Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Original post : January 15, 2014 An old friend

Original post : January 15, 2014

An old friend of ours is facing that terrible decision - when to say goodbye. Her aged little pup has been fighting to hang on for several months now, but she has again stopped eating and drinking. She is weak, and agitated. Although my friend doesn't believe the pup is in pain, she's clearly not a happy pooch.

Nor will she be again.

My friend is on that dreadful roller coaster that I rode almost a year ago with Daisy, our almost-15-year-old Border Collie. She, too, stopped eating and drinking. After three days of attempting to hand-feed, begging her to eat or drink, and driving myself to despair, we went to the vet. A mass on the spleen, and only a 33% chance of a truly good outcome. So we opted for pain relief and days at home, together. At first, the pain meds renewed her energy and appetite. We had our girl back! I convinced myself that if I could just help her get stronger, she could recover. Then she would collapse, or vomit, or stagger, or all three and more. She would be down for days as I worried and fussed. She could undoubtedly sense my desperation. Did any of my ministrations make her feel better? I doubt it. She was too worried about me to care.

I was clearly upset by what was happening to her, so she did everything I wanted of her. She took her meds, ate a bit, drank a bit, cuddled.... and all, I'm sure, to try to make *me* feel better. Of course, she couldn't possibly make me feel better, because I eventually had to admit that I saw her trajectory clearly.

Dogs clearly recognize death. We've seen the heart wrenching photos and videos of dogs mourning their friends, both animal and human. Dogs may even recognize when they, themselves are dying. But it would take a tremendous leap of intellect to know that their own death means that there will not be kibble for them tomorrow morning. Or snuggles. Or walks. *We* know that, so we hang on. I don't think dogs extrapolate that far, and so - they hang on for us rather than for one more walk. They don't anticipate the end of their happy lives, and so they hang on for us - when in truth, they have no fear of letting go. They hang on because of *our* fear - not their own.

I wish my friend and her dog an easy passing and peace in the aftermath. Maybe it might help her to think that Nutmeg fully expects to wake beside her again, just like always.

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