My beloved Rottweiler and best friend Piper died yesterday morning. She had an aggressive tumor in her right elbow. She coped really well with the effects of the cancer — with the help of amazingly caring veterinarians and pain medications — for more than four months. But over the weekend she had several (mercifully brief) seizures, and by Sunday she had difficulty even standing up and seemed confused and disoriented. I don’t know — and I never will know — whether those symptoms were consequences of the cancer, or just the idiopathic seizures that sometimes occur in adult dogs. But it seemed clear yesterday morning that things were not improving.
Her passing was very peaceful. As the sedative took effect and she became sleepy, I stroked her head. I told her that I loved her; I thanked her for being my friend and for bringing me so much happiness; I told her that she would now never be sick or frightened or lonely again. And I told her that we would see each other again one day, and be together forever. Of course, that last promise was mostly to comfort me.
Then the doctor — a grizzled old veterinarian who owns the clinic, and with whom we had had a meet-and-greet appointment just last Wednesday — administered the ketamine injection. As I sat with Piper, still stroking her head while the vet checked her vital signs, I began to realize that the vet herself was crying quietly. For some reason, that made me feel more at peace with my decision to euthanize Piper — less alone in my grief, I suppose.
To be continued…