Friday, September 17, 2010
... which seems appropriate, because I've had several interactions today with one of my host's geriatric dogs, and I'm concerned that she may be trying to tell me something important about end of life issues; whether for her or for me I can't say for sure, but I assume it's for her.
Her name is Dolma, and she recently turned 16. She can barely walk, and is a pretty fussy eater plus she's had a round of urinary tract infections that have resulted in some embarrassing accidents; she rarely wakes up in a dry bed in the morning these days.
But twice today she's come to me (and, though I've visited several times over the years there's no reason to believe she specifically remembers me) and tried to communicate something. The first time was a rather long interaction, ending in an extended hug and a move of her food dish to make it a bit more accessible. The second time I was busy, so I mostly just spoke reassuringly to her while I continued composing my friend's obituary, because I'm kind of in a time crunch and need to begin typing my final paper for school.
It feels like she's trying to tell me she's had enough and wants relief, but I'm thinking that may be projection on my part; surely if I were living her life, despite all the love and attention she gets, I might well be ready to leave it. Maybe she just needs reassurance and hugs and understanding; I don't know. I know from experience that it's hard to make these kinds of decisions for our pets, but I also know that eventually either they choose to give up the ghost or it just becomes too painful to watch them struggle.
It's not so different, really, from watching people in the death throes of a marriage, or a bad job: it hurts to watch, but the decision needs to be theirs, and you know they'll make it when they're ready. All you can do is offer support and the promise -- or at least the possibility -- of an easier life on the other side of whatever transition is in the works.
Change is hard, and it takes time. It helps if someone is there to hold your paw and give you backrubs.
Posted by Diane Walker at 1:07 PM