One of the most difficult aspects of homesteading is the same for any pet owner–when to say “goodbye” to a beloved friend. I am at a crossroads right now with my 14 & 1/2 year old St. Bernard, Roxy. Roxy has arthritis in her back legs, the right one being almost completely stiff. Her vet says other than the arthritis, Roxy is in great shape for a dog her age. All her organs are healthy and strong. But she has trouble moving about. He recommended Meloxicam last November for her arthritis. Last week, Roxy suddenly had a bad reaction to this medication. She vomited up massive amounts of clear bile then continued foaming and drooling from the mouth. There was also a point where her eyes rolled back into her head and I thought she was done. I called the vet hospital and they reassured me it was the Meloxicam and to give her some Pepto-Bismal to calm her stomach then, once it was settled, start giving her 20 mg. of Pepcid AC 20 minutes before I gave her the Meloxicam. Well, I did that. And she had the same reaction to it even with the Pepcid AC. So now Roxy is completely off of the arthritis meds and her human is forced to give her a lift up every time she needs to go outside to relieve herself–which usually winds up with her trying to squat and simply going all the way back down to the ground again, sitting in her own puddle. Hopefully, her vet can come up with some other medication to give her some ease of mobility as she is still healthy in every other aspect. But this is that crossroad of quality of life vs. my desire to keep her with me. No, I’m not giving up on Roxy–arthritis isn’t fatal and, if everything else remains healthy, I am certain we will find a way to give her ease. Her human is an herbalist and a Reiki Master Teacher; she did well with a Reiki treatment yesterday and I have an herbal remedy for a massage oil that is good for dogs. It is simply a matter of finding another internal remedy that will help; herbs, like allopathic meds, have their limitations.
It is the heartbreak of knowing that this medical miracle dog (St. Bernard’s have a life expectancy of 8-10 years) is living on borrowed time, no matter how healthy and strong those vital organs are. I just buried a young rabbit 3 weeks’ ago today; the cycles of life and death are impossible to ignore when you homestead or farm. And, while we may tell ourselves otherwise, you really don’t “get used to it” and there is no way to truly prepare yourself for the absence of that special being who once graced your life. In the past few days, her normal activity level (i.e. barking at the cats who cross her path and threatening to give chase though she has lived with them for over 8 years of her life (Roxy is a shelter rescue, adopted when she was 6 years old)) has diminished. Where I once would jump a mile at the sudden burst of sound and yell at her to stop barking at the cats, I now miss that sound and am feeling a prelude to the coming years; there is little hope she will go on many more years despite her good health.
So I watch her carefully, pamper her whenever and wherever possible, and mourn the passing years, all the times I was too busy to play and remembering all the lovely walks we took in the woods together and the shared bowls of popcorn on movie night. Sometimes I wonder why I bother with raising animals here; I could just as easily create a simple herb farm and be done with it. But I can remember–and still see–that cutesy little turn of her head when she wants some attention and the wondering ends. Though my heart breaks for every loss, I wouldn’t trade a single blessing–and each one is truly a blessing, brightening my days, my evenings, my everything.
God bless you & keep you!


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