Last night we took our dear dog, Cody, in to have put “to sleep.” I had never participated in this before. My father had relayed his experiences with putting his various dogs down, but the last, for him, was the most satisfying: “Oliver had been gasping and panting for weeks, and was constantly in some kind of agitation. When we took him in to have him put to sleep, finally, his shaking and agitation stopped. He was calm for a moment, then closed his eyes, his heart stopped, and he died. I felt at peace with our decision to not let him continue to live with such a poor quality of life.”
And isn’t that what it comes down to? The quality of a pet’s life? If s/he can’t do many of the things they used to do, and are mostly in pain, or in some kind of suffering state, I really believe that if we listen to our pet, they tell us to take them away from this veil of tears and pain. My mother in law related: “in the Philippines, our dogs would just disappear, or curl up in a corner somewhere and die.” We tried that with Cody, as he was spiraling down towards death, he seemed to be peacefully dying, but when he became more agitated and he was clearly suffering, we took him in to our vet and had him cease his suffering.
There is a hole in our house now. We all feel it, and our second dog Giaco hasn’t completely figured it out, that rehab is ahead: but on the bright side, HE gets to be the alpha dog now, so I think he’ll be fine. Although many, at this stage, go out and get a new puppy to wash away the sorrow, we are going to try to be a one dog house and see how it feels. Giaco is a great dog, always minds, always heals, always sits, always comes, always does everything to make his masters pleased. He has been the beta dog for 10 years, so now it’s his turn to be top dog and the center of canine attention. We’ll see: I’m usually of the mind that one should have pairs of animals so that the species can keep itself company while the humans are away. We’ll see.
As someone who has been a caregiver, albeit for a dying dog, I now have a hole in my energy output. It will heal and be repurposed, and we will all move on.
One last thought: we sentimental old fools need to stop thinking about “the last time…”: Oh woe is me, this is the last time that we will ever … You can play that game with every breath you take. Change is ever-present and death is all around us. Life is precious and I promise to never take it for granted.