How to make decisions that you can live with

This isn’t exactly what Grace ate on Tuesday, but it comes from the same source. The woods nearby offer a variety of interesting things, including bones from dead animals, this one likely a deer. Grace was very proud of her find and carried this one home recently. Perhaps her scavenger instinct comes from her days on the streets of Puerto Rico.

Grace ate something she shouldn’t have eaten. That happened mid-day Tuesday when we went on a short walk close to our house.

She was off-leash and far enough away from me that I could see her gnawing on something that looked like a small bone, but not near enough for me to clearly identify it or remove it. As I got closer, she knew her enjoyment of her tasty morsel was short-lived, so she swallowed it.

I didn’t notice anything unusual until later that afternoon when she started to be lethargic and then had no interest in her dinner. She was walking awkwardly and had trouble getting up the stairs when we went to bed that night. My husband and I both had long days scheduled for the next day, Wednesday, and upon our return that night, we didn’t think she had moved from her bed all day, not even to greet Pete as he entered. She had eaten nothing and shown no interest in food.

That night, she started whining, and I started to get increasingly worried. I googled “blockage in dogs” and as I read the summaries, all I could see were the words “serious,” “life-threatening,” and “death.”

So I called the closest emergency vet care clinic in our area, and in reviewing all her symptoms, I felt somewhat better. Shortly after the call ended, around 9:30 at night, I took Grace for a walk and she did her business, enough to know it was not a complete blockage. Now I had another positive sign, giving me enough comfort that I felt I could get some sleep without being a total wreck, worrying about all the possible horrible outcomes.

The next morning she eagerly ate her breakfast and did what I wanted her to do on her bathroom walk. Things were looking up. While we still don’t feel like she is 100% herself yet, the signs are moving in the right direction. The crisis has passed.

Throughout the last few days, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to second guess my actions. If I hadn’t had her off-leash, this wouldn’t have happened, for starters. If she had been trained to drop something from her mouth upon my command, that would have eliminated the problem, too.

But the big question I had for myself: should I have driven her to the emergency clinic? If something had happened during the night, could I live with myself for not taking her to be checked?

As this ran back and forth through my mind, I landed on the side of satisfaction that I had made the right choice. Given the information I had in total, I felt the risks were low enough to wait until the morning for any next step. Turns out that worked out well, but it doesn’t always happen that way.

The bottom line is that no matter what others suggest or recommend, you have to make decisions that you aren’t going to regret. When you put a stake in the ground, you need to be able to look back and know that you did what you thought was best, even if the outcome wasn’t what you wanted.

The woman from the clinic forewarned me that she couldn’t guarantee Grace would be fine, even though the symptoms didn’t indicate a grave situation. And I knew that even if I took Grace in, there was always the possibility that it wouldn’t turn out well. It’s not the guarantee of the outcome we should weigh the quality of our decisions on, but rather by how we arrived at our choice.

I believe that once we trust our process, we can trust our decisions. Do we understand the situation fully? Do we have all the information from all pertinent perspectives? Have we reached out for input from those we respect? Have we received advice from experts in the field?

Once we weigh those factors, then we can choose the option that we feel is best, which may be different from what another person would choose. And it might be different the next time we make the same type of decision for ourselves.

Being clear on how and why you make your decision is the important thing.

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8 comments

  1. Hi Robin and great post! I’m so glad Grace is doing better! I am severely challenged when it comes to making decisions about my dogs. You are an expert in assessments, so maybe you’ll have some advice for me. Every assessment I have ever taken has shown me as a stoic, rational, analytical, “thinking” (versus “feeling”) type. So, that’s me at work and decisions are very easy that way – as you described in your post, I trust my process and my decisions there (really loved how you put that, btw). But apparently, all of that goes out the window when it comes to my dogs, because I become a “feeling”, hang-wringing mess when one of the dogs so much as sneezes. πŸ™‚ My husband even calls me a “dog-o-chondriac”!

    • Laurie and LeeAnn, how funny! I also love the term dog-o-chondriac! Wouldn’t it be a hoot if the assessment measured the degree to which we all have that trait?!! But seriously, Laurie, on our assessment, based on what you’ve said, you’d probably score high on our objective judgment scale (where logical thinkers score) so on those occasions when you find yourself on the other end (emotionally-based, instinct, and heart-focused), you just need to tap into the strength of your analytical side and perhaps ask yourself, ‘what would I do if this was someone else’s dog?’ (Easy for me to say, not do!) It might help move you a tiny bit to another place, if that’s where you want to go! Balance is the key, as you know. I always tell people not to change their strengths, but recognize where that strength may leave you vulnerable to a corresponding weakness. It could also be that you are more uncomfortable when you’re making emotional decisions because you aren’t usually doing so, even those decisions could be just as “right” as the logically-based ones. It’s all so interesting, isn’t it? People are complex and guidelines are helpful, but never one size fits all!

      • Ha-ha, I’m glad you and LeAnn got a kick out of the term dog-o-chondriac! And LeAnn, I’m glad I’m not the only one who becomes irrational where dogs are involved. πŸ™‚ Robin, your advice makes perfect sense. I even recall now from my MBTI assessment, the person doing the assessment mentioned that one day I may find myself challenged with an emotional decision – she described it as writing with your left hand (if you’re right handed). I like your suggestion for thinking about it as if it was someone else’s dog (although I can get pretty irrational about other people’s dogs too!). I do love assessments – and credit two of the assessments I had done with some of my biggest “aha” moments in life.

  2. LeeAnn says:

    Robin – loved this post and I love Laurie’s response!! I am going to use that term – “dog-o-chondriac” as that is what I am too. I am completely irrational and panic when I think something is wrong with one of my animals. : )

  3. didiwright says:

    I find your recent experience with Grace quite scary, especially since George also likes to feast on various ‘things’ that he finds on the ground during his walks…And, like you, most often we’re not right there to stop him or at least see what he’s eating, so we panic every time… But then, what do we do? Never let our dogs off the lead for fear that they may eat some rubbish which, after all, is natural dog behaviour? It’s the same with kids, you have to let them play out, climb a tree, etc. even though you’re frightened inside that they may get hurt.
    I think you did the right thing waiting to see how Gracie feels and looking for any signs of change instead of rushing to the vets. If you’d gone there straight away, they probably would have told you to wait a bit longer and sent you home without doing much. I am, however, relieved to hear that the little lady is feeling better, it sounds like whatever she ate didn’t agree with her system at all…Maybe she’ll think twice next time…?!

    • It is definitely a hard balance, to evaluate the right time to let nature take its course or prevent disaster. I am so glad this worked out well, but you never can predict certainty, can you? George sounds curious like Grace! And I’m with you, it would be horrible to restrain them from just being a dog.

      Sent from my iPad

  4. spiderpaw says:

    So nice to hear that your Grace is okay. Man, have I been down this road. I think you made the right call on not going to the emergency room, although easier said than done. So many times in the past we have ran to the emergency clinic only to find out that there was nothing that could be done except paying that outrageous bill.

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