Sunday, January 05, 2014

Two nights ago a friend asked that I be with her in the hospital while a doctor administered lethal volumes of morphine, ativan, and dilaudid to her mother. She had had a major stroke after battling cancer and there was pretty much no chance of recovery. While no one called it euthanasia or assisted suicide, that is of course what it was. I stood with the family around her bed and they all recited the Lord's prayer. It was a very familiar feeling but I realized that though I have witnessed hundreds of animals passing and seen every possible reaction, I had never seen a human die. Her color changed (something you don't witness with animals because of the fur) first then her breathing slowed. And slowed. And slowed. Then stopped. It was very peaceful and very humbling and I was honored to be asked to be there with them.

I arrived home at 1 am and because I had dropped everything I was working on the moment I got the phone call, the kitchen was in a state of disarray. I had been in the middle of chopping cabbage to make sauerkraut and there were leaves and carrot pieces and ginger scraps everywhere. I finished up and used cleaning the kitchen as a meditation to quiet my brain. I carried the compost out into the yard and was greeted by a brilliantly clear and crisp winter sky. I stared at the infinity of the stars and said to myself "There's one more star in the sky tonight. You're out there somewhere, Jeanne." An instant later a shooting star shot across the eastern sky and all I could say was "yep."

Monday, September 03, 2012

This is the second time I've had to post something like this. We put our own dog to sleep today. She was diagnosed with lymphoma over a year ago and managed to put up an amazing fight. Over the past week she suddenly declined very quickly and yesterday we decided it was time.

She was an amazing dog, everyone who met her loved her. She touched so many people who thereby touched us in unimaginable ways. At one point several years ago she became very ill and friends from the internet, many of whom we'd never even met, all chipped in to cover the multiple thousands of dollars in vet bills.

We adopted her as an adult. She had spent the first few years of her life as an over used breeder in a puppy mill. Her body was broken but her spirit was not. Her trust of humans was amazing considering all she had gone through.

Rest in peace, sweet Poppy. Thank you for the time you gave to us.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Today a doctor told me to put a bunch of stinky, appealing food in a bowl and bring it to a dog in one of the exam rooms. Then he said, "while you're at it, go into the break room and grab some of the bagels and cream cheese, cookies, and beef jerky and see if the dog wants it." I said "the cookies have big chunks of chocolate in them." to which he replied, "I'm not worried about that, we're about to euthanize the dog." I filled the bowl with a cheddar cheese bagel with cream cheese, a chocolate chip cookie, two cans of cat food, and crumbled beef jerky over the top. The dog was skeptical, having never been allowed to have human food, but eventually scarfed it up. He was an old lab with a spinal injury who couldn't walk anymore. The owner was so emotional I feared for her safety driving home so I offered her a ride but she assured us she would be okay and just sat in the parking lot for a long time. I have great respect for this particular doctor.

Friday, August 10, 2012

An ancient cat who had been a patient of ours for a long time. I felt like I knew him well. Everyone gasped but no one was surprised when the appointment was scheduled.
There have been a lot. Here and there. I haven't had the energy to write. I'm sorry, creatures. A beagle, a golden retriever, a blind and deaf poodle mix thing... Many over the past several months. Yesterday, however, there were four in a row.
  • A young cat with lung cancer.
  • An old pug with bad eyes and legs that didn't work and seizures.
  • An Australian terrier also with bad eyes and an inability to walk.
  • A miniature schnauzer who was blind, deaf, and incontinent. They were all necessary. They all ended suffering. It was just so many at once.
  • Friday, April 27, 2012

  • A mastiff mix with lymphoma
  • An akita/rottweiler mix that was overly aggressive.
  • Tuesday, April 24, 2012

    An 18 year old diabetic cat who probably also had pancreatic cancer. Last week he came in and I had to set an IV catheter. While it is common for cats fight you during this procedure, his was actually difficult to set because he wouldn't stop purring and kneading my hand as I held his paw. His owners were elderly and didn't want to be with him when he passed. It felt awkward to turn my back on them as I carried the cat out of the room.

    Sunday, April 08, 2012

    A cat who had become aggressive at home and bitten its owner's elderly father. They wanted it euthanized but because it was a bite situation and was not up to date on its rabies vaccine we had to hold it in quarantine for a time. Sadly, the cat seemed perfectly nice the entire time she was boarded with us. I had avoided interacting with her as much as possible, knowing it would break my heart if I got to know her. When I pulled her out to be euthanized she was purring the entire time, right up until she passed. I don't know how people who work in shelters cope emotionally.