Over the past few days, I’ve happened to read or hear several times this sentence: ‘There are a lot worse things than death.’ I’d have to go back and look in, ‘Red Letter Day In Dogland’, but I believe someone said it about Sawyere’s situation, writing in the thread. In that same thread, someone described exactly how Sawyere would be euthanized the next day–this I remember clearly. And I remember thinking, when I read it, well, I admit that does sound peaceful, and I’m sure they will be with him and love him as he goes. I worked as a vet tech one year, and assisted at euthanasias, and they were all lovingly and respectfully carried out, and certainly seemed painless and peaceful.
I read again the bit about the mechanics of Sawyere’s upcoming euthanasia. I went upstairs to get a coffee and think, to see if I could get myself to come to terms with his death. After all, I reasoned, I know that hundreds of animals are being euthanized every day, in ways much worse than the way Sawyere will be killed, and by people who care a lot less than do the folks at Sawyere’s excellent shelter. They’ve given it their best, tried so hard with him…
…and that started a train of thought. I went back and read his original posting. Back in early November, Sawyere had some issues, but he was a good enough dog that they were offering him for adoption. Now it’s late January. I know, from volunteering at our local shelter, that a dog can go downhill in a week at a shelter. Sawyere’d been there for almost three months. Shelter stress is a serious thing. Today, the woman in charge at Sawyere’s shelter wrote to me that the conditions there were the worst possible for a dog like Sawyere, who needs a great deal of exercise–he got almost none. He would have benefited a lot from being tired out, and from a steady release of endorphins. It’s so true, what they say, that ‘a tired dog is a good dog’.
The shelter director feels, reading between the lines, that Sawyere has the potential to be a better dog than he is now. Something has told me, from the first time I received his picture and information to crosspost, that Sawyere could be a very good dog indeed, and I reminded myself of this as I sipped my coffee. I decided that I could not come to terms with his death, in spite of the fact that there are many dogs being shared on Facebook who are ‘good dogs’, dogs who have none of Sawyere’s issues. Some would reasonably ask, why should those dogs die, and Sawyere be saved? I don’t know how to answer that in a realistic way, realistic for right now, the year 2011 in the United States. None of them should die, that’s the true answer. Since I can’t save all of them, I have to try to save those who are ‘in my corner’, and Sawyere is there, for some reason. I feel I have a responsibility to him, a response ability.
The other thing I thought about that tipped the balance in favor of my trying to help Sawyere was that bit about loving him as he was being euthanized. It occurred to me that there was no way someone would be able to touch him or hold his head or anything like that, because of his issues. He would feel stress, if they tried to hold him, even lovingly. And if they didn’t, he’d be alone. His last moments would be filled with fear and anxiety, or, at best, aloneness. There was no way I could come to terms with that.
So I finished my coffee and got crackin’, trying to find someone who was willing to work with Sawyere. And, as you know, I found Keith Wandell. I’m sure you’ll hear a great deal more about Keith. For now, would you please read this article and tell me how you would decide the question of when death is kinder than life? I don’t mean when there’s an issue of serious illness and pain–most of us find ourselves in agreement on euthanasia in cases like that.
I want to know what you think about euthanasia for pets like Sawyere, and the pets referred to by PETA as being better off dead than alive. This is such a complicated subject…
Let me know your thoughts, if you are so inclined. Here’s the article: