According to Plan

Wouldn’t it be nice if everything just went according to plan.  My husband’s grandmother used to always say “Plan your work and work your plan.”  It sounds simple enough, a nice sound bite.  In reality “working” the plan usually includes updating, and sometimes discarding the plan for a new approach, based on the situations that arise.  Planning for the unexpected should always be part of the equation.

Our Doberman, Roenan, would have been 16 years old this September but she began having serious health problems again in July.  As much as we wanted to have her still with us, she went downhill very quickly and we knew that her pain level was far too great.  She would not make to her “birthday” and we reluctantly decided to euthanize her sooner than we had hoped.  Our 16 year goalpost was revealed to be an arbitrary one, meaning nothing to our companion, which would only prolong her suffering.

We had planned to have the mobile vet come to our home for the procedure, as we did for our Myra last summer, to keep Roenan calm and secure during her last moments.  Unfortunately the mobile vet happened to be on vacation when everything came to a head.  We found ourselves scheduling her final visit at our regular vet’s office… despite our original plan.  Roenan was in so much pain she didn’t even seem to notice she was back at the vet’s office and showed no nervousness or fear during this last visit.

As difficult as it was, we understood that our plans had to change to fit new circumstances.  Ignoring her pain would do nothing for Roenan and would have been selfish of us.  She was a wonderful companion who had a long and happy life and she is missed.  Changing our path wasn’t easy, and I’m not the most patient person, but change is necessary.

My goal to have Benson certified by now was another plan where I have been overly optimistic.  While he is picking up on advanced commands (and interacting with those we visit extremely well) Benson is still young and a bundle of energy that needs to mellow some before he can pass certification testing.  His gentle nature and eagerness to follow direction help, but he becomes impatient at long doctor visits and sometimes whines quietly toward the end of those meetings rather than staying relaxed and quiet.

Benson and I must both practice patience during this process.  We follow Pet Partners relationship building technique called P.E.T.S. which stands for Presence (Proximity), Eye contact, Touch, and Speech & tone.  Benson has trained long enough to become more confident and comfortable around medical equipment, elevators, vending machines, carts, etc.  However, he still becomes nervous when in cramped spaces trying to maneuver around people or objects.  With encouragement he gets through it but his anxiety is still noticeable.

All in all the plan is working out, just slowly.  It takes time to develop these skills, particularly as Benson’s handler.  Along the way we’ve made slight adjustments in our exercise routine and training to benefit both Benson and myself.  Small course corrections that help us work together as a unit and force me to progress as his coach and partner.  With persistence we will meet our goal when the time is right.


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