This COVID-19 lockdown is redefining a lot of things for me — and my dogs. For instance, I don’t know what qualifies as “a tough day” anymore. It used to mean having a little cry, but I do that daily. For my dogs though, a “tough day” is one with no sun. With no ability to sunbathe, they turn their attention to the most boring of creatures: me.
Today, my definition of a tough day comes courtesy of a certain type of Madrid dog owner. They walk their show-worthy canines while dressed to the nines, hair perfectly coiffed, and only look my way whenever my dogs bark. Their faces either are judgmental, somewhat disgusted by my foul-mouthed mutts, or smile patronizingly, as they gracefully float past me with their dogs that never bark.
This afternoon, as we attempted to return to my apartment building, my dogs spotted a big chocolate Lab approaching us too eagerly. Horrified by the pile of muscle and fur five times their size, Jarvis and Nero barked their heads off. Normally, I wouldn’t mind this loud display of terrier feistiness, but it turned upsetting as the two humans walking the labrador refused to give us space. They didn’t move away to enable my dogs to feel safe or give me the time to open the door to my building with an ounce of grace. Walking past us, they giggled and muttered something behind their masks.
Finally on the elevator, I caught my reflection, noticing my tired face and messed up, frizzy hair. I imagined what those pristinely styled “Madrileños” made of me: a crazy dog lady with similarly nutty dogs. I broke down, tears streaming down my cheeks. Immediately, Jarvis climbed up my leg to nudge my face with his snout. Have you ever seen a dachshund climb up a tree? Me neither, but Jarvis can hug human limbs and make his way up them with the agility of a squirrel.
I never thought I would be alone in Madrid, struggling physically and emotionally, with only my two dogs for company. Yet here I am.
Is life with endometriosis easier with dogs?
Nope. It is hard work. Owning a dog requires giving them daily exercise, feeding them twice a day, and endlessly cleaning up after them, especially when they are sick. They also require continuous training. If they are dachshunds like mine, they are famously known to be extremely difficult to potty train and require constant supervision so they don’t bite or lose their cool.
When you don’t have the luxury of a garden, you have to walk your dogs several times a day. If you’re single like me, you have to do so even during flare-ups. I have walked my dogs with — excuse the visual — blood streaming down my legs, in unbearable pain. Last week, I walked my dogs while suffering from a fever.
Yet, there are enormous benefits to living with a dog.
Dogs understand my illness and know when I’m in pain. If I am suffering from a flare-up and require rest, they won’t ask for anything and simply lie next to me. If my mental health is suffering, they are quiet, sticking to me like glue.
Dogs are loyal, never judgmental. Just like Jarvis did when climbing up my leg to my face, they will save your life. They will look at you with eyes that say you are the best person ever when you feel at your worst.
Dogs lift your spirits when nothing and no one else will.
As someone with endometriosis, I don’t know if I would have chosen to have two dogs by myself. But I don’t regret any moment spent with them. Right now, Nero’s dementia means he’s restless at night, meaning we both lose sleep. Last night, as we snuggled wide awake, Jarvis thought it was party time, and brought us several of his toys at 5 a.m.
So, life with endometriosis and dogs, is worth it? Let me work it. Life with a chronic illness and two dogs is not easy. However, it is a wonderful existence, a rewarding and super fun way of living I never want to give up.
Note: Endometriosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Endometriosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to endometriosis.
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