Odd Thoughts: Debts to pets settled with love

Age has a way of bringing pets closer to us as the Great Divide nears

By Bob Groeneveld

As we age, we naturally grow closer to our pets. And as we approach our own dotage, we naturally tend to dote on our pets more, particularly as they age past us, because of our differing rates of aging.

As we grow old ourselves, we develop a better understanding of what our beloved furry, scaly, or feathered friends are going through as we begin our own slouch and shuffle towards that Great Divide.

I believe that’s why seniors tend to indulge our pets more readily than we may have before our own backs started complaining at the thought of getting out of bed in the morning.

Or perhaps it’s because our aged pets are more credible harbingers of our own futures as we come closer to our own reckoning with reality.

Whatever it is, Sam gets away with a lot these days.

You must consider, though, that “these days” are long past the days that were allotted to him by two different and very capable veterinarians through the course of 2019.

Just a little more than a year ago today, we were told to expect that our very sick Sammy would not likely last more than a few weeks, or perhaps, if we were lucky, two or three months. But Sam unexpectedly recovered from the immediate illness, and an underlying problem remained dormant.

Nearly eight months later, we had cause to once again seek acute medical attention for our dear friend, and we were offered palliative medication for him… if he survived more than a few days.

Admittedly, he has aged a great deal over the past year. From needing me to walk beside him for moral support to get up the stairs, to sometimes needing to be carried up, to now almost always needing a lift up, he has slowed down a lot.

And though his meals include a medicinal anti-nausea boost every day, not to mention finding new and sometimes exotic foods to interest his palate, he goes through periods of weight loss from which he never fully recovers as his appetite returns.

However, he still spends much of his day at the front window, ensuring that traffic rolls along smoothly and passersby keep passing by, thank you very much. Loiterers still receive stern warnings to “Move along now, folks. Nothing to see here!” His tail still wags happily at the realization of a job well done when the transgressors have moved beyond the line of sight.

And he still demands backyard sessions with his squeaky toys.

His health takes a lot of work some days, but as long as that tail keeps wagging – and as long as he has the strength to order me out of my chair in front of the television every evening – we won’t be saying good-bye.

Sometimes, all the love you get through the early years has to be repaid at the end.

It’s a welcome debt when you come to realize that it is the essence of life.

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