Reflection, Contemplation, Plumpie Update Later

Euthanasia -- a fancy word for ending life, which is a nice way to say killing. We can dress it up, as we do, but the choice to euthanize is the choice to take away life.

We make all decisions in the context of our experiences, beliefs, values, situation, etc. and the choice to end life is no different. I value life, and I believe that there are things to learn and reasons to hope even at the end of life. I believe that being old and sick does not make a person or dog less important, less entitled to life.

I believe that I live in a society that does not honor age or the wisdom that only comes with experience. Instead, I live in a society that glorifies the immaturity of youth, in every way -- physically, emotionally, socially -- and I think that is wrong and unfortunate for everyone.

I believe in the value of an animal's life. To me, the life of a dog matters -- not for what she brings to me, but simply because she exists and therefore carries a sacred soul. A dog represents -- to me -- a most holy obligation because I have assumed the responsibility for a soul.

A dog comes to us in invitation. Through them we have a chance to be who we are without the benefit of social pressure, or an audience that we are seeking to impress -- we simply exist together in all our "real-ness".

A dog invites us to be better, to be different and helps us understand how we honor our obligations in this life. And a dog teaches us about acceptance, as we learn to embrace what is and not the ideal in our heads.

It is in the context of all that "stuff" that I contemplate end of life choices for Mrs. Maize. Even though she is old and sick -- she still matters. Maize represents a scared trust, but end of life challenges us as we are faced with decisions about how to best honor that obligation. And make no mistake -- if it seems black and white, you likely have missed some important lessons along the way...

When Maize is resting on her beds (she has a couple) she seems relaxed and content most of the time. She will eat certain things, and here is your end-of-life tidbit for future reference: ice cream and sorbets. Yesterday Maize ate all the sorbet and today she moved on to chocolate ice cream, even licking her paw where it dripped on her. We will be heading the store for a supply of frozen treats for our sweet Maize :)

Maize is mostly ambulatory, and in fact, is better today than she has been. However, she still needs some assistance and in the middle of writing this, she had diarrhea all over the bedroom -- thank goodness for hydrogen peroxide -- best carpet cleaner ever.

Inconvenience is no reason to end life. Neither is sickness or old age. What about suffering -- isn't that a good reason?

Suffering -- hmmmm... What is suffering? Do you want to be killed when you are suffering? Probably not, because we suffer all the time.

I do not lose hope in the face of suffering -- instead, I look for options. I believe most suffering can be alleviated or tolerated -- that is my hopeful outlook based on my experience in end-of-life care for people, especially in the time I was privileged to work in pediatric palliative care.

To me, suffering is more broadly defined than physical symptoms -- I am suffering now but please do not send the doctor over to kill me!!!!  But it is physical symptoms that I believe will lead me to end Maize's life  -- and yes, that is what it is and I won't pretend otherwise or use flowery language to make us all feel better about it. Maize will die because of a decision *I* will make -- that is the truth.

I still have hope that she will die in her sleep, but my hope exists in the context of reality and so I carry that hope while I also carry the burden of a hard decision. And it should be hard -- I do not begrudge Maize this heartbreakingly awful time of weighing choices.

And can I just say that there is no "right" choice in all this! When I finally had to choose to end Abra's life because her physical symptoms could no longer be managed in a way that made life tolerable -- for her -- my vet said, "you made the right decision." I still love that vet in spite of that stupid platitude that should never, ever be uttered -- there is no "rightness" when you have to end a life -- there is only sorrow and heartache. "Right" would be a magic wand -- anything else is just plain wrong.

Without the missing magic wand, there is no way to make this better or "right" -- judgment is not helpful in such situations  --  and "right" is a judgment. And so I am not looking to make the right decision, because that is no longer an option -- I am looking to make a decision that best reflects my obligations to Maize. As I do that, I am balancing the value of her life and her physical symptoms -- and I am weighing all this within the context of our lives.

Right now, her life is so compromised -- but still has value. Her physical symptoms seem managed. Out vet is accessible and supportive (bless her heart). Therefore, it is not time to end her life -- but it is approaching, and I know that. Part of her gift to me -- and to you -- is this opportunity to reflect on end-of-life care and to consider the decision-making processes at the end of a dog's life. And by imparting these gifts, Maize once again reminds me that life -- however fragile -- has value....

