Wednesday, April 4, 2012

E is for...


I don't know what this picture is depicting, but 
on yesterday's poll, readers voted for
E is for
Euthanasia.

No, Euthanasia is not a New Wave band from the 80's.  Here's the official definition.

eu·tha·na·sia

  [yoo-thuh-ney-zhuh, -zhee-uh, -zee-uh]  Show IPA
noun
1.
Also called mercy killing. the act of putting to death painlessly or allowing to die, as by withholding extreme medical measures, a person or animal suffering from an incurable, especially a painful, disease or condition.
2.
painless death.


I've written about this topic before, as it pertains to humans, when I interviewed Death With Dignity and you can read that interview here.  I also wrote about the wonderful documentary "How to Die in Oregon," which you can read here.  What I haven't written about on my blog  is "putting down" (ah, yes a euphemism for assisting with the death) of my beloved cat friends.

After breaking up with my first boyfriend at 19, I adopted my first cat.  I named him Spooky, but I mostly called him Pooty.  


I found him in the classified ads in the Kansas City paper with the ominous headline "ADOPT or DIE." Since I'm always a sucker for a sob story, I bolted on over to the house in my little red Kharmann Ghia.  The odorous abode was crawling with  kittens and like the men I was attracted to at the time, I picked the most  sullen, indifferent cat in the corner with the sole intent to make him love me. 

Next in line were Binky and Larry.  I picked those two siblings up in Bonny Doone, California after seeing a "FREE KITTENS" sign on the side of the road on my way back home to San Francisco.  Yes, I'm an easy sell. Binky was a cute little Calico and her brother Larry was an orange Tabby.  Pooty was not happy with the new additions to our family and he began to ignore me again.

The next cat was Penny. She was my "Pill baby" accident cat. I got her from the SPCA in SF for someone else who had just lost his cat.  NOT the right thing to do.  Never adopt an animal for someone else.  I didn't feel like I could just return her, so I took her into my crazy cat box of a one-bedroom apartment.  The other cats were not amused.

Penny was the first one to go to that big old catnip farm in the sky.  She was only 11.  I came home from work and heard a horrible coughing sound coming from my bedroom.  I walked into the room and found her on my bed foaming at the mouth. I was an emotional wreck, so my husband took her to the vet by himself.  After an x-ray was performed, they found that she had lung cancer.  We decided to put her down that night.  I couldn't stand the thought of her suffering or struggling to breathe, soI felt extreme guilt that I wasn't there for her when she needed comfort.

Next came Larry. He was 15 and was in kidney failure.  Although I was extremely afraid and sad beyond belief, this time I wanted to be there in the vet's office.  Larry loved being brushed, so I brought a brush with me to the vet.  Larry trembled in my arms as I brushed his fur and they administered the first shot.  The vet searched for a "good" vein, but she couldn't fine one to give him the next dose.  She said it would probably be best if I not stay in the room as she would have to administer the shot directly into his heart.  I left that vet's office bawling like a hungry baby whose mother just left the room.  Heck, I'm sitting here right now crying  about it.

When I had to put Binky down, it almost killed me.  No parent wants to admit they have a favorite, but Binky was mine.  She was a plump, lovable Calico who liked to walk on my head at 5am.  Have you ever seen Simon's Cat?  That was Binky.  She suffered from hyperthyroidism.  After years of being on medication, she just couldn't take it any longer.  I brought her in, but I only stayed until she was given the first shot.  I kissed her on the head and left.  Heartbroken.

Then came Pooty.  I was tired of taking my cats to the vet to put them down.  I wanted him to be the first cat to die a "natural" death.  That's wonderful in theory, but it's painful to watch an animal you love deteriorate before your eyes.  He wouldn't eat, even when I broke open a can of tuna.  He'd sniff the plate and go back to his warm hiding place behind the TV.  I'd heard that animals will hide when they're dying.  One day I looked at him and just couldn't take it anymore.  He was 20 years old.  He'd been with me for half of my life and I didn't want to do it, but I just couldn't watch him suffer any longer.  I scheduled an appointment with the vet and he went "home" in September of 2009.

Even before his passing, I vowed to never own another cat as long as I lived.  Even though I loved cats, losing them was too hard.    

Well, that all changed when I went to pick up Pooty's ashes.  There was this little gray Tabby who beckoned me to her cage with her intense eyes.  And it started all over again.  The cycle of life.  Love and loss.  Here's a recent article that addresses what hurts more: grieving for pets or humans?

Judy

And you can read about our newest addition Violet who is famous.


22 comments:

  1. Oh wow. I felt your heartache. We had a dog while I was young, but a burglar poisoned him to silence him one night. In the morning, we found him dead in front of the house. We cried for hours. It was so painfully sad. He was a really good dog. And such a cruel way to die. I think that death is never easy, whether it's a person or a pet.

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    1. That is just horrible. I would be so enraged if someone hurt one of my animals. Did they ever catch the burglar?

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  2. I think anyone who's had to part with a pet/animal/companion will appreciate the honesty in this post. It often becomes inevitable.

    I'm glad you adopted new cats after all. I hope they bring you many years of happiness.

