Pets have always been part of my family. Growing up we had dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens, ducks and horses. As an adult, I got my first dog immediately upon moving into a house with a fenced yard.
In 2000, I had four dogs and two cats. Over the years, when the pack would lose a member, it wasn’t long before we’d welcome a new arrival. Then in 2015, I found myself with four seniors all at once: Scout (15), Peach (14), Roxy (15), and Lula (14). Wanting to provide them the most comfortable, highest quality of life through their golden years, I decided to hold off on any new additions.
Scout left us that summer, defying the odds to live almost 16 years. A 6 lb mini Doxie from a puppymill, she started out medically fragile. But she quickly developed a good foundation, and apart from high dental needs and eventual blindness, was surprisingly healthy all her life. At every checkup her vet would say, “She’s such a tough lil one!”
Roxy departed the following summer, and Lula this past June. Each goodbye left me heartbroken, but so very grateful for the time we got to share. They were such a huge part of my everyday life: their quirky ways and temperaments, their body language, and how they showed and wanted love. Each has a story that would fill a book. For now, suffice it to say that they taught, loved, challenged and enriched me, and so many others.
My girls’ golden years included diapers, food games (no fun intended), mobility issues, blindness, seizures and more. How grateful I was (and am) for those who helped with tips, comfort, and guidance as needed (and boy did I need it!).
Knowing how helpful and what a difference this made, it means a lot to me to present this issue and give the same to you.
Peach will be 17 in February, and like her packmates before her, she has diminishing vision and hearing, spends most of her time sleeping or eating, and wears diapers. But! She’s still got plenty of swag, and is expressive and funny, snuggly and sweet. And I’m as crazy about her as ever.
While the “adventures” of our pets’ later years can be challenging, exhausting, and sometimes very scary, the joy, profound love, and the absolute wouldn’t-trade-it-for-the-world worthiness of this time with a beloved pet is like nothing else — magical, sacred, and a precious gift.
Gettin’ old ain’t for weenies! Thank goodness we in the Northwest have so many resources, treatments, and superlative professionals offering everything from western and alt vet care to support groups, physical therapy, and more to help with the hard parts.
Special thanks to our readers who shared photos and notes about their beloved frosted faces (meet them here), and the experts, guides, and angels who help preserve, support and celebrate this sacred time.
Yours in loving the oldsters,