I got a call yesterday from my sister who wanted me to go with her to put her dog down. He has been sick for a while. He has problems breathing. He has seizures. I guess he had a seizure that morning that convinced my sister it was time. I agreed to go with her. To support her. After all, it wasn’t my dog.
She picks me up at my house (we live 5 minutes from each other) and her dog, Hobbit, a cute, fluffy white Pomeranian, is in the front seat. He appears just as happy as can be. I get in and hold him. I give him lots of love and pets.
The vet is only another 3 minutes from my house. We get out and he’s happy. He walks fine. He does his business. My sister lavishes him with bacon she cooked. He appears perfectly fine and normal and healthy.
We enter the vets office and are greeted with a friendly, “How are you?” My sister almost loses it. The receptionist realizes her mistake immediately.
We wait. Hobbit is fine. Happy. Unknowing of what is to come. I observe him. Devoted as all dogs are. Completely and totally trusting in us. Never doubting. Never questioning.
We are taken back. My sister is crying. I’m trying not to. The vet comes in and explains euthanasia and what to expect. First a sedative to put the dog to sleep. Then an injection which will stop the heart. He will breathe his last breath.
Hobbit is happy, walking around, eating treats. My sister holds him as she administers the sedative. In about 10 minutes, he is asleep. He is so calm and oblivious to all that is happening around him. He does not know he won’t wake up. He does not know he is going to a better place. And he does not care. For he is a dog, a lower animal that only lives moment by moment, and for him, he is just sleepy. So he sleeps.
I fight the urge to whisk Hobbit out of her arms and dog-nap him. For to me he is fine. Only my sister knows how much pain and suffering he is in. Still, there’s a part of me who wants to rescue him from his fate–a fate we all have and none of us can be rescued from. But that hope is what keeps me alive at least…
The vet comes back in. My sister puts the dog on a table as they shave a place to find a vein to administer the fatal dose. She is uncontrollably crying. She pets him and kisses him his last as the vet pushes the plunger in. In under 30 seconds, Hobbit is gone. It is sad and I cry. I kiss the dog. I tell him what a good dog he is/was. I tell him he will play with my dog, Bay, who died almost two years ago to the day. Oh, how I miss her!
I think of my 12-year old ancient English Mastiff at home who will be alive when I return. Who is ailing himself. Whom I love with all my heart. Who is having trouble walking and standing. But who takes it all in stride. Who cries when he wants me to pet him because he can no longer come to me. But who is happy each and every moment of his remaining days. I know not how much longer I will have him but I hope and I pray God takes him and not me. So then he can be with his sister and Hobbit too. So he too can have his body back and he can run like the wind again and he can play with the kids in heaven and bring them joy–as he has done to me down here.
We walk out. My sister says “Well, that’s over.” And I say ironically and melancholy, “Yeah, now we get to go on with our lives,” sadness consuming me as we’ve left a companion behind who no longer has theirs.
I love dogs. I love owning dogs. But I hate it when they get old. I can hardly stand it. I know they are dying because of our sins and it eats at me. It does.
Some say it is good to see life and death and to accept it. I say they are crazy. It should be unacceptable that all things die because of our sins. It should sadden you. It should make you want to repent and turn to Him even more.
My sister will have her dog cremated and a paw print made. She will keep him for now. As I have kept mine who sits on a bookshelf in my house, silently watching over our family and our dogs, always abiding in my heart. I miss her, but she is alive in my memories and thanks be to God in my kids’ memories as well.
Yesterday, I experienced death when I didn’t want to. And I learned Hobbit was my dog as well as are all living creatures. He was a sweet, sweet puppy who lived a good, faithful, happy life, which is what gives me comfort. He will be missed and remembered by those around him. But more importantly he is in a better place, waiting faithfully for his owners to join him.
13 thoughts on “Yesterday, I Experienced Death…”
Thank you for including us. I remembered dogs that I have had or actually those that had me, and can smile at the memories this brings back. But, at the time, no smiles, you just hurt.
