One thing that struck me over the weekend is the fact that older pets or equines have a life of luxury.
As those of you who own veteran horses will know, you can buy feed specifically formulated for veterans, which are more palatable, softer, easily digested, and nutritionally balanced to provide nutrients they need more of, or are likely to be lacking. Forage is dampened to aid digestion, and there are umpteen supplements available for every eventuality.Dentists, farriers and vets are very knowledgeable about age related inflictions, and cortisone injections are available to treat arthritic ailments. Bute and danilon are easily administered to make the veteran more comfortable.
From the management point of view veterans are usually doted on; with rugs of every thickness under the sun plus a few spares. They’re ridden gently if able to, they are stabled in the mildest of winter nights and the coldest of summer nights. Large deep beds and stable wraps if their legs fill.
Honestly, I see a lot of veteran horses living out their days in the lap of luxury.
Then when the time comes, however hard it is, their devoted owner has the ability to end their suffering. Whether the horse cannot get up when they lie down in the field without help, or if their arthritis is crippling, or if they are losing weight because of difficulty eating, or they are depressed and have lost the will to live. We, as their carers, have the ability to prevent unnecessary suffering and let them leave this life with dignity.
I know this God-like ability is frowned upon by many, but I think our pets are privileged that their compassionate owners are able to do this.
Over the weekend I visited an elderly relative in a care home, and I felt really saddened by the lonely atmosphere and how the guests seemed to just be fading away. Needing round the clock care, they must lose all dignity, yet also feel very isolated from the world because they can’t hear the TV, or go for a walk, or partake in any of their hobbies, such as sewing or reading. Yes, care homes offer entertainment and a high level of care and facilities, but nothing compares to the devotion I see when a horse owner brushes the mud carefully out of their veteran’s forelock before putting on their luxurious stable rug at night. Veteran horses are lucky enough to have a private carer, dedicated and loving. Elderly people are just one on a long list of patients in a busy carer’s day.
I don’t really know what the answer is, but I did realise this weekend that I would much rather be an elderly horse or cat than a person.