My dog had her first litter of pups at the age of 10. I was so proud of her. Life has not been without its traumas and she has sometimes been a bit of a fragile soul, but she took this – the biggest moment of her life – in her stride. And now not only can she and I share the status of being ‘older’ mothers, we are now aging gracefully side by side!

Because of her age we heard all the awful warnings and stories about how grim whelping would be. I was as prepared as I could be but terribly anxious. To my surprise and delight she had absolutely no trouble, effortlessly gave birth and instantly became an attentive and caring mother. Nature took over and did its thing.

All went so well in the early stages then there came the weaning. This is where pleasure turns into a parental anxiety for me and it rings a few alarm bells.

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It isn’t the wading through their milk and honey or getting oats and barley stuck on every part of them that is a concern, but am I doing everything right? Is this the best I can offer my new offspring? It is quite a jump for any infant to switch from the comfort of mum’s perfectly manufactured milk to some man made concoction.

We step so far away from nature so early in life that we’re not sure how well the body can respond to natural situations like sickness and survival, we barely give it a chance. Babies are taken off the breast early, formula fed and vaccinated.

With this much influence, expectation and procedures it is hard to sidestep the system without judgement or being seen as a wilfully irresponsible hippy. Though clearly my friend wasn’t bothered when she happily went on breast feeding her daughter until she was three! As a result the standard expected children’s sickness and bugs never caught up with her.

It is the same story in this home and others I know who follow the simple and uncomplicated health habits. Formulas, factory made food, some jabs and medication, aren’t things the body assimilates comfortably and they can turn up a whole new raft of troubles whilst the immune system is in rapid defence.

But how do we know what really works?

What is best for ourselves and who we’re caring for? Listening to what manufacturers say is one thing, the truth can be another. A doctor’s opinion would be different from a nutritionists whose opinion will probably differ from that of a homoeopath and then Chinese medicine turns much of our thinking on its head. The higher you climb this tree in search of what is ‘pure health’, the more branches and offshoots it has, there is no one clear view of a clearly defined and attainable answer. So we muddle on doing what we are able, doing what seems sensible and correct, adapting as we go and dealing with any niggles and issues that arise.

Like me and my home-made puppy formula – even though it has been researched, I’m still in doubt. Bit by bit, year after year our bodies accumulate and absorb more and more challenges, both in terms of physical activity and what is put inside it. And by a certain age we might start to creak and groan. An ‘unexplained’ ailment here and there starts to surface, maybe signs of an allergy that was never previously evident.

I see a lot of this and it mostly starts to kick in around the 40 mark. Baffled, they trot off to the doctor for an explanation. We’re too quick to blame age and put it down to the relentless inevitability of a process we can do nothing about. We feel exonerated from tackling the issue because it would simply be a King Canute act of futility  in holding back the tide of time. But it’s not all the fault of Father Time or Mother Nature. We do need to take responsibility and realise that we have actually had a hand in ageing ourselves by what we have subjected our bodies to.

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On turning 60 the great John Cleese memorably said, “I’ve now reached the age where I don’t know if I’m ill or if I’m just being old”.  I’m sure a lot of people will relate to that yet it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s probably a combination of both and both can be prevented, eased and slowed down by developing an understanding of what is going on, keeping the body used to movement and exertion, fuelling it properly and neither illness nor age will be such a looming spectre.

Fortunately my Ludo never got the chance to age herself because I went all out to keep her active and powered by all fresh, raw and balanced foods. No junk food for my girl! I’d like to think that’s why at the age of 10 (that’s 70 in human years isn’t it?!) she has been able to have her first litter and has the mental and physical wherewithal to be a fantastic mother to her girls and boy.

Whoever steps into my life I want to take care of and green juice them into rosiness – people, dogs, rabbits, you name it they’ve had the Joey Bull juice treatment! But the more I think, study and learn, the more confusing and limiting it becomes. Sometimes no matter what a person lacking in iron does to supplement, the body never retains it. We’re pushed to drink milk for calcium but pasteurisation destroys its value and most of the population don’t have the enzyme necessary to digest it… It would seem even a good old carrot juice has its down side in a puritan’s world.

So, bemused, befuddled, uncertain I’m doing it right…I’m off to have a slice of Victoria sponge and talk to puppies and their bright, healthy and ‘old’ mother. Maybe I’ll find all the answers there..!

 

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