Friday, November 16, 2012

This won't be my best artistic attempt at writing.  I'm just writing from my heart and the heck with whether my technique is spotless.

I tend to think differently than the whole rest of the world on certain issues.  Today's issue, and one that has been with me for several weeks, is the euthanization of pets.

Sadly, my 16 year old dog, Mickey, is failing, more so the last few days.  She's slowing down her eating and I have to help steady her when she eats or drinks or goes outside.  She's sleeping a lot more and her back end is weak.  She cries sometimes if she wants to get up but can't.  And then I help her go where she wants to go.  She has accidents and I clean them up, sometimes in the middle of the night.  Her breath is bad and sometimes her fur smells because I can’t get all the urine cleaned out.

Several people have been talking to me about ending her life.  They say that is the "kind" thing to do because they think she’s suffering.  I've been told it's the "right" thing to do since she can't enjoy being a dog anymore.  I'm also observing how distressed these people are seeing her "suffer." 

From my perspective life is messy, death is messy.  Death, as well as life, often contains suffering for both the person dying and for those observing.  I don't feel I have any more right to make a decision to end Mickey's life than I would to end a beloved human's life.  If a human wants to make that decision for themselves, that's one thing, but making it for them or for a pet...I have trouble with that.

If Mickey was wild, I suppose she would go out in the woods and fall asleep.  While she was sleeping one of her long sleeps a predator would probably come and take her life.  But she's not wild.  She is in my care and I feel I'm doing what I'm doing because I love her.  I'm fully rational and I fully realize she is dying, but I can't rationalize taking her life. 

I watched my girlfriend's mom during the last year of her life and it was hard seeing her failing.  She was not the human she once was, couldn't enjoy things she once did, she had accidents, had to have help eating and going to the bathroom, we had to help her sit or walk, and she often moaned or cried out her grief for the way she used to be.  Nobody suggested that she should be euthanized.

So I've concluded that humans have made pet euthanization the norm because it is often THEY who are suffering as they watch the pet fail, just as often as that the pet is suffering.  I feel it is THE HUMAN OBSERVERS being emotional about her perceived suffering, not me being emotional that I’m losing her. I'm sad that Mickey is failing, but I’m ready for her to go and feel a lot of love when I can help her.  I believe she feels the love too because she often finds her way to be physically close to me, the way she always has, to be comforted.  I think if she was in physical pain she'd be somehow showing it and maybe I'd feel differently.  I feel like I need to sequester myself with her until the end comes so that no one else has to "suffer" watching her process and try talking me into something I don't feel right doing.

I may be in the smallest minority with this viewpoint, but I know I’m not alone.  Someone posted on Facebook about 6 months ago, a story about a woman and her elderly dog that I’ve not forgotten.  The dog could no longer walk, but the lady made a special cart for him and took him to hospice for visits.  He ended up being cherished by all the patients because they could love a creature that was in the same condition they were in.  I thought that was beautiful.  The dog finally just went to sleep one night.

Every morning I check Mickey’s breathing, hoping that maybe she's fallen peacefully asleep for the last time.  I pray it's that way for both our sakes.  Meanwhile I will love her the best way I know how…the way I would love any human who was preparing to leave this mortal plane.

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