Of Love and Loss

Be kinder than necessary for everyone you meet is fighting some battle.

I’m pretty sure I’ve opened a blog with that before, but it’s a great point that bears repeating.  Many people in my little circle of family, friends and acquaintances are struggling right now.  Sickness, layoffs, a dear friend overseas who wants to come home. Spouse problems, kid problems, lack of kid problems, the gamut.

Another friend is dealing with the fact that her little dog is dying.

This morning, my friend expressed that part of her hoped, that when she got home to check her dog, that she’d be already gone.  “I know that’s awful”, she said.

It’s not.  I think most pet owners think that near the end.  If they could just go peacefully at home, in their sleep. That would be so much easier.  Then you don’t have to make “the decision”.

To end a life.

My job as a vet is to advise you of the options, pros and cons of those options, and the odds of a positive outcome.  We have to try to give you a ballpark assessment of whether we think your pet is suffering or in pain.

Ultimately, that what euthanasia is for: to stop pain and suffering in our patients.

“No more pets for me”, said my friend.  I hear that a lot too.

We love our pets unabashedly, with our whole hearts.  I suspect we don’t love most of the humans in our lives with such reckless abandon.

And our pets love us right back with even more fervor.  Nobody else (except maybe our moms) love us that unconditionally.  They don’t care if we’re fat, ugly, or socially awkward: to them we are the greatest person in the universe.

The trade-off for that kind of pure adulation, that wonderful relationship, that opportunity to see just what unconditional, uncomplicated,  love is…

that it ends too soon.

And it hurts like hell.

Some people just can’t take it.  To have that and then lose it is just too much, they never get another pet.

Others jump right back on the saddle.  There are plenty of wonderful pets out there who need someone to love.

It won’t be the same, it won’t replace what’s lost, those memories will always be there.

But the next pet is just another adventure.  Another chance to be a hero, the coolest person in the universe, have your own personal entourage and greeting committee.

A chance to pour your heart into something that will always love you back.

Personally, I just can’t live without it.

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3 thoughts on “Of Love and Loss

  1. What is that old saying? That grief is the price of love (or something like that). Anyway, it’s so true – we pay a terrible price when we lose a beloved pet. But for me at least, the tradeoff of all of those years of joy is SO worth it!

  2. It’s terribly sad when a critter is nearing the end of its days. Been there. Done that.

    However, I’ve never hoped to come home and find that Fluffy has passed on. I would never know if Fluffy actually passed in her sleep or if she struggled and hurt and wondered why.

    As hard as it is to make “the decision”, I’d much rather go through that than to have regrets and play What If in the future.

    Plus, my critters usually have a way of letting me know when they’ve fought long enough. Their eyes beg me to let them go and relieve their suffering.

    I think the hardest thing(s) I’ve ever done is to walk out of the clinic with am empty cat carrier.

    Many years ago I lost an only cat. Man oh man, that was awful. Even though I now have a herd, it’s just as hard to lose a critter, but those still at home mourn with me and help me through it.

  3. Having been there for us, Dr. Carroll, your compassion and level head has always been comforting. Now that we have a farm and have suffered the loss of a horse, llama, and sheep – it’s no easier just because they are considered livestock, but it is easier to be certain that ending their suffering is the kindest thing we can do. I hate making that call – to end a life, but I do so because all of the animals rely on me right to the end and I owe them my loyalty.

    I agree with you – I can’t live without the love – and the loss that goes with it. Every animal brings me a valuable life lesson. From my animals I have learned to never give up, to be noble in the midst of suffering, and to allow others to help shoulder burdens when it feels like I can;’t go on. I call them “Masters on four legs”. They have such wisdom if we’ll only listen and observe.

    Great post from a great doctor.

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