Sunny’s Last Run (George Drake)

On the 29th I killed Sunny, my beloved pet of 14 years. It just doesn’t seem fair to sugar coat it by saying “put her down.” It feels like murder, and I don’t think I should be granted the more exculpatory terminology. Of course, it was euthanasia. She was very old for such a large dog, she could no longer get up, she had no energy, she probably wouldn’t have lasted another day, but she didn’t seem to be in pain.

For weeks she’d been displaying more and more severe symptoms of old age. On the morning before she died–there I go again, dodging my part in it–she could barely walk, maybe making it fifty yards total. The next day she failed, even, to be able to get up. She lay all day in one position, collapsed. All of which argues for an assertion of, “Of course I did the right thing.”

But one fact argues strongly to the contrary. On that last day, lying helplessly sprawled out across my livingroom floor as we awaited the arrival of the Vet., she fell asleep and, as dogs do, dreamt. I could see her hind quarters rock from side to side as she ran across some field in pursuit of a squirrel, most likely. Or maybe she was scrambling over the eight foot fence she used to leap in real time as some offending dog trespassed on her turf by running down the jogging path next to the old house.

What right does one have to deprive another of the joy of dreams? If only I were sure that shortening time on Earth isn’t the same as shortening the total time there is. My god, I hope there really is a life after death. The one thing I feel certain of, though, is this: If there’s life after death for you and I, then the same goes for Sunny. Neither you nor I is more special than she was.

But, I guess that’s mostly the grief talking. I miss her desperately, but I’m glad I had the option, and (I think) took it, to euthanize her. I didn’t do it with the prior animal I loved, if anything, even more, Odds-On. I knew death was close at hand for him, and took a pistol with me on our wedding trip, which Barb and I had obviously scheduled much earlier. But, when the time came, I couldn’t bring myself to blow his brains out. He died in my arms, howling for probably “only” about two minutes, although it seemed like twenty, in agony. With him I regretted my inability to “put him down.” I just couldn’t, even though he was so clearly hurting. That felt like cowardice.

What a cruel twist it is, that these creatures, so loving and infinitely supportive, have life spans only a seventh of ours. There is so much I don’t–can’t–understand. It’s rarely a mystery what makes us what we are, but no one understands why we become what we do.

I honor in you the place in which the entire universe dwells, that place which is of Love, of Light, of Truth and Peace. When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are one. Namaste.

If I know two things, I also know this prayer goes out to Sunny as much as to you. We are all one.


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