An Angel of Compassion to Pets

9 May

Topaz was my first cat. My husband and I adopted him soon after we were married. When our children were young, Topaz became quite ill. He probably had colon cancer. But I could not bring myself to put him to sleep…to have him killed. So he died on Halloween at home.   I always felt somewhat guilty about this because I knew he was suffering. And I should have relieved him from pain sooner. But I was young, and not truly compassionate to the pain of others. I was more concerned with my pain of losing my beloved pet.

Losing a beloved pet is difficult. But should they suffer? I think not!

Years later our cat, Ziggy, was very ill. Our vet could not save him. He made it clear. The best thing, the kindest thing, the most humane thing, was to put our pet to sleep. It was gut wrenching, as this was my son’s pet. And Ziggy was just three years old.

Ziggy had lots of personality.

Ziggy had lots of personality.

So I told my son, “You are not making this decision. The vet and I have made it.   Your only decision is whether you want to be in the room with us, or sit in the waiting room, or have me take you home.” My son chose to hold his beloved pet during the procedure and to cuddle him until the end.

It was emotionally draining. But it was the right thing to do. We cried, the vet tech cried, the vet cried. They let us stay in the room for as long as my son needed. I don’t know how I drove home.

But I knew it was the kindest action we could take for our animal family member.

I thought I was done with euthanasia for a long time. Our other cat was very healthy. And when we got another kitten, I was sure all would be well. Except, I forgot about my friends and relatives. I seem to be the person to call when pets are in critical need.

It started with my walking partner. Her dog was in a lot of pain and was starting to nip at children. The vet recommended that it was time. But my pal could not go by herself.   So she called me. I sat in the room with her and her Shoshi as the medication was administered. We stayed till the end. Then I comforted my friend, took her out for coffee and went home with her for a bit. We visited with her other dog, Jakey. And when all was calm, I left.

“Now,” I thought, “I am done.”

Not so! A few weeks later, my daughter and I went to St. Louis for a girls’ weekend with my sister-in-law and niece.   When I arrived at their home, I was shocked to see the state of their 16 year-old-dog. Camdy could not walk and was in obvious pain.

“What is going on here?” I asked.

“My Mom has been waiting for you to come,” my niece responded.  My sister-in-law could not do this without extreme moral support.

Our first action that weekend was for the four of us to take Camdy to the vet and have her put to rest. We all cried. Camdy had been the alpha dog in the family. We would all miss her.

We all knew we had done the right thing. And, although it put a slight pall on the weekend, we still knew we did the right thing because we knew Camdy was out of pain. We spent the weekend lavishing love on Sox, Camdy’s sister.

I was beginning to see a definite pattern here. For some reason, I was being called upon to help put pets to their eternal sleep. Was I becoming the angel of death, or was I a compassionate friend?

I had a ten month respite, then my neighbor called. Her cat had cancer years before, and I had talked her into saving Kasey. I told her that my three years volunteering in an animal shelter (Wayside Waifs) proved to me that an animal could live and function well with just three legs. And so Kasey had her cancerous limb removed, and lived at least three years longer.

But the cancer had returned. And the vet said it was time. So I got the phone call. On my birthday, I drove my friend, her daughter and Kasey to the vet. My friend could not stay in the room during the procedure. So I stayed with her daughter and Kasey while the medicines were administered. We petted her and gave her comfort as the medicine enabled her to enter peace.

I tried to warn my friend’s daughter what would happen. But until you have seen the life leave, you cannot understand that moment. The remains left are no longer the loving pet, just the shell. The life source/force/soul does make a difference.

And then I drove them home, where their dog, Heidi was waiting. At least they were not alone. It was a difficult trip to make on my birthday, but I am glad I was there to help them.

Valentine’s Day 2014, I had planned to eat lunch with a good friend of mine, and then go to a movie in the afternoon with my husband. When I arrived at her house, I did not see her 17 year-old- cats anywhere. “Where are they?” I asked. “We will discuss it when we get back from lunch,” my friend told me.

It was less than three months ago, and I cannot remember where we ate because of the conversation about her cats. She had been to the vet the day before, and he said it was time. Also someone had brought had two abandoned kittens to the clinic. The vet felt it would be good for my friend to have pets to bring home. To provide a home for these kittens.

We returned to her house, and I saw the cats hiding under the covers in her bed. They had not moved for hours. It was obvious they were in pain. They were so skinny. It was not a good situation.

I called the vet. (I also called my husband and said there would be no movie.) Then I took my friend and her beloved pets to the vet. I stayed with them during the procedure, while my friend sat in the waiting room and sobbed. I petted them and spoke to them, as did the vet and his assistants. Even though it was time, I still felt the tears well up in my eyes. I remembered them as kittens.   But I also felt that as a Valentine’s Day gift, we were giving her cats the gift of love and peace and relief from pain.

When it was over I went to sit with my friend, as the vet assistants cleaned her carrying case, and put the two kittens in so we could bring them home to my friend’s house. I stayed an hour more helping to clean up and get the house ready for the kittens — to help them and my friend adjust to their new situation. And yes, play with them. I am their godmother.

Kittens came home on Valentine's Day 2014.

Kittens came home on Valentine’s Day 2014.

When I got home that night, I really felt exhausted. I did not exactly feel like celebrating Valentine’s Day.   I had a thought, “Was there something about me that caused my friends to think of me when animals needed to be put down? Was I heartless? Was I cold?”

My children and husband made me feel better. They told me that it was not because I was cold and heartless that I was asked to do this over and over again. Rather it was because I had so much heart and compassion. Because I knew we were doing what was best for each pet.

I believe that is true and I am an angel of Compassion to our pet friends!

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