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The fact of the matter is… all this information is useless without action.
We all worry about our dogs. It is inevitable.
I think we can all agree that LESS worry, stress, and anxiety about anything in life is what we desire. We worry about our jobs, the economy, our loved ones, and most certainly our dogs.
It is possible for you to stress and worry less about your dog. And reduce worry in general as it pertains to everyday life circumstances.
This tribe is made up of knowledge seekers and action takers – and that is why you are reading this post right now. You my friend are in the right place and ahead of the curve.
We are taking our dogs more places and this puts us in more uncontrolled environments that are further from veterinary care. Sometimes hours and even days away from definitive help.
Couple this with the fact that worry and anxiety runs rampant in our society- and this issue only seems to be getting worse. We also have an increasingly complacent society- where we are heavily reliant on the internet and we are becoming addicted to instant gratification… amazon prime anyone? We want everything for the lowest price and we want free 2-day shipping on top of it.
Well I am a believer that the best things in life cannot be bought for $29.97 with free and guaranteed two-day shipping.
I am here to say that I get it- and I know I have mentioned before that I have my own worries and stresses around my own dog when we are out exploring the great outdoors. Eight years of schooling does not exempt me from these fears.
However, while working in veterinary medicine, connecting with my clients, listening to their fears and stresses has really lit a fire under my ass to encourage proactivity over being passive, and sound education over opinion blogs.
In my veterinary career I quickly found that something missing. I wanted to create greater impact. I wanted to help animals and their people on a greater scale. If I inspire and educate the person at the other end of the leash (hint that's you all)- the person who the dog spends most of his life with… then I directly impact more of the dog's life and more dog lives.
I say this because we see lots of emergencies and the unfortunate truth is that a large percentage of them can be avoided or prevented. And often the client who presents with this emergency is someone who wants the very best for their dog. These same clients return a year or six months later after the emergency and are now hyper aware- to a point where they have unnecessary, sometimes irrational fears that takes away from their everyday experiences with their dogs.
Not only that but with Facebook and social media these clients share their unfortunate experiences online. (Which isn’t wrong mind you- these people just cope best by relating with others). These sometimes-irrational fears and unhealthy hyper awareness now ripples throughout society. Instilling fear in everyone who reads it.
Now don’t get me wrong- in order to prevent you do need some amount of awareness- but it does not need to be excessive or fear based. There is “healthy awareness” – which is productive. And then there is “unhealthy fear”- which is counterproductive.
So how do we combat this?
By following a plan.
Let me tell you that while I am laid back and low stress, I was not always this way. Implementing small daily habits is what helped me get where I am with my stress and anxiety- which is now minimal.
And you do not need eight years of schooling to get here.
What were these habits?
I will start by saying that prevention is key- we want to know first aid - but what’s ideal is never having to implement it in the first place! And my passion for first aid education comes from a passion for prevention, preparedness, and being proactive.
The plan from here is to battle complacency and this desire for instant gratification.
I know that we can be better dog owners by following this plan. The plan outlined below can be applied to a day hike, a weekend camping with your dog, or even a thru hike.
First and foremost:
The first step is to keep learning and acknowledge what we CAN do. Not what we can’t do. So, what can you do as a pet owner? What can you do to PREVENT? What can you learn right now that might help you if your plans go awry or unexpectedly? When it comes to a knowledge base on any subject there should never be a finish line. There is always something more to learn.
Be proactive with your preparedness by always having an alternate plan. The military has three backup plans. They have the primary plan then: alternate, contingency and emergency backups. Simply put- you should always have a backup to your back up. And having a backup to your back up will eliminate some stress and worry.
So first acknowledge what you can do- not what you can’t- be proactive by preparing and preventing - all while learning constantly.
Are you questioning your preparedness? Click here to take the two minute canine first aid preparedness quiz.
The implementation of your first aid knowledge is not the first step but one of the last. Performing the first aid is your emergency backup plan. Many first aid courses and educational materials focus on the ability to perform it as the ONLY step. But there is so much more to the process. Your knowledge will be useless if you are a stress bucket who can’t make a decision. And if you have to administer first aid and you haven’t put an ounce of effort into prevention then there might be some education lacking.
But if you have followed the steps accordingly and you’ve still reached this point of having to administer first aid and all your initial back up or prevention plans have failed- you at least know you have done everything in your power to avoid it in the first place. And you are now armed with the equipment and the knowledge to give you the best chance of success.
So, what can you do? Get a handle on our stress, worries, fear and anxieties, be proactive by planning and preventing, understand basic first aid, and make good effective decisions quickly because we have done our homework.
We all know that aside from medicating (both self and prescribed), there is no instant gratification if you are trying to reduce stress, worry and anxiety. That is something that needs to be worked on consistently and takes time. But I promise you that using this approach and taking action will get you to a place of reduced anxiety. And bonus - if you reduce your anxiety your dog will in turn be less anxious. – which is a whole separate blog post.
In a high stress, high anxiety society that continues to worsen major mindset shifts are in order. The first step is taking the initiative to start working against it.
What you can do right now:
So, start now. Learn constantly. And do something today to prepare yourself for anything life can throw at you- whatever that might look like. It might be something as simple as going through your first aid kit and make sure nothing is expired or needs to be refilled. It might be going to the store and buying batteries for your headlamp. It can be so small. Just remember the ripple analogy... the smallest task can ripple out and grow into something bigger and more profound.
My other challenge to you: next time you go to turn on music- think twice and turn on a podcast or audiobook instead. Instead of going to watch Netflix or TV- read an educational blog post or educational YouTube video.
A series of small proactive habits will eventually turn into something huge and profound. And building that knowledge base results in less worry, less stress, and may one day save a life. And I know it isn’t sexy because it isn’t instant. But I promise you it is far more worthwhile.
Until then, stick with me on this journey.
Happy tails and safe trails,
Libbie Fort, DVM
P.S. If you can spare two minutes take the canine first aid preparedness quiz! Click here!