Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Saying goodbye to a wonderful friend


This is me saying goodbye to Ruthie at the vet’s office.

I told her how much we love her. I told her to go into the Light and I told her we’ll see her on the Other Side.

(I’m typing with tears in my eyes.)

As a Catholic, I believe euthanasia and assisted suicide are murder when it comes to people and Ruthie always felt like a little person to me, so having her put down yesterday afternoon left me with a horrible guilty feeling. She trusted me and I had her killed and I’ll never be OK with that.

But the vet, Dr. Jon Huff, did his best to make us understand we were doing the right thing for Ruthie. Her Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (Alzheimer’s for dogs) was filling her with confusion and terror, especially at night when she roamed the house endlessly, scratching on doors whether they were open or closed, panting hysterically and trembling uncontrollably. Increasingly heavy doses of Valium did little to calm her.

I did my best to make sure she enjoyed her last day with unlimited treats and petting. We spent her last hour at home sitting on the back porch with her gazing out at the woods through her cataract-hazed eyes and me petting her.

She climbed eagerly into the passenger seat of my Honda del Sol and we drove down to Maria’s office where we transferred into the Subaru. Ruthie sat on Maria’s lap and poked her nose out the open window, taking in the kaleidoscope of city smells on the way to the vet’s office.

Dr. Huff gave her two injections – one to sedate her into unconsciousness and the second to stop her brain and heart.

She was trembling violently as she lay on the table for the first injection, but began to relax immediately. The right side of her face, contorted for the last five years or so by something akin to a stroke, relaxed and she began to look like a puppy again.

Maria and I sat on either side of the table and stroked her gently as she drifted off. I’m confident that she never felt the second injection or any pain from her heart stopping.

Knowing how much she loved to chase a laser dot, I like to think she saw the Light and went to it eagerly, reveling in the release from the limitations of her worn-out body and mind.

She came into our lives around this time in October, 1997. We chose her from dozens of dogs at the animal shelter in Crawfordsville, Ind. I had my laser pointer with me to test the alertness of dogs in the kennel and she had the most enthusiastic response by far. And she seemed to know that she was our dog. She looked at Maria as if she had been waiting for us.

She was a very very very good dog girl. Even though Pete is dozing behind me on the carpet, the house feels empty and lonely without her. Pete spent much of last evening searching for her in every room of the house.

I’d write more, but it’s getting hard to see the monitor.


Jan Griffey Kidder said...

You did a wonderful job of this, John. I know that Ruthie is whole and well again, and yes, I believe with all my heart that our beloved special members of our families will run up to us when it's our turn to go to Heaven, and what a grand reunion that will be for us.
When I had to have our beloved Springer Spaniel, Tippy, put to sleep, he was totally at peace after the injection the Vet had to give him to x-ray him. He was full of tumors and in terrible pain before I drove him to the Vet. The Vets advice was to let him put him out of his misery while he was asleep from the 1st injection. It was emotionally painful for me to be alone with him, but a blessed relief that he was no longer suffering. You and your family are in my prayers !

The Oracle said...

Thanks for the kind words, Jan. They are very much appreciated.