This is a second excerpt from the possible novel I have been working on about the life lesson’s and wisdom my dog, ironically named Boodha, who passed away this year taught and gave me. This one is from the chapter titled, “Health Consciousness”.
When I elected to get a pure breed dog, versus a mixed breed, and in particular this breed, the English Bulldog, research informed me of a myriad of potential health issues that I could be facing with this animal. Skin issues, overheating, joint issues, obesity, respiratory issues were just a few health issues synonymous with this breed of dog.
When we first brought Boodha home as pup, my now wife and I decided to feed him a popular, name brand food based on our breeder’s recommendation, and whose brand also happened to sponsor their breeding operation. Betweeen being a complete neophyte when it came to raising a dog and being in a more challenging financial situation at that time, the decision to feed him this food was an easy one. However, I didn’t realize or even care that the food was comprised of poor quality ingredients that had an adverse affect on his health. At that time in my life, a lot of decisions were made based on ignorance, convenience, and financial motives, and it was at the expense of a lot of things in life, such as health and wellness as one example. Making a simple decision like feeding my dog this kind of poor quality food, based on cost, my own convenience, and a lack of understanding, had a direct affect on Boodha’s health and well being. This kind of affect on his health manifested as chronic skin and bowel issues to name a few.
The lesson of health consciousness that Boodha taught me took a long time to learn. As a young adult when I first adopted him, I was personally operating from a place of blind ignorance when it came to my own physical health. This was based on the assumption that being young comes with a certain invincibility and resilience, that no matter how much damage I were to accrue, I would be fine and could quickly recover. This youthful ignorance applied to the choices I made initially, to Boodha’s physical health. The idea and energy required for true health consciousness were curbed by excuses and justifications. Bowel issues that he had from eating poor quality food were laughed off and chronic skin issues and inflammation were written off as just part of this breed of dog. This dynamic continued to parallel my own life. My own poor diet and physical lifestyle choices were justified as being young and having fun, or my body image was just the way I was or part of who I always was.
However, beneath these lies, Boodha’s introduction into my life helped push me into an eventual obsession with physical health and wellness in all fascets of my life. Though, my young adulthood was wrought with these poor physical choices there was always something inside me that was fascinated with health consciousness and part of my lifestyle did incorporate this cousiousness from the very beginning. However, it took the observation and accountability of another being in Boodha, before I truly learned to make it a top priority and focus of my life. It took extra medical expenses pertaining to him to help learn this lesson. Even though and fortunately it didn’t come to any major surgeries or health crisise, things like the vetinarians wanting to prescribe a lifetime of expensive meds and in turn spend a lifetime addressing chronic issues, it taught me that the root cause must be explored when it came to physical health. I was made aware that I could improve the quality of Boodha’s physical life with preventative measures and better lifestyle choices. This included a long quest to find high quality food for him, to eliminate real foods that had adverse affects on him. It included regimented excercise and physical stimulation for him. It included practicing good hygiene to mitigate chronic skin issues.
Reaching this point of health consciousness with Boodha was not an overnight change. It took literally a lifetime of awareness, experimentation, and dedication. My own physical transformation in terms of becoming more health conscious coincided with raising Boodha. For example the regimented excercise with him forced me out of my own more sedatory lifestyle choices since I was the one responsible for scheduling and implementing them. Seeing the adverse affect of poor diet and hygene choices with him, prompted the question with my own life. Like, “what is the cost of eating or drinking that? What will happen?”. “How do I feel when I don’t go for a walk?”. “How do I feel after I do?”.
Even as Boodha aged and much of his physical health was diminished, the lesson of health consciousness proved to be even more critical. Prognostications by his vet and by others with similar experiences as pet owners, often painted a grim picture of what his physical life would become as he grew old. I couldn’t blame or judge this outlook, since often it was prompted by a compassion to avoid pain and suffering or it was just someone else’s account and experience as a fellow dog owner, however I could clearly see that I could avoid much of these pitfalls and maintain a long healthy life with him, counter to the norm, by awareness and making consistent health conscious choices with him.
These same principles were valuable to myself as I grew older at the same time as Boodha. He taught me that achieving physical balance and homeostasis, long into life, was possible if the majority of choices about physical health such as diet, hygiene, sleep, and excercise were sound and made with a certain awareness and consciousness. I also learned that although a lot of science was out there, it was never a perfect science in the sense that there was never a sudden moment or place of acheivement, but instead it was a perpetual process. Learning about better physical health was a continual process and the application required consistency and commitment. Mistakes were and would continue to be made along the way, but it was important that they were learned from and better choices were made the next time around. The benefits of health consciousness were not always immediate or glaring, but instead manifested in a subtle end or minimization to physical pain and suffering, or the avoidance of disatorous medical implications such as cancer, emergency surgery, or a lifetime of side affect filled, expensive, medications.
As my family grew and we introduced kids into the equation, all the while watching Boodha live out an entire lifetime, the consciousness of physical health that I learned a lot about by raising Boodha from a pup, permeated into raising our human pups. Our kids up to this point were not sickly and were able to avoid major medical issues, and carry balanced, happy demeanors to this day. I would like to think this is in part, because of many of the health conscious decisions we made with them such as diet and excercise and good hygiene. Just like with Boodha and myself this is a continual learning process and a lifetime of commitment, but I can always see a difference when a practice these principles compared to when I neglect them.