There’s nothing easy about saying good bye to someone you love.
Whether it be sending them off after a great vacation, driving them to college or dealing with a passing ... Good byes are hard.
The past several months I’ve had to live through a few tough goodbyes. Some with hopes of future hellos as plans are made for the next visit, while others were more final.
This thought crossed my mind most recently as a beautiful family said goodbye to their dog. Daphne was not just a pet, like most families who love on their animals she was a member of a very special clan.
Last week as I pondered the three-year anniversary of the passing of my buddy Big J, I was able to watch a dog be freed from her pain because of the selflessness of her owners.
Daphne had done life. She had made her mark, wagged her tail and left her family with 14 years of memories. She was 16.
I personally lived this pain before. Making the decision to relieve an animal of its suffering as you learn they have cancer, internal organs shutting down or the like. Almost 11 years ago when I had to face this decision for the first time my pain was eased a bit as I discussed it with our family vet Mel Tanner.
Not knowing what the right decision was. How bad could it be? Did she still have time? Maybe treatment or even a test study? Our dog Sable was 14 at the time.
Doc Tanner spoke with me for quite a long time trying to ease my mind and guide me to my own decision. At the time he eloquently pointed out what an amazing life Sable (and most pets he sees) had. Noting that we care for our animals with such love and selflessness that many live better lives than some humans. He was right.
It’s hard with an animal. They can’t verbalize their pain. They move slower, lose control of things at times and sleep a bit more. Yet, often there’s more that we just don’t know. They also continue to lick our faces, wag their tails and comfort us as we cry over them trying to make the ‘right’ decision.
Ironically as I comforted my friend, searching for words that might help or give a bit of strength I found myself returning to the same analogy I had shared with my duo.
Just as hard as it is to say good bye, it’s equally as hard to watch someone suffer with no reprieve. Watching a person cling to life, knowing that treatment will no longer help and knowing they are fighting with all they have is heartbreaking. There are days you wake with hope. You look to the clouds and ask God to make today the day. Make it the day they rest easy, feel less pain and maybe eat something. You ask God to heal them, to help us, to make it all stop. Yet if you are a believer, you know and understand that there is a plan and you are but a helpless spectator in trying times such as these.
It’s a bit different with animals. We never truly know the level of their pain. They lack the ability of language so we look for cues and ultimately we turn to our vet for guidance.
With people we can’t choose if the time has come. We can’t choose if the suffering has gone long enough; that goes to time and process. It’s hard. It hurts and it is a horrific thing to have to live through with someone you love.
In the case of our pets it’s different. We are given the option, life versus death. It is a tremendous burden but an amazing gift at the same time. To think of being able to ease the pain of an animal who cannot truly verbalize but must live through it each day. To release them back to a healthy and whole body, mind and spirit is indeed a gift. It is a selfless act, which is hard to reach. An act where we must truly abandon our emotion a bit to do what is right … for them.
Oddly and in conclusion it is truly the ability to give to them and thank them for all which they have given to us. Our final moment as an owner to demonstrate our undying love and appreciation for all they have given as a family member. They come to us as animals, yet leave us as family.
Rest well Daphne, you are now at peace, healed and running with your buddies.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.
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