Between Here & Home: Even Zen dogs get the blues

I TOOK Zen dog to the vet on the weekend for the second in a series of four weekly injections for arthritis. We have a lot in common, the pooch and I – even our dodgy hip joints. 

But a trip to the V.E.T. (Yes, we have to spell it around Zen dog) even tests the usually calm countenance of his holiness. 

Last week’s visit saw an anxious half-hour wait – our boy shaking and dribbling uncontrollably.

Poor bugger. As one who knows a thing or two about anxiety, I feel every bit of his angst – even had a bit of a dribble and shake myself. 

So this week I thought I’d second-guess our nervous hairball. Rather than park outside the V.E.T., I ventured a few blocks away so that pooch and I could walk and have some calming downtime. 

We had a lovely wander through a playground, took a wee on several power poles, and sniffed the odd flower to take our minds off the dreaded jab. 

But the veneer of calm didn’t last long. Three doors from the V.E.T., Zen dog stopped dead in his tracks, sniffed the air, then dropped like a stone. The smell of fear is a powerful foe. 

I tried to coax him, but he slipped his collar like Houdini. 

I had to half-drag, half-carry my mortified mutt down the street and through the doors of his doggy hell. 

Our pets are good teachers. 

While Zen dog often brings calm when I need it most, his meltdown made me wonder if we mammals are simply anxious to our cores. 

Humans in particular may focus day-to-day on this or that particular worry, but fear seems like something irrevocable; an obstacle we face again and again during our brief time on earth. 

But that’s okay. 

Once the trauma of the jab was over, and while I waited to hand over the hard-earned, the pooch went back to doing what he does best. 

He did the rounds of the waiting room, going from anxious person to anxious person – nervous dog to nervous dog – inducing smiles and stealing a pat and a scratch in his inimitable way. 

A simple instinctive gesture, but a powerful reminder that our one great hope is acceptance.

Everyone is more anxious than they’re inclined to tell us. 

As Zen dog proved on the weekend, we can spare ourselves the burden of suffering alone. 

His goofy, Border Collie smile reminds me that when the time is right we can laugh at our anxieties. 

Laugh at the terrors of having a frail human body. 

Laugh at the depth of our vulnerability. 

Laugh at how easily we lose perspective. 

But most of all, we can open our arms to our similarly fractured neighbours – even our four-legged friends – as if to say, in the kindest way possible, “I know…”

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