No Guarantees

I just got back from a follow-up visit with the endodontist who did a minor surgical procedure on one of my upper molars.   I’d been dreading the visit, because with the way my luck has been running lately, I figured the news wasn’t going to be good.  I fully expected her to say something along the lines of,  “The surgery didn’t work, so that tooth needs to be pulled.  Plus you need two more root canals, five new crowns and possibly another oral surgery just to be safe.  This is going to be expensive, so we’re going to need your debit card and PIN number so we can just access your bank account directly.”

Luckily, she didn’t say anything of the kind.  Instead, she told me that the tooth seems to be healing nicely, and that occasional discomfort I feel around it is most likely caused by scar tissue and the pressure from my sinuses. (Which makes sense, since I’ve just gotten over a particularly nasty cold.)  Her verdict may not have been what I was expecting, but it did make me very happy and relieved.

Sometimes I wish I lived in a world where things were more predictable.  I wish that I could guarantee that my life would go well if I just did all the right things:  working hard, obeying the rules, being kind to other people, etc.  I honestly think that I could even handle the bad stuff so much better if I could just see it coming and brace myself for it, just a little bit.

But the world doesn’t work that way.  No matter what we do, only a portion of our lives will ever be predictable.  Life is a journey full of unexpected twists and turns, with many surprises along the way.  And not all of them are good.

A couple of weeks ago, I agreed to foster one of the dogs from the animal shelter where I volunteer.  Stanley was suffering from kennel cough, and my plan was to adopt him as soon as he was healed and the shelter made him available for adoption.  He lived with us for over a week, gradually recovering his health and his spirits.  My husband and I began to think of him as “our” dog and we were sure it was just a matter of time before we would be able to officially adopt him.

But we were wrong.  Stanley began displaying some serious resource guarding, which can be a dangerous behavior in any home, but it’s especially a problem in a home that has small children in it.  We have a ten-month old grandson who is just beginning to be mobile, and he’s a fast little guy.  He’s also years away from being old enough to understand that when a dog growls, it’s time to back away slowly.  As much as we wanted to keep Stanley, we absolutely weren’t willing to put our grandson at risk.  And so we made the very hard decision to take Stanley back to the shelter.

Sometimes things don’t go the way we planned at all, and sometimes that hurts.  A lot.  All we can do is move forward, confident in the knowledge that not all of the surprises in store for us will be bad ones, and remembering that sometimes things turn out much better than we had dared to hope.  Life is unpredictable, but that’s not always a bad thing.

77 thoughts on “No Guarantees

  1. Awe, so sorry to hear about the Stanley reversal. Yet, you are so right to think of your grand-baby first. Great news on the tooth! I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop. That’s encouraging for me to hear of the victory. Maybe this will be a trend for the holidays. Hugs to ya.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Sorry about Stanley… although a dog, he sounds like the cat that our previous neighbours had, they took it in and then discovered that their grandchild was allergic to it – so the cat had to be rehomed. It was terribly sad, not just for them but us too as we’d become very fond of it (it’d come over and shelter in our garden and, because it was almost completely blind, the birds were okay with it – and it with them.)

    I understand too about the dental worries… I have them, too. But as you say, things don’t always go as we think they will – a couple of years ago I went along to my dentist expecting an extraction and instead he made me a new tooth on the spot!

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    • Oh, I’m glad that went well for you! Good news from a dentist is always especially appreciated. And yes, we are very sad about Stanley, but know we made the right decision. Sometimes things are just hard. Thanks for the comment, Val!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hopefully you won’t have to go back to the dentist for a while, Ann.

    Good call on Stanley. He sounds like a nice little dog. I hope he finds a new home with responsible adults. Resource-guarding is the reason I can’t leave my dogs at home with enrichment activities. Those activities seem to be all food based. So instead I leave them with the bees which they bark at all day. If you know any non-food based enrichment activities, please let me know.

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  4. The right dog will find you. It is a disappointment that Stanley didn’t work out but you made the right call. Perhaps it was providence that you were able to discover that trait and with that information, Stanley will be spared a horrible fate (if he was adopted into a family with lots of kids and bit one of them)!!! Now the shelter will be able to adopt him into a suitable forever home.
    p.s. Glad the dental news was good!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, I comfort myself with the knowledge that at least we were the ones who saw that behavior and knew what we were looking at. Sadly, some people don’t, and the result is a bite. And I know the right dog is out there somewhere! Thanks!

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  5. I had to look up resource guarding. And when I did, I knew you made the right decision despite the disappointment you must have surely felt. You’re right, Ann. The road twists and dips and curves when we least expect it. The dog seemed to be working out but then it didn’t. The tooth looked set to hurt you, your wallet but it didn’t. As a kid, I learnt to fear what lay ahead – whether I saw what was coming or not. As a result of too many burns, I would always warn myself that tears always came after joy – just to temper the bad, if any.

