Thanksgiving and dog cancer….a horrific pair.
Coping with canine cancer is heart-wrenching any time, and during the holidays can be almost unbearable. Here are some tips that can help a guardian cope with dog cancer during this season.
During holidays, there are expectations that people will act or feel certain ways. If we see family, often there are expected ways of acting. If we see friends, the same holds. As a matter of fact, we are seemingly constrained many times by expectations.
When coping with dog cancer, it is safe to say a guardian will feel anything but festive. Gratitude and thankfulness are miles away. Outgoing social behavior is difficult. And the internal storm of grief, dread and fear simply does not align with what is “supposed” to be happening during the holidays.
During these times, it is sensible to do what is necessary to take care of the guardian (you), so you can best care for your dog. A parent who cannot focus is less effective for their child. A leader who is distracted is not competent. A dog lover in distress cannot deliver proper supervision, care and compassion to a dog with cancer.
For these reasons, removing oneself from situations where you are expected to be cheerful when you cannot muster a smile is reasonable. Take this time to use the exercises in the Guide to release the grief, anger or fear you may be feeling so you can be there for your dog. Counselors, other mental health providers, and spiritual guidance can all help in times like this.
On the other hand, perhaps social interaction is what you need at this time. Many people thrive on relationships and they provide strength, reassurance, and distraction. Guardians can use the support of compassionate and caring relations and social events.
Be aware though that those who have not experienced similar journeys with their loved dog may not behave in a sensitive way. Words like surgery, chemotherapy and radiation may be meaningless. They don’t know about coooking a Dog Cancer Diet, apoptogens, acupuncture, anti-metastatics, and the other host of tools that need to be utilized. Treatment plan analysis is greek to them.
For this reason, it can be helpful to compartmentalize. This word is often negative but here means to put painful feelings into an internal box, temporarily. Then we deliberately forget about dog cancer, create a break, and recharge.
The most important thing to do in this process is to take time to discharge the destructive feelings after compartmentalizing. This is where we sit with the Guide methods and go through the steps to “experience away” the sadness, anger, or numbness.
The end result is a more effective guardian for your dog…and relief for the guardian.
So when out in the world during this holiday season, remind yourself to guard the guardian too.
Dr. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.