I’ve thought about writing this post for a week, but I haven’t been able to say anything without getting frozen with emotion.
I turned a corner with regards to Doo Dog the weekend before this past one. Those of you that don’t know the story, Doo is my 17 1/2 year old American Cocker Spaniel and my best friend in the whole world. He has been mostly blind, deaf, and bladder-incontinent for some time. He loses his balance often. He runs into things. He gets confused easily. He rarely sleeps through the night. He paces. He is easily startled. He wears diapers. Peeing on himself and not being able to see as he eats means that he gets greasy and smelly pretty quickly. But bathing, never one of his favorite activities, has now become occasion for a panic attack. He freaks out, thrashes like a crazy dog, poops in the tub, and it turns into an ordeal for us both. Usually a people-loving dog, he tried to bite the groomers last time he went and they eventually gave up and gave him back to me untrimmed. He doesn’t like to go outside unless it’s not too dark and not too bright and not too cold and not too wet. Suffice it to say that he makes a mess of the house. Often.
I’ve been dealing with this (with the help of my naturopathic and allopathic vet) for quite some time. Nothing major happened last weekend that precipitated a shift in my attitude about continuing on. It simply got to be too much.Now that I’m back at work full-time, I can’t keep up with the demands of caring for him. Consequently, I’m usually frustrated or disgusted around him (because I’ve just cleaned up a mess), or tense and controlling because I’m vigilantly trying to prevent the next frustrating or disgusting episode. And then I cry and cry because I hate that this little being who has been absolutely devoted to and adoring of me for his whole life has to suffer not only his own infirmities but my negativity as well.
I’ve been praying that he will simply die on his own, peacefully. It has been tearing me apart that my own inner resources ran out before his. Especially since there are still a few things about life that he seems to enjoy (e.g., eating, sniffing things in the yard, being with me).
I’ve been spontaneously breaking out in crying fits about this all week–less and less over the confusion and guilt of ending this and more and more over the grief of not having him in my life–and I imagine that I will continue to grieve long after he is gone. We have been together nearly half my life and all of my adult life. It’s hard to imagine life without him, and the idea of cruising down the highway without my little buddy beside me is so so sad.
A lot of friends and family have offered “if I can do anything–anything at all ….” I’ve got a couple of very understanding friends to go with Doo and I for the final event. My vet sent me flowers. That has all been really good. Mostly, it helps a lot knowing that the important folks in my life care and understand how confusing and heart-wrenching this process has been. Perhaps, if you all could keep Doo and I in your hearts on Saturday, October 27 at 11 AM MT as his little soul departs this world, it would mean a lot to me, and, if you don’t mind, make a little prayer for the peace of his soul … and to fill the Doo-shaped hole in my heart with peace, gratitude, and wisdom.
The Cure We think we get over things. We don't get over things. Or say, we get over the measles, but not a broken heart. We need to make that distinction. the things that become part of our experience never become less of our experience. How can I say? The way to "get over" life is to die. Short of that, you move with it, let the pain be pain, not in the hope that it will vanish, but in the faith that it will fit in, find its place in the shape of thing. And then be not any less pain but true form. Because anything natural has an inherent shape and will flow towards it. And a life is as natural as a leaf. That's what we are looking for: not the end of a thing, but the shape of it. Wisdom is seeing the shape of your life without obliterating a single instant of it. ......................................Mary Oliver