If Our Pets Could Talk
By Jackie Kellum
Last month one of my best friends died. Her name was “Enka.” She was one of my dogs. My husband Jay had a nightly routine of taking an evening stroll in town regardless of the weather. On one of these walks, he came across a small furry bundle huddled in the corner of a doorway of a vacant house. It took him a second to recognize what he was seeing. It was a two-month old puppy – a little girl that was wet and cold. Jay ran home to get a towel and tell me what he had found. I told him to bring it some food and water.
True to our family ‘tradition,’ he brought her to the food and water, and she never left. We gave her the name “Enka”, short for Encontrado, Spanish for Found. She grew to be a medium-sized Sheppard Mix, who fit right in with her dog mate family members, total of nine.
As pet parents, we know in our head that we will not have our pet ‘forever.’ Even though our head knows this, our heart has a difficult time with this. Many people who have never had a pet or learned the deep attachment a person has with his pet, may not understand this unfathomable personal bond. If a sudden death of a pet occurs, we have a feeling like a void in our soul. When we are faced with making a life’s decision, it is heart-wrenching. We have total responsibility for their well-being when we take a pet into our family, even at the end of its life. We have to put our feelings aside, not be selfish and fearful about our loss, and put our pet’s welfare ahead of our own needs.
Enka had eleven years of a healthy and happy life. The last few days before her departure were difficult for her and for me. She was in pain despite pain medications. She only ate some food just to please me, and she was embarrassed when she occasionally lost control of her urine. Like many pet parents, we are faced with making ‘that’ final decision – what is best for your pet family member? You look at “quality of life” and would she want to continue to live like this? I knew Enka since she was a baby, and I knew this was not the way she would like to live.
Fortunately, veterinarians understand the magnitude of this emotional situation and that this decision has to be made. And veterinary medicine has the capability to allow your pet to leave this earth with grace and dignity. I called my vet and she came to my house to help me ease my girl Enka out of her suffering. We each had tears of sadness, but knew this was best for Enka.
Each person grieves in their own manner, and on their own ‘clock.’ Enka’s house mates had their own way and time to deal with the loss of their friend also. And yes, pet-mates do grieve. To help with this adjustment, I kept the normal routines of every- day activities, and gave each one some extra hugs and kisses during this difficult time for all of us.
If you have read this article to the end, I know it must have you thinking about your own pet family. The only comforting thing I can say is that you will survive this loss, as I have. Your happy memories of your shared life together with your departed pet will, in time, provide more happiness than sadness.