Euthanasia and Saying Goodbye

My Portrait of Kaie Arwen
My Portrait of Kaie Arwen

Saying Goodbye

Goodbye. What does it actually mean to say goodbye, and why do I have such a difficult time letting that one little word slip past my lips? Anyone who knows me, gets it. That's not to say they understand or even like it, but they do get it.

When I was a little girl I'd crawl into the driver's seat of my grandfather's car thinking it would keep both he and my grandmother from leaving. I was invincible........... for about five minutes, and I was wrong. Admitting defeat would leave me sitting on the curb for far longer than it took for their car to disappear in the distance.

My father had a massive heart attack on my son's second birthday. It took me probably ten years to hug him goodbye and allow him to walk away without tears. He passed away four days before my son's seventeenth birthday............ there were a lot of tears, and he was worth every one of them.

My kids, they've taken my difficulty into their own hands. When its time for them to leave me, they jump out of the car at the airport and bolt for the sliding doors. They're quicker than I am, and their sabotage of my emotions has become quite successful. I've learned to let go after they're out of sight, and have since come to know that they do the same.

Newly Arrived
Newly Arrived
Absolutely Precious
Absolutely Precious
Quite the Contortionist
Quite the Contortionist

My Girl Kaie

On January 12, 2011, I leashed my beloved Kaie Arwen and took her for her final car ride. My innate and sometimes ridiculous sense of independence had refused company. I had to do it alone, and most of the time I'm glad I did. She deserved my undivided attention, something not often realized in a home she shared with two other dogs.


Jumping into the car posed no problem. My dogs love the car, and during all of our years of extensive travel they were never left behind. They were hotel dogs; they loved to be walked; they were well behaved in the close quarters of the places we stayed.


Rides in the car had become few and far between after her puppies were born. Two wolfhounds and hockey equipment make for close quarters; three wolfies and equipment are almost impossible, but there were a few trips, and I have great memories.


This trip however was different. There wouldn't be a ride home, just me........... and the tears that seemed to have no end.

Euthanasia

My feelings about euthanasia are mixed. One part of me focuses on the compassion, and the other with my beliefs. All of those feelings churned within me. I'd start by asking myself why we treat our pets with more empathy than our family members, why we watch our friends and loved ones suffer and dissipate before our eyes knowing all the while that their suffering is far worse than anything that we can physically see or feel within ourselves.

Then I'd back up, knowing that my firmest belief is that God gives us our first breath, and that He is the one who decides our last. That our last breath was pre-ordained at the first. Life is a gift; we need to LIVE during the short time we're given and not worry about the rest. Dying is just moving on to eternity.

Decisions. How do we make them? In the end, mine was to send her to my father as she lay curled in my lap. She cried, really cried, and I didn't expect it. They told me there'd be no pain, and when I looked up, the vet calmly told me it was disorientation. My beautiful girl who'd never cried; the tough, regal creature who'd done nothing more than whimper while whelping a litter of nine cried. I can still hear her, I hear her every night when the house gets quiet and my mind clears itself of the day's happenings. In all honesty I don't believe the process is devoid of pain, but I've been wrong before, and I'll choose to believe it was what they told me.......... most of the time.

The Only Photo I Have Of All Seven Puppies
The Only Photo I Have Of All Seven Puppies
My Kaie
My Kaie
Kaie and Ciara
Kaie and Ciara
The Three Musketeers
The Three Musketeers
Enjoying the Snow, and Being Spooky!
Enjoying the Snow, and Being Spooky!
Frodo and Grendel, the last puppy to leave for his new home.
Frodo and Grendel, the last puppy to leave for his new home.

Kaie Arwen

Kaie Arwen was the last gift my father ever gave me. That my mother never knew was a joke between us. She was the horse he'd promised me when I was just a little girl; the horse I'd looked for out the back window every holiday between the ages of five and the day I left home.

I always believed I'd get that horse, and he always kept his promises........... Kaie Arwen was almost the size of a small pony; she fit the bill. Truth be told, she more than fit the bill.

During her lifetime she gave me more smiles than I can count. She gifted me with seven gorgeous puppies that gave the house I detested living in some semblance of a home again. One of those puppies is still here, absolutely precious. My Ciara.