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    1. Me too. I'm much happier when I have a cat on my lap or walking across my computer keyboard:)
      Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. This is a topic that interests me, as I'm "older" than most bloggers, and also have a disabled daughter who's been in a wheelchair for over 24 years, and has a lot of pain in her bad foot. Euthanasia for animals is no problem; we can put them to sleep if they're suffering too much. But humans? It's something to think about...

    I'm doing the A to Z and through blog hopping found you. I'm glad I did!
    Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror & Other Memoirs

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    1. It is a very controversial subject as it pertains to humans. I know there are a few states that have death with dignity laws in place. But in those that don't, it's important to let your family members know your end of life wishes. There is an organization called "Five Wishes." You can read about it at www.agingwithdignity.org
      Thanks for commenting!

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  4. We had to put down our dog a couple years ago. I still remember the look he gave us as the attendant took him and led him away. He turned back and looked at my husband and me with an expression of pure intelligence and love, and some anxiety, not wanting this separation. It was one of the saddest moments of my life.

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    1. It is sad, but if anything, the grief we feel over the loss of a pet may help prepare us for the bigger losses we will experience in our lives. Not that anything can prepare us, but the more grief we experience, the less foreign it becomes. It's a natural part of life. We don't like it, but anyone who is on this human journey will experience it at some point.
      Thanks for commenting!

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  5. "My animal is dying. The only humane thing to do would be to euthanize it.”

    “My sibling is dying. The only humane thing to do is watch them suffer.”

    I've never been able to get my head round why the rules are so different for people...

    /Wes

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    1. I know, it's crazy, but at least in the US, the laws are changing.

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  6. I remember putting down my childhood dog when I was a young adult. As the vet administered the drug, I reached out and pet her to give her comfort. The vet actually told me to stop. What a jerk, huh?
    I can so relate to the grief over the loss of a beloved and much-loved pet.

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    1. I think the hardest thing about going to the vet's office, besides the fact that I was losing my friend, is that I hated to cry in front of people. I didn't mind the vet, as they were used to it, but I always felt weird sitting in the front waiting room with people just walking in to get their animals vaccinated or maybe groomed, and I'm sitting there weeping. I HATED people trying to comfort me. "Are you okay?" No, I am pretty fucking far from okay. I'm getting better with that. I realize people want to help and they don't know what to say and they feel weird too. Ah, life.

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  7. Thanks for the link to the article on how hard it is to lose an animal -- a friend of mine just lost her cat to a car and has been having a hard time explaining to people that it really has hit her like the loss of a person. I'm going to pass it on to her to let her know she's perfectly sane for feeling that way.

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    1. She is perfectly sane. I had someone admit to me that losing her dog was harder than losing her mother. It all depends on the relationships we have with people and animals.

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  8. I'm still squeemish around this idea. I have no idea which is the right choice. I'm one of those that doesn't like to face death! ~ Angela, Whole Foods Living, http://www.wholefoodsliving.blogspot.com/

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    1. Angela, you are not alone. I don't like to face death either:)

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  9. It made me cry to read this, as I have had the experience of bringing two beloved cats to the vet for one last time, and those memories came rushing back as I was reading. One was 12 when he died and the other made it to 15, and they'd been with me since they were 3 months old. In both cases, it was the hardest thing I've ever done, and I can still see every detail of the vet's office and room as if it was yesterday. I think many people minimize the loss of a pet, it is such a painful and traumatic experience.

    I now have a dog and a cat and even though both are young, I dread the day I have to make that decision again.

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    1. Julie:
      This post was difficult for me to write. I didn't include our dog, Kiki in this post because that would have been too much for me to handle. She was hit by a car and we had to make a painful decision based on money, which made euthanizing her all the more horrible.
      Sorry to make you cry.

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  10. Thanks for sharing your story, Julie. It was painful, touching, but joyous, too, because you gave a wonderfully, warm home to those unwanted cats. And congratulations for deciding to keep adopting them!
    I was thinking about doing 'Great Pyrenees' for my 'G' post as a tribute to my Annie who we had to put down four years ago when she was only five. Even though we have a WONDERFUL shelter dog we adopted a few months after we lost her, the heartache is still there.

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  11. Hi Dawn:
    Julie's the lady who commented above you. I'm Pamela:)
    I totally think you should do a tribute to Annie for your G post. Speaking of which, I need to get mine done now so I can enjoy this three day weekend with the fam.
    Thanks for stopping in!

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  12. Sorry, took me a while to track you down. Weirdly (or perhaps not), love this theme.

    And animal euthanisia... yes, always rough. Have had to put several of my furry family down. Our favorite cat developed inoperable cancer in his abdomen. Because it blocked his intestine, he was puking everything up. Vet said to "let him die a natural death" meant letting him slowly starve and die of dehydration, while he would be in pain and confused. NOT a hard call.

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  13. I have been through a few of these and they are not fun. I am currently owned by a Pug, a big fat Russian blue inside the house and outside I am owned by an orange tabby named Biskit, a calico named Callie, a grey tabby named Cleo, a gray and white named Sparkle and a huge orange tabby with sad eyes that eats and sleeps here, but won't have anything to do with me. I call him Armand. Thanks for sharing. (That E looks like maybe the plague claiming a vicar or a monk maybe?)

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Comments are welcome and appreciated!