Greetings, I am back if you are listening. Since I last wrote I have had to say good bye to my second and final dog child after 13 and a half great years. Being a veterinarian I am confronted with the emotions and decisions regarding euthanasia weekly...and sometimes daily. Because of this I felt prepared to send my lovely German Shepherds on to the spirit world, let their energy be free of the flesh and go back to the universe, perhaps to be a companion again someday. I was wrong.
Nearly one month before we actually had to put Guinness “to sleep” I had placed an IV catheter and was about to end her life because she had a bout of seizures and looked so terrible and confused. But something told me it was not time...maybe she would be a little better if I just waited. Sure enough she rallied and came out of her mental fog and began to eat and take her walks again.
So many adjustments had been made to our lives, and our house, to accommodate the lovely aging ladies, but it never bothered me. I felt I was caring for them as we care for elderly humans. Non-slip mats in front of the dog bowls, ramps to go in and out of house and cars and a an occasional piece of dried poop found under a dog bed...well that got to be more frequent.
Living through caring for aged animals, I realized so many parallels to human hospice...with one difference: we can decide when to end it. What an important and difficult place to be in. During my struggle I asked...”What right do I have to decide it is your time to go???” “Do you want to go Guinness?” “Should I have let you go sooner?”
So life is. Pain and sadness, loss...but only all these things because of the joy, happiness and comfort that comes to us too. Winding down the path of aging with Guinness one day we came to a place where she was ready to leave the world, my husband knew it, I knew, she knew it. We helped her pass on and then I lay with her for a long while smelling her fur and just taking in the sight of her. Over time it seemed the soul left her physical body. Spending this time with her I realized how important it is to be home with your pet at this special moment.
My story is not special or new, I know. But I wanted to write this to remind myself and others that we go on a journey with our pets and we are forced to see them through infancy to geriatrics to the process of dying. I feel it is normal for this to be challenging and sad and draining. We should expect for the final months to push us to certain limits and to question our decisions. It is normal to be sad, really, really sad to see them go and to bawl at the moment of their death.
Word of advice...practice reality in your mind on a regular basis. What I mean is; do not tell yourself “I can't live without my faithful dog” but instead tell yourself “I will cherish my pet while they are here and make every moment count. I will stand by their side until the end and let them go with dignity and peace. And when they are gone I will have enough love to give to another needy pet and they will have something to give to me.”
Thanks for listening and I promise...no more blogs about aging dogs!!!