My Dog is reminding me of the nature of Dying Time.

eol care May 02, 2022
dog chewing soft toy

 

My old dog is reminding me of a profound yet simple truth, that we each die according to our own time, not anyone one else’s. Over the past few weeks her state of wellbeing has declined markedly. It is like her world is shrinking to the distance between one painful footstep and another. She was given pain relief medication but still she cried and whimpered and found it hard to move. My heart was breaking as her decline progressed. She seemed to be saying to me, please help make this end now. And I saw her ending. I thought her time had come right now. I thought this was it.

We went to the vet yesterday, and I had steeled myself for that last breath. A box of tissues placed in the car. Her last ride.

My dog is reminding me of a profound yet simple truth, that we each die according to our own time, not anyone one else’s.

But the vet gave us options. “Try this medication first”, he said, “then we know we have done all we can.” I confess I felt conflicted. I did not want to prolong her suffering on my account, but also, I did not want her to go too soon. My husband and I looked at each other with wet eyes. There can be a struggle as one tries to decipher the most humane route through all this.

We took her home and I gave her the meds. And we felt relieved that this day had not been the ending. After her first meds she slept more deeply and relaxed than I have seen her do in the past couple of weeks. Then she awoke and wandered around only stopping to stare at the pretty lights. My dog the stoner.

In the morning there were more meds. After a few hours she quietly woofed at me, the woof she does when she wants to go for a walk. This not a woof I have heard for awhile and she was insistent. I went through the ritual of gathering up treat and lead, and we walked just a few slow paces along from our front gate. It was enough for her to feel she was out in the world. I loved her all the more for her beautiful spirit.

At lunchtime she was with me in my office, and I had given her one of her soft toys for comfort. Soon she was joyfully destroying it and then went into the house to get her other toy, ‘duckie’, so she could bring that into my office to destroy it too. She was, within her limitations, having fun.

She was saying, I will die on my time thanks, and it is not today.

My heart did flip flops. Yesterday I thought her end had come. Today she is snoring on the rug by my feet, demanding a walk and pulling the stuffing out of a soft toy.

In the Natural Carer training I share the experience of when my father was dying, there were three days from the time the stroke dealt the final blow, to his last breath. On the first day I was all caught up in time. I was measuring his time with my consciousness of time, convinced each breath was to be his last. But as the second day progressed, I realized that no thoughts I had of time would make any difference, in fact I was better served by unhooking completely from any such notions and just settling myself in to flow with his time, while he had it. He taught me to simply be in the moment.

I remember caring for my grandmother and how she rallied the day before she died, we shared joy in the moment of what would turn out to be her last meal. 

Puffle the dog has also shown me that we simply don't know how much time we have left together. She is showing me how to be joyful in this moment now. How to be with her with love, how our own ideas of time can get us in a tangle when really, we should just be grateful for each moment as it comes, before it is gone.

 

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