We make so many decisions every day, decisions we don’t even think about. What socks to wear, whether to buy gas today or hope there’s enough in the tank until tomorrow, what to have for supper, what TV show to watch or what book (or blog) to read instead. And some decisions are big. Should I apply for that job? Should I go back to school? Should I have another kid (what? Absolutely not.)?
When we make the decision to get a pet, we make a commitment to that animal for as long as it lives. Even if we decide to give that pet away, I know at least for me, I cannot give that pet away in my heart. And what kind of decision do we make when they are old and suffering? How do we make that decision to end their pain?
Keshia, our black cat, the first pet I owned that was truly mine, was nineteen years old. She had gone from playful kitten, to lazy housecat, to a frail bag of bones which cried day and night. She would wander the house as if looking for something which she just could never find. When she finally laid down someplace and the meowing subsided, she would drool.
With trembling fingers, I punched the numbers into the phone. Yes, they could fit her in that afternoon. I set her on a blanket in the backseat of the car. She didn’t move, but she continued to cry. Once inside the office, though, her wailing stopped. I held her up to the window so she could look outside as we waited for them to call her name. Did she know why we had come?
The vet examined her, explained the physical condition of cats her age, but I didn’t listen. I couldn’t. He offered some options. I nodded my head, and chose the option which I had come for. He agreed with my decision. I transferred her into a pair of kind hands and took my seat back in the waiting room.
The clock on the wall ticked. Ticked. Ticked. A man came in with a yellow lab who wore the “collar of shame”. She had several healing wounds on her side and legs. “We think a wolf attacked her,” her owner explained, even though I hadn’t asked.
“Chris,” the vet tech was at the counter. “She’s not suffering anymore. She quietly slipped away. We will call you when she’s ready to be picked up. You can pay the bill then.”
Weird. My husband picked her up in a flowered can the following week. Another decision. What am I supposed to do with her now? And so there her tin can of ashes sits, next to Shadow’s and Pepper’s, but I’ll write about that another time.