My mighty Ottie was not well: a funky skin irritation and a cyst above one eye, that was growing alarmingly fast, were worrying me. Time for a trek to the office of Dr. Martin, the urban equivalent of Dr. James Herriott of “All Creatures Great and Small”, a tv show I must have watched and watched again thousands of times.
What Ottie and I love about Dr. Martin is that he is no fuss, straight to the point, will always suggest the gentler alternative and he is loath to push surgery or, god forbid, marked up products. The skin infection turned out to be a harmless dermatitis, a consequence of the relentless heat and the unusual humidity that have been plaguing Southern California. The cyst was swiftly removed with a needle and deemed wholly benign. Nothing to worry about, other than Ottie’s advanced age.
“He is in great shape for a dog his age” Dr Martin remarked.
I asked if he had any tips on how to keep Ottie healthy and comfortable through his golden years.
“Keep him active. And keep on loving him the way you do. People underestimate the power love has on an animal’s immune system.”
I loved that. No vitamins, supplements, massages and whatever else animal lovers obsess on: just keep on having fun chasing squirrels and hiking together, and loving him. Maybe John Lennon was right all along and we would all better off if we followed this simple mantra: walk more, love more and let yourself be loved.
That four letter word we tend to romanticize and mis-interpret for a good portion of our life would be much easier to understand and accept if we didn’t insist on capitalizing it.
It is curious to see that when random people are asked to define the meaning of love, most are stumped. If you watched the 4 minute video sofagirl posted a couple of days ago, where subjects were asked to answer a simple question, “What is love?”, you will have noticed those between the ages of 5 and 50 were either unable to utter anything at all or equated love for the self-centered romantic version of it. Only the older folks can speak eloquently about love, often describing it as the centerpiece of their lives.
Shame we are wired to turn what is simple into somersaults of complications, whether it’s loving ourselves or loving others. I believe love, even romantic love, comes in different gradations but all stemming from the same root. And yet, we find it so difficult to utter a simple I love you. Maybe we should think of it as a boost to our immune system: the more we say it, the more we extend it, to ourselves and to each other, the better we will feel. The doctor says so.
And don’t forget to walk.