What’s normal to one person may not be normal to another. The meaning of the word normal is not universal, but rather subjective, based on to whom you are speaking. We all go through phases in life that over time create a New Normal, and with enough time and patience, it eventually becomes Normal. The hard part is the integration – learning to accept the new normal, and let go of what once was.
My normal changed three years ago when my boyfriend and I adopted a dog. It was totally unplanned – let’s just say big puppy eyes can make even the strongest of men become a puddle of mush. Our normal changed A LOT. We became doggy parents and needed to roll with the punches. After several weeks things started to feel like Normal, and after a year Normal was back in town, but it was very different than what it had previously looked like. Normal was coming home from work and being body slammed by a very happy, and very large dog. Normal was sitting on the floor and playing tug of war with the newest toy. Normal was watching TV in the evening with 70lbs of love draped over my lap. Normal was waking up to a furry face resting on the bed, a big tail knocking items off my nightstand.
Three years later, and Normal is changing again. My beloved dog has cancer. Just typing the words hurts my insides. I want to become used to this New Normal, but I know that life will keep changing for a while. There will come time when my boy will have to leave me, and that is a New Normal I am not looking forward to. Until then, we will be figuring this out day-by-day. There will be doctors, treatments, new diets, good days & bad days. After hearing his diagnosis, I spent four days crying. I didn’t want to navigate this situation, and I had a strong urge to lie in bed and pretend it wasn’t happening. I started looking online at adoptable dogs and wondering if I could love one of them the way I love my dog. Looking back on the last few days, I think I was in denial.
Thankfully, I have a strong support system, and other dog lovers have told me their stories and assured me that I would get through this. And more importantly, I need to be strong for my dog. I need to take this day-by-day, and stop planning ahead for a future that is still unknown.
After having a 4-day-long melt down, I now feel better, and stronger than I did when I heard his diagnosis. I’ve been thinking more rationally, more big picture, and I’m starting to look at this situation through a more spiritual view, and that brings me comfort.
Dogs have a way of showing us humans where we are lacking. For instance, they live in the present moment, something that all yogis work toward. One of the main reasons that people feel anxiety, stress and depression is because we are not living in the moment; we are not present or conscious. Dogs are always in the moment. Even dogs that were once abused still live happy, joyful lives when placed into the hands of good people. They do not think about their past, or their future - they simply enjoy each day as it comes.
I’ve always believed that my dog came into my life for a reason. He needed saving, and quiet frankly, so did I. (Don’t we all to some degree?) He has taught me a lot about love, patience, loyalty, and most importantly – living in the moment, something I’ve always had a particularly hard time with. And now he is testing me once more. Just knowing he is sick has turned my mind in a rollercoaster and it’s been going off into a million different places, generally stopping at a painful spot that focuses my thoughts on how it would feel to lose him. The fact is, I don’t know what the future holds, and to spend the next weeks, months, years, living in fear and sadness is just no way to exist. My dog will not be spending his days sad or angry – he will continue to wake up each day and enjoy his life, until he feels that his time with us is complete. He will never wish that he could have lived longer, or be angry at the hand he was dealt.
And so for this final test, I will be sure to make him proud. Gurus come in all shapes and sizes, and mine just happens to have 4 legs and a tail. Because of all that he has taught me, I have changed. The things that make me Morgan have changed, and with that, he will live forever. He will live in the love that I show my next dog, in the patience I have with other people, and he will be with me when I walk slowly down the street, enjoying the breeze and taking in the sights and smells of the world. But today he is with me, and today is really all that matters.
Morgan Gertler Pirog
Writer/Dreamer: Creating Things of Enduring Value
Morgan is a believer that positive thoughts will lead to positive actions. She found yoga several years ago and was immediately drawn to the unification of body, breath & mind. Her other loves include her husband, her pit bull mix Jagger and mermaids.