For those of us who treat our pets as our furry children, few things can be more emotional than watching them age. Part of the deal with being open & devoted to our furry children is in knowing from the beginning this cute little ball of fuzz one day will age and we will be in charge of deciding when their quality of life is no longer at an acceptable level. This is a very personal area and while we’ve all known those who didn’t have the heart to ‘put down’ their ancient pet who has no teeth, no sight and can barely stand…it’s not hard all that hard to understand reluctance to let go.
This past year I had the difficult task of saying that final “I love you” to my Senior gelding Eli. It was probably one of the most emotionally difficult experiences I have lived through. Yet, there were no regrets, no feelings that there should have been more I could do: it was simply his time. In the years leading up to his departure, I always spent time just with him, talking, brushing, massaging and letting him know that while I would miss him when he was gone, I would make sure the time we had together would be spent in helping him enjoy his golden years.
Right now, Doug & I have the emotional task of caring for our Senior kitty Aussie. He’s been with me his whole life: starting under a storage shed in my back yard in the early-mid 90’s. He was born feral and I had to coax him & his siblings to venture out and eat canned food when I was near. Eventually he decided people were pretty OK in his book and when I decided to bring home a Boxer puppy named Honey Aussie was the only cat that gave her a chance. She would play with Honey and cuddle up and snooze with her as well. Then came Brenden, my second Boxer puppy who Aussie accepted with the same calm demeanor he showed with Honey.
When it came time to make a major change & I moved to Colorado, B-dog came with along with 7-Toes and Aussie. I moved in with a good friend, a friend none-to-fond of cats who was not entirely thrilled with me bringing along TWO cats. I explained that Aussie played with the puppy, so he had to come. I would have brought them all if I could…but sometimes life can force you to make difficult choices.
Aussie has begun to have difficulty in keeping his weight up, a sure sign of old age: frailty. His green eyes are as bright as ever and he’s enthusiastic about eating-especially fresh fish & steak. Then came the day we realized he was having some issues with bodily functions…I’ll skip the details but we began to realize that wherever Aussie had laid about for awhile, there was clear signs of it. His poor little rear was swollen and irritated, so we took him to our vet. The verdict was simple age-related incontinence and also a huge hairball that caused some blockage.
The kittens room is now Aussie’s room, with his favorite chair, a padded footstool and plenty of food he doesn’t have to share-this is where he spends his nights. We had the pleasure of a visit from Shelley Wallen who came to give him the full energy treatment! At first he was more concerned with getting pets and head-butting her hands, but soon we saw him become aware of the raising energy around him. He settled down, purring and soaking in the re-charging energy Shelley offered. Not surprisingly, his sacral and root chakras were all but depleted. This was also the first day we experimented with tiny doggie diapers, feeling that almost 2 weeks of being locked up was more than anyone should have to deal with. When Shelley connected with him she was able to help him understand the diaper-something he was more than a little boggled about. He made it clear: given the choice of simply having free reign in one room with little company, or the diaper with free access to the rest of the home, he chooses the diaper.
Now, we start our day with a quick, warm shower to clean off anything he can’t clean himself, a little lavender oil & a clean diaper. Since his energy work with Shelley I have noticed a clear increase in his level of ‘fight’ during his shower! He certainly has gained a little more vigor and he definitely seems more wide-eyed and content. We all have reached some degree of acceptance that this is how it’s going to be until one of 2 things happen: he gets better or he gets worse. Until then we are more than willing to have one room in our house devoted to one old, incontinent cat & the unfortunate smell that comes with. We were thinking of tearing up the carpet in that room anyway.
Most of us have memories of loosing some of our favorite pets to old age and the difficulties that can be encountered with it. Some of us may even have some regrets in regards to how we handled their senior years, but one thing is certain: we have the power to create a pleasant experience or to ignore the increased needs of senior pets. Growing old is not always fun, we know this ourselves! Why should it be any different for our furry kids? When Fido can no longer run boisterously after his favorite ball, what can activity can we substitute to give him a sense of fun? How far are we willing to go to ensure our senior pets get enough healthy nutrition if they loose their teeth?
I once had a good friend who’s senior gelding had no teeth, she boarded him at a stable and made the 10-15 minute drive twice a day, every day, to mix his meals. She did this for years and he was unable to be ridden but he was content to enjoy the warm sun or a good brushing and she would pony him for short walks as well. This is dedication! To put our animals emotional well being ahead of our convenience is the ultimate outward sign of Love, of wanting their life to be as pleasant an experience as possible, even if it means a bit of inconvenience for us.
This is where having the ability to connect to your animal comes in, even if you are unable to actively hold conversations with your senior pet, if you love them it is easy enough to pay attention. Our pets will always let us know when it is their time, even if that time is before their physical bodies are ‘done’. It may seem overwhelming to some, when they realize the balance of quality of life for their pets is in their hands.
Lucky for us we live in an age where Animal Communication & Energy Work are becoming more widely accepted. More of us are learning the techniques to connect with animals on a deeper and for some a spiritual level! While these are wonderful tools that we can use to increase the depth of our relationships with our animals, they certainly are more than a little helpful in keeping us in tune with our aging pets as well. As an animal lover it is your duty to provide a true quality of life for your furry kids, especially as they prepare to transition back to the Source that we all return to eventually.