Taken For Granted
By Jon Aldrich
Take for granted. It is something I am sure all of us are guilty of from time to time. I know I sure am and probably way more than I would like to admit. So, how do we define “Take for Granted”:
Let’s just focus on the first definition. We have too much of the second definition with all the garbage that gets passed around on social media and elsewhere on the internet. I’d rather not head down that rabbit hole.
What got me started on this topic? It has been a very eventful last few months for me. First was completing the purchase of Focus, which had been a long time in the making. Second was taking my oldest child, Trent, to college down at the University of Alabama. And the most recent, which really got me started on the significance of the first two and many more things, was the news my wife Tammy and I received about our beloved dog Oreo, on Friday.
After our last trip to the lake a couple of weeks ago, where Oreo loves to play in the water all day, we noticed that she had started limping and that her right leg was bothering her a bit. It was nothing too serious, as she often overdoes it at the lake and it is not uncommon for her to be a little “off” a few days after returning. But as the days went on, the limp started getting worse, until a couple days ago she was reluctant to put any weight at all on the leg. It was just hanging there, and we knew something was really not right.
This is where I started contemplating about taking for granted that Oreo could always run and jump and swim with the use of all four of her legs. The last week or so, she was down to 3 legs, and it really hits home how much you take for granted her ability to do all the things she could do. When one leg does not work, and she is hopping around on 3 legs, you really see how much you appreciate having 4 healthy legs, but you never really take the time to think about it. When you have to pick her up to get her in the car when she used to just jump, or pick her up to lay on the bed with us for a while before bedtime, you really understand.
We got Oreo about 9 years ago, after we lost our previous dog, Snickers, (the friendliest Dalmatian you would ever meet, to cancer). We had great success with Snickers, who was a rescue dog and we wanted to adopt another rescue dog. We visited a shelter in Huntley called Animal House and had the intention of adopting an American Bulldog. At the shelter, you pick out a dog that you are interested in adopting and you go out in the yard and spend some time with them. We did this with a couple of American Bulldog’s and met some real nice dogs, but the chemistry just was not there with the dog’s we met.
So, we went back inside, and my boys, Trent and Trey, who were probably ages 9 & 7, give or take at that time, said why don’t we check out this dog named “Oreo”. Of course, the boys were big fans of cookies so this all seemed logical. Oreo was brindle colored with a white stripe between her eyes and white paws. She was a Staffordshire Terrier, a close cousin of the Pit Bull. Of course, Pit Bulls have all the negative publicity that surrounds them and a real sketchy public perception. However, I am a firm believer that just about any dog can be dangerous if it is trained to be aggressive. I had heard many more stories of how great a dog, that Pit Bulls are.
We went out in the yard to play with Oreo. And within 10 seconds we all knew Oreo was going to be coming home with us. She immediately gave us unwavering attention, and was licking all of us, and wanting to play and be petted. She made sure to give the whole family attention. Boy, she was a heck of a salesman, and she was determined to get a ticket out of the shelter and to a forever home. We did not know her whole story, but we did know that she had been returned by a previous family because she got too excited around their cat. We also were not sure of the circumstances that led to her arrival at the Animal House Rescue Shelter, but she had been there for a couple of months.
Oreo closed the deal and made the trip home with us that summer day in 2009 and has been the best dog you could ask for. Never close to being aggressive with anyone, loves to fetch balls, and swim after ducks at the lake and could have probably been a champion dock diver if we had entered her in contests because she could really fly off the dock after the toy duck when we threw it. Sure, she had her faults, raiding the garbage can and grabbing food off the counter were two of her biggest vices, but we could control this by being a bit more careful.
Now that Oreo was not putting any weight on her front leg and appeared to have some discomfort we took her to the vet to see what was going on. I was certain she had pulled a muscle and had probably re-injured jumping on and off the bed, which she was still trying to do. I thought that she may need surgery to fix this and that she would be fine. True, she is 10 or 11 years old, we are not absolutely sure her true age, but she still has a lot of pep and can still jump off the dock with the best of em.
The vet did some examining of the area of concern and decided to do some X-Rays to see if she could get a better picture of what was going on with that front leg. After being away for a few minutes she came back with Oreo, but I could tell she had a troubled look. She did not have good news. The X-Ray showed abnormalities on the bone near her shoulder and according to the vet was a classic sign of cancer in the bone. Our worst fears were confirmed.
Ironically, our last dog, Snickers, had a tumor in her paw that required her front right leg to be amputated. However, as cancer often does, it had spread to other parts of her body, and after about 7 or 8 months she had an inoperable bladder tumor and we had to put her down. We are not going to have Oreo’s leg amputated nor pursue chemotherapy for her. With the help of the vet we are going to keep her pain free for as long as we can and when it gets to the point where she is suffering we’ll have her put down, which is a day I will be dreading.
She still has a lot of pep and gets around reasonably well on her good legs. I am writing this up at our retreat at the lake house in Wisconsin after just coming in from doing a couple of things that she loves, boat rides, and playing in the water chasing minnows. She is now a three-legged minnow terror. We are definitely not going to take the last remaining days, weeks or maybe months for granted. We are going to savor every moment with her. She will probably get some really good food scraps during this time until we have to say goodbye.
This all really got me thinking about other things in my life and other family, friends, co-workers that I have probably taken for granted as I have been so busy these last few months.
I thought back to last week dropping Trent off for college. Since he is all the way down in Alabama he will not be able to get home very often. But after we dropped him off and got home was when the emptiness set in, and the regret that we just didn’t get to do a lot together in the summer before he left. We were all very busy, and probably took each other for granted.
My wife, Tammy, since we have both been so busy with getting Trent’s graduation party planned and executed, getting him off to college, remodeling a bathroom, and numerous other projects we have going on, etc. She really keeps the household running and I don’t know how she does it all, she truly is amazing.
My co-workers, Martha and Janet, who I could not run Focus without. They have helped me so much over the years, yet I probably take for granted that they will be there to keep everything running smoothly. They are also amazing, and I am so glad to have them.
The financial markets. (You had to know that I would incorporate something about the stock and bond markets into all this). The last few years have been almost too smooth and without worry. We have probably taken for granted that this is the way they will always be. Let me assure you that it is not true, and as we have started to see in 2018 things will not always be smooth and carefree in the markets. And although this year has been a little choppier then the last couple of years it has not really been all that wild yet. We need to enjoy the times when the markets are calm, because inevitably there will be times in the future when we will wish for the calm days of the last couple of years as the markets are gyrating wildly and the news media tells us that the world is ending again.
You can see how this is all going. I strongly encourage you all to take stock of things in your life that you “take for granted” currently. Sit back and think about how different things would be if they weren’t as they are now or were drastically different and for the worse.
I am at the lake this weekend, savoring every moment with Oreo, my wife Tammy, and just enjoying the waning days of summer and the peacefulness that the lake brings. I only wish my boys, Trent and Trey were here as well. Like I mentioned, Trent is off to college, and Trey, now age 16, is working this weekend and was unable to join us.
I know it is not New Year’s and it is not the usual time for resolutions, but I am going to try to do my best to work on this resolution of trying to not “Take For Granted”.