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Life Arts

Old Animals and Me

By       Message Suzana Megles     Permalink

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I recently read two articles - one about a horse being retired  after a life of service to people.  The other was about a  question posed to the reader about people wanting to live to  be 100 o r even longer -to 120 years.   
 
Some of the respondents to the poll indeed wanted to live to  be 100, and a precious few even wanted to live to be 120. I  certainly am not one of them, and I believe that those who want
a long life will be greatly disappointed unless some scientist  or researcher discovers an "exilir" of youth or how to rejuvenate  our muscle tone and coordination capabilities.
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I go along with the wisdom of my Slovak immigrant mother who  one day told us for whatever reason - Old age is no joy. At  the time, we were long years away from old age, but now I have  to admit she was absolutely right. 

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HELP- I CAN'T GET UP!
 
Having made it to the big 80 (my parents did not), I realized
more fully my wise mother's saying.  For me it "ain't" no picnic
any more.   One day recently I found that I could no longer do
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some of the things I had easily and effortlessly done before. 
Even climbing stairs can be a challenge. It just seemed like it
happened overnight, but, of course, it was a gradual progression
of muscle tone loss and coordination,  
 
One time after kneeling down for a weeding job, I really couldn't
get up when finished. I was shocked. It was as though my muscles
had turned into jelly.  There was nothing nearby I could grab onto
for leverage. I guess I should have been wearing that necklace
device which connects fallen people to a switchboard operator. 
The only problem was - I had not fallen -I just couldn't get up
unaided.
 
Thank goodness though- I hadn't fallen because just today on
"America Now" was a feature warning that one in three people over
the age of 65 will suffer a serious fall.  Just recently, I attended
the funeral of an elderly acquintance who had fallen. Her son was
told that repairing her damaged leg was dangerous to her condition,
but if they didn't try to fix it, she would never walk again.  They
went ahead with the surgery and their mother died during it.   
 
But now here I was.  I had not fallen. I just couldn't get up from
the kneeling weeding job. Of course, not all octogenarians lose as
much muscle tone as I evidently had.  They are smart enough to keep
on walking, running (if they can),  and exercizing to tone their
muscles.  Some months ago I had stopped making my "rosary" walks-
probably out of laziness.  Well, y ou better believe, I have started
again.  
 
But now -what to do to get up?  Only one thing and that was
to "knee" walk to the rain spout about 6 feet away.  A bit
painful, but I made it and was able to get up. What a relief!
 
I smiled though while doing this "knee" walk because it reminded
me of what Byzantine Catholics do on Good Friday when the shroud
is placed in the "sepulchre."  While not a requirement, it was 
just a lovely practice brought from the Old Country when at the
end of the Good Friday service, some of us who could, would "knee"
walk a few feet to the place where the shroud of Jesus was laid out
to kiss it. I thought it was a beautiful custom which honored 
our crucified Lord, and I "knee-walked" for many a Good Friday
service. 
 
I hope this recollection about old age will help you as you age. 
When my mother warned about old age, I felt that I would pass it
with flying colors. Well of course,  I have not.  What I have
learned though is that we can help build muscle tone with exercise
and walking. I still hate exercising, but at least I have again
started my "rosary" walk. Praying and walking - what could be
better? 
 
 
OLD ANIMALS FACE DIFFERENT PROBLEMS AS THEY AGE
 
Some of the animals don't even have to worry about old age because
they are never given a chance to become so.  Sadly, I am now
thinking of our MILK COWS who are treated as pieces of mechanized
machinery in Confined Animal Farm Operations (CAFOs).  They are
kept in stifling factory conditions all their short but terribly
"long" lives. They are also over-milked three times a day which
has to be a strain on their bodies as well. 
 
They NEVER  feel the warming rays of the sun or the fresh breezes
that blow in the spring.  They NEVER  can bond with their babies
because they are taken away  from them shortly after birth.  The
poor males calves will either be slaughtered outright or put into
the horrible veal crates which confine them until they are ready
to be slaughtered for veal.  Of course, the female calves- when
grown, will  join their mothers on the cruel never-ending milking
line. 
 
And yet another deprivation. We don't even allow these cows to have
sex with a bull.  They are artificially insemiminated. I can't
help thinking how selfish we are.   So many of us love sex, but
these cows and bulls aren't allowed to enjoy it too.  And perhaps
the even sadder part of this revelation is that there will be 
people reading this who will react with a ho-hum.    
 
