A senior moment: Knowing your limits

By Danna Downing

Each day is filled with choices to be made, no matter what age we are. As older adults, we have the benefit of our years of experience to guide us; on the other hand, we are keenly aware of the passing of time. Sometimes, we have to make quick decisions; on other occasions we have the luxury of time for full consideration. Our responsibilities for own happiness drive our most critical decisions. Decisions about where we live and how we live are some of the most important decisions we make.

By way of an example, I would like to share a personal story about loss of a family pet and the decision to once again commit to having a new pet in our home. Following the death of our beloved Reggie, a dog bequeathed to us by my dear aunt, we pretty much decided that at our ripe old ages, we had no business taking on the challenges of a new puppy. The problem was that for me there was something essential missing. I have never lived without a dog in the house, except for my college years.

We began to discuss and research the pros and cons of adding this kind of love and the new responsibilities to our family dynamics. The first step was to list each of our needs and preferences that such a project would require. Our biggest concern was being able to provide for the dog’s welfare as we aged and when we could no longer provide for its needs ourselves. Family and younger friends were eager to carry on when they needed to step up. Most of my dogs had been rescue dogs, but this time around we decided to work with a breeder to choose the type of dog that would best fit our situation. Reggie was a cockapoo. He was the right size and disposition for us and a logical choice for us at this stage of our lives. We read everything we could find about choosing a qualified and reliable breeder and finally chose Robbins Treasures in Howell, Michigan. It is a family-owned operation and offers an amazing array of services to support families adopting one of their fur-babies.

Part of our hesitancy was about not wanting to once again face the grief of losing a pet. But, for us, the benefits of having a dog seem to outweigh the risks and motivate us to take on the task. Lucky was welcomed into our family late in February. We can’t say it has been without some challenges, but we are trusting that we are capable of stretching and modifying our limits to embrace the challenges and enjoy the enhancement and expansion of our lives.

When we lost Reggie, the book “The Tenth Good Thing About Barney,” by Judith Viorst, was referenced in this column. It is only fitting that I close this column by sharing another delightful children’s book title passed along to us by Dr. David Schriemer who suggested we read “The Old Woman Who Named Things,” by Cynthia Rylant. It is a sweet message of the importance of friendship and taking reasonable risks over living the fear of loss and failure.

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