help me progress in my endeavour (good human word, don’t you think?) Without the constant presence of another dog to pull me into canine-type behaviour, I’m hoping I can fine tune my being-human skills. If I can manage it, do you think I’d live longer? I know I can’t expect the 70-80 years that a human lives (man, that sounds like a long time to a dog), but maybe 20?

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Me in 2011. I admit I’m looking a little more “frosted” these days.

If you don’t think it’s possible, just check out this list on Wikipedia. The Guinness record holder for the oldest dog was a guy named Bluey who, and this is the cool part, was an Australian Cattle Dog! Pretty sure that’s what I am, or half anyway. I know, I know, it’s the quality of the days rather than the quantity, but there’s no harm in setting the bar high, is there?

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Frosted but fresh!

There was one bit of bad news from Dr. Julie today. I have to go back to have a lump removed from my leg. It’s nothing scary at this point but she’s concerned that it could develop into something and I trust her completely. Best get it gone. I’m a bit squeamish when it comes to medical procedures, but they tell me I’ll be sleeping so I’m not too concerned. The part that does concern me is the no food or water after midnight the previous day. No breakfast?! They won’t need to sedate me. I’ll pass out from starvation!

Well, I’m still a little tired from yesterday’s activities and T’s taking me for a walk in a little while so I think I’ll climb into my favourite bed for a nap. Oops, that sounded a bit geriatric, didn’t it?

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I’m not old, I’m just relaxed.

Doggone It!

Chico laptop 1I was all set to write my blog post for today, Fur-iday, but T and Nollind have gone off to the Calgary Reads Book Sale followed by dim sum at the Silver Dragon, and I can’t seem to turn this darn thing on.

Chico laptop 2It’s not plugged in so I’m wondering if the battery is dead. Or maybe I’m not hitting the right button. T usually does this part for me.

Drat and darn! There’s no way I can type a whole post on Logan’s tiny smartphone keyboard. I guess I’ll have to catch you next Fur-iday … 😦Chico laptop 3