Euthanasia and 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.
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.
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.
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,
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!