Life lessons from my Habibi: what my Bouvier des Flandres taught me

Life lessons from my Habibi: what my Bouvier des Flandres taught me

My Habibti, my darling, is (our) my fur-kid. We got her almost 7 years ago as a 6-week old ball of tight black curls and a bright pink tongue.

She believes she’s a human and doesn’t know she’s a Bouvier des Flandres given that she’s the only kid in the house (and please don’t tell her otherwise). 

She’s spoiled as all kids should be.

She’s talkative. (As are all Italians)

She’s has a toy box that rivals Hamleys and loves playing with Ernie Ernelston II (he’s a grey elephant) and Zara the Zebra.

At the beginning of November we rushed her to the vet. She had a raging temperature.

She came home on Friday the 13th after having had countless blood tests, IV’s, FNA’s (if you’re a Grey’s fan you’ll know the term of Fine Needle Aspirations), major surgeries – gallbladder removed and a liver biopsy.

Far too many tablets shoved down her throat and fed intravenously.  Food syringed into the back of her mouth.

She was a shadow of her usual self. No chatting. No tail wags.  No asking for treats. No playing with her toys.

She refused to eat. She refused to drink, even water.

All she did was lie on her bed and look at us with sad brown eyes.

I slept downstairs on Friday night and Saturday and Sunday night.  I felt helpless. If you’re South African, you’ll get this – I even bought her Woolies rotisserie chicken! Nothing. No eating. No drinking.

On Monday morning at around 04h30 I leaned into her and informed her that we were going to get through this and that I’d do whatever she needed me to do.

It’s Friday.

She’s eating Woolies chicken and drinking water.

She’s walking around the house and garden albeit like someone who’s just jumped off a merry-go-round

She’s given a couple of tail wags.

She barked when she heard me open the front door earlier this morning.

She asked for a treat today.

She brought Ernie and Zara to me a short while ago.

And I’ve even managed to get 2 of the 11 tablets down her throat.

Lessons learned

1.     Trust your gut

I decided to give her milk diluted with water and she drank it

I changed her water bowls for plastic bowls and she’s started drinking again on her own

Leadership lesson:

Think Malcolm Gladwell: Blink

Think AirBnB

Think Uber

2.     We all need someone in our corner

There are times when we just need someone to tell us they’ve got us and we can lean in

We all need to know that we’re loved and that we make the world a better place

Leadership lesson:

Have people in your corner who: bring value | expand you |cheer you on |are the straight talker |

3.     Perseverance

I bought yoga mats and spread them around the house so that she had a sense of grip and balance and slowly we’re rolling them up. Even when you’re tired of facing what seem to be never ending obstacles and difficulties you find a way to get past the adversity

Leadership lesson:

Think Chris Nikic | Steve Jobs | Thomas Edison

4.     It takes a village

We’ve achieved this. From the vets, to my non-fur-children, to our housekeeper, to the friends who called for daily updates.  This has been a team effort.

The burden is definitely lighter when you’re sharing the load.

Leadership lesson:

In a world that few of us have experienced before, it takes the collective to bring about solution.

5.     Love is a selfless

So what if I slept on the floor? I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again.

She’s loved me unconditionally.  It was my turn.  So I cleaned up the vomit, and the messy bum.  And I told her how much I love her.

Leadership lesson:

Heart-centred leadership is not for the faint ‘of heart’ but it is so worth it.

Tonight I’m having a glass of wine in celebration of life and its lessons.  May I have the strength and courage to weather it all.




Photo by Jamez Picard on Unsplash