How Unpredictability Affects Animals

In March, my husband and I brought home a 6 week old puppy.

Ollie is the cutest thing we have ever seen, and he has been an incredible addition to our family.

I don’t think it’ll come as a surprise to anyone that having a puppy (or any furry friend) has some incredible upsides. Constant emotional companionship and support, unconditional love, a great distraction during difficult or emotional times, and some much needed lighthearted humor and relief just to name a few. I am grateful for Ollie every single day. He always makes my heart smile, and it’s difficult for me to remember what my life was like before he came to live with us.

But, it is a lot of work

However, like any puppy, he is also a LOT of work. He is crate trained. But even now at 8 months old, he strongly prefers not to do more than 6 hours inside at a time. He is so loving and playful, but he doesn’t really like to spend much time entertaining himself, even when we are in the same room as him. These are just a few of the things that makes an unpredictable life with IBD slightly more difficult to manage.

Having a puppy at home means operating our lives much differently than when it was just myself and my husband. The number one change is that we can’t both be away from the home for longer than about 6 hours at a time. Unless Ollie is with us, or a friend is coming over to love on him while we’re gone. The second change has a larger impact, in my opinion. Spontaneous plans and urgent needs require a little more logistical planning. We can’t just grab a bag & leave the house without thinking about where Ollie will be, who will take care of him, and when we will be back.

We are prepared if I have to go to the ER

My husband and I have talked at length about what will happen when the time comes that I have to go to the ER in the middle of the night due to my Crohn’s disease. Our best option was to give a nearby friend a key to our place, with the hope that she’d be able to come by and stay with Ollie after the first several hours passed. Then, we discussed how we would manage a hospital admission with the new addition to our family. Due to medically diagnosed hospital PTSD, my husband is amazing and sleeps overnight with me while I am inpatient, meaning that neither of us is at the house, sometimes for days at a time. With Ollie, other plans would need to be made.

While my husband could drive the 25 minutes back and forth to our house a few times a day to feed and play with Ollie, he knows it would be incredibly trying for me to stay alone in the hospital at night. In this case, we have a dear dog-sitter who we would call, and either ask her to stay at our house with the pup or to bring him back to her place for a few days. This would provide us with a strong peace of mind, as we would know Ollie was with someone he knows and loves, and was getting extra cuddles and care while we were away.

The importance of a plan

Having a puppy has really made me realize the importance of having more than 1 contingency plan. Those including us, him, and other people too. They say it can take a village to raise a family, and having IBD and a puppy has made that point very evident to my husband and I. It also has been great practice for the day that hopefully, we become parents.

How have you managed the unpredictability of chronic illness alongside the responsibility of caring for a furry friend?

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