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What Did I Learn about Intersectionality from Caring for My Dog, Henry.

27 bottles of meds and counting, is he finally getting healthy?

by Zhou Fang, Intersectional Group

Monday, May 15, 2023, a date seared in my brain. My dog Henry had stopped eating. His energy had been low. His eyes tired. I had scheduled an appointment over the weekend and took him to his primary vet that Monday morning.

Within 20 mins, the technician and doctor made it clear that Henry was very ill in his liver and needed to be hospitalized immediately. I had zero time to think, only following instructions.

Fortunately, the vet helped us lock in a bed at a 24/7 emergency hospital within minutes and it was only 8 minutes away. As soon as we got to the hospital, Henry was taken in and hospitalized. He was severely jaundiced and he was put on IV immediately.

It wasn't until the evening, Thursday, May 18, when I was allowed to bring him home, under intensive care and monitoring. After all, he had a near liver failure and was frail. The following days were kind of a blur: medication, feeding, him refusing to eat, doing everything I could to make food appealing, baby walks, medication again, trying to make him eat a little again...

Fast forward to September, we went from 8 or 9 medication a day to 4. Big, big improvement. Henry is allowed to play at a public dog park again. His appetite has improved significantly. His weight went from a scary 45 pounds to 49, closer to his normal weight, 51 pounds.

So What Did I Learn from Caring for Him?

In the first few weeks after I brought him home, people who knew what happened, with good intention, would say something like, "oh, he looks great, he doesn't look sick at all." While the intention was good and they meant to comfort me, which I greatly appreciate, these words did annoy me more than I'd like to admit because in my mind, I would go, "he is so thin and slow and pees himself how can you say it to my face that he looks great?"

- Sympathy without Empathy, you see, is what happened here.

And then, it was people who did not know what happened. A few weeks after being discharged from the hospital, Henry's overall spirit and energy improved. He would greet everyone he met at walks and ask for attention like he always did. Naturally, folks who didn't know about his illness would say something like, "what a good puppy!" "he's so happy and energetic!" "how old is he? can he play with my dog?" All these comment gave me so much hope and put a smile on my face. However, later on, I would think about, "well, actually, he's very sick and I have no idea when/if he's going to recover."

- You see, the invisible pain and illness we experience as humans and animals, make us intersectional beings.

Intersectionality is everywhere. We may not always see it. But it is in and around us. Perhaps someone's driving ticked you off today; perhaps your food wasn't ready in 20 mins; perhaps that presenter of a new project didn't deliver very well; or perhaps, YOU didn't have everything you needed to fully show up today. We Are All Going Through Something at Any Moment in Life. A vital component of Intersectionality is Compassion. Be compassionate for those we encounter and interact with and be compassionate for ourselves.

Remember: just because something isn't visible, it doesn't mean it is not there.

Oh and, Henry is continuing his journey to recovery and he's happy to report that he's just as curious as ever:

(it is the mister, Henry, something that spreads misty water and cools off the air.)


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