Be more Labrador…

Barney and Ben on their 14th birthday at Coniston, Cumbria

Just over a week ago one of my ancient Labradors, Barney 14 1/2 , suffered a stroke. Out on his late walk about 10:30 on a Saturday night. He quietly collapsed on the grass and was not able to get up again. My husband carried him home with his brother Ben following behind and laid him gently on the floor. It became obvious that he was very poorly, with a severe tilt to his head and his whole body stiff and unresponsive. We called the emergency vet and Nigel carried him out to the car. I said goodbye, because I honestly thought that he would not be coming back. I sat with Ben and waited.

But he did come home, after an anti-nausea injection. The vet said that he should come out of it after about 72 hours. So we propped him up, surrounded him with throws and cushions and waited. Nigel slept on the sofa for the first night. On Sunday we crept around him, managed to feed him some scrambled egg. Kept him clean. Worried if we were doing the right thing. On Monday he was a bit brighter. On Tuesday morning we came down and Barney was standing up!

10 days later and he is doing so well. He is slower and has a little tilt to his head, which is quite cute. He occasionally lurches to the left but is growing stronger and stronger, eating well and back on his walks.

I have been totally amazed by his spirit. He has always been a needy dog, his nickname is Eeyore, and he is going blind, which has added to his disorientation. But he has been quietly determined and never given up. True Labrador spirit.

On Saturday I saw a video from America’s Got Talent. An 11-year-old boy called Tyler-Butler Figueroa ventured onto the stage with light up shoes and clutching a violin. He told his story, of being diagnosed with leukaemia, bullied at school, and then taking up the violin when a teacher offered free lessons. And then he began to play. It was amazing. The energy and passion he poured into his performance spilled over into the audience and Simon Cowell pressed the golden buzzer to fast forward him into the finals. Another example of the triumph of spirit when faced with challenging and difficult circumstances.

I bet we all know of someone, who, when faced with the biggest challenge of their life, finds the strength and courage to do something completely incredible.

A thought struck me.

So often when we are faced with something really challenging and frightening, we find a way to turn the experience into something wonderful and inspirational. We dig deep into our boots and discover the drive to turn something negative and scary into something brave and good. Very often helping other people in the process.

But then when we are faced with smaller irritations, like driving home in heavy traffic, having to wait in a queue, or some of the many small perceived injustices that happen everywhere in our daily lives we react in a totally negative way. Letting stress spill out, retaliating with angry and violent words or behaviour, shouting, moaning, blaming. It has become normal for people to allow their stress to spill over onto social media, to treat people with disrespect and rudeness.

What if, and it is just an idea, what if we treated EVERY challenge with spirit, love and understanding. We could transform our world. Person by person. Street by street, Town by town. Until the whole world was a better place to live. Wouldn’t that be amazing.

I have often thought that we should all be more like Labradors. We chose Labradors for specific reasons. Their attitude is always positive. Sniff it, taste it, piddle on it. Simple philosophy. Their greatest concern is where their next snack is coming from. My two, find joy in everything they see, everything they do. They tackle each and every experience with gusto and passion, and they ALWAYS get enough sleep!

Ben and Barney at about 6 months

We know that our time with our two much beloved dogs is limited now. Whenever we tell anyone that they are 14 ½ they shake their heads and pronounce in subdued tones “That’s a good age for a lab”. There is one design fault in them and other dogs – they don’t live as long as we do! But when they go they will have lived life to the best of their ability. And they have loved. Oh how they have loved and been loved. We met them when they were six weeks old and they came to live with us when they were 12 weeks. They have made our world a better place.

Couldn’t we do the same with everyone we meet?

Be more Labrador. You know it makes sense.

With love xx

Here is the amazing performance from Tyler

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