Approaching the winter of Ori’s life


How do we know when it is time?
For weeks, I’ve ached when Ori winces as he eases himself down on his bed. His extensive arthritis is cruel. I willingly keep newspapers and plastic where I think he might have a problem and he usually does.
Sometimes I hold his food dish for him as his hind legs want to buckle. Yet if Sister comes too close when he’s eating the last few bites, he curls his lip and growls a warning.
And yet, first thing in the morning, even before we go out in the barn, he looks for his Kong and I help him find it. He even gives a few shakes to his big rope and I threaten, “I’m going to get that rope!” and he loves it.
As of this date, two days before Thanksgiving, I silently plead that he be allowed to stay with me at least through the holiday. He’s had to go on a steroid to keep him comfortable, as he sometimes cries when he first gets up from bed.
When the decision is made, I’ll not be able to write about it because it will have been one of the hardest I’ve ever had to make.
At this moment, while I write, he and Sister sleep peacefully beside me on the rug. All seems normal. But I know in a very dark part of my heart that “normal” is a lie, and that sometime soon, too soon, it will never be normal again.
* * *
Best have your running shoes on as hordes of shoppers are in full cry! The very first week in November – yes, November – some yards were already filled with reindeer and snowmen and elves and all the what-not that has to do with Christmas and that really has nothing to do with Christmas. Stores had Christmas items “on sale” at the end of October and I’ve already received two Christmas cards.
These days, poor old Thanksgiving gets short shrift. In the good old days, it was such a lovely holiday, anticipated, relished and celebrated with all the traditions with which you grew up.
Decades later, you still adhere to those traditions and take great pleasure in implementing them. Certainly, keeping them is time-consuming and really exhausting, but you wouldn’t have it any other way.
And there is such sweet satisfaction when everything is done and everything is in place and the guests around the table clasp hands and give thanks for blessings untold, with love and friendship and family at the top of the list.
I hope your holiday was the best it could be for you and yours.
* * *
I promised you a few gems from the columns of the late Elden Groves whose musings in Farm and Dairy and other agricultural publications were practically biblical for his myriad of readers. This one is timely, don’t you think?
“I must tell about the time I ‘discovered’ Santa Claus. I must have been 6 or 7 years at the time.
“There were families of three first cousins – Campbell, Phillips and Groves – on farms within a three-mile radius and we took turns being host for Christmas and Santa Claus. This year it was our home and sure enough, we heard a bell tinkling and someone coming down the old staircase. I had to move up a few steps and sure enough, here came Santa!
“And something startled me that minute Santa came around the corner! A week or two before that, a big package had come from Sears and Roebuck, and I had seen it unpacked. And among the clothing in that box was a pair of knee-length wool socks in a color pattern of red and green that I had seen before. And I ran down the first few steps to my mother, with a question, ‘Could that be Pop in there?’
“And she very wisely put her finger on her lips and said, ‘Sh-h! Don’t spoil it for the little ones!’ which was exactly the right thing to say, for I was the eldest of the 15 children. I had suddenly graduated from the ‘little ones’ and I wouldn’t have told it under any pressure.”
* * *
Dog lovers need not be told that dogs have health benefits for humans, such as lowering blood pressure and anxiety, conducting search and rescue, serving people with disabilities, helping children learn to read and more.
According to an article in Animal News from the Morris Animal Foundation, the foundation is conducting a number of canine genetic studies that will help scientists discover why certain breeds often develop certain diseases. Their discoveries might also find clues concerning human maladies, too, according to the article.
* * *
With all the cases of animal cruelty in the news lately, think on this: “Anyone can buy a dog, but it takes a special person to earn the wag of his tail.”


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A lifelong resident of the Mahoning Valley, Janie Jenkins retired in 1987 as a feature writer and columnist at the Youngstown Vindicator. In June of that same year, she started writing her column, "On My Mind" for Farm and Dairy. She loves all animals and is an accomplished equestrienne. Local history is also one of her loves, and her home, the former Southern Park Stables, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.