9:00 a.m.

Maize resting on the deck in her wonderful coat, watched over by the High in Trial trophy that Abra (her mom) won at a Specialty...

Auggie Austin Update!

Thanks to Lois for an excellent report on how well Auggie Austin is doing in his new home!!!!

"Paul and I are just in LOVE with our little guy.  He just melts our hearts all day long and we smile at each other like proud parents of a new baby.  He is curled up at my feet as I write this and just started to snore – that’s a new one.

He just has the sweetest face and the best expressions!  Even when he is a devilish landshark!  He is doing better with that.  We notice the mornings are his very active and sneak shark attack time for everything.  So we distract, and distract, and I notice when I have to “yelp” and leave the room in response to a sharp attack he responds and is better and more gentle with me for a little while when I get back.  He lasts a lot longer playing and being active in the morning and then the periods between play and sleep shorten the rest of the day into the evening.  He reminds us of Bernie when he’ll suddenly get a crazy look and take off running around the room then quickly tucker out and slow down like the energizer bunny with the wrong batteries!
 
He has learned his sit well and he will always respond to the command unless there is food being fixed in the kitchen – then he just goes crazy so we will be working on this as time goes on.  Today he got the ‘down’ move quickly so tomorrow we will graduate to a roll over.  And he can tell time at least when it has to do with when to eat!  He sleeps well in his crate at night.  I still put a chew toy with a little kibble in it.  He will wimper for just a little while – maybe 30-60 seconds, maybe not at all and then just quiets down and goes to sleep. 
 
His main real chewing interest are the bully sticks.  I am going to pick up some marrow bones tomorrow as another option.  The rest of the chew toys he will play with but doesn’t really get into chewing them."

Lois also shares that Auggie learned to go down the stairs this week, met lots of new friends, walks well on a leash (see pictures!), and is going to be starting training classes soon -- and his weight gain was within the guidelines!!!! Good Job Lois, Paul and Auggie :) Here are some of the pictures that Lois sent...

12 comments

by Lori Simidian on Thu, 12/29/2011 - 08:45

Wow Mary-Ann. You really have given me some things to think about. I do believe that sometimes the decision to euthanize is based on suffering, but not that of the animal, the person dealing with the sick/dying animal can't stand to watch anymore. It is such a difficult thing, but you are right - it should be. I wish I could send some Giffords chocolate ice cream for Maize - it is the best stuff on the planet and I know she would love it. You, on the other hand, need much more than ice cream to alleviate your suffering. Thank you for sharing this journey, albeit a heartbreaking one. We can all learn and grow and ultimately do better for our dogs as a result of shared experiences. Please give the Mrs. a gentle hug from me.

by Lois on Thu, 12/29/2011 - 08:58

M-A, my heart is aching for you at this time. I was nodding in agreement as I read your entry today. I so believe all you have so eloquently and poinintly said and understand how painful and sacred the time it describes is. What a sweet, sweet picture of Maize. What a gentle soul she is.

by cindy heintzberger on Thu, 12/29/2011 - 09:33

I think that this is my all time favorite picture of Mrs.Maize - I will always remember her in that beautiful coat!!!!!! And, I remember that trophy and how you were wondering if you could ever fit it into the car to bring it home :)
Such special memories - this lovely lady is in good hands...

by Lisa K on Thu, 12/29/2011 - 10:12

Thank you for this blog and this wonderful picture of her. I think she looks so beautiful here. I love it. Thinking of you all each day....xo

by Toby E on Thu, 12/29/2011 - 10:42

Your words couldn't ring any truer....and shame on me because I do say to client's "you made the right decision." But I do have a unique position in that I've been on both sides of the decision all too often. Making the decision to euthanize Henry was the hardest thing I ever did, and while he was declining, I found myself constantly evaluating and changing my criteria. Until one day I had run out of things, and was left with this beautiful creature that was depending on me to help free him of his failed body. My decision, 100%. Still cry every time I think about it-that was July 21, 2009. So when I am counseling clients on when it's time to say goodbye, I find myself applying the "Henry criteria," especially since I am so often asked what I would do if it were my pet. It has been my pet, so I do honestly tell them.....that they will know,in their hearts, when it's time, and it's up to them to let their pet know it's ok to let go now. Amazing how many people tell me after the fact that that is what happens.
Peace to you during this difficult time.

