Pet Lessons


When our dog Minnie has a seizure, she struggles to stay standing but her back legs give way, then her front legs splay and also give way until she is lying on the floor like she is grabbing the carpet to keep from falling. Then she shakes and looks at us because we are saying her name and telling her it will be okay.

One of us will get on the floor with her and pet her head until the seizure is done. “It’s okay, Minnie” we say over and over. “It’s okay.” And then after a few minutes, the seizure is done.  We encourage her to stand up, walk around, be like a normal dog.

We don’t try to fix her. The vet says there’s nothing much to do about the seizures but just ride them out. So we just sit on the floor with her and tell her it will be okay.

I wish I did that with people. Instead, when a person I love has a hiccup or a seizure, metaphorically speaking, I swing into action. Problem-solving is my middle name. I always know what other people should do. It always seems so clear. To me. Not them.

It never works, my approach. It stiffens people who should relax, makes them feel like patients in thin hospital gowns, being told what is what and what is next except in this case the doctor has no degree, doesn’t really know what she’s talking about. She only thinks she does.

What I should be doing when I am with people who are hurting and troubled is just sit with them and tell them it will be okay. And then wait until they can stand up and walk around and can see it for themselves.

So that’s my goal. Less diagnosing, defining, deciding, directing. More hearing, helping, holding, and hoping.

That’s a change I want to make.





8 Comments on “Pet Lessons

  1. we an learn so much from animals, the hard thing is making the leap to using these lessons with humans.

    • Jan, Minnie’s story resonates here. Our surviving Scottie – “Bonnie” is 13 and is suffering from dementia. She has good and days mixed together. She is nearly blind, deaf and barks loudly and continuously at unforeseen trouble. We’ve delayed “putting her to sleep” for several weeks – in constant consultation with our Vet who tells us — ‘when you’re ready, we are here for you’. We’ve given Bonnie extra TLC. But we don’t want to prolong her life for our own emotions. Been there. Done that. And, regret prolonging a previous furry’s miserable last days.

      But, Jan, your “pet lesson” for real people has merit.

      • Putting Minnie down was just the worst. She was such a sweet, uncomplaining, loyal gal. So I really get it about Bonnie — it’s really tough to make that call.

  2. My dog also has seizures… not often, but just as scary. I do the same – speak to him and hug him until it’s over as no medicine is available (it’s not epilepsy).
    When dealing with my Special Needs students, I do try and act in the same manner and I mostly succeed. But dealing with friends who are in a crisis is a different matter…

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