As some of you may recall, today was the day we were taking our dog to the vet to determine the reason why his back legs don't seem to be working anymore. Last night was a rough night for my little ones, as they kissed and petted their dog to say goodnight, fearing it would be for the last time. We've all been having one-on-one chats for the last few days, considering all the diagnoses the vet could offer. Usually, though, our conversations would inevitably go back to the topic of life and death, and the ethics, love, and compassion that go into such a powerful decision as whether to euthanize or not.
In my mind, the attitudes of the grown-ups towards death is so, so terribly important. Our mindset when we approach the topic, the factors we consider in such a decision, and where our focus lies must be transparent for our children. Why? Because we are modelling for them attitudes about life and death. We are teaching them how we would like to be treated as we age, by showing them how we treat others who are aging. I would like to model for them an attitude that considers the person (or animal's) best interest over my own. I would like to emphasize comfort, caring and compassion over neglect. I would like to value wisdom over physical feats and accomplishments. I would like to acknowledge that death goes hand-in-hand with life, and while we may grieve for the loss in our lives, it would be unnatural to live forever. Natural things all expire at one point or another.
When my children were upset, I asked them to breathe deeply to allow the energy to move more freely through their body. I told them it was okay to cry freely, rather than fighting the tears back. I reminded them we didn't know what the next day would bring, and that Boomer would benefit most if we sent him comforting thoughts and healing thoughts. As they settled into bed, they were able to quiet themselves and fall into a deep sleep.
As it turns out, the vet guesses that Boomer has partly torn ACL's on both his legs. He is too old for surgery, so he is to get as much rest as possible in order for it to heal. He is now taking some additional pain medication, we're decreasing the amount of food he gets to compensate for his lack of activity. He will be re-evaluated in a few weeks to see whether he is healing, and we'll go from there.
The mood on the car ride home was quiet but positive. We'll continue to care for Boomer the best we can, and we'll continue to send him comforting and healing thoughts.