When? – The Toughest Question for a Pet Owner

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At this stage of the game, the hardest question to answer is “When?”

See, we’re at the point now where – with one, we’re serving special food and injecting insulin twice a day. With another, he also receives special food, medication…and never before have we been more impressed and congratulatory of monster, trophy bowel movements. A good chunk of time then is also spent on making sure the youngest doesn’t feel neglected and left out. It’s a delicate dance of time and attention on already demanding schedules.

It’s sad…hilarious…frustrating…rewarding…and clouded with anxiety.

Like so many of you, our dogs are our kids. Now – we’re not nuts to the point where we’re buying them clothing, visiting the groomer twice a month and painting toenails – them people are crazy. I just can’t even BEGIN to tell you how much more I’ve received from my pets through shared adventure, companionship and unconditional love. When you feel like the world’s ripping you apart, when you’re ill, when you feel like it’s not worth facing another day – wham! That cold nose and furry face locks eyes with you, tail wagging, tennis ball in his jaws – reaffirming your value and significance. You have a loyal companion – and though you may under-deliver a good chunk of the time – the same is expected of you.

That’s why I think pet owners tend to be happier and healthier humans. The human being needs to be needed…but from one human to another, we’re pretty good at suppressing expression of that need – in every type of relationship. Most canines couldn’t hold back that need, even if they tried – and when you KNOW you’re needed, you feel more valuable – more whole – as a person. Which keeps you happy…keeps you upbeat during life’s trials.

When one of life’s trials is the declining health of one of those loyal, needy companions – it’s heartbreaking…and selfishly confusing. Sure, now they need you more than ever – and there’s no question that you’re going to deliver on that need, in any way you can…but, for example in some cases, the instant human gratification of seeing a simple tail-wag is no longer there. Blindness sets-in…Arthritis robs them of complete motor control. Your focus turns to “quality of time,” versus “quantity” – and doing what you can to keep ‘em comfortable. If death doesn’t beat you to the punch, they’ll let you know when they’re ready for you to help ‘em move on.

They’ll let you know…WHEN. Though the hardest question – it’s not one YOU can answer; you can only wait, provide comfort, pay back what you’ve received all these years, and patiently wait…focused on today – another injection, another pill, another trophy in the yard, another celebration…and perhaps – with a little mercy – a final lick on the cheek before going to bed, and lights out.