Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Fur to Ashes

When I was a kid, I saw the movie “The Vikings” which included a scene where a deceased warrior’s body was placed on a boat which was set ablaze and sent down river. It was a most disturbing image in my young life. 
I wondered and asked my parents why anyone would burn a body just as we burned rubbish in burning barrel we kept in a field far from our house. (It was the early 60’s in rural North Carolina. There wasn’t trash pick-up.) 
That image popped back in my head today, oh so many years later, because today is the day I return to the vet’s office to pick up our rabbit, Buddy’s ashes. 
I’m feeling a lot of guilt in having his body burned, but I know it was probably the best thing. We will buy an urn and place his ashes on a shelf in our home along with his picture. It will be a small shrine to his love and our love for him. 
But still there is that guilt that swept over me.  This was a much loved member of the family that I used to hold. This was a member of the family that so totally trusted me that he didn’t fight at all as the vet stuck a needle with poison in him that would end his life and with it his suffering.  He just looked at me with the trust and love. 
And now… he’s reduced to ash. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The End

This has been a very rough few weeks.

The original diagnosis from the vet was incorrect. Not a tumor pressing on the lungs, but congestive heart failure with lungs filling up with fluid. In either case, it was a death sentence.

We came home with medication to treat the symptoms and were told we could have the lungs drained every few days. There was that glimmer of hope for us to grab on to.

What we weren’t told was our precious four legged child would never act like he once did. He’d never hop up the stairs to his favorite chair for a nap. He’d barely move at all. He wouldn’t even eat. Not his healthy greens we purchased every two days from the fancy organic market down the street or even the junk food; dried blueberries we got at Costco.

He never acted the same. It was like he knew what the doctor said and he wanted us to know that he was ready.

He stopped eating so we tried to force feed him. We’d fill a feeding syringe with Critical Care flavored with apple juice. We’d inject the food and he’d spit it back on us.

He was doing pretty well last Wednesday night. He cuddled next to me for lots of rubs. I put his favorite cilantro in front of him and he half heartedly nibbled a bit; I think more to please me than to fill his own needs.

But Thursday morning when we woke up, he couldn’t lift his head; breathing was labored. Since the vet’s office didn’t open for another two hours, we ran out to pick up bagels & coffee but by the time we got home, he was on his side unable to move.

Hubby gathered his frail little body up and put it in the carrier. I rushed to the vet; calling along the way to let them know I was headed over there.

When I got to the vet’s office, she rushed us back to an examination room. The vet took one look and said it was my decision, but it was really time. I sobbed uncontrollably as I signed the paper to put him down.

I rubbed his head while the doctor did what she had to do. The process was quick. One syringe of clear liquid, and his heart stopped. The eyes were wide open, as if staring at me.

The vet gave me a few minutes alone with him. Involuntary muscle twitches started that confused me. His little tail started to move. I yelled for the doctor & she said he was dead. It was just final impulses from his brain. That little tail wag I hope was a sign that I did the right thing.

Many tears have been cried over the last two days at our house. Many more will probably come. We are two heartbroken souls trying to get through to a day when we won’t hurt so bad.