Animals touch our lives in many ways. Not only do we co-exist with them on this planet, but they have sustained us through the eons as helpmates, companions, and protectors. Those who have pets think of them as family: we celebrate our successes with them at our side, we mourn our losses, and we mourn their loss just as any family member. We turn to them for comfort when life gets tough, knowing we have their unconditional love and support.
My son asked me to write about something he experienced recently. It surprised me because he typically keeps to himself and prefers his privacy. It was such a profound incident for him, though, he felt it was worth mentioning.
This summer he found himself hospitalized for a condition called Rhabdomyolysis, when the muscles react to being severely damaged by leaking protein enzymes (called CK) into the body which then floods the kidneys. If the damage is profound, the kidneys shut down, and in a worst case scenario, dialysis may be needed and permanent damage may be done. I know right? Who knew?
He was in for seven days, pumped up with thousands of litres of fluids to dilute and eventually flush his system and kidneys. Dialysis was a possibility in his case, and daily blood tests were done to track his CK levels, which never seemed to come down. He put 60 lbs. of weight on – all fluids being pumped into him. (It all came off afterwards, slowly). He feared not just for his kidneys health, but for his life. As did we.
He kept saying, “I just want to go home.”
It broke my heart that I couldn’t take him home, and make everything go away, but his life depended on resting and taking the treatment. You know, as mothers we pretty much become psychotic creatures where our kids are concerned. I lost track of how many times I felt myself putting on my invisible viking helmet and charging through the ward with my invisible sword called “Slicer” sweeping patients and orderlies out of my way in order to effect some treatment for my son that I felt was not being done fast enough. It’s what we do.
Once he did get home, his little dog, Arel, came to greet him. Arel is a Chihuahua, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic. He is a bit of a Casanova with an overbite, and thinks all the girl doggies love him.
You can actually hear him, saying Joey-stylez, “How YOU doing?” when he meets a female doggy. Mostly he just annoys them. But his little Chihuahua lovings are as big as a Great Dane’s and when my son finally had a chance to greet him at home, he broke down. How happy and comforted that little dog made him feel broke the barrier of any register. It was at that point he actually felt he was going to get better – he had to get better – because Arel was rooting for him.
He told me I needed to write this story so other people would know how invaluable our animals are to us; how beneficial they are. He wanted the readers to know how enriched our lives are because we have these pets to love; how our goals and perspectives can change for the better because this little trusting being is putting their life in our hands and loving us so much for it. I think he realized at that point how precious life really is, everyone’s and everything’s; that our animals should be cherished as humankind’s partners, not dismissed as lesser beings, mistreated, used up, and then tossed away when they no longer serve us.
My son is pretty much recovered now, and Arel is back to his aloof, I’m-a-cool-dude self, ensuring his suave image is intact, but I think of all the homeless dogs and cats in shelters, and all the factory farm animals being held hostage and mistreated, and I despair not only for them, but for the people out there who don’t have this kind of love in their life, who don’t understand this concept of animals not being there for us to use. My goal is for us all to embrace all animals as sentient creatures who have as much right to this earth as us: to co-exist with them peacefully, not dominate them and use them.
What a wonderful world it would be!