Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Mr. Independent

I never thought it would come to pass. I'm thrilled to announce that the day has arrived when I can leave Henry the pug outside alone to do is business.

Since he went blind over Christmas, Henry's had to be supervised whenever he goes outside to go poopy or potty. And I mean EVERY time he goes poopy or potty. It was typically a 20-minute excursion to let him do the deed...and you can imagine how l-o-n-g that 20 minutes seemed...especially when it stretched to 30-35 minutes. Yes, there was a time not so long ago when Henry couldn't be rushed - we just had to let him work out what he needed to work out in the time he needed to work it out in, painful as it was. But those days are over.

In fact, for about the last month, Henry has been Mr. Independent. Here's his new routine: Hendo indicates that he needs to go outside (either by whining - which is fine, since right after he went blind he wasn't so good at giving us signals) or by making his way through three rooms to the front door. Impressive, huh? Even more impressive is that we open up the door (and he knows to stop far enough away so that we can swing the door open), say - "Okay, Henry go potty/poopy outside" - and he saunters over the threshold, down the front stoop and away he goes. I close the door, go do my thing (or Deirdre's thing, should that be the case), and then 20 minutes later, I hear Mr. Hen either scratching at the door or whining to come in. I open the door, and there he is, sitting back on the stoop at the door, waiting to come in. (Looking absolutely adorable, I might add.)

***

It's a dream come true - I wish you could experience the joy and elation I had the first time he did it. After more than 7 months of watching and waiting for him to do his business...I couldn't be happier. It's like I get almost two hours of my day back (5 trips outside x 20 minutes = 1 hour and 40 minutes). I suppose it's not quite an hour of my day since Johnny and I usually split duties...but more often than not, we'd both end up out there because a) it was either too depressing to watch Henry wander around disoriented and confused alone, or b) it would take two of us to make sure he did his stuff while making sure Darwin (puggy #2) did his business and didn't wander off. We originally let Darwin out front with Henry to try and help teach him how to maneuver around, but in the end, it became a lot more work to have both guys out front, unfenced. So not only is Henry on his own now, Darwin is back to going potty/poopy out back in our fenced-in backyard. Unfortunately, I don't foresee Henry being able to tackle the two sets of steep stairs that are in our backyard...but then again, I never thought this day of independence would come, either.

***

I remember talking with a friend of mine who was relating his experiences with their blind dog a few months after Henry went blind. My friend was full of good advice and tips on how to help little Hen find his way around, but when I asked him how he dealt with having to stand out there with his dog while he did his business, he said, "Oh, we didn't have to stand out there with Joshy. He knew to just do his business and come back in." And I remember thinking, "We'll never be able to do that with Henry. Ever." He was just too dazed and confused (i.e. sick) to make sense of what he was supposed to do out there on his own. He would wander off, topple over, not go at all, step in his stuff, or whine, whine, whine because he was disoriented, upset, and scared. Oh - it was awful...but shame on me for not having faith in the original mr-pug-a-lot.

***

Boy, am I proud of him...and it reminds me of just how down and out we can become when lupus is in full effect. During a flare, it's practically impossible to see that you'll ever feel better. I specifically remember a time when someone in my support group told me that things would get better - and I definitely didn't believe her. It wasn't that I didn't want to...it was that I couldn't see how I would ever, ever, ever feel better.

***

And yet, given time, I did. And better yet - I still do. Let this be a reminder to those of you who have been told that life will get better with lupus. It really will. Sitting there today, you might not understand how it ever can, but have faith. I promise you that I NEVER thought Henry would be able to overcome his diabetes and blindness in order to fly solo while relieving himself. Ever. But if Hendomania can prevail...so can you.


All you have to do is get through today. Nothing more. You think this guy is trying to tackle anything more than that?

One day you'll wake up and you'll feel better. Perhaps not all better, but at least you'll see improvement. It will happen. Never lose hope. Mr. Henry never did.

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