Every so often, Gretchen goes to her massage therapist to get what she calls a Tune Up. It’s true, we walk a lot and because we’re on our feet so much (Gretchen more than me, actually), getting a massage is the way we take care of ourselves. I say “we” because I get massages too. Actually, I get far more body work than Gretchen does. She goes to see a woman who is studying body mechanics in addition to being a massage therapist and she helps Gretchen with, if you can believe it, walking exercises so that Gretchen isn’t damaging her feet and her body more than she needs to.
I know this sounds odd — walking exercises — but Gretchen walks funny, there’s really no other way to say it. She usually wears orthotics…specially shaped support devices in her shoes to help her maintain good form — but this current massage therapist/mechanic (that’s what I call her since it is where Gretchen gets “tune ups!”) doesn’t want Gretchen to wear these devices. Instead, she wants her to focus on how she walks so that all the muscles in her feet can work well and properly.
So far it’s going okay. Gretchen’s feet hurt, but not as bad as she thought they would and if she really pays attention to how she walks, they don’t really hurt at all. Of course, being mindful of how she walks isn’t always an easy thing to do especially when we have a very busy schedule and strict time constraints.
As for me, I get a weekly massage and acupressure sessions from Gretchen and then once a month I get “adjusted” by Dr. Cindy Geisler who not only uses her osteopathic talents to put me structurally in the right place, but she also gives me an acupuncture treatment to help my Chi flow properly.
My Chi does not flow properly and so everyone is in full agreement, including me, that I need all the help I can get. Sometimes I get to swim at the pool and sometimes Gretchen’s boss at the pool — my Anti Sheila (yes, that’s what she calls herself) works on me too. So, while I’m not on my feet as much as Gretchen (though I think I end up walking more miles than she does especially if I’m off leash), I get more adjustments than she does.
“Because my health is not only vital to our business,” I explained, “But also because you love me more than anything and you want to make certain I’m not in pain.”
“True,” she agreed, “But sometimes I wish I had enough money and time to treat myself as well as we treat you.”
Sometimes I wish she did too, but I’m glad her priorities are the way they are. As much as I’m not a fan of acupuncture needles, I know they make me feel better and more balanced and a treatment with Dr. Geisler and from Anti-Sheila always makes me a happier boy.
All of this is actually a long introduction to the point I wanted to really make. You see the other day, while Dr. G was putting needles in my head and back, I tried to bite her. I don’t do it often and everyone knows that I react before I think in these situations, but still, I felt bad because I know she’s only trying to help me. So the other day, after Gretchen came home from her massage, I asked her, “Do you ever try to bite your body worker?”
Gretchen just laughed at me. “Funny thing, Rubin,” she said, “I don’t, but there are times when I wish I could.” She went onto explain, “Like tonight when she asked me to meet her resistance — I had to press my foot against her hand — it really hurt one part of my foot and if I weren’t lying down on the table and the therapist were closer, I just might have bitten her.”
I have to say I was shocked. “You mean, it’s not just me?”
“Nope Rubin, sometimes we have to do things that are ultimately good for us, but aren’t comfortable while we’re doing them,” Gretchen said.
No truer words have been spoken and all week long I thought a lot about this. Not that I came to any conclusions, but I had some deeper understandings about my life and I decided to share them with you:
Pain is distracting.
When I am in pain, it’s hard for me to focus on anything else but the pain. I know this is true for Gretchen too. When she’s in pain, she can’t sleep, she’s not as motivated to get work done, and sometimes, to be frank, she can be cranky.
But the truth is, I’m the exact same way. When my jaw hurts from my dysplasia, I don’t want to eat, I get snippy with people and other dogs, and I don’t want to go for a walk or do my job. All I can focus on is how much my jaw hurts and how that pain impacts the rest of my body. It’s distracting and being distracted is not a good thing to be when you’re a dog walker.
The other day I counted how many hours Gretchen works. Some days are 10 hours long, but those 10 hours will be spread out over 12 hours…sometimes 14 and so it’s hard to make appointments for things like massages or to run errands or to find time to just sit and relax. Gretchen is always doing and while I am usually at her side, many times while she is doing, I’m sleeping.
“I think you need to take more of a break,” I told her the other day and so last weekend, while we watched football, Gretchen sat on the couch with me for almost 2 full hours and didn’t do anything but be with me.
“I know it is,” I said, but my New Year’s Resolution for you is to help you make more time to just be and stop doing.
It’s worth it. Truly.
Sometimes hard things result in good things.
This has a lot to do with those times when the acupuncturist or massage therapist is treating a particularly difficult spot and I think the pain is just too much, but once I move through it, the pain subsides and I feel so much better.
Some days are like this too. Some days we’re so busy that when I look at the calendar in the morning, I have a hard time imagining how we’ll get through the day ahead, but when we push through the hard day, the reward at the end is that we’ve accomplished a lot and that feels really good. “We have to just to do one thing at a time,” Gretchen always tells me. “Don’t think about how much we have to do, just do one thing at a time and soon we’ll be at the end of the long list.”
She also says things like “Don’t stare at the steps, step up the stairs.” And so we do and at the end of a long day, I look back on those stairs and feel pretty proud of myself. Plus all along the way, the day brings me all sorts of great adventures and sometimes even whole new experiences and friends. I like that feeling.
Sometimes good things aren’t always good…or easy.
I’ve had to learn the hard way that patience is a virtue. I am not very patient and so sometimes even the fun stuff I get to do — play with my friends, walk by the lake, swim at the pool — aren’t easy to wait for. I get that, but I guess recently I’ve had to really understand it on a whole new level.
You see, I went to the dermatologist to find out what I’m allergic to. My tests came back with not very good answers. I’m apparently allergic to storage mites and mold. Gretchen tells me this is the worst thing to be allergic to because they are everywhere and there’s no way to really eliminate them from my environment. And so, because my allergies are only going to get worse, my moms are contemplating allergy shots.
You know how I feel about needles but everyone keeps telling me that the end result is good even if the shots may not feel good or having them every other day (for awhile) won’t be easy.
Sometimes resistance is futile.
The allergy shots, the acupuncture, the visits to the vet or the groomer…sometimes I can resist, but I know in my little doodle heart that I’m going to end up getting the shots, having the acupuncture, visiting the vet and the groomer and while it won’t be pleasant, I’ll get through it.
Still I like to put up a bit of a stink. Like when we went to the dermatologist vet — I’m kind of ashamed to admit now, but I barked at her. A lot. It’s because she wore loud shoes and I do not like the sound of loud shoes. And so I barked.
Gretchen found this odd because I really liked the vet tech who, it turned out, did all the not-so-fun things that happen to me at the vet. She took my temperature with a big thermometer that went you-know-where and she took my blood with a big fat needle so they could test it. Still, when the vet tech was in the room, I let her pet me and coo over me and give me all sorts of treats. In fact, I rubbed against her and cuddled up with her on a number of occasions.
Not so with the vet and all the vet did was check out my skin. I know it’s silly, but I new I had give up a bit of resistance because that’s what I’m supposed to do at the vet’s office. But in the end, resistance was futile and I had to submit…albeit a bit grumpily.
I’ve been thinking about lot of other stuff too, but after all this thinking, I’ve grown pretty tired. Our friend Cosmo is staying with us this weekend and right now he’s racing back and forth and back and forth up and down the hallway carrying a large toy in his mouth. He wants me to play with him and so, even though I’m tired, I think I’ll end this blog and go give him a chase…or at least still his toy. Meet that resistance, Cosmo!
Until next week!