Tuesday, July 1, 2008

What's done is done! Quality-of-life? Euthanasia? Murder? Human or Pet? Who the hell knows?

It's taken me a few days to clear my thoughts.

She's gone now - They call it euthanasia - not letting the living thing suffer ( she suffered terribly during the last few days). No matter what the hell they call it, it's the murder of a loved one.
Perhaps the ability to legally kill a living, breathing organism -no matter what level of love -if any, we feel - elevates our fragile egos, or infuses some grandiose illusion, or delusion.
I accept the fact that her so-called quality-of-life had deteriorated to unabating pain and discomfort.
She was my friend, my companion in these, my later years. She understood and trusted me. I understood and trusted her. She depended on me. She knew that I depended upon her.
We went everywhere together, shopping, visiting, hiking and walking. She got upset with me if I left her home. We shared our meals and she had fun doing it. When I left her alone, she wouldn't lay down near me (after her walk - of course) for almost 2 hours after I returned home, even if I was eating. But she always forgave me and returned to wherever I was sitting to lay at me feet.

I learned as much about character, and forgiveness, loyalty and love, determination and sheer courage, from my shepherd as I have ever learned from another human - with the single exception of my mother.

Admittedly, the mutual trust and trusting did not exist from day one. Without question, she had the feral capability, not to mention strength, to attack anything or anyone at any time, and even to revert to that stage if given opportunity, at least at the start of our 'merger.' That facility exists in virtually any pet, especially dog, or cat.

But as the relationship grew, she learned what she could and couldn't get away with.
The mutual respect and trust evolved from the consistency and repetition week after week and month after month. It wasn't automatic. It was replacing natural canine instincts with the education that to please others and to survive, she had to do, or not do, certain things. It was using her natural pack instincts to serve and co-exist with homo sapiens as the leader.
Sound familiar.

Perhaps, some day, we humans will really learn from our beloved pets that grudges, and anger, and revenge and retaliation and unprovoked aggression most often accomplish the exact opposite of what was intended.

Yes, it's time to move on. Life must go on.
We must again learn from our canine companions. We can't live in the past.
We must live for today -just as our 4-legged friends do - while we try to plan for tomorrow.

But God help the ones who would put aside the wonderful years and memories shared with a dear friend and companion without pausing, reflecting, remembering, appreciating, just because it's time move on to their next challenge.
God help those who dismiss the demise with "it's just a dog."

Those people, in my mind, have no soul. They are callously incapable of feelings of profound joy, of deep-rooted love and devotion: the same exact emotions needed for human bonding. Yes - we sure can learn from our dear pets.

We all must move on; and so shall I. But I will also appreciate and learn from what was.

An absolutely wonderful e-book: "How to ROAR: Pet Loss Grief Recovery!" written by Robin Jean Brown, will greatly assist anyone dealing with the death of a beloved pet. I very strongly recommend it.

A little later I hope to offer some thoughts on maximizing the joys and love of your life with your pet.
Meanwhile, browse the pet links on the right. Perhaps they will assist you now.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Finale, my Faithful Friend

I did it for me.
I needed her.
I put aside her needs
. If I let the euthanasia proceed, nobody's needs would matter.
Was I selfish? Probably.
Was I doing the right thing for my dog? Probably not!

Did I know that for all intents and purposes the quality of her life had deteriorated to one of mere existence? Yes - that was evident in almost any move she made or tried to make.

She was in pain when we returned home.
She was suffering when we returned home.
She was no longer the wonderful shepherd that shared so much with me.


On the way home, I bought a 2" thick rib steak.
I broiled it - very rare.

I knew I had to go back to the vet the next day.
I knew it had to be done.
I couldn't really bear watching her deteriorate further.
As objective as I could be under those circumstances, her pain and suffering had escalated too much.
But, damn it, she was still alive.

Hell - if they'd give me a last meal before execution, certainly my dear German Shepherd was entitled to the same consideration.

We went out about 7:00PM that night, while the steak was cooling.
Every step she took was an obvious effort.
She had to sit -even before she relieved herself.
She lay down twice on the way back to the house.
I really didn't know whether it was the advanced cancer or the arthritis.
I had to help her up the 4 stairs to the door.

I sat with her on the floor, again, for about a 1/2 hour.

I gave her the whole steak.
She attacked it with the fervor of a pup; or maybe with the knowledge that it was her last good bone.
She stayed with that rib steak for over 2 hours - I think the meat part was gone in 2 minutes.
I prayed that it took her mind off her great pain for at least that time.

Nevertheless, she had a real lousy night.
She could not get comfortable.
She kept moving, as if to try and get away from the pain.
Maybe it was just my mind playing tricks on me.

We returned to the vet the next morning.
This time, I didn't call to tell them I was coming. I just brought her.
Nonetheless, the instant I walked in the door, the receptionist alerted the doc.

I took her for her last walk. It was very difficult for her. Everything and anything had become difficult for her.