Kaie was the Alpha dog. She bossed around her 180 pound male counterpart Frodo, and Ciara.......... she never talked back to her mom. Kaie watched the house, guarded the fence, protected her young, and adored her "humans." She was "Hell on wheels" and completely loving, almost perfect. The junkyard dog who'd terrify old women and small children, and yet still be the overwhelming favorite of the pack amongst my friends.

Kaie was the smallest of my Wolfhounds, only 130 pounds. The day we said goodbye she weighed in at 76 pounds, and I could span the width of her hips with one hand. Note, I have very small hands.

Am I sorry for not keeping her home, for being the one who chose her time? I can't honestly answer that. My emotions are still mixed, and I guess they always will be. A person can't honestly answer something they don't know. Fifty years ago, you'd lose a dog at home and bury him/her in the back yard. I couldn't do that today, and I don't know how the others would have reacted if she'd have died in their presence.

Her loss was deeply felt. The baby kept looking for her; she'd just sit and wait. The big guy started out looking for her, and then suddenly up and decided he needed to bully his daughter, taking his place at the head of the pack. The hierarchy of the dog kingdom, it's been rather interesting to watch even through the sadness and missing, and yes, I do miss her,

Ciara
Ciara
Frodo
Frodo

My Wish

So for my girl, I wish every good thing.

May she feel the sunshine on her back and have water to play in.

Maybe an occasional bunny to cross her path, but one she'll never catch.

I wish her to sit at my father's feet, and to kiss his hand, just once for me,

and I wish her to remember that there's no more work to be done, nothing more to protect.

May she have the fire, and the place in front of it that I always wanted to give her.

They say all dogs go to Heaven................ I'll see her there!


More by this Author


Comments 17 comments

Ign Andy profile image

Ign Andy 5 years ago from Green Home Office

Kaie. I'm sorry to hear this. This is the first time I knew why you use your profile name, so I know how you love her.


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 5 years ago Author

Andy- Yes, I loved her. You are partially right about the profile name. Kaie was actually the name my grandmother used for me. It means "dark warrior," and having been the only granddaughter amid a mass of boys that was how she saw me! :-D

Since my grandmother was the only one to use the name.......... I decided to give it to my own little dark warrior when she arrived. I believe she lived up that name better than I did! Thank you for your kind words ~ Kaie


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Our yellow lab was suffering from a spreading cancer when we put her down last September. Although I knew it was the right thing to do, I felt a terrible sense of betrayal because she trusted me in all things.

I'm sorry for your loss.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

This is very sad. You wrote a loving and beautiful tribute, though. Her crying at the vet makes me a bit suspicious of their claim that it's just "disorientation." Kind of reminds me of when the dentist says, "You might feel a bit of pressure." Yea, right.

The last gift your father gave you. It sounds as if you've had a rough few years here lately. This is wonderfully written. Now my eyes are welled up with tears. God Bless You.


justom profile image

justom 5 years ago from 41042

Nicely done hub but kind of depressing too! Peace!! tom


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 5 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

Although we logically know life is a process. Emotionally is hard to accept.

Flag up!


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 5 years ago Author

WillStarr- I completely understand the sense of betrayal........... I feel the same way. It's like those very trusting eyes would never look at me the same way again. That's one of the reasons I knew I had to stay with her until the end............. just wanted her to know that I was holding her! Kaie


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 5 years ago Author

James- There isn't a person on this earth who completely escapes difficulty ~ we all have those.................

Pain, yes............ I will always wonder if she cried from pain.

Rough few years? The past 13 months have been the best of my life. I am blessed beyond belief, and I can never thank God enough for the gifts he's given me. Sometimes we are gifted with a bit a Heaven here on Earth............. it's a wonderful place, and I'm holding onto the Heaven he's given me until the time comes for the real thing. :-D


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Kaie

This is what I wrote that day:

Goodbye Party Animal

The first time we saw her, she was a yellow blur on the end of a leash with the fastest, wettest, tongue in town. My niece ambushed us (again), with a sob story about a six month old, yellow lab that she just couldn't keep, but also couldn't bear to give up to a stranger. She knew of course, that Zoe was the best canine saleslady in the world and in five minutes, we loved her dearly.

She was with us 13 years, inventing new stunts almost daily. Drop something in the pool? No problem! She promptly demonstrated her ability to dive to the bottom of the shallow end! One trick led to another and another, and lord, how she loved to show off. No party was complete without a half hour of Zoe antics.

