I was up three times night before last, once to change his diaper. Last night he made it until 4:30 a.m. and I was grateful to get the extra sleep. I hope tonight we’ll be able to make it through the night, maybe sleeping in until 7 a.m.
No, I didn’t suddenly become a mother to an infant. But I am Mommy to an increasingly incontinent geriatric dog. Translation: A yellow Lab, nearly 98 in dog years, who can barely walk anymore and has lost the feeling in his back end to know that he’s laying in his own poop or pee.
They say infants and elderly end up requiring the same care and I’ve become living proof of that. We have come full circle in 14 years.
But our family dog Kyber is my fuzzy baby and I won’t banish him to the outdoors or relegate him to the increasingly frigid garage just because it makes my life easier. He wouldn’t understand this abrupt change in his lifestyle and I believe it would be cruel to hang him out to dry just when he needs our special attention the most.
These new set of challenges that comes with Kyber’s advanced age simply makes me pull out my A-Game, keeps me adaptable and leaves me feeling good about making this twilight time of his life comfortable and still worthy.
In fact, our entire family has stepped up to the plate to keep our beloved Kybee, as the kids like to call him, from becoming a nuisance.
Everyone is on high alert when Kyber is up and moving around to quickly open a door because he’s probably still trying to accomplish his training and instinct to potty outside. My son Logan helps feed Kyber all his pills – arthritis pills, pain pills, antibiotics, thyroid medicine – making sure they are well hidden in his food and not spit out. My daughter Whitney takes Kyber for his slow and very brief walks to encourage regularity and isn’t afraid to pick up the deposits that go with it. Hubby does the evening walk in the dark to get Kyber to empty his tanks to make my night shift easier. But I think he also enjoys their one-on-one time together, he and his old hunting buddy, rehashing the good old days. Even Grampa has stepped in by being a surrogate parent, taking care of Kyber’s special needs with the same love and care when we are out of town.
Kyber mostly sleeps now, a level of inactivity we thought impossible just a few short years ago. But he is still a Lab after all, and despite the aches and pains, the quick exhaustion and uncoordination, he and I still have our regular play time together every morning. He likes to play catch lying down now. Throw the ball right in his mouth and give him an “Atta boy!” (even though he can’t hear them anymore) and he’s happy. Life is simple, but it’s still a good life.
I’ve bought him Depends diapers, cutting a hole for the tail in them since the largest sized dog diapers were too small for him. I got doggie pee pads for the floor, constantly monitoring that he is still on them as he kicks off his diaper while dreaming of his more active youth. And I’ve got a gallon of Nature’s Miracle for those times when all our best efforts still came up short.
Kyber will always be a valuable addition to this family and I like to think the reason he’s living this long is because of the love and care we’ve given him through his life. Why give up now? We still can’t let ourselves imagine living without him – even when he leaves me “Tootsie Roll” surprises I’d rather not have in my house.
And who knows? Maybe this is all a good investment in the Bank of Karma. Hopefully my own non-fuzzy children will one day be happy to get up for me in the middle of the night and tell me it’s okay when I just can’t help those Tootsie Roll surprises.