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On Mabel’s 22nd day hiatus from playing with other dogs, my primary veterinarian called me with her PCR test, and it was all clear, as were her X-rays. After two rounds of antibiotics wrecked my sweet girl’s gut, I opted for testing when Mabel’s cough lingered, and I’m glad I did. I now have a cough-free dog and peace of mind that we didn’t miss any infection at all.

I was so excited yesterday morning for Mabel to return to daycare. Not for me. She and I have found such a beautiful groove together. But Mabel must play in ways my humble human body can’t match. 

I can’t say “friends” in front of Mabel. Friends mean daycare, friends mean play, friends mean partying and roughhousing, then collapsing on my car console with me, saying over and over again, “You smell like pee.” So, I waited until we were out the door to tell Mabel we were going to see her friends. Oh, the sounds Mabel made brought me so much joy to give my darling dog what makes her so happy. But it’s a risk, taking her to daycare. 

Mabel’s a lot of dog with a lot of energy. She plays too rough sometimes and gets overstimulated. The staff works with her to give her breaks, but my dog isn’t their only responsibility, so I worried about how spazzy Mabel would charge into the playgroup. And, with so many respiratory infections going around, I was nervous that Mabel would catch something again and feel icky again and have to be medicated and quarantined again.

After talking through the calculated risks with both my Eastern and Western medicine veterinarians, considering Mabel’s super-healthy-also-on-vet-prescribed-immume-boosting supplements and that she needs to play with other dogs and I’ve not had the time to find and coordinate playdates for her, I chose to send Mabel to daycare.

I’m so happy I did. Mabel snuggled beside me when we got home and slept soundly and peacefully. But this process has made me think a lot more about the risks we take. I used to jump in feet first and ask questions later, but the older I get and the more my heart gets broken, the less risk I want to take. But isn’t everything we do a risk?

When I was trying to find a quiet spot to walk, Mabel, because more walks brought out more leash reactivity, I found a remote, quiet loop at the park where we’ve been exploring. And, as Mabel and I strolled through the tree-covered grass-filled path where we saw no one, not one person, in over an hour, at first, I was so overjoyed, I almost skipped. Mabel seemed equally blissful, sniffing this way and that, bouncing as she walked.

Then the worrier in me thought, “Wild weeds also equal ticks. What if I trip and sprain my ankle? What if Mabel and I embark on a wayward animal? What if I didn’t bring enough water for Mabel?” My mind continued with all the risks I took on a lovely walk on a beautiful day with my delightful dog. 

Yes, all those things that raced through my mind are potential negative outcomes. But isn’t not living our life or finding fun a bigger risk? I’m not suggesting we all go bungee-jumping (something I have NO interest in doing, ever), but if we’ve taken responsible steps like knowing our dogs are up-to-date on a tick preventative or not walking too terribly far on a new remote route, shouldn’t we just enjoy ourselves and bounce around like our dogs do?

So, today, I offer us all this. Let’s do something fun, just for the fun of it. Let’s embrace joy and pleasure and laughter just because they feel good. Let’s be so happy doing what we choose that we bounce when we walk.