Displaced Stay At Home Californian in rural N. Carolina

The Many Faces of Joy

The Many Faces of Joy

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


We currently have two geriatric animals in our care.  One is our 12 year old German Shepherd that we got when we lived in Portland named Sally Tomato and the other is our 15 year old domestic short hair cat named Lloyd.  I say he is 15 but actually I have no idea how old he is, he could be 16 or 17 or older.  Gabe had Lloyd with him when I met him and so Lloyd we like to say comes from a broken home.  I also attribute this to the reason why Lloyd has never really warmed to me (or the other way around to be honest). 

Taking care of elderly animals is hard work.  You have to cater to their palate - sometimes they don't like the food you buy or sometimes the food upsets their delicate and elderly stomachs and sometimes they eat something for a few days and then tire of it and sometimes they cut out meals altogether.  And since they can't give us a reason, we have to try to figure it out.  Lloyd we have discovered likes only one type of food and that is all he will eat.  And no amount of tempting him will change his mind or his palate, unless of course you show up with a saucer of milk.  Sally has always been a very picky and slow eater and he has stopped eating dog-food altogether and now is eating chicken and rice which I am starting to have to mass produce for him like a Chinese restaurant. 

It is amazing to me that I'm doing this because I come from a family history of discarded animals.  I've actually threatened to write a tell all book with 30 chapters, each with a different pet name as a title.  It would be considered fiction, of course, but there are many chapters that will end like this, "I have no idea what happened to this animal."   The main reason for this is, we moved a lot, we got pets whenever we moved, we almost NEVER took them with us when we moved on.  And when I think back to these animals, I wonder sometimes why we never took them with us and why we were always allowed to get animals in the first place.  The only dog I can remember that we had from a puppy until its death was Wang-ja, the Angwin dog.  One dog.

I remember when Gabe was applying to Vet school one of the questions they asked him was if an elderly lady came in with a healthy 2 year old cat and wanted the cat put down because she was headed into a care facility that didn't allow animals, what do you do?  And I remember being shocked to hear that putting an animal down at the owners request is sometimes the best thing to do.  Remember that cat has lived with an elderly person, it likes quiet, it likes rest, it likes solitude.  Giving it to a family with 3 kids and a dog might be like dropping a steak into a tank of alligators.  But the right choice for the animal is not always the choice that people make.  And I find that it is so common for people to get a cute and fluffy pet and love it up and feed it and then dump it at the first chewed up pair of sunglasses or the first torn up rug.

When I see our elderly animals and I clean up after them and I cook for them and I care for them, I'm happy that I'm teaching my children how things come full circle and how death completes that circle.  And I'm hoping that they learn that taking an animal into their circle is a life long commitment.  In the next life I am sure that I will be locked in a world where I am forced to care of all the discarded animals from all the places we've lived.  I just hope that if that happens I get to take my husband with me!

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