A lot of the work I do is with clients whose pets are at the end of their lives. It’s a very difficult time for any pet owner, especially if they are faced with the decision as to whether or not they should help their pet pass on. No one likes to see their loving furry companion in pain. It is a gut-wrenching experience. And the decision to help a pet leave this life is never an easy one to make. But like all the other decisions we make for our pets in their lifetimes, we do it because we love them and made a promise to always take care of them. Even unto their deaths.
On this Pet Blessing Day I am especially thinking about my Lovey, who is a 70 pound Collie/Beagle mix approximately 12 years old. She came into my life 6 years ago when I adopted her from a local rescue group. The only thing I knew about Lovey is that she had babies earlier in her life. Otherwise, Lovey’s previous life is a mystery to me. But what’s not a mystery to me is this wonderful dog’s ability to love and comfort anyone she meets. Lovey is a faithful, affectionate and truly kind dog.
Unfortunately, Lovey has something wrong in her back that has caused her to have a weak back leg and paw. Up until last week Lovey was able to go up and down stairs, go to the dog park and walk around the neighborhood with Charlotte and me. I don’t know what happened last week, but Lovey suddenly started falling more. She became afraid to walk on my hardwood floors, go up and down steps and walk up the ramp to get into the car. She is also having more pain in her back and leg. I put extra rugs on the floor, got a lift carrier to help her get up and down the steps and made an appointment for her to see our vet. I also made sure Lovey had her pain medicine on a regular basis. I found myself becoming very frightened that Lovey would leave me someday soon. And I am not ready to let her go. In fact, I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready to let this wonderful dog go. One night after watching Lovey struggle to get up and walk, I told her in a very tearful voice to “please never leave me.” Even though I knew there wasn’t anything Lovey could do about her age or about her back and leg problem, I still begged her to stay with me forever.
While I sat by Lovey that night, I started thinking about the day I brought her home from the shelter. The minute she walked in the door, her sweet, easy-going personality infiltrated my house. My other animals said hello to Lovey in their own ways, and that was it. Lovey was accepted as a member of our family. In fact, it was almost like the spot she filled was always there waiting for her.
I know that Lovey is not ready to go yet. And I know there are things we can still do that will help her feel and walk better. But I also know we are in Lovey’s end-of-life time. While it breaks my heart to think about this, I know it’s my responsibility to accept this inevitability and to try and help Lovey’s last days be as loving and pain-free as I possibly can. And when Lovey’s time comes, I will let her go in a veil of tears. But I will let her go.
Every day I ask the Great Spirit to watch over my family and keep them safe. I also ask the Great Spirit to watch over my animal family, to let harmony and grace always be present in our hearts and minds as we live our lives together.
On this Pet Blessing Day, I would encourage each of us to re-examine the relationship we have with our pets keeping in mind that the love and affection they give us is unconditional and unwavering. How lucky we are.