Published on November 4th, 2015 | by Catherine Tingey0
On Death, Dying and Dogs
On Death, Dying and Dogs
Tomorrows are never promised.
There are a couple of moments in life where I can point to a distinct before and after.
BEFORE the bad news, and AFTER the bad news.
And there’s never a way to go back.
Last week we got news from our vet that our dog, Leo, has 3-6 months to live. It sent me into a tailspin of research, consultations, and more research. I read veterinary abstracts, joined forums for dog owners with similar diseases, and anxiously poured over Amazon reviews for supplements that ‘might’ help Leo’s condition.
Throughout all of this, Leo seemed fine. Totally asymptomatic.
My boyfriend asked me to get off the computer and ‘come spend time with the family.’
“Don’t try to control me, and DON’T tell me what to do. This is how I process. I need to know everything there is to know about this condition, and then develop my treatment plan.”
But what happens when you can’t know EVERYTHING?
What happens when there are questions like, ‘is it a fast-growing cancer or is it a benign slow-growing mass that can only be answered through exploratory procedures?” Then what?
I’d like to say that I closed my computer and snapped back to the present.
But what really happened was a fight, an apology, and the slow coming to grips with the fact that
WE CAN’T EVER KNOW EVERYTHING – RIGHT NOW
It’s not possible. And even if it was, how would that change things?
Would I live my life any differently if I found out he has cancer and is DEFINITELY going to die? Would I even believe it? I’ve already received speculation that his days are truly limited, so REALLY—WHAT MORE DO I NEED TO KNOW?
It was a powerful lesson in BEING HERE NOW.
As long we have enough food in our belly, a roof over our heads, and are not dealing with active trauma or physical pain, we’re pretty much alright. Worrying about the future is actually NOT going to change our day to day with our dog one bit.
There’s a great John Cage quote:
‘Our intention is to affirm this life, not to bring order out of chaos, nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply to wake up to the very life we’re living, which is so excellent once one gets one’s mind and desires out of its way and lets it act of its own accord.’
This morning I let Leo dictate how long our walk was, and which streets we took. I left my phone at home, with no idea how long we’d be gone for. It turned out to be over an hour.
We are allowing our dog’s one precious life to be what it is, not artificially prolonging it through unnecessary interventions, nor ignoring the fact that he has already been on this planet for 12 glorious years.
We can’t know how many more days we have with him, or even with each other, so we’re doing our messy and imperfect best to make each day so, so sweet.