What do you think of the state of her health? Does she want to stay?
This is the story of Carmen, a guardian in a building who has asked me this same question for the past four years! The little dog is called Maya.
Maya suffers from metabolic problems and she is now pretty old; however, she gets good treatments from the veterinary, she eats, goes for walks even if she walks more slowly now and she is able to enjoy life. The veterinarians no longer want to deal with Carmen and always refer her to other colleagues.
The problem does not lie in Maya’s state of health.
The real problem is the profound anxiety that Carmen suffers from. Her anxieties lead her to see numerous veterinarians leading to exaggerated care of her animal. Carmen does not sleep and gets up several times in the night to check on Maya. Maya has to follow a strict regimen and follow all kinds of treatments. If she wanders from these or becomes lazy, Carmen gets angry and is constantly checking her respiration and verifying her analyses. Her whole day is organized around the well-being of Maya who just feels like sleeping, sniffing the smells outside or eating something appetizing.
Then Carmen, who loves Maya dearly, regrets her anger spells, weeps and feels guilty which only leads to more torment on her part. Maya’s “illness” becomes her only reason for living, her mission in life, her aim to combat this scourge and control the reality which is Maya’s decline.
Maya, on the other hand, just wants to live her life, a simple life without doubts and questionings, a life where one can enjoy nature and small pleasures, a life lived in the present full of sharing and love.
Carmen thinks that is not a life. It is true that her life is badly lived, completely taken up as it is with worries, fearful thoughts, her heart full of anxieties. Every day she is convinced that Maya is going to die and if by chance she does not feel that fear, she then wonders if Maya wants to stay or leave. Carmen should really try to get rid of these fears, but she cannot and is convinced that the problea lies in Maya’s state of health.
Maya has become Carmen’s only reason for living. Because of all these unhealthy reactions Carmen affects the life and health of Maya and is unable to profit from her presence. Her life has become joyless.
Carmen’s story is an extreme case, but I encounter variations of Carmen every day. Of course one must treat and help a sick animal and there is nothing wrong in looking for different treatments. What is not normal is Carmen’s excessive anxiety. Sometimes it takes the form of overdoing the treatments or insisting on unnecessary exercises to change the dog’s health or behavior. While it is normal to feel helpless when faced with the illness of a loved being, it is not normal to have emotional crises of anger, depression or obsessions regarding the health of that being, obsessing on cleanliness, ways of eating or working. In those cases one should really question one’s reactions.
We guardians of animals have the responsibility to work on ourselves. Animals do not belong to us; we are only there to take care of them, not to stifle them with our emotional outbursts.
To love signifies to give liberty.
The liberty to be who I am, the way I am.
Animals are free beings.They teach us ajust by their presence. We must help them feel secure and well and share with them those moments of joy.
We must love them by letting them breathe!
By leaving them alone, letting them free to be themselves even with their animal nature, they can help us get rid of all those emotional toxins that we have accumulated.
To love is not to control their lives.
To love is also to let them leave when they are ready to give up their last breath on earth.