James Jacobson: Here’s a question that we get from a lot of people who are dealing with dog cancer and Dr. Dressler I’m gonna throw this question to you first which is the issue of emotions. How important is emotional control for the pet lover, for the dog lover, for the guardian when you’re dealing with dog cancer?
Dr. Demian Dressler: Yeah, emotion is such a huge, huge thing if you think back to the moment when you actually heard the dog cancer diagnosis from the Veterinarian you know what I’m talking about, your entire world feels as if it’s been turned upside down and it’s such a huge part of coping with dog cancer that it’s the type of thing that can either make the experience a horrible, horrible nightmare and pure living hell for everybody or it can in some cases, if managed properly, make the experience an entirely different one and there are some people that in actuality are able to have an experience where they can look back at this time because of the emotional management and because of what they were doing deliberately during this time to keep everything okay as much as they possibly could with respect to themselves and with respect to how they are treating their dogs, look back from the future into the past and say “You know what, I did everything right”, and that’s about as good as anybody can do when they’re dealing with a dog cancer diagnosis. So emotions are really so important.
James Jacobson: Dr. Ettinger, do you find that as you deal with Oncology clients that their emotions impact the outcome that they experience with, with their dogs?
Dr. Susan Ettinger: Yeah, I actually do when I think it’s really important that they figured out how to use these emotions in a positive way because I can tell you that there’s so many clients who were so caught up in the emotion that they don’t really hear everything that the Oncologist or their Veterinarians saying. I really think it’s great when owners come in with a note pad and a pen and are taking notes and I also try to educate them and give them a lot of hand-outs that they can take home because again I think sometimes they’re so emotional. They get home and they can’t remember anything that was said or what to do from there. So I think sometimes emotions can really make it hard to focus but if they learn how to turn these emotions around and use them in a positive way it can be more helpful.
James Jacobson: Dr. Dressler, in your book you have so many different techniques and practices that you can use to keep track on your emotions, is there one or two things that you might suggest now to people who are watching this video?
Dr. Demian Dressler: Well, I think one of the most fundamental things is really an awareness of what it is that you’re going through at the time when you’re going through it. If you don’t know what you’re going through sometimes you’ll be sort of swimming in the fish tank without realizing it and you want to place yourself outside of the fish tank so that you are in control of the situations that you realize “Hey wow, I’m feeling something that’s overwhelming here, maybe I should take a few minutes and just quiet down, or maybe I need to talk to somebody, or maybe I realize it because I’m still upset maybe I didn’t remember to do something or remember some of the details that would matter in managing my dog’s cancer. So the very, very first thing and one of the most useful fundamental skills in dealing with emotion and in trying to handle your emotions is awareness, also called mindfulness, of what’s going on inside and that’s step one. As time goes on, you can start to incorporate some of the exercises in the Dog Cancer Survival Guide to allow yourself to really, really be in control so that you can get the best possible outcome for your dog.
James Jacobson: Dr. Dressler…Oh go ahead.
Dr. Susan Ettinger: Can I add something?
James Jacobson: Sure.
Dr. Susan Ettinger: I don’t just think that it’s really important that I’m a very emotional person and I think it’s okay for people to realize if they’re emotional. No one’s upset if they are emotional it’s just again learning when to, you know, how to use that in a more positive way for your pet’s cancer. It’s okay to be emotional and I think I would be surprise if most people aren’t emotional when they hear that their pet has cancer. Again, it’s figuring out how to still be able to get the information that you need to do even if you are an emotional person and that’s not an easy thing to do.
James Jacobson: Well there’s lots of advice in the book. Dr. Dressler, Dr. Ettinger, thank you for joining us today.
Dr. Susan Ettinger: Thanks.
Dr. Demian Dressler: Thank you.