On Monday we had to make one of the hardest decision of our lives. A decision nobody ever wants to make and that nobody should ever make. How to proceed with Herbie our lovely 18 month old golden retriever who has a tumour the size of a fist in his forearm. 2 people quite independently had said to me “he is so over that leg, he just doesn’t want it anymore.” In addition I had seen him go from a sad limping dog 3 days ago to a happy hopping dog over the weekend; Just showing me what would be possible on 3 legs.
We met the amazing Noël Fitzpatrick, known as Supervet on channel 4, at his clinic in Surrey. We had gone there with hope of possibly saving his leg but over the last couple of days since he started running 3 legged this had seemed more irrelevant. Noel and everyone at the clinic are quite extraordinary in the care they take to create the best possible pain free life for our pets. And Herbie is on his own journey. He is a powerful spiritual being with his own ideas about his role on the planet and what he has and is going to contribute.
I am a health coach, and have worked with several people who have physical injuries or cancer, but never animals. So I know a bit about recovery of humans and in particular how thoughts and beliefs create our reality but how do you do that with a dog? Do you question their thoughts and beliefs or ours or both? In our case:
Step 1: Validate the dog for who he is and that he knows about healing. Acknowledge what he is doing and the immense support he is getting from the Fitzpatrick Clinic to enable him to continue his journey.
Step 2: Check our thoughts and beliefs as owners and vets. We are here in his service to be the best we can be. Now that he has had the leg amputated he is on the road to recovery. Thinking of him as a dog with bone cancer simply won’t help him. The facts are that he had a cancer in the bone of one leg and that leg has been removed. Even the scans show no spread so it is important we don’t think of the statistics of what “normally” happens. From today he is a healthy dog with 3 legs and to me he seems very pleased with the outcome. Who are we to disagree? Although I hugely value the medical scientific model we must be careful not to limit him by our thoughts and words. He is unique.
People may say I am deluding myself that it hasn’t spread to secondaries. My response is that there is no point worrying about something that may never happen and anyway I have no control over it. We have rightly had the medical warnings to enable us to assess the risk and that is all they are. Bringing in the energy of cancer elsewhere in his body is not productive. Herbie is unique and this is his journey not ours. We have the best possible medical support, his scans appear clean, we have a plan for chemo and know what signs to look out for that may signal the end. In the meantime we will still see a happy healthy dog, who is whole, full of life, fun and an inspiration to others.
Step 3: We need to do everything we can to support his healing, including complementary support. Last week he decided to start taking a regular dose of young fresh Michlemas Daiseys. A few weeks ago he had a mania for goose grass. Did he know more than we gave him credit for. Perhaps one day these will be acknowledged natural indicators of cancer. As dogs have been shown to detect cancer in humans, surely they can do it in themselves, before it is evident to their owners.
Step 4: LOVE. Love is the highest emotional vibration level and any part of you running at a lower vibration level is open to dis-ease. I am reminded of James Taylor’s song “shower the people you love with love”. Love is writ large in the Fitzpatrick clinic; they all know the power of love in their care of animals.
Step 5: Having vets who are with you every step of the way is immense. When I listened to Noël saying this I knew we were in the right place. In addition be have had great support from Richard Allport at the Natural Medicine Centre, the consultants at Honey’s raw dog food and Vicky, a McTimony Practitioner. This is how it should be, all working together centred on the best life possible for Herbie. The world will be a better place when this is available to humans too. As we now prepare for his rehabilitation we have so many offers of help from our community, including a crate for recovery, carpet for the kitchen floor, and all sorts of support for us. We are indeed blessed.
Step 6: During that consultation Herbie seemed to know exactly what was going on and at one point came to sit under my chair, with a sad look. He is very attended to human emotions and once the decision was made later that day after his scan results, I was really relieved that Noel volunteered to do the operation immediately so he didn’t have to be sedated again. I could even see Herbie doing “high 5s” and I confirmed to Noël that this seemed to be what he wanted too – real patient-centred care. He had been showing us for 3 days he could do it and we mustn’t dismiss his non-verbal and hugely valuable communications. If he could do 3 legs when in terrible pain from the 4th leg, he could certainly do it as an amputee.
Ever since then I have “seen” him running happily with his tail wagging and a grin showing absolute delight. These are only pictures in my mind but whether they come from him or I am sending them to him, who cares. We are all here in his service to help him achieve happiness. The energy I and others have been offering him to support his healing can now be a lot more effective.