It’s been over a year since I have posted a blog on this website. I miss it here; I really do, but I’ve got a bit of writer’s block. So, let’s see how this turns out.
Peter, let go of the result. Your muse will guide you when you begin. Just write.
This is our healthy and happy dog, Tuukka, in the Spring of 2019. Handsome boy, isn’t he? Well, I certainly think so despite the blurry iPhone photo.
The world around us started to crumble and collapse in the Spring of 2020 due to COVID 19. People stopped living and sadly, far too many people died. Our lives became dark and dreary and filled with fear.
Tuukka didn’t care one bit then, and he still doesn’t care about the state of the world. As long as he has a ball in his mouth and a family that surrounds and loves him, he is oblivious to all external circumstances. He lives happily and brings joy to our daily lives.
In April 2020 Tuukka showed outward symptoms of “something’s not right.” His coat condition declined rapidly and warranted a trip to a veterinarian dermatologist. The diagnosis: An autoimmune disease named Sebaceous Adenitis.
As a treatment for his disease, Tuukka needs frequent visits to a groomer to keep his skin, oil glands, and fur in decent – not good – condition. After several visits to our favorite professional groomer, Allie (whom I worked with at the time), Tuukka learned to wear the infamous Samoyed Smile once again.
Tuukka didn’t know or care that he had something that caused him dis-ease. He learned to adjust to the uncomfortable and ever-changing circumstances in his daily routines. He embraced the Taoist philosophy to be like water – flow effortlessly around obstacles.
Notice the striking difference between Bath 3 (pictures on right) and Bath 14 (pictures on left.) His skin/fur condition on his neck (crusty scabs with no fur vs growing fur), his posture (head down vs head up), his ear placement (horizontal vs vertical), and his facial expression (closed mouth vs open mouth) all show improvement.
I jokingly refer to this haggard look (below) as his Keith Richard phase (November 2020). Reminds me of Keith with an ever-present cigarette hanging from his lips.
“Got my ball, Dad. I’m a happy boy. Wanna hear me sing?”
“You dont have…”
Even his howl is throaty, scratchy, and gruff like Keith’s voice. Eyes closed – singing the blues – such the showman! Tuukka never cares how he sounds and he sings A LOT! You should hear him when he has that blue ball in his mouth; it functions like a megaphone.
February 2021 arrived and after a very expensive trip to an emergency veterinarian, we learned that our boy did a bad bad thing. And he was NOT a happy boy.
We never knew why he was so lethargically ill and listless until we saw the above x-ray. Apparently, Tuukka couldn’t resist eating a plastic mouse – a catnip toy for cats. I circled the obstruction and those other amoeba-shaped objects to the left is… well, take a good guess. Tuukka’s “pipes were clogged” and needed surgery to relieve the pain and suffering. UGH!
After recovering from surgery, we continued Tuukka’s grooming regiment with Allie. As you can see in the picture below, Tuukka let her take creative liberties with his styling. He didn’t care! He went from the lead guitarist in the Rolling Stones to an audience member at a punk rock concert.
Allie developed quite a relationship with our boy. She had never worked with a Sebaceous Adenitis sufferer before. Tuukka was her client and test subject, but he was also her teacher. With Tuukka’s cooperative and carefree demeanor, he allowed Allie to try different techniques, test new equipment, and study his condition. As a result, Allie quickly became the sought after expert groomer for other dogs in the community that suffered with the autoimmune disease. Such a good boy :)
The global pandemic, with its new variants continued to disrupt the lives of everyone. And I mean everyone. Despite the state of world affairs, my wife, Cathy, and I added more fuel to the fire of chaos that already surrounded us.
You see, we decided to uproot our live when I took a new job in Vermont. I worked in Vermont during the week and made a four hour commute to/from our home in Connecticut on the weekends. Tuukka was NOT a happy boy with this arrangement. He and I dreaded our Sunday evening “See you next weekend” goodbyes. Cathy would report that our boy would mope about the house from the time I left until Tuesday morning. Consistently. Without fail. Month after month after month.
During the nearly 15-month upheaval of my weekly commutes, selling a house, buying a home, moving to a new state, unpacking, and adjusting to a new lifestyle our family’s stress levels were “off the chart.” Tuukka’s skin and coat condition steadily declined until he regressed to his original sick and unhealthy condition. Yet, he was still a happy boy. Here he is enjoying a block of backyard Vermont ice that he just HAD to munch on inside the house.
You did the best you could, Peter. Tuukka’s not holding any grudges; he’s still a happy boy.
Cathy and I continue to do the best we can. We no longer have the benefit and privilege of Allie to help us with Tuukka’s grooming. However, much of the stress has disappeared. Much, not all, but vastly improved. He doesn’t care! He’s a happy boy, still.
Yet, I need to get our boy back to feeling his best. Or perhaps, I need to take care of Tuukka in order to decrease my ever-growing feelings of guilt and shame – to feel my best.
How could you let him regress so far? He’s back to square one. You need to fix him.
I bathe Tuukka once and sometimes twice a week. In-between his bath days, I apply medicated mousse and/or pamper him with jojoba oil massages. He always knows when it is time for a “treatment.” He avoids me and cowers in helpless resignation. Yet, once we get into the action of his bodywork, he doesn’t tool long. In fact, his fondness and devotion to me and mine towards him deepens.
Yesterday, I gave Tuukka his 16th bath since restarting his skincare program. It’s uncomfortable to contort my body over a household bathtub to wash and condition him. Drying him takes a lot of patience and more endurance of uncomfortable postures. However, we are making progress and neither of us are seeking perfection. We just silently go about our business and connect on an energetic level. I like to think that our chakras blend and we help to heal one another.
After all, Tuukka doesn’t care that I am not a professional groomer. I certainly don’t have the finest tools of the trade. I don’t have the education, knowledge, skill, and experience of a skilled craftsperson – like Allie.
But, I’m doing the best I can. And Tuukka doesn’t care about my past mistakes or life-getting-in-the way. He’s our happy boy and he always manages to put a smile on my face.
He lives moment to moment. He forgives quickly. He loves unconditionally. He’s quite a teacher – this boy!
The boy who cares about his family with all his heart, soul, and spirit. Our boy, Tuukka.
“I promise you boy, we are all on the road to better health and happiness!”
Be Kind. Be Thankful. Be Significant.