My eldest son was going on vacation for ten days.
“Can you watch our dogs?” he texted, knowing full well I’d say yes. Hubby and I had watched his three dogs the last few times he and his family had gone away. It saved him a chunk of change, gave him peace of mind, and gave us a way to bless him and his family. What kind of dogs, you ask? A dachshund, pug, and a chihuahua.
Back and forth, twice a day. That’s how we usually cared for the dogs. I usually took the morning shift, going over to my son’s house to feed, water, and let the dogs out, and hubby took the evening shift and did the same.
This time was different. Killer – the geriatric miniature dachsund – required a little more TLC than last time we’d kept him. Blind – or nearly so – he gets stuck in corners, confused at intersections where walls meet, and has trouble getting his feet under him when he first wakes up. We decided that he’d stay with us for the ten days.
Geriatric care is no laughing matter, even with pets. It grieves my heart to see Killer, a once-proud, Napoleonic figure who thought he ruled the roost, reduced to this frail state where his back legs don’t always obey his command to stand erect and walk.
So, what lessons have I learned by taking care of this old, feeble, incontinent dachshund?
Patience, for one.
Killer can’t fight the hand he was dealt. Age has caught up with him as it will with ALL of us.
Accepting the facts without negative emotional responses. He can’t help it when he has accidents. Probably doesn’t even know it’s happening.
Cuddling him during these waning days, giving him pets and kisses, and being thankful for the fifteen or sixteen years he’s been part of the family.
The need to be loved doesn’t expire at a certain age. It carries over into the years when we’re no longer cute, vivacious, witty, and strong. The need to be loved begs for fulfillment. “Somebody, please love me.”
I’ll try to remember these lessons when I grow impatient with the elderly who take longer to pay the cashier, drive twenty-miles-per hour no matter the speed limit, or when I have to repeat myself several times before they hear what I’m saying.
The Rolling Stones once had a hit song that began with, “What a drag it is getting old.” Yes, Mick Jagger…