We were recently given professional advice it was time to euthanize our twelve and a half year old canine family member, Kersey.
We’ve done it and now are dealing with the pain we all feel with the loss of a special pet.
Just a little more than a year ago, Kersey was romping the woods with her canine buddies, delivering running shoes from the garage to the front door, greeting us at the front door with her food bowl in mouth and tail wagging in anticipation.
The turning point was a diagnosis of hypothyroidism and a torn ACL.
Then came Cushings, diabetes, mastitis, cancer, severe arthritis, blindness, deafness and dementia. She became a review in physiology, vet tech and pharmacology
What was remarkable was observing her tenacity and her ability, and willingness, to adapt without complaining.
With the torn ACL and then the severe arthritis, she learned to manipulate both our front door, and back patio, stairs at a certain angle and a special hop to her advantage.
With her blindness she’d often run into things or fall – sometimes right onto her face.
Without a whimper she’d find her way around an obstacle or get up and move on.
Eventually we’d walk her on a leash and she’d allow us to be her guide-person. With her deafness she learned to listen to our hands clapping loudly and to use her sense of smell even more.
One incident of her adaptability stands out as particularly remarkable and still baffles me.
I was sitting in my office focused on my computer. Kersey walked slowly in and went under my desk.
As I’d done in the past, I had to back her out because the wall made it a dead end. Then I beheld a dead rodent on the floor.
I believe she must have smelt it on the back porch from a capture by our hunter cat. I believe Kersey brought it to me as a gift!
Unfortunately there is no cure for Cushings.
When we got that diagnosis we had to come to terms with the fact that it was terminal.
As subsequent illnesses presented themselves we had to continually weigh her quality of life.
Recent videos and pictures sent to our vet, Kit, confirmed that it was time to let go. Up until Kit showed up to our house to perform the euthanasia, we questioned our decision.
However, we kept reminding ourselves that we’d rather die in our sleep smiling (in dogs terms, wagging a tail) than to die in pain with incontinence and anorexia.
The finality of death is hard but we are now freed of the stress of deciding when to let go.
While mourning the loss of Kersey, a friend referred me to a poem, called Rainbow Bridge:
“Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
“When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
“All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
“They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly be begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
“You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart. Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together…”
This excellent poem is letting me deviate from remembering Kersey in the pain she was feeling and instead as “restored to health and vigor.”
As another friend explained, “She is pure love and light, free from pain. Now we ache for her.”
Laura Pintane is a local dog trainer and member of Salida Dog Club.