I just woke up from a nap because last night was a LLLOOOONNNNGGGGG night.
My dog Max has not wanted to sleep in the bedroom since we moved here, a little over 2 months ago. We'd been working on getting him to do that, but it was just beyond what he was able to comfortably do, so we've both been sleeping in the living room. Last week I talked to his vet, we changed his meds and HALLELUJAH! I was finally able to get him to sleep in the bedroom, which meant no more couch-sleeping for me!
Until last night that is. He got up about every 30-45 minutes, barked and came into the living room. When I got up to see about him, he was just standing in the middle of the room. I'd get him to come back to the bedroom, and then the cycle repeated itself. ALL. NIGHT. LONG. YAWN.
Life Changes With Aging Animals
Your life changes as your animal pal's life changes, doesn't it? It's gradual, sometimes insidious. You've had your animal pal for years, you remember them as you first got them as a youngster, and the next thing you know they are standing in the center of the living room in the middle of the night, barking for you to come sleep on the couch so they won’t be alone.
Living with an aging animal, honoring and witnessing their unique aging process is not easy. It takes courage, fortitude and support. As they age, your role as their caretaker increasingly expands. You find yourself expending more time and energy on:
Monitoring changing medical needs
Assisting with basic needs ie back legs giving out, elimination issues
Adapting to the way they are now asking you to be with them, or not wanting you with them
Increased house cleaning duties
Monitoring medication/health appointments
Monitoring their daily quality of life
Increased medical appointments, which may include adding more medical professionasl
This, of course, may begin to affect and seep into different areas of your life: work, relationships, travel, social, etc.
People usually understand (to some degree at least) your commitment to caretaking for a human family member, but an animal? As much as our bond with animals has improved over the decades, people who are not animals folx have a difficult time accepting this view as animals as family, not to mention the time commitment that’s involved with that. "It's just a dog (horse, cat, bird, whatever) they'll be OK by themselves while you get away for the day."
Which can make it difficult for us to keep giving the level of care we want to do without experiencing remorse, guilt, blame or a combination thereof.
You’re Not In This Alone
We’ve now reached that point in a blog post where I usually remind you in a somewhat perky and animated voice that I can help you leave ________ behind and help you move to ____________ so that you’ll experience ____________. (If you miss me saying this, not to worry, I’m sure it will be in the next post ;-) )
But you know what folx? In this instance I can’t do that because the experience we all have during this time is so unique and different it’s hard to capture it in a strictly codified manner.
What I will say is that you’re not in this alone and that I can help you help your animal pal by being with you on this journey to witness, mirror back what’s going on and be supportive of you during this time. I can help you notice, nurture and tend to your own feels as you’re going through this, whether it’s the first time or the tenth time, or you’re preparing yourself. I can help you by checking in with your animal pal and seeing what they have to say, so you are hearing directly from them.
Are you ready to take this step? If so, schedule your discovery call and let’s explore how we can work together.
BTW, you may find this podcast helpful “Our Changing Relationship As Animals Age”.
We’re All In This Together,