When I schedule a phone consultation with a pet caretaker, I have them fill out a client questionnaire. One of the questions I ask is “What do you hope to gain from this consultation?” Most of the time, I get responses saying that they want advice regarding their pet’s health, resolving their pet’s illness, wanting to give their pet the best quality of life or how to make them comfortable. I recently had a client respond by saying, I want peace of mind knowing that I made the right choices for my pet.
If we really look closely at that statement, isn’t that really what we all want in regards to the responsibility that comes with being a pet caretaker. If we genuinely love our pets then the thought of making an incorrect decision that might possibly harm our pet is beyond our mind’s ability to handle.
It took me many years of veterinary practice to realize that dealing with a chronic pet illness not only takes its toll on the pet, but also takes its toll on the caretaker. As a holistic vet that practices alternative and natural modalities, most of my clients had been working with their general veterinary practitioners, specialists, surgeons and even other holistic vets. By the time I see them, the stress has become an enormous factor in the experience.
Many difficult choices have to be made. Shall I allow chemotherapy? Shall I get the biopsy done? Should I let them give her a general anesthesia? Should I give her the medication prescribed even though I know about the harmful side effects? The list goes on and on.
Most of us have been thorough this and know the difficulty in making decisions that affect our pet’s health care. What makes these decisions so difficult is the thought that we might make the wrong decision. This is what keeps us from having the peace of mind that we would like to have during these experiences.
Is it possible to have peace of mind while we go through these situations? The only logical answer would be if we absolutely knew that we could not make a wrong decision. So, how is it possible to know we can’t make a wrong decision? Maybe we can start by defining what a wrong decision is.
For something to be wrong, we must have something we define as right to compare it to. Like having two sides of a coin. Can’t have heads without a tails. How much truth is there in something that is wrong? If I go to work on Sunday is this wrong? Some religious groups believe that going to work on Sunday is absolutely wrong. Others would say that there is nothing wrong with working on Sunday if the job demands. You don’t have to look too far to see that right and wrong is mostly a relative perspective. Maybe we should not put as much emphasis on what is actually a right or wrong decision.
Imagine that you have a dog that has been diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a malignant bone cancer, that is both extremely painful for the dog and will likely spread to other parts of the body and in short time kill the dog. The veterinarian has told you that it is in your dog’s best interest to have the affected leg amputated which would eliminate the pain and possibly slow down the possibility of the cancer spreading. You make the decision to have the surgery done and the dog dies on the surgery table. It happens all the time.
You immediately tell yourself that you made the wrong decision. Obviously, if the surgery had not been done, the dog would still be alive. What if you had not done the surgery and in just a few days, the dog was in extreme pain that was not controlled by drugs (most don’t) and you were left with another decision to continue therapy or let the dog go. Now, you are thinking that you should have let the veterinarian amputate the leg. See how it is impossible to know what is going to happen with making a decision and the outcome, whether it is right or wrong is nothing more than a story that we are telling ourself based on that outcome.
I use to have a radio show with HayHouse Radio. People would call in and talk to me about their pets. We were talking about making hard decisions. A lady called and told us about her having to make the decision to let her sick cat go. She felt so guilty for making the decision, after five years she could not allow herself to get another pet for the fear of not being a responsible pet caretaker.
I told her that no matter what choice that she made, after the fact, her mind would likely have convinced her that she made the wrong decision. She could have convinced herself that her cat was sick and in pain and the vet had told her that its quality of life was poor and decided it was the right time to let her cat go. About the time that she had convinced herself that she was making the right decision, the mind flips on itself and starts making a list of why she should not do it at this time. This is what keeps us from having peace of mind.
The mind is incapable of making hard decisions because it is not a guiding source. It deals with perceived facts and because they are perceived, it is always changing. No fact, no truth, just bad opinions.
When it comes time to make difficult decisions remember that there are no right or wrong outcomes. Only stories that the mind tells you and whether you listen to the stories is whether you have peace of mind. We have to learn to stop listening to the reasoning mind in times like this. Yes, we want to investigate all of the information that is possible and listen to professional advice. But, when it comes to make the hard decisions, we must learn to quieten the mind and its opinions and in the quiet space between thoughts, is when guidance comes to us. Call it insight or intuition, or heartfelt sense. This is where the answer lies. This is where we find peace of mind.