Sunset Years

Reigning Senior Dog. 16(?) years old.

After reading me go on & on about mare care for the last two months, a Loyal Fan suggested a post, “wondering what our geriatric years will be like as we watch our geriatric horses.” Here’s what I think:

You will need help. Either that means having people who care or paying people to care. Kids or cash. My grandmother chose both. Family members visited as often as possible, on a rotating basis. We were willing to do more, but she was happier in her own home with paid staff rather than moving in with family. Stubborn got her to the age of 91, so how could we argue?

There will be poop. Elderly dogs, stall-rested horses. Do I need to draw you a diagram? Tbogg handles the subject with eloquence in a Puppy Blogging post (be sure to read down to the brother’s comments). Back when Abby was old [Going], Hubby went on a business trip. He sleeps lightly. I would sleep through Armageddon. I certainly slept through the 3 am dog walk. When I woke up – every room in the house. I kid you not. Every room.

It will suck. Hubby’s dog required intensive nursing for 2 years. Previous Horse fell over with no warning one night. I’m torn on which is better. Watching beloved pets deteriorate bites the rotten anchovy, but you get the chance to say goodbye. A sudden incident leaves you twitchy for months, but there is the relief that the individual never suffered. I have a theory that there is a set amount of grief associated with such events. It’s either drawn out in misery beforehand or whacks you across the head in a lump afterwards.

So far Mathilda is three for three: help, poop, & gradual deterioration. I’m convinced that she will live through this crisis. She’s nowhere near done causing annoyance in my life.

Apologies if I crossed a line. Blame the Loyal Fan.

Can you share a happy elderly story?

7 thoughts on “Sunset Years

  1. with the exception of my last horse, all my animals were ill for various periods of time before they died. i did a lot of nursing and when they told me they were ready to go, i let them. i mourned slowly as they faded; it still hurt like hell but i passed the shock and anger phases of mourning with them, as the slowly lost the ability to do what they had been able to do. (yes i took Death Education in college). My last horse, my sweet beloved, colicked and died in the space of a day despite being taken to Leesburg, one of the best clinics on the east coast (some people say New Bolton is better). a tumor had been growing till it was too large to treat – most of his intestines were dead or dying. it’s a wonder he lasted so long (age 26) with no signs. i had my second worst nervous nervous breakdown after that. (i was also dealing with spine/nerve problems that eventually required surgery). so i was hit like a bomb with shock, anger, the whole sequence of mourning. and it hurt. that was in ’01, and there are still times it hurts. i miss my dogs and horses, but i was able to do my mourning slowly, grieving for each thing they were no longer able to to. I could feel that my last horse wasn’t there when i woke up in the morning, or crying in the night. i wasn’t able to say goodbye to him as i did with my other animals; i was too sick to go to the barn that day. and that’s what really hurts.

    1. Although I cried for a month and miss him as I type this, I never minded that I didn’t have a chance to say good-bye to Previous Horse. He was such an unsentimental b@stard that he won’t have cared. He only wanted people around when they could be of service. “Caesar” was a fitting name.

      1. Chief was different, he always wanted contact. he’d leave off playing with a horse in the next pasture as soon as he saw me and would wait at the gate for me. he always was there as soon as he saw me. posibley because he was arabian, and they are always happiest when they have their own person, no matter how much others might handle them. when i had to stop riding he seemed to be content just to be groomed and walked down the lane.

  2. My brother and I are three years apart and, after grammar school, were never again in the same school. We led separate lives. True, we were part of a very nuclear family, but, after our early years, we had little in common. That remained true for 50 years.

    When my mother took to her bed for the last four years of her life, my brother and I managed her care in Florida. We lived in different states, each of us over a thousand miles from Florida. Our spouses and children (one of them the author) were involved. We not only rotated visits, as the author posted, but we managed her medical issues, financial activities and staffing of the day care, eventually 24/7 care – all long-distance. Email had just come in and we had the phone. More importantly, we had each other.

    As Mom noted, with great joy, her choices meant that my “little brother” and I worked together, shared the ups and downs (including a medical this-is-it crisis every six months) and grew to be friends as well as relatives. He is an amazing person! A unerring sense the right thing to do, vivid imagination, street smarts (he’s owned his own businesses), a strong empathy for the other guy’s feelings and the ability to communicate it all. Oh, and a wicked sense of humor!

    I wouldn’t call it a trade-off but as we said good-bye to Mom, we said hello again to each other. As the only other person in the world who had the same Mom, he and I have great memories and a unique bond.

    A happy ending and a new start.

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