Growing old for cows just doesn't happen. They are considered "old"
probably at 5 years when they can no longer produce enough milk to
make them cost-efficient.  So, what happens now to these faithful
milk producers?  Are they given at  least ONE summer in a lush
meadow as a retirement gift of gratitude before they are sent to
slaughter? No, of course not. Too many people live by two standards-
one the way we treat humans and the other -how we treat animals.
 
I believe the God of Creation would expect us to meet each animal's
basic needs.  And then they should always be treated with compassion. 
I am disappointed that my church doesn't recognize this common-
sensed approach to animal stewardship. 
 
We all look forward to retirement after years in the work force,
but we never think that animals also deserve some sort of retirement. 
Instead, these spent and abused cows are pushed into  trucks which
will take them to slaughterhouses where they will await their final
chapter of man's "stewardship."       
 
 
ONE HORSE ENJOYS HIS RETIREMENT
 
The idea for this post came from a beautiful short account from
Valerie Pringle in the All Animals monthly issue of the HSUS. 
She is an equine protection specialist for the HSUS. 
 
Growing up - like so many little girls, Valerie begged her parents
for a horse.  Of course, they probably didn't live on a farm, and
so she had to wait until her own children were grown to realize
her dream.
 
Pringle, now while working for the HSUS, "met" Amber, a beautiful
horse whose owner led her in cross-country events.  She says that
she fell in love with Amber after seeing her participate in these
cross- country events. 
 
The day came when Amber  could no longer take part is these  cross-
country events, and so she  was "retired" into the capable hands of
Pringle.  
 
Now Pringle and Amber enjoyed trail rides and dressage work until
arthritis forced Amber into full retirement this past April. Thank
goodness, she wasn't sent  to slaughter like so many poor cows and
horses.
 
Amber is 29 years old, and is still led on leisurely walks over
trails she probably remembers galloping on before.  But like us
elderly humans, her  legs no longer work as they once did. But as
Pringle noted: "Just because a horse is no longer rideable doesn't
mean you still can't have a bond and a meaningful relationship."
 
Sadly, not too many people have this sensitive view of old horses.  
People who do not- send their old horses to auction  where the "meat"
men snap them up and  send them on long arduous transports to 
Mexico and Canada where the slaughter practices are cruel-
especially in Mexico.  
 
I hope that Congress will one day SOON deliberate on the merits
of the SAFE Act which would  prevent horse slaughter  both in the
United States and elsewhere. 
 
Ob viously, this Act has not yet been introduced in the House by
Boehner. It seems he has more time to golf than to work on bills. 
Is this present Congress yet another "do nothing" Congress as the
last one?   
 
Sadly, two of my three Ohio congresspeople have not reponded to
the THREE e-mails I sent them in this regard.  Finally, I wrote
a letter to Rep. Marcy Kaptur complaining of this inaction.  I
got a call from her office, but I was disappointed re the reply
I got from her assistant in this regard. To my question why the
Representative was not co- sponsoring the SAFE Act -the reply was
"It's complicated."
 
I probably answered something like - no, I don't think its complicated.
She is either compassionate or she is not.  Of course, I suspected
that there was an economic component.  Why must our animals always
suffer for the almighty dollar?       
 
 
CARRIAGE HORSE WITH COLIC SURVIVES COLLAPSE, MAY HAVE TO WORK AGAIN
 
Here is another incident of causing animal suffering-the poor New
York carriage horses. I don't know how many times I've read about
them and always, my heart goes out to them and their difficult
lives. 
 
Why are not these horses and the whole idea of carriage rides
retired?  It may be "fun" and exciting for the riders, but it is
absolutely no fun for the horses to pull a carriage through New
York's horrific traffic in all kinds of weather - sometimes sweltering
hot and other times very cold when the winds and snows of winter 
cut to the bone.
 
Are these poor horses ever retired?  If so, you can bet that they
are not treated like HSUS Valerie Pringles' Amber. I rather 
suspect that many collapse and die on the job. The horse that
collapsed with colic is probably pulling carriages again.   
 
Will we ever come to the realization that the animals who serve us
in some way or other deserve some notion of retirement that we 
want for ourselves?   
 
 
 
              

 

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I have been concerned about animal suffering ever since
I received my first puppy Peaches in 1975. She made me take a good look at the animal kingdom and I was shocked to see how badly we treat so many animals. At 77, I've been a vegan for the (more...)
 

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