The doc (vet) and vet tech came out and took her.
They nodded.
I nodded back.
Not one word was exchanged!
She literally pulled them to her death bed, as if she knew she was about to finally get some relief from the pain.

She didn't look back.
I did not stop them this time.

I stayed outside for at least an hour, just staring, remembering.


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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I Can't Watch my Dear Shepherd Die!

In the car on the way to my friend and companion's final stop, I cried.

As sick as she was, she knew what was happening.

I think she was welcoming it.

She actually licked the back of my head while driving - she hadn't done that in years.

Even in the pain she was in, her fantastic senses actually read my mind. That's what made her such a trusting and trustworthy friend for so many years.

I told the vet tech we were there.
I said we would wait outside.
I told them to give us another half hour.
We walked a little - it was very hard for her.
We sat on the concrete walkway, waiting.

The vet came out with the vet tech to take her. I was really bawling.
My crazy, beloved German Shepherd actually jumped up and with strength she had not shown for over a year started to pull them toward her own death bed.

I loved her too much to watch them give her the sodium pentothal shot.
I watched her pull them into the doorway.

It was just too much for me.

I yelled out at the very top of my lungs: NO ! STOP ! WAIT ! They did.

I told them I couldn't do it.

I told them I'd be outside with her for a while.

We sat back down on the grass for almost another hour.

The vet tech came back out 3 times. The last time, I said not today.

I took her back home, in tears.

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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Just a few hours to Euthanasia

I made the call to the vet. It's now a matter of hours.

I sat outside, on the ground, with my arm around her, gently stroking her still beautiful coat. She lay absolutely still. Fortunately, she didn't show much discomfort for those couple of hours.

Whenever I looked in her eyes I saw that she knew; she knew all that was happeniing, and what would happen - what had to happen. She knew she was dying.

PLEASE, PLEASE folks, take care of your dog. Yes - you must be firm and you must discipline it, but be kind and gentle and patient. They may not be human, but they have senses that we cannot even imagine. My Shepherd has sensed the concern and worry from me. Any dog would -really.

The patience and kindness you put into teaching and discipline for your dog will give you years of wonderful pleasure -friendship - companionship.
Even now, as I contemplate her impending death, I hope you folks will consider what may help make life with your dog a little better. It will be worth it.

On the right of this weblog I list some excellent sites that will help you and your dog, even if not a shepherd.

I hope you'll use them.

Believe me your dog is worth it.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I've Got to Kill My Friend

The time is very near. My loyal and trusty - and trusting - friend and companion for so many years is suffering, a lot;
She can't get comfortable, her appetite is diminishing;
medicine isn't really helping;
she's trying to go off in a corner, as if she just wanted to get away and hide;
I really believe she knows how sick she is.
As much as she has always loved the cold and snow, my dear shepherd has always absolutely hated the rain. She layed down in the rain, as if she just didn't care any more.

No matter how I look at at, I've got to kill my friend.

They say it's the right thing to do for the animal.
They say it's the humane thing to do for your pet.
They say it's our responsibility to relieve their suffering when our pet's 'quality-of-life' has almost totally disappeared.

Damn, that dog is like my child. I'd rather be euthanized myself than do it to her.

But I can no longer bear to see her suffer.
I love her too much.
It'll be very soon.

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Saturday, May 31, 2008

'Quality of Life' - a Cruel Gauge for a Beloved Dog

The measure of the 'quality of life' for someone or something (like a dear, dear pet)is virtually impossible.

There is no question that my by beloved and trusted friend and companion -my German shepherd - is suffering right now. The discomfort she's in has grown in the last couple of days.

Her behavior is changing. She seems to race to everything - her food, her bed, her leash, her walk. She appears to be experiencing increased pain from the cancer.
Her movement has become more labored. She now sits almost immediately upon relieving herself.

Her arthritis has seriously hampered her from climbing the four steps back into the house. She has fallen twice.

She now prefers not to come back in the house but rather to lay down in the shade.
I do not know how to be sure of what is happening or what I must do.

It's entirely possible - right now - that I am not properly reciprocating the love and devotion back to her, that she has given me all these years.

I do not like my options. I don't like her options. I don't like the finality.

The damn veterinarians are virtually unanimous on the subject:

our resposibility to our pets is to not let them suffer needlessly.

I need her alive. Her pain and discomfort have really increased.

In my head I know it's time.

My heart is using only 4-letter words.

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Monday, May 26, 2008

My Loyal and Trusted Friend - my Shepherd

Yes, she's ill. No, she can't do the things she used to do.

Yes, Doctor, veterinarion, her quality-of-life has diminished. No, Dr, I don't think, I don't want to think it's less than 50%. That's your benchmark, Dr. It's not mine.
My guideline, Dr., is while there's life there's hope.

My bench-mark, Dr., is IS SHE SUFFERING?

Yes, she is hurting - no question.
But she's eating, walking, relieving herself and still comes running to me for her treats.
OK - maybe she is suffering a little. So is every single living creature.

How the hell do I know? I'm not God.
I'm just another dumb dog lover.

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