I have a friend who had a very sick dog, who wasn't eating much and had to be carried outside to go to the bathroom. She made the decision to put her dog to sleep. Now, I've known my friend for several years and we've become closer in the last couple and I know, by the way she talks about her dogs, that this was a decision she did not come to lightly. Dogs can't tell you where they hurt or even if they hurt. Dogs can't tell you if they feel sick or sad or if they feel nothing. Rikki (my friend's dog) went to the vet yesterday because she was lethargic and dehydrated and just not herself. My friend later found out that Rikki had a large tumor in her lung and blood in her urine which is not good. During the night, Rikki woke up several times gasping for breath and had to be carried outside because she was unsteady while walking.
Earlier today, Rikki ate and drank but my friend wondered if it she was getting better or if Rikki wanted to show Mommy that she was better even if she wasn't.
I got a text from my friend that she was going to let Rikki rest this afternoon and I know how hard that was to do. In an earlier post, I told of how Maddie bit me after I carried her out one evening and I knew she was in pain. I knew then what I had to do just as my friend knew what she had to do with Rikki. All of this reminded me of the day Maddie died and all of those feelings came flooding back. I was instantly taken to that day and time. I could see everyone who was there with me and could feel my heart become heavy again with the decision I had made. But in looking back, I was able to see that I had done the right thing. Maddie was suffering, just like Rikki, and it was up to me to ease her pain and help her pass. She only wanted to please me and would have gladly stayed in that same spot for as long as I would let her. She would have continued to let me carry her outside to the bathroom and back into the house. She would have wagged her tail every time I came into the room or when I came home. She would have tried, without success, to crawl toward me if I wasn't in the same room and barked and bayed when I moved her because she was in pain.
Do we want our loved ones to stay because we are going to miss them? In some cases I think we do. My mother was taken to the hospital a couple of months before she died and since I lived so close, I was able to beat the ambulance there. They were working on her and my mom had a DNR and a living will but my dad hadn't arrived yet and I didn't want to make that decision. Was that because I was scared? Maybe. Or was it because I was selfish and didn't want to let her go even though she was in pain and suffering? I think that is the correct answer. I couldn't handle the thought of my mom not being there even knowing how bad she felt and that she was tired of living like she was and was ready to go on. Two months later, six years to the day before Maddie passed my mom died quietly and this time I let her go. No heroics, no drugs and no fanfare. Just peace.
Compassion is one of the traits that sets man apart from the brute animal and, in my opinion, is our greatest of emotions but one that is so infrequently used when it comes to death. Have the compassion to let your loved one, be they human or furry, pass to the next life leaving this one in peace. Death is for the one dying not for the living therefore should be about the person or animal experiencing that death. I believe you are on this earth for a certain period of time and to accomplish certain things and then you leave. You keep coming back until you get "it" right, then you pass into Heaven or cross the Rainbow Bridge. In the end, we all obtain our reward for the life that was spent be it a well spent life with service to mankind or the misspent life with service only to yourself. The number of times you come back is in direct proportion to the good that you accomplish in the last lifetime. Do good unto all, recommended more especially to the household of the faithful. Live in peace and may the God of peace and love delight to dwell with and bless you.
Have compassion. Use that compassion to guide your heart in times of trouble and have the strength to let go because, at times, you are only holding on for yourself.
To my friend: Rikki, although I never met her, loved you very much. All of our dogs love us without restraint and without bounds. You had the strength to love her and the strength to let her go and please know that you did what was right for Rikki. You said, "greatest gift I could give her was peace" and you are so right. We give our dogs many things when they take our hearts and you saved the greatest gift for last and that is the gift of peace. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.