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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Passing of a Loved One

Yesterday was a very difficult day for me. It started out all right, but the evening was spent in misery, and contained some of the most difficult moments I've ever experienced when it comes to any of the pets that I've had.

Yesterday, we were forced to put my beloved friend Czarro, a 120-pound Akita, to sleep.

This is not the first time we've needed to do this, or had a pet die. When I was about 8 years old, we had another white Akita named Ali. I don't remember him very well, because he wasn't my greatest companion; he was my mothers'. They were soul mates, the two of them. The great 150-pound bear-resembling dog would allow her to get down on the floor with him and rest her head on him like a large pillow, and all he did was lick her hand and practically purr in contentment. But unfortunately, we found out that he had a spreading cancer, permeating his body. We had to let him go before he began to suffer.

Then when I was about 13, my wonderful cat DJ died. He was very sick as well, unable to eat or digest whatever food we managed to force-feed him. To put him out of his misery, my father put sleeping pills in his food, a large dose, and force-fed him, hoping that this time, he would be able to keep it down just long enough. Unfortunately, it didn't work. He threw up his food once again, but had kept it down long enough for it to be nigh impossible for him to walk. I remember laying him in my bed and curling up with him, watching tv and trying to keep him comfortable.

Then, when we moved to Panama almost 4 years ago with our two dogs, Crumpet, a mix of black Lab and German Shepherd, and Czarro, we experienced another tragedy. Crumpet was a very old dog, but would probably have lived for another year or so had she not been poisoned by a toad in the garden of our rental home. She was paralyzed. I know that now, but at the time I merely pushed her aside on her bed for being in the way of the door. I feel so much guilt when I think back on that moment when I nudged her with my foot and told her to move, not realizing that she couldn't. Later that day, she died in my parents' bedroom. My mom wouldn't let me in. She was crying. I remember going in after she was dead, hugging her still warm body and sobbing mercilessly. How could this happen? I'd had her since she was a small pup, and I was a mere 5 or 6 years old.
I remember the night when I got her, though rather hazily. I had been soundly asleep in my bed when my father came and woke me up. "We have a surprise for you downstairs honey, come on," he said. Looking forward to the surprise, but having a hard time waking up, I slowly followed my father downstairs to the kitchen, all the while rubbing my eyes open. There at the kitchen door my mother was crouched down next to a cardboard box, and out of the top of the box sprang a little black puppy, eagerly licking and gnawing everything in sight. I remember being so delighted, and she became my favorite dog. Her death was a real blow to me, especially at a time when I was already depressed about having moved to a new country.

Czarro had congestive heart failure. We didn't know that until yesterday, when an american vet we'd asked to take a look at him told us that he was in the "end stage." We decided it was too late to try and fix it; he needed to be put down before he was put through any misery. It was the right decision, I know it was. But that doesn't make it any less difficult. We tried to make it as comfortable and normal as possible for him; we put him outside on his chain, did our usual routine of feeding the birds. Then when the vet arrived with the medicine, my mother and I sat down next to him and petted him, rubbed him, spoke to him... anything to prevent him from being afraid. For a while I held the flashlight for the vet, because by that time it was dusk and there wasn't much light, but I wanted to hold Czarro and be with him, and besides, my hands had started shaking. When the vet inserted the needle into his vein, it was all right at first, but then the vein collapsed, so he was forced to use the other leg. Poor Czarro. I just hope he didn't know what was going to happen. Mom kept murmuring in a soothing tone, "It's okay, baby, it's okay, after this we're going to have lots and lots of walkies and tummy rubs, it's okay..." After having gotten it right the second time, the vet set Czarro down on his side as he was becoming limp, and checked his heartbeat. All the while, mom and I stroked him and hugged him and kissed him. And then.... "He's at peace now."

I'm glad he is. Truly I am. But I miss him so much. He was a constant presence, a member of the family. It was just so sudden... these things usually are, aren't they?

35 comments:

Deborah Katy said...

Hi there,
Well you´re not the only one that suffered with the lost of a beloved one. I also lost some pets, some by poison, some by age. Thank god i never needed to put any to sleep. But to see any of them suffering being poisoned is not easy also. i still have 8 cats. But some of them died. i had 11 and also my dog died. She was old but even though it hurt a lot and still does. I really know what you are feeling now. And this pain never really goes away...

Syarlilady (shar-lee-lay-dee) said...

Hi....
Sorry for your loss. I never really had pets as animals come to my house on their own free will and stay. Mostly stray cats that come from out of nowhere. I never forget the ones that have gone.

Jackal said...

{{{ huggles }}}

xoxo Jaimie said...

I'm really sorry for your loss. Akitas are beautiful dogs. I just lost a pet last fall, so i know what your feeling.

Diana said...

My heart goes out to you. I have an 18yo Yorkie that I will have to say goodbye to soon. It's never easy losing a beloved pet but I know one day I will see all of mine again :)

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