Back in November I posted…“I can’t keep her around longer for me. I have to “man up” and do what’s best for her, and for her, that is giving her the best last months of her life.“
Today I finished that.
I wanted a sign. I really did.
Kestrel and I were so connected I was sure there would be obvious indications. Sometimes its really clearcut, they stop eating (at least in Labradors that’s a big sign). Sometimes they collapse and their gums are pale and the next steps are clear. Some folks say there is “the look”, and wait for that look. Some folks say “you’ll know”.
Sometimes its not clear cut at all.
The eating continues, fueled by the prednisone. They lie down on the floor because they are tired, more tired than usual. But wag, wag, wag when they see you. They bark to demand breakfast. They totter out and eat snow. They totter in and demand cookies. They knock over the trash to eat bacon grease soaked tinfoil Where is my sign?
There are checklists on animal hospice sites. An excellent one at Quality of Life Scale . But suppose the dog is taking nutrition, hydrating, happy, doesn’t seem to be in pain, has tumors which are cleaned and getting nursing care, the checklists don’t help. The differences between a good day and a bad day are subtle. Didn’t bark for breakfast. Slept more. Didn’t move much.
Green goop in the eyes.
That was my sign. The sign to look more deeply and consider Kestrel – what does she love most to do? What always made her happiest? I saw the green goop, and cleared it away, and petted her. She dug up an old busted frisbee and tried to pick it up. I picked it up for her, and could see she could no longer chase it. So Kestrel stood and I ran it up to her and she grabbed it with delight. I knew I needed to think harder.
I thought. I reached out on Facebook and got support and concern and positive energy and compassion and advice when I asked “how do you face the end game”? And I started to find peace. I dug around on some pet hospice sites, I reviewed prior CE’s on the Art of Euthanasia. Was I keeping her here just for me, even though she kept eating, kept wagging? Maybe her end includes eating and wagging. I pondered more deeply. She didn’t love the cone, but the cone was essential to keep her from making the ulcerations worse. Her leg had edema, and when it had surprisingly more the next day, maybe that was a sign as well. When petting her, I could feel that she was losing muscle mass. One morning she didn’t bark for breakfast, did that mean she was gone? was she done? No, she just didn’t bark for breakfast that day.
So what did we do? I thought and petted her, sent her Reiki. Kestrel wagged and ate, and played 3 rounds of bring the frisbee. She slept and I watched. And somehow I knew. Sometimes there are no checklists, there is no clearcut answer, you have think more deeply, sense more deeply, to know. You may never be sure that you are right. Sometimes you just have to go with “better one day too soon than one day too late”.
Today was that day. In typical Kestrel style, her last minutes included both eating and wagging – and that brought peace to me.