How to live in the moment.

9 07 2011

This winter, my Shepherd/Retriever cross dog, aka Tutter The Mutter, aka my Best Friend Forever, started to make some funny sounds every once in a while. Sort of a throaty sound, like he was hacking up a giant loogey.

It happened very rarely; not enough to warrant concern since he was in every other way totally fine.

Then his nose began to run only on one side. He started to have sneezing fits.

I called our vet, a trustworthy “country” vet, who upon hearing his symptoms asked to see him right away. He told me this was “of concern”.

My heart dropped into the pit of my belly. I knew, then. I knew.

We tried some antibiotics, Pat did a tear duct drainage test. He called a vet he knew down at the Washington State University vet program in Pullman, WA. He pulled no punches when he told me what he and the other veterinarian thought.

Tutter has a nasal tumour. We were advised that treatment would not only be costly but would only extend his life by a mere 6-8 months. These months would be filled with uncomfortable and painful treatments. He would be very sick while going through chemo and radiation. There is no remission, only a slight extension of life.

We live in a relatively rural area where these sorts of treatments are not readily available to us, even IF we wanted to pursue it.

All my explanations aside, what I truly felt in my heart was this:

Tutter deserves a life free of agony. Free of confusion and pain and nausea caused by our selfish need to extend his life only to allow us to enjoy him for a few more weeks or months.

He does not deserve to be treated like a warranty program.

We told the children last night after my son asked point-blank if there was something wrong with Tutter. Dan and I wanted to wait until after school and after Elisabeth’s birthday to tell them. It was very difficult. There was tears and sadness and lots and lots of hugs and an epic walk with our family and our beloved dog, where we feasted (Tutter included) on the first of the season’s huckleberries.

But most of all, we all talked about living in the moment. Tutter is HERE right now. He is with us still. He is alive, loving, devoted and sweet. Every moment we have with him is precious. Every chance for a walk, a grooming, a cookie, a snuggle will be taken with open hearts and a realization that our lesson in all of this is how to BE present, in the here and now. Let’s not worry about tomorrow or yesterday. Today is happening. Our dog doesn’t care about what will happen the next day. And neither should we.

As my family ventures down this lonely and sad road, I know we will have some rough days ahead. But we owe it to our dog, our funny, sweet, smart, goofy, loving dog to give him the best possible life, no matter how long or short it is. Our compassion and empathy allows us to grant these four-legged family members nothing less than what they truly deserve: kindness, love and dignity.

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10 responses

10 07 2011
Ronda

Oh Wow Kris… what an incredible story of love and kindness. My heart goes out to your entire family. I’ll be thinking of you while you go through this time in your lives… not easy I’m sure.

Love you lots!

10 07 2011
Kris

Thanks Ronda. β™₯

10 07 2011
Lana Torwalt

If I was a dog, I would want you as my “Mom”.
Hugs to you all. oxo

10 07 2011
Kris

Thanks Lana. πŸ™‚

10 07 2011
Lesley

Facing death consciously is a beautiful thing Kris…… thanks for being who you are!

10 07 2011
Kris

It feels so much better to have the kids know, and now we can move forward on this part of our journey…. πŸ™‚

11 07 2011
Angela

This is heart breakingly beautiful.

11 07 2011
Kris

Thank you so much. He is one special dog! β™₯

11 07 2011
Grandma

Kris, you know me…..a dog lover and the tears are flowing as I write this, I’ve been called the dog lady many times and yet I don’t have one and there’s good reason. When I lose them I’m a basket case and grandpa has said it’s not worth it for me to have to go through all of that. So he has made promises to me many times when and if I get the urge to go pet shopping……”I’ll be your little puppy doggie, I’ll sleep on the doggie mat, I’ll piss on the hydrants for you.” You have your little family and you’ll all go through this together so enjoy your doggie while you can and I know you’ll use good judgement on knowing when it’s time. He’s a very lucky dog to have all of you to love him and give him the very best care.

11 07 2011
Kris

Thank you Grandma…. I know how hard it was for you… These doggies, they sure know how to steal our hearts…. Tutter is having the BEST summer…. lots of swimmies, walkies, t-bones…. We are spoiling him rotten. πŸ™‚

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