    But in this early quiet before Christmas, God is teaching me to not fear the path ahead. Actual outcomes will not always align themselves with our hopes and fears may conceal pleasant surprises but we have a God who holds our day in His heart.

    So, to Him we yield.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You know, the older I get the more I realize that if I just trust in God, most of my fears go away. Like you, I had been sort of trained to expect and fear the worst. But once we realize that God will always be with us no matter what happens, it becomes so much easier to let go of that fear. Thanks for the reminder!

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    • That’s how I’ve come to look at it. He was able to get out of the shelter while he was sick, and while we weren’t able to give him a forever home, we did give him a chance to get well in a real home.

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  6. Exactly life is all about unexpected but it’s good because we might not have that much strength or courage to bear the unhappy circumstances seeing throughout their timelines. Anyhow it’s good to hear from you and wish you happiest moments!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you! And that’s a good point: if we really did know about all the bad things we have to live through, it might be very discouraging. Better to just deal with them as they come up, and to enjoy the good things in between. I wish you many happy moments too!

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    • Our dog was two or three when our daughter was born, and it worked out perfectly too. Whitney adored children (we knew that because she loved to play with the neighborhood kids) and she accepted our two kids without reservations. That’s the kind of dog I want for this stage of our lives, when we have a young grandson and the possibility of more grandchildren too. I’m so glad it worked out for you too!

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  7. I’m happy to hear that the procedure you had dreaded with your molars was a success. Too bad about Stanley, but you did the right thing. I like what you said about the unpredictability of life; it’s what brings us the wonderful surprises we never imagined!

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  8. Good post! I try to remind myself of that saying that life is a mystery to be lived, and not a problem to be solved. I know it is more fun when I look at it as a mystery! We do get lots of happy surprises along the way alongside the not-so-happy stuff! I am glad your dental visit went well!

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  9. So very true Ann. None of us can predict what’s around the corner and sometimes the best laid plans are just not meant to be. Adopting an attitude of acceptance is often the best way, even when we don’t understand the whys. Glad your tooth follow up went well and sorry about Stanley but safety always has to come first doesn’t it?

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    • It really does, Miriam. And as long as I’ve been around the shelter, I should have been better prepared for this, since I know we don’t always see the “real” dog in the shelter environment. But I’m still glad I fostered him and gave him a chance, even if it didn’t work out. As you say, sometimes we just have to accept what comes our way, and be satisfied that we did the best we could. And I’m so relieved about the tooth!!

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  10. Hi Ann, good news about your tooth! I am sure you are feeling sad about Stanley (incidentally the name of my dearly beloved childhood black and white cat!) but what a blessing you spotted that and could report it back. And you took care of him while he was most poorly, in a loving home. Re life… If our centre is strong, we can withstand outer changes. I certainly see you coping with everything that comes your way! And me, previously such a homebody, can sleep in 40 different places in eight months and usually feel at home within an hour or so. In the immortal words of Buffy the vampire slayer, ‘Gets easier, takes practice.’ All the best.

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  11. You and I think very much alike. I want predictability in my life and work to control as much as is controllable with good planning and doing all the right things but like you said, it doesn’t always work out like we planned.

    Sorry about Stanley. Hope he finds the right home that can work with him and not put little kids at risk.

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    • Thanks, Jean! I think it is hard for some of us to accept and deal with life’s unpredictabilities, especially when we like to prepare and plan ahead. (And nothing wrong with that.) But slowly, I’m learning to deliberately distinguish between what I can and cannot control, and to let go of the stress of trying to control everything.

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  12. I am sad to hear about Stanley, but happy that you received good news from the endodontist. Predictability would make life a lot easier, but I’m sure it would get awfully boring. Dealing with the unforeseeable is challenging, but makes for a much more interesting life story.

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  13. So sorry things did work out with Stanley but you obviously did the right thing by no adopting under the circumstances. And yeah, the predictability of life…. I’ve come to acknowledge Tom,self that I am a bit of a control freak and I’m much happier when everything that affects me is under my control. This of course is not possible so I am learning (after 61 years!) that I have to control what I can and accept or work with what I can’t best I can. Thx for a great post. I’ve been a little absent in the blogosphere lately but I always enjoy reading your posts.

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    • Thanks, Michael! I’ve also had to come to terms with just how much I really like to be able to control things, and just how little I actually can control. Learning to let go of the need to handle everything has been a struggle, but in a good way. Slowly but surely, I’m learning that there is also joy in the unexpected!

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    • Yes, I’ve learned so much at the shelter. It’s “resource guarding” and some dogs can be trained out of it, or grow out of it. But with others, it only gets worse. And the hard thing is that to a dog, anything can be a resource: food, a dog toy, a bed, or even the person they love. So it’s just not something that I could risk with a young grandson around. It was so hard to take him back, but I still know I did what I had to to. Sometimes what is right and what is easy are two very different things!

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