“I’ll cuddle her through”

chaka catChaka died yesterday at the vet’s. She was 19 and had become stick thin in the final stages of renal failure. Since Monday she hadn’t eaten and her coat was flat and dull as an old fur in a junk shop. Colleen looked at her sitting in her open carrier and picked her up, ‘I’ll cuddle her through,’ she said.
Words matter. Those words mattered. If you can hope for anything at a time such as this it’s an indication of genuine tenderness and connection. Quietly, softly, Colleen took Chaka to the next room to insert a cannula before bringing her back for me to hold in those last moments while the drugs went in. Then quietly, softly, she left me alone with her for those outside-of-time minutes that hang between life and death while seeming to be neither and both. I left without paying; they trust you to do that later when you can speak again, handle the pragmatics again.
Chaka came home for the others to see. The more I understand about animals, the more important I think it is to let them make whatever sense they can of a loss. They all looked and sniffed then the older ones – a dog and two cats – moved on; they’d seen it before. The two kittens though, just one year old, kept on approaching, kept on sniffing and looking, kept on creeping towards her as though she were a strange and alarming thing they were trying to understand. Familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. It’s their first death; they will have learned something, understood something, and although I can’t know what, I’m glad I gave them that chance.


Holly’s story, a warning about Deramaxx

This link will take you to a blog post that describes the dreadful and untimely death of Amy’s collie cross, Holly. In the end, Holly’s condition was undiagnosed but Amy is convinced that the drug was to blame and links to other stories along the same lines. Reading Amy’s account, I have concerns too about the somewhat haphazard approach of the veterinary service but, of course, we don’t know what they would say about this awful outcome. Whatever the cause, communication seems to have been inadequate and Amy’s concerns about Deramaxx seem to have been dismissed too easily without there being a more obvious explanation. Amy is articulate and able to put her case while many of us are not. Professionals are sometimes too easily spooked by people who have knowledge and so they take a defensive stance for fear of seeming inadequate. Give me a professional every time who is able to tell me they don’t know in a way that contains my anxieties over one who pretends to know because they are too afraid to seem lacking.

Take a look at Amy’s blog.

Goodnight Sweet Chelsea Girl

‘I’d like to do Saturday over. I’d like to not fret about a $40 remnant rug ruined by a frantic dog. I’d like to quit bitching for the two hours it took me to mop dried dog poop off the hard-wood floors. Instead, I’d like to sit with her a little longer, kiss her face and say again and again how much I love her, remind her that she is such a sweet girl…’

Such a sad tale and beautifully told. Go to Pajama Days to read the rest.

Meanwhile, why not acquaint yourself with the Oldies Club, a website that caters to the adoption needs of older dogs? These senior citizens are often neglected when it comes to adoption and really need that loving attention in their later days. Chances are they won’t chew your cupboard doors up either!