In the last few days, several people that I haven’t seen for a while have told me that I look good. It certainly was a great feeling, since I have gone through a rather difficult year with periods of not feeling great.
But it made me start to think about how we cope with those years creeping by and the inevitable effect they have. And my conclusion is – the best way to stay in good shape is to have a lot of dogs and no money.
Having a lot of dogs is much more advantageous than having a lot of children. You can tell the kids, “I really don’t feel great today, get your own breakfast.” My dogs are not interested. Time to eat is time to eat, and they expect their regular routine of care whether I am in top form or not. The up side is that they are always appreciative – they are never in a bad mood when they refuse to talk to me, there is always great joy to see me and plenty of wagging tails.
Since I have no money, I can’t afford to hire someone to help out and do some of the work, so I have to do it all myself. Taking care of a lot of dogs involves a lot of physical work. Since I live in the hills, that also means going up and down hundreds of stairs every day, often carrying things that can be quite heavy, and climbing around on the hillside to clean up after the pack. All of my dogs are pretty hairy – the rough collies, of course, are obviously full of coat, but for those of you who don’t have Canaans or smooth collies, you can be assured that there is a lot of hair on those dogs. So there is always plenty of grooming to be done – great exercise for the arms and back! There is always something that has to be done, and since I was raised by a very efficient, particular, and house-proud mom, I have guilt feelings about anything that I have not managed to accomplish.
I had two major health problems last year. The first was when I steeped out of my car and my leg twisted under me – torn meniscus. I suppose in the scale of seriousness of injuries, this is not all that high – but boy, did it hurt! The doctors have no miracle cure – rest the knee, and build it up again. Well, resting was not an option – the dogs were waiting. I tied huge bandages around it to immobilize it as much as possible, used a broomstick as a cane (not having a cane readily available, as you can imagine), and went to take care of the dogs. They were a bit put off by the slow pace of food delivery, and didn’t much care for the broomstick, but otherwise, as usual, were glad to see me. It took me a few months to recuperate enough to get rid of the broomstick – but believe me, stairs are great physical therapy.
The other problem was what turned to out to be some rather major surgery, a hysterectomy. I am not a fan of visiting doctors, and certainly not this sort of medical intervention, so I kept putting it off and asking my doctor to do more tests and more tests in the hope that he would discover that it wasn’t necessary. But that didn’t work, and in the end I had to have it done. Well, I thought, two or three days in the hospital and then I can get back to normal life. After all, when a bitch goes through this operation, she is back to normal behavior in a day or two…
Boy was I wrong! I couldn’t believe how long it took for those muscles to start functioning normally again! Months and months! Why are we so different from our dogs???
But there was work to do, so no staying extra days in bed – the dogs were waiting.
And I think that is what kept me from feeling sorry for myself and got me up and functioning normally again.
Even under normal circumstances, without any problems, this is what keeps me fit. I am a morning person, and I do like to get up in the morning. But even in the cold and rain, or when I really would love to stay in bed a little longer, at precisely six in the morning, Habibi’s cold nose is in my face.
“Time to get up!’
“Time to get up!’
“Come on, Habibi, just another half hour…”
“Up! Everyone is waiting!”
If I try to hide under the covers, that nose still finds me and is then accompanied by a thorough face wash. No resisting that!
So up I get and out, to be greeted by a pack of happy, enthusiastic friends that keep me healthy and fit and make my life a joy.