It’s a new year and both Zak and Kiefer have been with me now for almost a year. Kiefer turns 15 next week. Zak and Paloma will be 15 in a few months.
Zak still has a bounce in his step. Kiefer is still opinionated and strong-willed. Last week he went to the local library with his former owner and offered therapy to lots of excited children. Paloma is still a happy-go-lucky girl.
All 3 of the super seniors spend more time napping. Paloma sleeps so deeply in the morning that she often doesn’t even hear me preparing their breakfast. All 3 of them are losing their hearing and sight. I will often see them staring into space like they are either in deep thought or no thought at all. That’s a topic of discussion and a source of laughter in my house.
The only supplements they are taking in addition to their raw food are Dasuquin, probiotics and digestive enzymes. The raw food provides all the pain relief, strength, and joint lubrication they need right now.
This is my last post on the super seniors. I don’t want to go into the details of how they die. We know they will. But what many people ask me is how do you make that decision, when do you know it’s time? Often you hear, “you will just know.” But you don’t just know until it gets to that point and it’s not always that simple.
Let’s start with some questions:
- Is your dog in pain? (Can you manage the pain?)
- Is your dog aware of what’s going on? (Are they still enjoying a nap in the sun or a cuddle on the couch? Are they happy?)
- Can your dog still walk? (Are you able to use a support like a sling?)
- Is your dog incontinent? (Are you willing to use diapers, pee pads, etc.)
For me, when there are a few things going on at the same time, it might be time. I kept Kipling until he had all of those things—he was in pain, incoherent, couldn’t walk, and was incontinent. I used to feel guilty for having kept him here longer than maybe he wanted. I just wasn’t ready to let go of him. I realize now that was okay. I think he was holding on to being there for me.
Just know the loss can be so deeply painful, their presence is profound in our lives. They are our therapists, our unconditional love, the glue that binds our family together, the one who softens and lifts us, but most of all they are an honored and deeply loved part of our lives.
Be easy on yourself and give yourself the time you need.
Some people need to bring a puppy into their life right away to help heal. Some people need a long time alone to heal. The only right answer is yours.
When I lost Mabel suddenly, my heart was ripped out, and the pain was palpable. Two years later I know in my heart she sent me Maeve. Maeve IS Mabel, from her wild energy and enthusiasm down to the smell of her hair. But most of all she is as intense about her love for me as Mabel was. This has helped soothe my pain. I need to love dogs, our dogs want us to keep loving, too. After all, that’s what they are all about.
I am so grateful to the Berkshire Hills community who have opened their hearts to these amazing souls. You are very courageous and amazing.
Thank you, Sunny
(photos: Zak and I, Kiefer in his red sweater, Paloma starring at the fire, Maeve starring at me)