On swimming upstream


Forty-three years ago today,  my father put on his best bib and tucker and we drove down to the Legion in Chatham so that I could be sworn into the military.     It is hard to imagine now that I would be swimming upstream simply following the family tradition of military service.

That was  a big year of change for the Canadian military.    Prior to that time, there was a very short list of “ladylike’ trades that were open for women recruits.    Women did a more genteel … and much shorter …. version  of basic training.     Nor had it been all that long since women even had their own .. more modest .. pay scale!

Even that was a tremendous improvement from the vestal virgin days in my mother’s time.   All those idiots babbling on about how they support equal rights but really don’t call themselves feminists should hop in a time machine back to 1952 … when my mother’s wedding day did double duty as her compulsory  release date from the RCAF.     Or to the swinging sixties, when married women were automatically released when they became pregnant.

Let me be perfectly clear .. thirty-nine years ago when I was pregnant with my daughter, the ink was still wet on the human rights legislation that made it illegal for any employer to terminate a woman’s employment for pregnancy.   Thirty-nine years … not centuries and centuries!

Of course, swimming upstream stood me in much better stead in my sixties than the many, many women who filled the more traditional roles so widely expected of a wife and mother.   As a sidebar note to that .. how on earth is ramping up CPP deductions going to protect the many women who still choose to be stay at home moms?     A contemporary of mine who went down that road now gets a whopping thirty-five dollars a month from CPP.   Thirty-five fawking dollars!

Not to be mean, but as these conventional stay at home mothers and wives age, they are more likely to be living under the poverty line that they would need a slingshot to reach the most modest standard of living.   Clearly the concern that our current government carries for the middle class does not extend itself to the elderly women who followed the traditional path that was expected of them.

But I am wandering afield as I am often wont to do in my meandering way.     Such stark realities are already  better served on blogs with a different focus than mine.

It is no secret that pets are good for our health and well being at any age.  Scientists are only beginning to find out what pet owners have known all along, eh?

It is also a fact of life that it can be very difficult for seniors to manage even the basic costs of pet care.   Now before the keyboards catch on fire, I am not suggesting that it is possible to fix every health issue by throwing a cat or dog at it.    But … in a world where people are living longer lives … investing modest amounts to help seniors keep their pets just makes sound fiscal sense.

Why am I thinking about that?    Well … as well as being a sentimental day on my calendar, today was also Miss Ruby’s annual checkup.       So while I am not rich by any stretch of the imagination, this was one of those days that I am very grateful that  I did swim upstream.   That I have an income of my own and can afford to take care of my pets properly.

But what about all those seniors who can’t?    Should they have to forgo the comfort of a pet?    Would it not be a good investment in health care to provide low cost / no cost spay neuter and emergency care for low income seniors?      And before the keyboards catch on fire .. yes i know that there are some fabulous things being done right now in the city by Spay Day and at the SPCA Hospitals in Dartmouth and Sydney.   And yes .. there are lovely little pockets around the province where some spay neuter help is available.

But the problem as I see it is twofold.    First and foremost is of course that help is not consistently available throughout the province.   Secondly .. and in my not so humble opinion … more importantly … when help is available, it is not widely advertised.    As difficult as it may be for anyone who is knee deep in the rescue world to imagine, there is a whole world out there that is still pretty oblivious to any and all existing rescue options and help.

Here in King’s County, we get an annual newsletter with our tax bills.    How difficult would it be to include a rescue contact list in such a widely read bit?     Even better, it would be such a useful ounce for prevention for municipalities to pony up a bit of spay neuter money.    Best of all of course would be for the provincial Department of Seniors to find room in that Action Plan for an Aging Population to support low income seniors’ spay neuter and emergency care.

And before the keyboards catch on fire .. here in the real world people lead with their hearts not their heads when they get a pet.     To say that people shouldn’t get pets they cannot afford is akin to believing that poor people could pull themselves up by their bootstraps if they only wanted to.

What time is it?   If we already recognize how good pets are for our health, then it is time to put our money where our mouth is.