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Learning to Listen

Sometimes we are so focused on trying to get our dogs to listen to us..."Watch me!", "Come!", "Leave it!", "Wait!" and the list goes on...that we forget that WE need to listen too. I got a little reminder this past week that I have a senior pet, and now more than ever, I need to listen.

For the most part, our dogs are creatures of habit. So when they do something new or different, sometimes it can be just that, something different - but often, it is their way of telling us something. My Cavalier Nala is 11 and we have been so lucky, she has had relatively few health problems, and those she has had have been mostly self-inflicted (she likes to eat a lot of things she shouldn't!). She was diagnosed with a heart murmur at around 2, but has always been the same and no changes. Just last week she started a little cough. Nothing major, just a cough now and again.

I was talking with a friend over the weekend ~ about our dogs...imagine that! She was telling me the story of how one of her first Boxers passed away from a heart attack. He had started coughing, she took him to the vet and he was diagnosed and within a week, he had collapsed from a heart attack. (I am sure there was a lot more to her story..but this happened to her about 10 years ago and the loss of this dog led her to her current Boxer...which was where the story was really going!)

So needless to say, after hearing this I keep thinking about Nala's cough and was it really something? I asked my husband and our dog sitter if they had noticed it too and they both had. I decided to take her in to the vet the next day. Sure enough, she has an enlarged heart, which is causing the cough and some other symptoms. We are getting her treatment and will go one day at a time...but for right now, she is doing okay for a senior girl.

It was just a really good reminder to me to listen - listen to what she is telling me. Sometimes we are so close to our pets that we don't notice small changes in behavior or movement. Our first Brittany Jazz was a very vocal dog..talking, whistling all the time. One day I noticed that she was just quite...we realized then that she was in pain from arthritis. So in her case, as small change - not so much what she was saying, but the fact that she wasn't. I didn't know that about coughing and that it can sometimes be an indicator for congestive heart failure or other cardiac problems. I am glad that we have a good vet team and we are able to provide some treatment for her. But more importantly I'm reminded to stop talking and listen...


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