Sunday, 6 March 2011

C'est la vie, or shit happens.


I was not going to blog about this. But every time I think of writing something else, it just comes back to me, and I thought I probably should blog it out of my system.

Some of you might remember how hard I found making the decision about having my old dog put to sleep
 It was almost impossible to even think about it. But time passed, and he got worse. And then a bit worse. And then he refused food for a few days, except for one slice of the Russian sausage. And anything that got consumed was quickly thrown back up again. He could not get up and did not want to go for walks. 

And I realized that perhaps, it was, indeed, cruel  and selfish to keep him alive and watch him struggle.

Realization and making the decision is one thing, but actually going through something like this is completely different.  No matter how convinced I was in the end that it was the right thing to do... I still felt guilty. In hindsight, I think that the whole helping someone die is either something you strongly believe in, or not. My brain is telling me it was the best way for him to go, but my heart will probably always struggle to accept it easily. 

In preparation for this horrible event, I looked for advice online, from thousands of other dog owners who had to go through the same experience. I came across some useful suggestions on how to cope with this sad moment. ‘Go to church and pray’. Er... maybe not for me.  ‘Get another puppy before your old dog dies’ No way! Despite of all the affection I had for my old pet, I am actually pretty much done with having a dog. For a very, very long time.

It is funny though, how things that I thought I would enjoy once there is no dog in the house are the ones that now make me sad.  Like the empty garden and the clean grass, nobody to rush back home to when we are out for the day, and the lack of paw prints on the wooden floors. The lack of noise. The lack of smells. The lack of a huge furry animal lying in the way when I try to open the dishwasher. These are the things I found the hardest. And the dreams about changing my mind. In those dreams he is a lot healthier and happier than he was, and I panic and think oh, no he is totally fine, what am I doing??? And then I wake up and remind myself that he was, of course, very ill.

And then, looking for someone to discuss this with, I turned to an old friend. I chose her because of many factors.  She knows me well, for a very long time, and she is crazy about dogs.  It is important to try not to discuss this situation with people who have never owned or liked animals. They will think you are mad, and very, very funny. Hilarious, in fact. Your sadness would cause endless amusement. So no, I could not discuss it it with people I was not sure would understand. But this friend, I thought, definitely would.

And, of course, she did. Only, she said something I would have never expected a good friend to say. I confessed to her, in an email, that I felt bad I could not bring myself to go to the vets.  Poor husband had to do it. She replied that she would have been there till the end.

Of course, she added, she could not judge me, as she did not really know if she would manage to go. But she still thought I should have gone.

I am not going to go into details of how angry and upset that comment made me feel. How I tried, pointlessly, to explain to her, that sometimes, the truth is not what one needs from a close friend. She said I probably felt guilty for not going, and that was why her comment stung so much. But of course I felt guilty! I felt guilty for not going, for being so weak, I felt guilty for ever telling him off, for not walking him often enough, for not talking to him enough, for a lot of things I should or should not have done. Isn’t it what happens when someone you love dies, whether human or animal? 

So, there I was. Could not rely on religion to convince myself that my dog is running happily in heaven, waiting for me to join him one day. Could not be comforted by going to a church or getting another puppy...And guess what? As it turned out, could not even get support from the one close friend I thought would be there for me.  C'est la vie, eh. Shit happens.

17 comments:

  1. I've never had a pet, so I might not be 100% able to understsand your feelings. But I'm aware your decision was anything but easy.
    Cheer up!

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  2. I do think the only people who should have to put up with should haves are husbands, and then, of course, they need to hear it a lot.

    It's hard is losing a pet, and it's a hard decision to make. There's lways going to be something in it to feel guilty about, but I don;t think you should (ha!) in this case.

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  3. Darling, i am very sorry.your dog was more than a pet, he was a member/part of your family. it is really difficult to decide between being sensitive and what should be done. i believe, i would have done the same if i had had a dog.you were very lucky having him around you for all these years. but when time comes to say goodbye, we have to accept it. you shouldn't feel guilty. you were brave enough to make a right decision. and it doesn't matter whether you went to the vets or not, the main thing you said goodbye in your mind, in your soul.

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  4. I am so, so, so sorry.

    We had a dog, too, when I was growing up and that we had to put to sleep when I was a junior in college. Her name was Babe and she was a collie and she was the most patient and loveable dog that I have yet to come across. That summer, she was miserable because she had terrible arthritis, fleas, and generally her quality of life was horrible. My parents decided it was time to put her down for the same reasons you decided about your dog: because you loved him and didn't want him to suffer any more.

