Rescue Journal

trying to get it right...yet again.

Alison  ·  Mar. 19, 2007

lola is not going to recover. she is still sipping her cream, still purring away when i touch her but she is done. i started her on pain meds yesterday just in case but she looks comfortable and mostly she is content just to sleep. every once in awhile she wants me and comes looking for me but today seems content with when i stop by to see her. i am pretty sure she is beginning the dying process. it is always a struggle for me whether to intervene or not. we don't with our human patients, we just control the symptoms that cause discomfort or distress and support them while they finish their final journey in their own time.

most times with the animals tho, i do step in because either pain becomes difficult to control (palliative care for animals is WAY behind humans) or something else may pop up that leads to an uncomfortable death. like in glorie's case, as soon as her nasal tumour started bleeding, it became critical to help her pass so she didn't feel distressed as the bleeding would have made her feel like she was drowning. had the tumour been an abdominal tumour, chances are if it had bled out, she just would have passed peacefully in her sleep. so it is a guessing game, when to step in, when to leave them alone because they are doing not only what they are meant to do, but they are comfortable and and unafraid while they do it AND it is a natural progression from life to death.

colleen and i were just talking about this because for me euthanization is to end an animals suffering. death in and by itself is not always a suffering experience. it can be gentle and peaceful and with out fear. it is a natural progression from life. and there is a process involved. i know humans review their lives and relish the special time with all barriers gone with their friends and family. i know this is true because they tell me and i see it too. death is more profound than birth, because a baby's birth does not allow for many choices or options, once labour starts, babe, you just got to go with the flow. but humans choose many different ways to experience the end of their lives, sedated, awake, with just close family, or a wide circle of friends, in hospice or at home or a combination of both.

and i do believe that animals make some choices too. lola sometimes chooses the laundry area over the cat room or to lay briefly with michael or spend the entire night with wilbur. she will come to me and ask to be picked up or sometimes to be put back down too. she decides when she wants to sip some milk or when she would like a cool drink of water. sometimes she is warm and wants to lay in the bed by the door and sometimes she is cold and prefers the warmer, softer bed. sometimes she wants company and physical contact and sometimes she want just to drift with sleep. my job is to ensure that whatever it is that she needs at any given moment is there for her. including her right to die in her own way.

so...the next week will be me watching and caring for lola and listening carefully to whatever she says. and if she says she is finished and she just wants it to end, i have to make sure i hear her. but if she says, "take a deep breath, don't panic, i am mangaing fine," i want to make sure that i hear her then too.

i need to ensure that i am there to help her, either to support her and keep her comfortable while she passes from her life on her own or step in and end it for her if she decides it is too hard to finish.

this is the really hard part of all of this, trying to get it right, yet again.



I struggled with this with a cat whom we fostered and came to much the same conclusion as Carol. I wrote about the experience on my blog:

Here is an excerpt:

"It dawned on us that he didn't share our fears or inhibitions about death. We needed to look beyond ourselves, to truly focus on another's needs. This was about allowing another soul to pass with dignity and compassion, about accepting the dying process and not interfering with it. Above all, we asked, "What does Mister Whiskers want?" It was clear to us that he didn't want a last-ditch run to an emergency vet, needles and pills forced upon him in a vain attempt to gain a few more hours. It seemed to us that he wanted a quiet place, an old cushion and a tender caress. He would do the rest, even to the point of giving us all a chance to lay on the floor with him and say our personal goodbyes. He gave right to the end."


I too have questioned times, , made appointments and cancelled them , talked to my freinds and bascially tormented myslef. Holding both life and death and being the only one who can ultimatly make that decision for those under my care. And even though I beleive there is no death, only the crossing over to another existance it makes those decsions no easier. We must live without them.

Willy taught me to live life with his dying. And for those few days left i read to him ,played music, read stories to him and told him how much i loved him and that i would never forget him. My famly, the dogs and freinds came to say good by to him and Casanova pushed past us all to say good bye as well.

I beleive the times I have made the choice with rational thought would have been the wrong decison. I believe the power of the animals 'knowing' or thier telepathic abilty is so strong that even if we can't hear them they get threw to us by 'suggestion". All thoughts are not our own so when the doubt I fight leaves instantley i know it is time. You do too.