CONTEMPLATION, REFLECTION, DELIBERATION

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When I began this blog last February, I knew in my heart that in some ways I was creating Cody’s obituary, that the reminiscing, memories of him, stories about him, were a eulogy, a testament to his unique and endearing qualities as a Therapy Dog.  I am now struggling with the last installment of this dedication.  Today and the last several days have had bone-chilling cold, snow, wind.  And the maintenance people,in their infinite wisdom,  have liberally over-salted the sidewalks here at Village Green resulting in super-cooled slush.  For the dogs of the residents, this cookie-dough consistency slush quickly results in raised paws and limping.  I have been internally cursing this alteration of the sidewalk from 1.5 inches of benign snow, easy to walk to walk on, to a pad-chilling nightmare for dogs and their owners.  Our walks now start out the back slider, moving directly onto the concrete patio and snow-covered grass. Coincidentally, Cody started showing an inability to walk when he is outside…rear legs caving in, followed by Cody laying in the snow looking at me.  This started occuring several weeks ago, so I am seeing a gradual progression of this degeneration issue.  My dog prior to Cody, Tyler, was a German Shepherd – Springer Spaniel mix – he had also developed problems with his rear legs.  Euthanizing him was very tough, but life for him had become untenable.  Yesterday, with Cody, a lot of cajoling, pleading, lifting, and squeaking of toys was necessary to get him moving.  He went almost ten hours without urinating, twelve hours without a bowel movement.  Last night, during a walk around 9:30 p.m., Cody took care of both.  It is a relief when you can go to bed knowing your dogs are empty.  It was lights out at 10:15 p.m.  Cody was in his usual spot against the bolster of pillows at the end of the bed – he likes his space.  Shortly after midnight, I awoke to Cody’s head across my chest, his face up close to mine.  He had never done this before during the night.  With his unique powers of intuition, was he aware of my grief, my indecision?  Was he giving me permission to end his life?  I held him, petted him, talked to him.  I told him that I am willing to end his discomfort, his pain, his degeneration.  And during this conversation he seamlessly transitioned into his role as a Therapy Dog, laying his head and neck across my thigh, placing the right paw on my knee.

This morning, I am hanging in doubt and indecision.  Cody barked to be taken off the bed, barked for a BusyBone, had a meal, drank water and has been my shadow – really no major changes with his behavior of the last year.  But is it the frequent inability to go outside and take care of business, or, knowing in my heart that he is uncomfortable?  The clock is ticking…

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6 thoughts on “CONTEMPLATION, REFLECTION, DELIBERATION

  1. I started reading your blog after you discovered mine (written by my dog, Rusty) and I have enjoyed it. I love Cody’s opinions on life. This post brought tears to my eyes. Rusty is getting stiffer and more uncomfortable and I know, that although he has at least a few years left, it is going to be his physical mobility and pain that will have me making a similar decision at some point. We euthanized a pet goat a couple of years ago and there was nothing really wrong–I could ‘t point to liver failure or cancer or anything that gave me a good reason for the decision. But she hardly ever lay down anymore because she was so stiff and sore that I think getting up and down was too difficult and painful. I knew that winter was going to be tough. My vet told me that you’re better off making that final decision a week too early than a day too late. Animals aren’t afraid of dying because they don’t anticipate that like we (I) do. They are in the moment. They are either comfortable and “happy” or they are in pain and discomfort. Veterinary euthanasia seems so peaceful. The struggle with that decision is ours and not the animal’s. I wish you well and hope that when the time comes it can be peaceful for both of you.

    • Ahhh…I was wondering who Rusty was referring to…just kidding. I really appreciate your thoughtful response, it was exactly what I was hoping for. Cody and I have a reprieve for the day. Snow has started, very windy, and Cody has been showing a bit more mobility than last night. Your comment, “better a week early, than a week late,” was VERY helpful. Thank you. And your blog is sort of on parallel tracks with mine (Cody’s). I am very fortunate to have adopted Magic 4 weeks ago. He has been very sweet with both Cody and me. Take care. Tom, Cody’s Dad

      • Good morning from Chicago. Your words yesterday (…better a week too early than a day too late…) pulled me from that withering state of indecision. I had been down this road before…I knew what was required of of me, what I needed to do. The process at the vet was very peaceful…no more groaning, no more limping. Oh how I miss him. Tom and Magic

      • I’m glad that I was of some help. The credit for that phrase goes to my vet who has helped me with many of those difficult decisions (not only dogs, but for livestock pets as well). Best wishes for getting through the next few days. I’m glad that you have Magic and look forward to hearing from him later on.

  2. What an agonizing decision to make but oh so important as we owe these wonderful creatures a good life and a calm death. When my greyhound Rex started to cry out when trying to lay down I took him into the vet to see if there was an injury…..the x-rays were startling as this wonderful companion of mine for ten years must have been suffering pain since his racing days but never let it show. The vet gently said…this is bad….as I grappled with this moral decision…weighing my love for this creature and my obligation to do the right thing and let him go….She then gently asked…….should I wake him up, as he was under anesthesia to be x-rayed…………I sadly said no…Rex has been my friend, companion…I owe him no more pain….so right there in the x-ray room I stood by him, as he stood by me for ten years……and watched him go. I still have this magnificent dog ashes…I still carry them from house to house….

  3. This is the toughest thing you’ll do as a furparent.
    The weather has been horrible for both my ‘young’ dogs also. They will hold their poops for a l o n g time before having to brave the elements. I’d pitch a bitch with assc. You’re paying for it!
    I wish you comfort in your upcoming days.

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