I cried for you and your sister. I had that experience with my sweet Mikey (dog) and then again with my ornery Stinky(Cat). I said I would not get another animal too hard to let them go. But God thought differently. My mom passed away in June 2013 and in August my friends stray cat had kittens then was killed so she had 6 little orphaned kittens. I went out to see them and ended up bringing one home with me . It was three weeks old dehydrated and on the verge of death. She is now a year old and a frisky alive kitty. God just seems to know what we need and what we are capable of . Praise Him.
Thank you for sharing your story. I’m sorry for your loss. We experienced the same when our precious Bassett Hound Penelope got cancer at age 14. She entered our lives as a puppy when our daughter and son were High School. Dogs are so loyal and loving. They sense when we hurt and put a smile back on our faces. Penelope would press her body against mine to sooth my crying when we lost a loved one. Dogs are whatever they need to be at the moment. Penelope morphed into a clown, as needed. She did her best to fill the gap when our younger child went to college and I sobbed for a week. My favorite version of Penelope was a clown . . . always entertaining and making us laugh.
I wish you and your family comfort, peace and fond memories. Perhaps dogs are angels from God. They certainly are loyal, loving, playful, and hopeful. Thank you, Lord, for all your creatures and the healing that you provide. . . . Suzanne
A beautiful tribute.
I feel with you. I too had a dog who will never leave my heart and who had to be put down because of ill health. This occurred about 20 years ago and I cannot find it in me to own another dog who someday I will lose. It is just too painful, so I love others dogs and cry for them but I can get over it. Someday I hope to see Nicky again…Kris
I, too, cried about your loss. I have had dogs all of my 68 years, and when the last one had to go 9 years ago, i said i wouldn’t do that again. But, after 4 years, i got Sammie, my little 7 pound Havanese, who immediately bonded to me, and now cannot stand to be apart from me. and, truthfully, i feel pretty much the same way about her. i shudder about things that can happen to a small dog, and pray i get more strength to deal with the issue when the time comes. Besides my wife, she is my joy on earth. Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem back in the 1880’s called “the Power of the Dog.” Read it and you will see how long we have dealt with this as “civilized humans. But what i cried for most is that my sins will be the thing that does my Sammie in, Nothing i can do short of Jesus’ coming for us all, will fix that problem. i look at her in a different light now after your article. JIm
I have had to do this too. Before I was I Christian I was playing with a Ouju Board with teenage girlfriends. I asked it what my children’s names would be. It said :”Hunter, Joshua, Smokie, Scout and P#####.” I told my friends that is just ridiculous. I would never name a child those names. Turned out these were my dogs. I had to put each one to sleep. Very, very painful.
I was so emotional while reading your story, I have a nine year old toy foxy, I will be devastated if something happens to her. I love her dearly, in fact like one of my children. Thanks for sharing.
Really touching. This is something I currently dread as my dog keeps growing. I wonder how it will all end. It is also a reminder for us humans that a time will come when others will cry about our absence. May God give us the grace to overcome such times.
My heart breaks for your family’s loss. Losing a loved one is so hard. Praise God you and your sister have each other to lean on, call on through difficult times. Peace be with you all; joy will come back later 🙂
Before the summer I asked you pray for me and my family as we were mourning the death of our beloved Shistzu Kerry. He came to us in August, 2000 and we had to put him down in early May for the same problem Hobbit had. Kerry had had a health problem for a year, and toward the end, he had difficulty breathing along with seizures several times a day. Otherwise, he looked perfectly fine.
After he was gone, I struggled with guilt for a long time, wondering if I did the right thing.
My family and I still miss him dearly and I still cry quite often.
I will pray that God would fill you and your sister with His comfort and grace.
Your last words “But more importantly he is in a better place, waiting faithfully for his owners to join him.” give me such a big hope. Thank You!
Thank you for sharing I am going to have to do this soon:(
THANKS FOR SHARING YOUR HEART RENDERING EXPERIENCE!