by Lisa K on Thu, 12/29/2011 - 16:36

Lois, he is becoming a little supastar, from the sounds of it! I must repeat, I love these plumpie updates! SO fun! Great pix too!

by Susan Williams on Thu, 12/29/2011 - 17:46

I truly understand what you and Maize are going through. My Panda and I went through a similar situation. Cancer was again looming but I felt as long as we could cope, together we would manage at home. Until, one day Panda could not rise from her bed, even with me helping. Then her bowels released and next urine poured out. She began wimpering unlike I had heard before. I knew it was time. Off to the vet, Panda cradled in her large comfy bed. Me at Panda's side, petting her on all her favorite places and talking to her, the vet gave her a sedative, she lulled in to a peaceful, calm trance. The vet said, when we were ready she would give a final injection, Panda would move slightly and she would depart our world. This sad day will forever be remembered. I will always be glad that I was there by Panda's side as she passed.

My heart goes out to you and Maize. This is never easy and with tears in my eyes, know that I am thinking of you both. Susan

by Tiffany Green on Fri, 12/30/2011 - 15:19

Mary-Ann, I have a lump in my throat and am fighting back tears after just reading your update on Maize. As Aspen's last litter mate, it breaks my heart to read. I agree with your sentiments that there is nothing easy about this decision. And no, nothing about it feels "right". I think we just do the best we can to do right by these precious beings who have allowed us to share in their existence, in their world, while making ours better. I am sending you and Maize hugs from Aspen and the rest of the Greens. xoxo
PS I'll remember what you wrote about the ice cream and sorbet.

by liz abrams on Fri, 12/30/2011 - 17:10

I had to have a good cry before returning to the keyboard to write. M-A, I am so struck by your ability to continue to "see things clearly" when it comes to end of life care, while in the midst of grief and all of the changes that occur daily for mrs. maize. I so appreciate you sharing your experiences and reflections on end of life care, because I've come to realize that unless we seek it out for ourselves we don't get good teachings on what end of life care can be, and how to manage the death anxiety that emerges at the thought of losing our furry loved ones. Anxiety can provoke us to act too quickly, and without mindfulness or thoughtfulness about the impact of our actions. Although your lives are impacted by grief, nowhere in your writing do I sense 'despair.' Albeit a painful gift to give, thank you for the gift of giving all of us readers a model for how to slow down the process of end of life care and stay present in your dog's life until the very end. Also, although your strength is so evident to me, I do hope you are able to do some things to care for yourself emotionally during this time. Caregivers hold a lot, and it's so important to continue to care for you so that you may continue to care for others.

Much love and peace and continued mindful energy from Tara, Kiko, Sam, and Liz (aka Liz Tailher on the roller derby track)

by Julie on Sat, 12/31/2011 - 12:46

Oh, M-A. I'm so sorry about Ms. Maize. It's never easy . . . but, when we accept stewardship, we promise to make the lives of our animal friends as easy and comfortable as possible. For what it's worth, I spoke to a pet psychic when I let Midas go and she told me, "I've never spoken to an animal who thought he or she went too soon . . ." Please give Maize an extra spoonful of ice cream and kiss from her Utah family. Julie

