My two pets have now entered what is considered to be middle-age for them. My cat Ronan is about twelve now (in human years) and my dog Darcy is eleven. But both of them have chosen not to read the memos about being middle-aged pets that tell them they are supposed to be slowing down or getting cranky. Then I realized both of them just don’t have the faces to be cranky, or the temperament, and in Ronan’s case, the brain cells.
Take Ronan: He still runs around my place ghostbusting at least every other day, knocks stuff off tables in the middle of the night to wake me up, and meows to try and tell me he’s a poor unfortunate soul whose dish is empty (most of the time he meows just when he can see the bottom of it). The thing about Ronan is he’s got gorgeous eyes that are perfect circles in shape- no arching eyebrows or big bones for his forehead. He’s got this round, wide-eyed face with an upturned mouth and long whiskers. And despite acting like a doofus a lot, he’s actually pretty smart as he just recently proved to me.
Last Friday I came home from my morning run, and he walked up to me with his right eye half-closed and a small open-scratch like wound underneath it. It looked like he’d been in a fight, but I know for a fact he hadn’t gotten outside. I tried asking him what the hell he did to his eye but of course got nothing but meows. I think he probably scratched himself, but I told him if he let me doctor it and keep an eye on it I wouldn’t take him to the vet. I told him if he bit or scratched me once I’d toss him the carrier and haul him in and make sure the vet stuck a needle in his butt. He’s let me doctor it without a single hiss or anything and it’s fine (it’s already closed up and fur is starting to grow back over the spot). But he’s gained a couple of new nicknames: One-Eye, and Fight Club (I tell him now when he goes up to the door that he is NOT going to kitty fight club).
Then there is Darcy. People are surprised when I tell them how old she is because she sure doesn’t look or act her age. She’s got white fur on her nose so I think the only real sign of aging will be if the rest of her blond fur on her head turns white. She’s tall and straight and fluffy, and she still jumps on me when I get home. She’s also still got super-sharp hearing- she can hear someone talking twenty feet outside in just a normal voice so she can bark at them. And she still makes me walk every single day like she has since I got her as a puppy.
I know they’ll slow down some day. They’ll start to move slower, their sight and hearing will start to go. I promise that I will do everything I can to take care of them and comfort them till the end. And I will be with them at the end and do my best to make that end as peaceful and pain-free as possible. I think this is at least four to six years away as they just don’t show any signs of slowing down or any health issues. They eat well, play with me, drive me nuts sometimes with their shenanigans, and still do their business every day, too.
I’m glad they don’t have cranky faces but that their faces will be forever young. That they’ll have the same wide-eyed goofy-grins and doofus behavior no matter how old they’ll get. And I promise that after they both cross the rainbow bridge, I’ll definitely adopt again. I’ll talk about going to a shelter and the Universe in all likelihood will put a couple of animals in my path and save me the trip (that’s how these two were adopted).
These two are very important to me because there were days when taking care of them, and not just feeding them and taking care of them got me out of bed, but they kept me on the road because as I tell them, if I don’t drive we don’t eat. And all they’ve ever asked is for me to shelter them, feed them, and love them. In turn, they’ve snuggled with me when I’ve been huddled in bed not wanting to face the world. They’ve made me laugh, they’ve gotten me moving, and they’re always happy to see me (well, Darcy always is though Ronan shows his happiness at seeing me by standing by his empty dish and meowing at me).
So here’s to two pets who refuse to think they’re growing old, and we’ll always be forever young to me.