Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Remembering Murphy

The timing never seemed right - until now.

Last year, on August 31st, while enjoying our daily dog walk, Murphy fell. At first, I thought that he had injured his hip. Later, I noticed a lump about the size of a walnut in the area of his back hock (close to the knee). Diagnosis was swift. Cancer.

Our veterinarian advised against chemotherapy and amputation. She felt that it would be too hard on all concerned; the amount of time that would be bought wouldn't be worth the cost. Neither emotionally nor financially.

We knew that the end was inevitable. Just when?

I knew my dog. I trusted that he would "tell" me when it was time to say good-bye. In fact, I asked him to let me know when he was ready to go.

It was a beautiful September, and I was fortunate enough to be able to sit outside and work while he luxuriated in the sun. Many tears were shed during that month. Murphy was a rescue and we had a special bond, forged by the fact that I was the person who drove him away from the noise and chaos of the animal shelter.

As September marched on, it was apparent that Murphy still wanted to remain in this world, despite the rapid growth of the tumour. His appetite was as good as ever. He was interested in us and what went on around the house; even barking when someone came to the door. He looked forward to his walks.

On the morning of October 6th, he finally let me know. He slowly made his way to the tree in our backyard and curled up underneath. I had been paying attention, looking for him to tell me. I then knew that it was time.

For those who have not gone through the experience of euthanising a much-loved pet, it is many things: kind, cruel, heart-breaking. It can also be one filled with judgement.

I heard and felt disapproval from a few people. "You need to put him down, now." "Tsk! Tsk!" The looks.

The thing that some people didn't seem to understand is that I knew my dog. I trusted that he would let me know when it was time. And, he did. It wasn't for anyone else to judge. It was between us.

Often, when decisions need to be made, it is easy to judge the person because they are not doing it as you would do it.

Before passing judgement, I suggest the following:
  • stop
  • ask open-ended questions 
  • trust that the person is doing the right thing at the right time with the right amount of information.
It may not seem that way to you. However, I stand firmly by my decision. It was the right thing to do at the right time.

If you find yourself in similar circumstances, I recommend:
  • considering the opinion of a veterinarian you trust
  • using stress transformation techniques, so that you and your pet will be as comfortable as possible, given the situation
  • listen to your heart and your pet - trust you will know when the time is right (stress transformation techniques will help in this regard).
Murphy will always have a place in my heart. Fortunately, he also has a place on our living room wall. Shortly after we adopted Murphy, my friend surprised me with the painting you see at the top of this post. (If you are interested, Cyndi is taking orders for pet portraits. Please email her directly.)

I prefer to remember him, as you see him in this video, below. Full of life. This was the first time that we had taken him to the beach. As you can see, he didn't quite know what to do with the waves!


video

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5 comments:

  1. J'ai perdu mon chien un peu comme toi il y aura bientôt 10 ans. Pour nous aussi, c'est lui qui « nous l'a dit ». Useless to argue. We can feel that.

    Si on peut si bien comprendre nos animaux,c'est sans doute parce qu'ils savent s'exprimer sans détour. If only we could be always as natural as they are, aussi spontanés et toujours aussi authentiques, je suppose que le jugement des autres ne nous atteindrait pas non plus...

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  2. What a beautiful memorial! I know my cats are getting older, they're only a year apart in age. I dread the time too. I don't remember if you said how long you had him. It really doesn't matter, usually the first time you see your pet they've grabbed your heart.

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  3. I grew up with dogs and till I could not manage dogs with my replaced hip joints, always had one at home. The favourite was a doberman just like yours but with natural ears. I still use his name for the secret question on almost all register requests that we now get. I can understand your sentiments and join you in your nostalgia.
    “Near this spot are deposited the remains of one who possessed Beauty without Vanity, Strength without Insolence, Courage without Ferocity, and all the Virtues of Man, without his Vices. This Praise, which would be unmeaning Flattery if inscribed over human ashes, is but a just tribute to the Memory of Boatswain, a Dog.”
    - George Gordon, Lord Byron, “Inscription on the Monument of a Newfoundland Dog”

    na jayate mriyate va kadacin
    nayam bhutva bhavita va na bhuyah
    ajo nityah sasvato ’yam purano
    na hanyate hanyamane sarire

    Translation

    For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.
    - Bhagwat Geetha, 2.20

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  4. Oh Marianna,
    What a lovely tribute to Murphy. The video is just delightful!

    I am truly impressed by your decision to trust your instincts, trust Murphy and avert your 'ears' from the judgments that arose.

    As you said, 'you knew your dog' and trusted he would tell you when it was time to say goodbye. And this proved to be the right thing. You provide a vivid description of his final, joyful days and your time with him grieving his imminent loss while also enjoying his spirited behavior as he luxuriated in the sun and interest in the activities around your home.

    In that my 14-yr-old buddy, Louie (miniature pinscher) and I share a similar bond, I have learned, through your personal story, a way to 'handle' that time when I, too, must bid adieu to my special friend and companion.

    Thank you for imparting your intimate, emotion-ridden and beautiful story about your beloved Murphy.

    Jacqui

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  5. Each of you, Lucie, Judy, Ramana and Jacqui have touched my heart with your kindness.

    Lucie,
    Ca m'a donne beaucoup de plaisir de lire ta reponse bilingue! (Je ne peux pas ajouter les accents, pour n'importe quelle raison!)I liked how you stated that it was "useless to argue."

    Judy,
    Yes! As a pet owner, you know that they do grab your heart the first time you see them. Murphy did. Holly, certainly has.

    Ramana,
    I completely understand re. not being able to manage with your new hips. I was certain Murphy would be our last dobie, but along came Holly. She is much smaller and lighter and without cropped ears!

    Thank you for sharing such beautiful works!

    Jacqui,
    I remember our conversations on Twitter as we shared stories about Murphy and Louie and how much they mean to us.

    It heartens me to know that my post has provided you with some starting points when (hopefully not for quite some time) you are in a similar situation.

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Welcome! I know your life is busy. That's why I appreciate your stopping by to comment.