    My mom was the one who spent the most time with her and did the most for her in life, but like you, she just couldn't bring herself to go and have her put down and it was me and my dad in the room with her, and it was one of the hardest, most heartbreaking things we ever had to go through and, almost five years later, I still have dreams about her as a puppy, dreams about her being well and not being put down, dreams about her being put down, etc.

    I don't think it matters that you didn't go, as long as someone was there with him that loved him. You served the dog as well as you could and he had a happy life with you. That's what's important. Maybe in time you will come around to having a puppy, maybe you won't. But the dog made your life richer and you made the dog's life richer and even if you don't believe he's in heaven, it did make me feel better to think of Babe in a better place that she deserves to be in, and your pain will subside slowly.

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  5. I liked this blog entry.

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  6. @Solnushka: Yes, good point, but husband had the worst part to deal with, so it would be cruel to go on and on to him about it.

    @anonymous and Vicki: Thanks. We will see if I ever brave another dog, at the moment I am quite looking forward to a free life without that commitment, to be honest.

    @Mark: That sort of implies you did not like previous ones? How many did you not like? All of them? Most of them? Some? :))

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  7. I've been through a similar situation with my cat a couple of years back, he was very ill but unlike you I didn't have him put to sleep. Couldn't bring myself to it.
    Then one day I found him outside lying there, not breathing. I know he was suffering, I know it was selfish of me to not put him to sleep, and now I deeply, deeply regret it. I suppose what I'm trying to say is that you shouldn't feel guilty, putting him to sleep was the right choice. Your dog is now peacefully asleep and the only one suffering is you, if you're sad because of your dog's pain, don't be. His hardship is over, you shouldn't be sad. You're dog must've had a wonderful life, and surely the good times outweighed the bad ones.

    I suppose I'm telling this because right now my other cat is very ill too, and it's the same story all over again. It's never easy.

    Man I'm never getting pets again....

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  8. @Kaweh: It really is very difficult to decide, what is better. I had this image in my head that he would just get old and fall asleep in his bed one day. Unfortunately, that does not happen as peacefully as we wish. It is also harder with pets than with humans, because you don't know how much they understand, they can't explain what they feel/want and they trust you 100%, which makes it more awful. I seriously don't think I want another pet. The fish tank will suffice.

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  9. I was never in your situation (i.e., having to put a pet down), so I can't really comment on it. But it would be really sad if, on top of losing a loved pet, you also lost a close friend.

    Yes, maybe she should have said something else... or, even better, say nothing at all and just listen / read. But the thing is she was 'just' a well-intentioned person, not a psychologist who knows when to talk and what to say. I am sure we all said the wrong thing once, when all we wanted was to help... even to someone very close, whom we know very well (e.g., that post you had about the posh soap). And, of course, what seems/ feels wrong at the time, might end up being the best thing in the long term.

    Maybe if you could look at the episode from this perspective it would help you feel less hurt and disappointed with your friend's reaction.

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  10. @Ana@ Yes, that is true. But...Perhaps because I am so hormonal, I told her what I thought. and instead of simply admitting that it might have not been the best thing to say to a friend in such a moment, she would only argue more, and we got in a fight. :) So now, it is beyond the original intention. It got worse because both of us are convinced the other is wrong. as I said, shit happens! :)

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  11. I liked your comment on Mark's comment :) Not that I didn't like your other comments - I liked them all!

    Yes, friends should be there to tell us things that make us feel good about ourselves, think highly of ourselves even if they have to tell lies for this.

    By the way, dearest Scary, Happy Women's Day to you!

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  12. @Matanat: :))) OK, I am glad you clarified that. Yes, happy Woman's day! I dont ever remember about it anymore.:)

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  13. What a sad post... I am sorry scaryazeri that one person you decided to talk to did not support you the way you needed it!

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  14. There is rarely right or wrong in these things. I know you loved Roy, and there are always regrets when someone/animal we love dies. Harder when you have to make a decision. You did the right thing for you, and Roy did not suffer as a consequence of that.

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  15. @Sharon: If we were doing it for us, we would have done it a few months ago. I had to make sure it was right for him, and not only because it was inconvenient for us....Anyway. I know it was right, but it does not make us feel any better. As I said- NO MORE!

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  16. Hi- Losing a pet is very hard. I had my dog put to sleep two years ago-she had the same problems as your dog-she could not get up, eat....She was my dog for 15 years. I could not imagine owning another dog or going through that awful experience again. But, I started hanging around pet shelters and now I have another dog that was abandoned.
    Something someone said stuck with me. Its about the dogs too. You gave that dog a good life and now another dog is out there waiting to have a good owner too. Hopefully, when you are ready, another dog will have the benefit of knowing u.

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  17. @Jale: Thank you.

    @Candace: Maybe, one day. A rescue pet from a shelter is a good idea. Not for a while though. :)

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