I have spent what seems like the last few decades wearing a mask, being careful about handwashing, avoiding crowds when possible. I have been vaccinated and boosted and all but screamed to the heavens to keep me safe from Covid. Then, one day I went to a store and forgot my mask. This occurred long after masks were no longer required so I figured what could a quick unmasked trip in the store hurt.
Yep, you guessed it. Three days later I woke up with a headache that made me feel as though my head was going to explode. This was followed by the greatest bout of exhaustion I’ve ever felt. All I wanted to do was sleep.
It’s times like this that I find myself re-evaluating my life and its goals – goals which now are simply to make it from today to tomorrow without sleeping through 20 of the 24 hours in a day. If it weren’t for my birds and dogs, I’d have no reason to get up and, quite frankly, don’t know if I would.
Covid has a way of bringing you down to reality if, by any chance, you thought you could still conquer life in your old age. At least, that’s what it did to me. I was just recovering from heart issues when Covid struck. All the progress I’d made disappeared in seconds. I went right back to feeling like a total invalid. There were days when it felt as though my whole body needed more rest than there were hours in the day.
Surprisingly, my dogs didn’t mind this so long as they got fed and got their treats. After that, they were very happy to climb back in bed with me and spend the day sleeping in the sunshine. I looked at them and noted how they did not try to fight the naps but instead just eased right into them. They are apparently much more able to listen to their bodies and do what their bodies want than I am. If it is quiet and there is sun and a soft bed… well, they clearly feel no shame in taking full advantage of that. Humans, on the other hand, tend to feel guilty about being lazy even if that laziness is caused by illness. No matter how I tried, I could not shake the feeling that my dogs handled life way better than I did – or that my parents and grandparents were looking at me and shaking their heads mournfully at what a wimp I’d become. They would have never given in to the sleepiness even if it meant working in a mental fog.
All my dogs are rescues. This means they have learned how to sway with the punches life throws and come back up swinging, ready to challenge life to be better. And for them it got a lot better. They live in a home with regular meals, soft beds they are welcomed to use and treats on a regular basis. They get love and affection from any and all who enter my house, including my parrots who routinely throw their food on the floor to watch the dogs eat it. Or at least attempt to eat it. The look on my dogs’ faces when they have a mouthful of birdseed they don’t know what to do with is priceless.
As I continue on the healing end of things… oh god, I hope this is the healing end of things… I realize that my rescue dogs are my greatest teachers on how to handle what old age is throwing at me. Eat a lot, sleep a lot in the sun and don’t get excited unless you actually hear the treat bag being opened.
I have the distinct impression that if I simply followed these rules of a rescued dog, life would seem more pleasant and joyful. Not knowing what will happen tomorrow turns out to be a good thing. Assuming that meals will be on time and the pillows will always be soft seems an excellent way of maintaining a decent outlook on life.
If you have never had a rescue dog in your home, you don’t know what true resilience is and how little it takes to actually make them happy. It’s a good lesson for all of us as we continue to crawl through the morass of a life chased by Covid. Don’t sweat it. It doesn’t help if you do.