Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Good Dog Down

I put my dog down today. I thought I was emotionally ready to do this. I wasn’t. Though her health had declined markedly over the past week, I was reluctant to give up on her. I realize that this was really more for me than her; I that sensed she was ready. Age and infirmities had taken their toll. She no longer had the energy or strength for play.

Afterwards, I asked her vet, Michael Shulkin, if playing Dr. Kevorkian was difficult. He shared with me how he once was given permission by a pet owner to perform an autopsy on a dog that had been suffering from cancer. When he opened the animal up the insides were black as night. He imagined that the dog had been suffering for some time. This helped him rationalize that euthanasia was the most humane thing he could do for them. It even gave him some comfort when is own dog contracted cancer and he had to put him down.

Of course the dog has the easy part. Their suffering ends quickly and painlessly. It’s a far different story for their humans.

Leaving the vets office with tears streaming down my face I wasn’t ready to go home. I knew that walking into my house without being greeted by my four legged friend was going to bring on another wave of grief. I needed to go somewhere and collect myself first.

When Mars was a puppy I was living in Ellicott City, not far from Patapsco State Park. Once she was about four months old I’d take her for long walks through the woods to the park almost everyday and her first experience swimming was in the Patapsco River. That’s where I headed this afternoon .

Today, our neighborhood old dogs club lost another member. The ranks are getting thin.
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