I've recently thought though, of mother nature's systems. Which animal in the herd does the tiger catch? surely not the strongest most imposing, no he catches the sick, injured, dying. Mother nature too, puts animals out of their misery, humans have just developed a method of doing this without the stress and defeat of a battle.
so if intervention for the sake of misery prevention is an option, when? when is the time that we say "Ok, Doc" and watch our beloveds eyes close as their breaths subside? Some do it immediately upon learning of possible illness or pain, I’ve seen it happen. Some do it one day when they realize their animal has become old and slow. Some wait, and then regret not having gone to their vet when their animal passes in a slow painful way.
What’s best? I have personally experienced three different things: having a golden of mine put down upon realizing that she was ready to go, and seeing the joy fade from her eyes, another I let go naturally and it was a peaceful, relaxed time, and a third who seemed to have had a very tough passing while I was away. With my next I pray for the second, I would love to have her go on her own time in my lap at home.
What do you feel? If the vet says an animal is in pain, do you put them down right away? Do you wait? Do you let the animal go on their own time or do you step in?
Written August 2015
I grappled with this question for months while Pippi was experiencing the ups and downs that old age bring. I finally realized that I wanted to let her do it her way. I felt, in that situation, that her wisdom, joy, and resilience were worthy of her own timing. I felt that I was in no position to make that decision for her. watching her fight through countless bad days was gut wrenching. Truth be told though, just because something is uncomfortable for me does not mean that I should turn away. There were days where I simply wanted my guilt to end, I wanted the feeling of pain I felt when witnessing her brutal struggle to go away." I wanted". How selfish of me.
That girl went up to death's door a dozen times or more, then turned around and hobbled right back. Each time she got bad, she'd turn around and have a handful of great days. Who was I to take those remaining days away from her? No one. It was not my call. She chose that. It was her life. When any animal gives up on life (humans included) they tend to pass pretty quickly. Not Pip. She wanted every tail wag, every taste of peanut butter, every gentle stroke she could get. I was not going to tell her when her last ones were. One day, her nap didnt end. That was it.
The longer Ive been doing this work the more I have learned to honor each animal for what it offers the world. as Ive done so, I have seen exponential changes in their intellect and presence. I was missing so much before. The human race can be a very entitled one. The more Ive learned from dogs, the less room I find for my own elitism as a human. They have shown me far too much. Pippi taught me some of the most important lessons of my life. Her final lesson for me, I think, was that escaping misery is never more important than continuing to experience love and joy. Life is experiencing as much as we can. high and low. I am not sure I will ever find it in me to euthanize an animal again. Not after the lessons from my baby girl.