ResilienceDec 03, 2021
Have you ever been faced with a situation that tests your resilience?
Resilience can be defined as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.”
When it comes to our animals, I am amazed by their resilience. I have spoken with so many rescued dogs and cats who had horrible lives before being rescued. It is incredible how they keep their faith in humankind.
They model this resilience so we can learn from them. Hopefully we recognize this behavior from them. One former client comes to mind when I think of resilience.
The case of Jake, a 15 year old Lab mix, who made his way to the Rainbow Bridge this week, reminds me of this concept of resilience.
Jake was rescued by his human, Jennifer, 13 years ago. His life before Jennifer was not ideal. He was treated poorly and physically abused by that person. He learned to survive the abuse until the person released Jake into the streets. Fortunately he was captured and taken to a rescue.
Jennifer was a volunteer at the rescue where Jake landed. When she heard about him, she felt something inside of her that urged her to go and see him. She could not explain it but it felt like she had to see this dog.
When Jennifer first saw Jake, she could see how frightened he was and malnourished. She immediately decided he had to come home with her.
As he became settled, Jake softened with Jennifer. His head lowering/cowering eventually went away over the first year. His food aggression also seemed to disappear.
They became best friends. Taking many long walks together, playing fetch, and sharing nighttime snuggles. Jake saw her through her dating breakups, always lending a supportive ear to hear her side of things. Jake even attended her wedding, years later, all dressed up in a bow tie.
Jake’s resilience with healing and overcoming some of the trauma he endured, early in life, just seemed to disappear when he was around Jennifer. He had the stary eyed look on his face when he was around Jennifer.
She showed him love and compassion and he showed her resilience and loyalty.
Then there was Cancer. Jake was diagnosed at the age of 13. Jennifer did everything to make him comfortable during his treatments.
She called me to ask that I check in with him to see how he was feeling once the treatments were complete.
He reported to me that he was feeling better physically, with a few aches and pains. But what he really wanted to tell her was that he felt he had let her down. He wanted to be the one that was there for her, rather than the other way around.
This brought tears to Jennifer’s eyes. She loves him with everything she’s got. She reassured him that she didn’t mind caring for him. They continued to enjoy each other’s company for a few more months, until the cancer returned.
This time, Jennifer chose to keep him comfortable and to not put him through the treatments. She consulted with me again to check in and see how he was managing the with the pain medicine.
Jake expressed his never-ending love for Jennifer during that conversation. I’ll never forget it. It brought tears to my eyes to hear how he loved her with his heart and was so grateful for their life together. His resilience with the pain that cancer can bring was honorable.
Jake passed away, while comfortably at home with Jennifer.
Their love story still continues to live on in their hearts.
Do you have a love story with your animals? I’d love it if you could tell me about your’s. If you care to share, please add a comment to this post.