by Robsno16 on Mon, 02/18/2013 - 08:20

<p>I invest most of my spare time performing a lot of Isabel Marant activities . Pour le pays est dans 27 beaucoup au sujet de votre vie, tout le Fournisseur chaussures de sport est livr篓娄 avec provoqu篓娄 une large s篓娄lection de state-of-the-art des innovations technologiques pour des chaussures de sport pour accorder uniquement la meilleure qualit篓娄 . 篓陇 toutes les personnes pr篓娄sentes encore aujourd隆炉hui l隆炉ambition d隆炉篓潞tre au courant des bottes en fournir . Moyenne Isabel Marant Sneaker est principalement un fournisseur de prestations de tendance . Obdii passcode scanning device TaylorLaunch X431 designed soon after a new 6 隆掳acceleration, together with Isabel Marant Shoes appropriately commercialized importance of dollars 25, 000 <a href=http://www.isabelmaranttpascher.com>sneakers isabel marant pas cher</a> 3 . Isabel <a href=http://www.isabelmaranttpascher.com>chaussures isabel marant pas cher</a> Marant Shoes The look of them is exclusive . <>Laughs] But I m very tough on products; I don t think most products are really good.</p><p>Isabel Marant Chaussures ne serait pas grave vous d篓娄tectez un sombre fabuleux se lancer dans la ou peut-篓潞tre se pr篓娄lasser dans la cible, vous pouvez vous procurer un fabuleux <a href=http://www.isabelmaranttpascher.com>isabel marant</a> de la m篓潞me mani篓篓re que vous pouvez voir Isabel Marant chaussures de sport blanc profond, sourd, par l隆炉interm篓娄diaire d隆炉alternative et Hunter Wellies plus blanches pour d隆炉autres types de tous ceux de type 篓娄quivalent . I like contrasting things . Choisir d隆炉utiliser d隆炉autres types d隆炉un air pensif . Tous ces Hunter Wellies totalement uniques sandales de r篓娄cif bateau de p篓潞che fonctionne pour tout le monde . Don't just fashioned from a most women go on . Commun extravagant goodies Kifundo pellejo l'ordre dem pelota consumiras el nuevo similar similar MBT exclusivo . Ils sont tout simplement rugueux, fid篓篓le, 篓娄tanche 篓陇 l隆炉eau et en plus serr篓娄 et offrira de nombreux tout le soutenir vous pr篓娄f篓娄rez.</p>

by Robvik45 on Mon, 02/18/2013 - 08:20

<p>I invest most of my spare time performing a lot of Isabel Marant activities . Pour le pays est dans 27 beaucoup au sujet de votre vie, tout le Fournisseur chaussures de sport est livr篓娄 avec provoqu篓娄 une large s篓娄lection de state-of-the-art des innovations technologiques pour des chaussures de sport pour accorder uniquement la meilleure qualit篓娄 . 篓陇 toutes les personnes pr篓娄sentes encore aujourd隆炉hui l隆炉ambition d隆炉篓潞tre au courant des bottes en fournir . Moyenne Isabel Marant Sneaker est principalement un fournisseur de prestations de tendance . Obdii passcode scanning device TaylorLaunch X431 designed soon after a new 6 隆掳acceleration, together with Isabel Marant Shoes appropriately commercialized importance of dollars 25, 000 <a href=http://www.isabelmaranttpascher.com>sneakers isabel marant pas cher</a> 3 . Isabel <a href=http://www.isabelmaranttpascher.com>chaussures isabel marant pas cher</a> Marant Shoes The look of them is exclusive . <>Laughs] But I m very tough on products; I don t think most products are really good.</p><p>Isabel Marant Chaussures ne serait pas grave vous d篓娄tectez un sombre fabuleux se lancer dans la ou peut-篓潞tre se pr篓娄lasser dans la cible, vous pouvez vous procurer un fabuleux <a href=http://www.isabelmaranttpascher.com>isabel marant</a> de la m篓潞me mani篓篓re que vous pouvez voir Isabel Marant chaussures de sport blanc profond, sourd, par l隆炉interm篓娄diaire d隆炉alternative et Hunter Wellies plus blanches pour d隆炉autres types de tous ceux de type 篓娄quivalent . I like contrasting things . Choisir d隆炉utiliser d隆炉autres types d隆炉un air pensif . Tous ces Hunter Wellies totalement uniques sandales de r篓娄cif bateau de p篓潞che fonctionne pour tout le monde . Don't just fashioned from a most women go on . Commun extravagant goodies Kifundo pellejo l'ordre dem pelota consumiras el nuevo similar similar MBT exclusivo . Ils sont tout simplement rugueux, fid篓篓le, 篓娄tanche 篓陇 l隆炉eau et en plus serr篓娄 et offrira de nombreux tout le soutenir vous pr篓娄f篓娄rez.</p>

Post new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.
Contact © 2011 Website built and maintained by G.Sontag.