But time is remorseless and Zoe grew old, first tearing a tendon in her right rear leg (racing around a corner and slipping on a wet spot) and then the cruelest turn of all...an inoperable tumor on her left rear leg. The vet shook her head sadly and gave me some powerful canine pain pills.

Over the last few weeks, Zoe's fire slowly faded and she began to anxiously follow me everywhere. When I sat on the couch, she carefully climbed up and lay her head in my lap, and for hours at a time. If I went up the stairs, she painfully followed, ignoring for the first time my commands to stay.

Then yesterday, I was stunned to see a bloody discharge in the run where she went to relieve herself. The cancer had gone to her intestines. I called the vet and she confirmed the bad news. It was time to do the right thing and put her down.

An hour ago and with her last bit of energy, she gave us all a final wet kiss, and then calmly watched the vet inject the fluid. I held her head as it slowly sank to the floor, and then she was gone.

It has been a hard day.


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 5 years ago Author

justom- Don't let my words depress you............ they're just words. In reality she was all sunshine and smiles.............. well, unless she was terrifying the innocent people passing by.............. she was very good at that. Thanks for stopping by and for the very kind words. They are appreciated! Kaie


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 5 years ago Author

dallas93444- Life is indeed a process............ she was by far one of the "brightest spots" in my own. Thanks for being here and leaving your comments. Kaie


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 5 years ago Author

WillStarr- Thanks for that! It's so hard to watch a beloved pet dwindle and suffer. They are part of the family........... period. One of the kids.

I don't think Kaie suffered, but then again I will never know. She was very, very thin, and at some times very weak. There were days that I'd look at the baby and think, "When did you get so much bigger than your mother?" And then she stopped eating and couldn't keep anything inside of her when we were actually able to coax her. After that, we weren't able to coax; she just stopped eating.

Thank you for sharing your loss and God bless ~ Kaie


Cheeky Girl profile image

Cheeky Girl 5 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

Aw, this was sad reading this, as it is plainly obvious you really loved this amazing dog. Irish Wolfhounds are the biggest dogs of all, as far as I know. They must be hard to rear up, so you obviously know your stuff, seeing as your amazing Kaie had puppies. What a great family of dogs. her memory and spirit will live on in your heart. You share a special bond, and I am so glad you shared this. She sounds like she had lots of personality. That is tough letting her go. Remember the best parts - sadly dogs do not live longer than or same age as humans, so we have to face that inevitable time at some stage.

And now I know the story behind the name here. Wow. amazing and quite a revelatory hub. Thanks for sharing with us here. :)


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 5 years ago Author

Cheeky Girl- I don't know how I missed your comment- sorry, I'm about a month late here.............. yes, I loved my girl, lucky for me I still have her little girl with me. Kaie had an amazing personality- always watching, sweet as could be, and meaner than the junk yard dog ~ close to perfect! You are completely correct in that our dogs are only part of the family for a very short time; that's why we enjoy them. I've had a few, and each of them have been a blessing.

The name Kaie does have its own meaning for me. In my own quiet way, I can definitely be the warrior; I was Gramma's girl after all, but my girl.......... unlike me she started the wars.......... I only fight when absolutely necessary! ;-)

I'll be by soon, thanks for stopping by! Kaie


clark farley profile image

clark farley 5 years ago

(having had the experience you describe), I will say how I look at this incredibly difficult process: When the time came(at the end) it was my time to earn all the good that came from having the relationship that I had with my dog. It is not just a responsibility that I had, it was an opportunity for me to give the most 'expensive' of gifts that I could give to (Ola and Bella).


john000 profile image

john000 4 years ago from Superior, Arizona

I still cannot fathom why relationships with pets are so very strong.

I wish the same for my dog, Missy. "May the sun shine on your back and your tummy, may you be free from earth's constraints and live as you should, old friend."

Never forget that you still have Ciara.

Nice writing. Enjoyed the hub. Thanks. Rated you up.


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 4 years ago Author

john000- thank you! She was indeed special, and yes we do love our pets immensely; they are family. Our very large male Frodo hasn't been doing well the last few days...... it's hard with the bigger dogs even though you know their life spans are far shorter. Thanks for coming by............ Ciara is the sweetest by the way............ Kaie

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working