I Wouldn’t Treat a Dog This Way
My dog, Mckenzie, is getting old. I've been watching him gradually slow down. He's nine which is retirement age in people years. He takes arthritis medicine. He eats a special diet for mature dogs. He's beginning to have trouble transferring sit to stand. As I watch him I find myself making comparisons with my patients and how they are treated. Humans and dogs go through a similar aging process. Bones become brittle. Muscles become weaker. Eye sight and hearing will become impaired. Occasional aches and pains become a daily occurrence. While the processes are the same, the results differ.
My dog doesn't complain. He wouldn't have the arthritis medicine if I hadn't taken him to the vet and been willing to pay the cost. I did that out of concern for him. In many ways he's the same dog he has always been. He refuses to be excluded from anything I do, including yard work. He chases the squirrel that raids the bird feeder, although at a slower speed. He guards his backyard and barks at the neighbor dogs. Other than moving a little slower and stopping a little sooner, he hasn't changed.
Humans, on the other hand, behave differently. Medicines are available to address the many illnesses that can develop. Surgeries are available for humans that few would even consider for a dog. There are medical specialists for nearly every disease process. Buildings are wheelchair accessible. Therapies are readily available and affordable. Communities exist to allow older adults to continue living independently as long as possible. Yet, with all of this I think my dog has it better.
No matter what happens, my dog-and any of my animals-will be taken care of. They'll receive medical care if necessary. I'll make sure they receive any needed medicines, even if it's the cat. They will always have a loving home (or barn) with someone to care for them.
Compare that to my average patient: Some will go home. Some will go home with children, usually fighting and screaming the whole way. A few have siblings or close friends to help with their care. Others require such extensive care that it isn't feasible for them to be at home. The rest aren't so lucky. Their families may not be able to care for them, or may not want to care for them. These patients don't have a home to go to or someone to watch over them. These individuals will receive placement. They will receive whatever care they can afford. This care will be provided by paid caregivers who have no emotional investment in the outcomes. It's sad we live in a world where pets have no worries and our elderly receive only the care they can afford. Sometimes it breaks my heart to see this. To quote a favorite song, "something's wrong in the world today and I don't know what it is." *
*Aerosmith: Living on the Edge