Funny the World...


April 25, 2000

SEYMTOB.jpg (25554 bytes)In Jim's Journal today I read of the death of his pet rabbit (what a thing to happen at Easter!), the victim of a presumed dog attack. While we have not lost pets to violence, the entry made me think back on the pets we have known and loved...and lost. It's amazing how much love we give these guys, what a bond can be formed, and how it hurts when we have to help them out of the pain their lives have become.

The photo here is of Seymour (the brown dog) and Toby, who is a puppy in this photo, taken about 16 years ago. Seymour died several years ago, after she developed liver cancer. She was a wonderful dog. One of my favorite memories is of Seymour lying in front of the TV with the kids using her as a pillow. She loved balls and would have made a great shortstop. She could catch any tennis ball, no matter how far it was thrown or, if it was thrown right to her, no matter how fast. She had fantastic teeth! She was obsessed with balls. We once took an entire corner of a room apart, moving couch, table, lamp, bookcase and rug, just to prove to her that dammit there is no ball there! after she'd barked and clawed at that corner for over a week. Wouldn't you know there was a very tiny ball--about the size of something you'd play jacks with--that had been hidden under the rug. She always knew. I think I saw her smile when we finally were proven wrong--there was a ball there. We knew the end was near when she no longer was interested in balls.

While Seymour was everybody's dog, she and Paul had a special relationship and when the end was near, it was Paul who had to make the decision and take her on her last trip to the vet. It was so hard for him to say goodbye to his lifelong friend, but it helped him to be there and to hold her while she gently went to sleep. I only hope that when Paul and David finally joined her in the afterlife, she was there waiting to play ball again.

Toby went into mourning when Seymour died and we ended up having to get a dog for our dog...Kimba (shown here at the right). Kimba has never quite made it to "beloved dog" status. In fact, for weeks after she arrived, Toby would look at us as if to say "Why did you do this to me???" Toby was finally released from the burden of Kimba in January of this year. He was 15 years old and had been deaf and having old age joint pain for some time. It finally got to the point where the pain was affecting his quality of life and we decided it was time to let Toby go. I made the appointment to take him to the vet and Ned called to ask if I wanted him to come with me. We put Toby in the car and drove to the vet's office. (His parting shot to both of us was a little Toby pile in the back seat). Walt came over from his office to join us, but didn't find our car there (we had come in Ned's car) and so he spent his time waiting outside for us to get there.

We lifted Toby onto the exam table, they gave him the injection, and we held him until his heart stopped beating. I thanked him for being such a wonderful companion to our children for so long, and I tried to picture his soul joining Seymour, Paul and David.

Benjy was the first dog who was really my dog. All the kids had left home by the time my friend David brought him to me and said he had a special feeling about this dog and me. He was right. Benjy slept in my lap whenever I sat down and on my feet when I was working. He was a sweet guy who wanted nothing more than his own special person and a lot of love. He and I bonded easily.

In April of last year, Benjy developed lymphoma, underwent painful chemotherapy treatments and went into remission for several months, but when the lymphoma returned there was nothing more that could be done and in November, it was obvious that the lymphoma was spreading very quickly. There was no point in making the little guy suffer any more. He and I got ready to make our last trip together. Walt met us at the vet's. They gave Benjy a tranquilizer because he'd had so many uncomfortable experiences at vet offices and he was pretty scared, even though he felt so awful. When he was relaxed, we lifted him to the table and, as I would do with Toby two months later, I held him until his heart stopped beating. He only lived with us for slightly less than two years, but I really loved that little guy. I still miss him.

When I think about the death of our beloved pets, making the painful decision based on quality of life, not wanting them to suffer any more, and then being with them, holding them as they gently went to sleep, the body relaxed, and the heart slowing to a stop, it makes me wonder why it is that we treat our animals' endings so much more humanely than we do our humans. We allow humans to struggle and cry out in pain and we worry about their dependence on the drugs that allow them to bear the pain of the disease or condition that is slowly killing them.

When my time comes, I want to die like a dog--in the arms of someone who loves me, with a medical professional gently helping me not to hurt any more.

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created 4/25/00 by Bev Sykes