How to make decisions that you can live with
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.