Max went to the vet today for his yearly check up. He seemed to be a mix of excited to go somewhere and see new people, but also anxious to be in a fairly unfamiliar place. And then relieved to find a very cool floor in the middle of a very hot day.
But he had nothing to worry about. Everything looked good and he had even lost 4 lbs since last year. I was a little worried about his ears because last year he had a bad infection, but even those were perfect. He is a healthy dog!
Through this process of check up, Max taught me how important regular care is. The vet is a wonderful thing to have, but the vet’s job is to fix problems (and to a degree prevent them). The more important thing is daily working toward health so that, like this visit, the doctor does not have to fix anything that is wrong.
This ongoing, daily work is hard and I am not always good at it. Whether it is my car or plants or animals or myself, I often don’t work on things until it is too late. I’ll be honest that this week leading up to the check up, I made sure Max got a little more exercise than normal and that we actually used the ear cleaner we should be using every week.
We live busy lives and it is easy to forget about or put off every little thing we can do to be healthier every day. It is easy to forget how each daily action impacts our lives in subtle, but important ways.
Max taught me that every little walk, bath, and administering of medicine is important, even if it seems mundane at the time. The check up could have been very different if we neglected some regular healthy activities. And it could have been different if we spent even more time exercising (the doctor still wants him to lose a few more pounds).
These daily actions add up to a lifelong process that not only prevents illness (baring any accidents), but more importantly, makes us better and healthier. We have an option each day to grow one direction or another. The yearly check up is great and helpful, but it cannot propel us toward better forms of living – only daily effort can do that.
Max taught me that perhaps it is our daily practice of good living that makes the biggest impact on ourselves and others. We could spend a full day or week doing good, healthy things, and it would make a difference. But true change in our lives and world comes from regular attention and the continual work toward something better.
So, thank you Max for living a good, healthy life with me. And thank you for teaching me that every little thing matters as we work daily to become healthier and better creatures.
P.S. Also good, but quite explicit at the end: