Posted on November 16, 2014.
By Chris Vestal, 2014 DC/SLA President
I wanted to share someone very special to me with you all this month. She came into my life 4 years ago almost to the day. My grandmother passed away just weeks before Thanksgiving a few years ago. When she died my grandmother didn’t have money and most of her possessions were things her family had given her. But she did have something really precious, her dog Bridget.
Bridget was a 15 year old miniature poodle that wasn’t so miniature (she weighed in at 30lbs instead of the normal 13lbs). My mother blamed it on my grandmother cooking pies or meals for Bridget and for feeding her buckets of KFC. I’d been considering adopting my first dog for a while and no one else wanted Bridget so I took her in.
I remember the first time I took her to the vet, when the nurse walked into the room and saw Bridget she just started laughing at how tiny her head and legs were compared to the rest of her body. Once when I had Bridget lying in bed with me she jumped off the bed for some water and I jolted awake, thinking a cannonball had just crashed through my floor. But over the years after sticking with a dog food only diet with a limit on daily treats and some occasional exercise I was able get Bridget down to her ideal breed’s weight.
At first even though she was my dog I still thought of Bridget as my grandmother’s dog. But one day when I was visiting my parents I was teasing their dog (a feisty Pomeranian) and their dog snarled at me. I’d never seen Bridget move so fast – she flew across the room and slapped the other dog down, trying to rescue me. That’s when I knew Bridget really was my dog.
Two years ago Bridget had a seizure in the middle of the night and I rushed her to the all night veterinary hospital. It was a traumatic experience for both of us because just after spending a few minutes with us the vet recommended euthanasia. I didn’t accept that so I took Bridget to another vet later in the day for a second opinion and the second vet said her kidneys did need some attention but there wasn’t any reason why Bridget wouldn’t have more years ahead. So we put her on seizure medications, special vitamins, and prescription dog food for her kidneys and Bridget got a lot better – back to her old self.
I learned a lot from Bridget. She taught me to be ready for the cute unexpected moments in life. Last year I put up my first Christmas tree and as soon as I put the tree skirt down and turned on the lights Bridget ran underneath the tree and sat posing for a photo. She taught me that being patient with others was almost always worth the investment. As an older dog it took her a while to learn simple commands like “fist bump”. But then one day during a checkup at the vet, the doctor made a fist to illustrate a point and Bridget unexpectedly reached out with her paw and fist bumped the doctor (it was totally worth the wait). She taught me not it’s not good to take yourself too seriously. Last Christmas I was visiting my parents and I dressed her up in a reindeer costume that even to a dog should have looked absurd. But she loved it and proudly paraded around the house with her doggy smile cracking up my nieces and nephews.
Last month she taught me the most important lesson though. She stopped eating her dog food one day, which wasn’t unusual since she liked to guilt me into giving her extra treats. But then the next day she not only was she avoiding her dog food, she was only nibbling her treats. From there she took a turn for the worst pretty fast – I’ll spare you the details, but after 3 days I decided to take her to the vet. As soon as they saw us they took Bridget into the back for blood work and the vet motioned me over. She told me that I was probably going to have to make a decision tonight, and I told her I wasn’t deciding anything until we got her tests back and I was holding Bridget.
So they brought her back out to me wrapped in a bath towel and I held her as we waited for what I knew wasn’t going to be good news. About an hour later the vet came back out and said Bridget was in kidney failure. She told me I could take Bridget home with me if I wanted, but that she only had another week or so, that she would suffer, and I ran the risk of Bridget dying alone. As I looked down at Bridget’s face I knew I couldn’t let her suffer and I wasn’t going to let her be alone when she passed – I knew I had to let go. So they took us into a back room and after I said goodbye they gave Bridget a shot and she died in my arms.
I was devastated. I didn’t talk to anyone for days.
Then a coworker called me and shared her story of having to let go of her dog and how in her mind by letting go we made the bravest decision. I know that not everyone has dealt with the loss of a pet, but the truth is we’ve all been in some hard situations in our lives: maybe it’s working in a hostile environment, or being in toxic relationship, or being in a field you just can’t stand. But many times we hold on to something because letting go can be scary or painful. Maybe whatever it is we’re holding onto is the only thing we’ve known and letting go means heading into the unknown. In her final lesson, Bridget taught me no matter how hard letting go is sometimes it’s the most courageous thing you can do for everyone involved.
Now just to be clear I’m not saying don’t try to takes steps to fix things, but eventually there comes a point where things can’t be repaired. I’m also not saying to throw your job to the wind, I think we should take steps to make letting go a much smoother process.
DC/SLA can actually help with both of those, at least in professional circumstances. With our focus on Community and Fundamentals, we can connect you to other colleagues that might have been in similar situations (like the coworker who called me) and help you build new skills so that when you do let go, you can move into something else.
Our Employment and Career Resources Committee chaired by Laura Choyce, provides a mentoring and resume and review service for DC/SLA members. They also manage our Employment Portal at http://dc.sla.org/employment-portal/ .
The portal contains advice, links to job postings, links to skill development resources and more. If you’re interested in volunteering on this committee or learning more about their services please email firstname.lastname@example.org
As I mentioned last month we’ve created a Social Media Directory for chapter members. You can use this tool to find contact information and social media accounts for members and reach out to colleagues who might be going through something similar or who might be able to help give you advice on how to build skills to move into a new position. You can browse the Social Media Directory at http://dc.sla.org/get-involved/dcsla-socialmedia-directory/#cn-top
I’d like to encourage you all to add your own information to the Social Media Directory to make it easier for your fellow members to reach out to you. You can fill out this form to have your information added: http://dc.sla.org/get-involved/dcsla-socialmedia-directory-add-entry/
Our President-Elect Deena Adelman and her Program Planning Committee have done a fantastic job of planning events for us all year long.
We still have another major upcoming networking event this year – our Holiday Party and Annual Meeting. If you want to network in your local Community this is the event you won’t want to miss. It’s on December 9th at the National Press Club from 6-9pm. You’ll have plenty of time to catch up with old friends and meet new ones ,as well as hear the state of DC/SLA, see our award winners for the year, and get a sneak peak at what’s in store for the chapter in 2015 during its 75th Anniversary Jubilee. Register for this event today at http://dc.sla.org/events/?ee=306
Our Military Libraries Group is hard at working putting together a full day of programming on December 11 from 9-4pm with their Military Reference & Research: Sources and Resources program. Register for this event at http://dc.sla.org/events/?ee=288
As always we have two more installments in our What’s Your Theme blog series.
DC/SLA’s 2015 Communications Secretary Rick Kowalski writes about his theme Make the Connection. You can read Rick’s post at http://dc.sla.org/2014/11/16/whats-your-theme-make-the-connection/.
Elizabeth Lieutenant, DC/SLA’s 2014 Catherine A. Jones Memorial Scholarship winner writes about her theme, Pause. You can read Elizabeth’s post at http://dc.sla.org/2014/11/16/whats-your-theme-pause/.
You can read all the posts in our What’s Your Theme series at http://dc.sla.org/category/whats-your-theme/ .
If you’re interested in writing about your own theme for the series please feel free to contact me.
So don’t let yourself feel trapped. It doesn’t make sense to let yourself (or others) suffer because letting go is hard. Everything has a time and place to end. The brave thing is to recognize it and not to cling tighter but to actually let go.