Comforting animals at the end:  a plea for them

Comforting animals at the end: a plea for them

 

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Capturing Snuggles mid-shake, enjoying his walk in the cool mountain air

I would like to ask a favor of you, the reader.  As you read through this, if you feel like it’s touched you in some way, or you think that there is someone out there who can benefit from reading it, I would ask you to share it with them.  Thank you.

I came home from work yesterday and said to my roommate, “I need to go somewhere with Snuggles and feel the sun on my face.”  You see, right before I left work, some folks brought in their 14 year old dog to have her euthanized.  She was a total sweetheart, and I could tell that they loved her.  But when it came time to be with her at the end, they decided they couldn’t be there through the procedure with the doctor.

I brought treats into the visiting room for her, and she eagerly gobbled them up.  (Chicken and yogurt, in case you’re wondering.) When her parents left the room, she tried to scramble after them.  She thought she was leaving too.  But her arthritic legs wouldn’t let her move fast enough. It broke my heart.

I took her into the back to our treatment area, and offered her treats again.  She had no interest in them whatsoever.  She kept staring at the door toward where she had last seen her family.  Why weren’t they with her?  I could see the confusion in her eyes, and knew she was afraid.  I petted her all over her back and hair was just shedding off of her nonstop.  A coworker got her some water in case she was thirsty.  But no, her panting was stress panting.  I kept hugging her and kissing her head on the head.  It’s all I could do.

One of the nurses said it used to bother her when owners wouldn’t be there during the euthanasia procedure with their pets, but she’s gotten used to it.  Me, I NEVER want to get used to that.

I wished I could offer to take over her care and let her live just one day longer.  But I couldn’t, and maybe it was truly her time to cross over.

 

snuggles profile.jpgA few times, when we have not been busy out front at the desk, I’ve asked my coworkers to cover for me so that I can comfort an animal at the end.  I tried to do this for this pup, whispering to her, “it’s okay, it’s okay, shhh, shhh,” but the doctor was having problems with her veins, and finally the pup lost her patience and nipped at her.  So I had to leave as she was muzzled.  If she bit me, my doctor would get into trouble for it.  I’m a receptionist who loves animals, not a veterinary technician.

Imagine at the end of your life, you’re scared, you don’t know who any of these people are with you, but you see a white coat and it scares the crap out of you.  So you lash out and for that, you get a muzzle put on you.

I understand why they had to muzzle her.  I do.  The human part of me does, anyway.  But that inner child that has always felt like I sometimes understand animals better than I do humans — that part grieved for her.   I wanted to be with her, to tell her that she was loved, that she was going to be okay, and wouldn’t feel any more pain as she slowly fell into a very deep, never-ending sleep.

The vet that performed the procedure is amazing when it comes to her love of animals, and that is why she is my vet.  She’s been a vet for many, many years, and I’m sure it doesn’t get any easier.  I’m sure that’s part of why she tries so hard to heal them and keep them alive.

Here is my plea to animal parents out there.  I know it’s hard to say goodbye to your pet.  I know, believe me.  I’ve comforted so many of you in our visiting room as you make that difficult decision.  And each time, it touches another part of my heart.   To many of you, I know they are a member of your family.  Please think of how it would feel to you at the end of your life, to not have one familiar face around you.  You’re not sure why you’re being stuck with needles, and you’re confused.  No one can explain it to you in a language you understand.  Please rethink not being with them at the end.  Your pet has given so much love to you during their (comparatively) short stay here on this earth.  Think of this as your last gift that you can give to them, to be with them at the end.

And if you still cannot bring yourself to do it, then just know that there is at least one person who will love them and hug them and comfort them at the very end.  That person is me and the countless other “me’s” that just wear other faces. We will do the best we can for your baby, but just know it’s not the same as feeling the comforting hands and kisses and words from you, their parent.

Please know, I’m not trying to make anyone feel guilty or sound like I am lecturing.  I am simply trying to give a voice to those who can’t speak in our language, but who definitely feel many of the same emotions as we do.

Please enjoy the pictures of my little Snuggles enjoying his “mommy and me” time as well as the beautiful flowers I saw the other day at the ABQ BioPark.   Take time out to savor the little things in life.

Thank you, as always, for reading.  And if you think there is someone out there who should read this, please do share it with them.  Thank you.

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Focus, Leap, and Do Good “Stuffs”

As of today, the plural of stuff is stuffs! That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 🙂

 

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FOCUS!

 

I had a conversation on Facebook over the weekend with someone who was in the first class of law students with whom I worked as a professional law librarian, while at Boston University Law School. That was a long 12 years ago, but he still remembers me and when I was typing back and forth with him, I could still hear that accent of his and see his big smile on his face. I remember thinking back then that he was so, so, so incredibly smart, and how in the world did I think I could help someone like him?!

Anyway, the point of this walk down my memory lane is this – he reminded me of how much I enjoyed teaching others and teaching them to teach themselves how to do things.  How sometimes when a patron would come up to me, completely lost and not exactly know what they were looking for, and sometimes it was a subject I didn’t know much about myself, how I would fumble through with them until we’d finally hit on some piece of knowledge or thought and then we’d both run with it! (Not all interactions were like this, of course, but it was these types that made me glad to do my job.)   He told me that I was so devoted to helping them learn, and a few other nice things, and said he thought it had been the opinion of many of his classmates as well.   He also told me that time and kindness are two of the most precious resources you can give.   I certainly gave them a lot of my time, and especially in the beginning of my career as a librarian, when I was learning so much myself every day, I remember thinking to myself how confused the foreign students must be, and how different it all must seem to them to learn about this whole other country’s set of  laws.  And how scary it can seem.  So if they saw my manner towards them as kind, well, I am glad, because I wanted to treat them the same way I would have wanted to be treated if in their shoes.

 

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LEAP! 

 

One thing I don’t get to do much of these days is teach people.   Also, because it’s a for-profit business, sometimes, I feel like I have to really hold my tongue from expressing my opinions to customers, such as on issues of declawing cats, docking tails or ears of dogs such as Doberman’s, breeding in general, and failing to spay/neuter your pets.  Sometimes, I just want to scream at people, “What are you?? Stupid??!! Don’t you know all the various health issues with not spaying or neutering? And do you really think the world needs MORE unwanted animals?  WHY in the hell are you going to a breeder when the shelters are FULL of homeless pets?!” (Anybody who works in animal issues that says that they never say these things or even think them to themselves is lying, trust me.)  I also see the animals that come in that are being fostered after being removed from bad situations.  It sickens me.  Days like that, you catch yourself saying things like “I hate people” to yourself or under your breath.

However, there was one random day that a lady came in and asked about where she could get a German Shepherd dog, and we started talking.  The librarian in me took over, and before I knew it, I had turned the computer monitor towards her and started showing her how to do some searches on sites like Petfinder.com, how to navigate the ABQ city website, and started asking her some more questions about what it was she was really looking for in a dog.  As with some of my favorite interactions at the reference desk in the past, she took out a pen and paper and started writing stuff down so she could look on her own later on.

I’ve been doing some soul searching and thinking about what it is that makes me tick.  What kind of movies or videos I like to watch, or podcasts I like to listen to, or blog posts I like to read, and then share with others because I find them inspiring. I have tried to figure out a common thread between them.  In the past, I wrote this post about the movie called Opening Our Eyes.  I think I need to go back and watch the movie again.  I also wrote this post about the movie, I’m Fine, Thanks in which the filmmaker travels around the country and interviews people who want to make a change in their life, and then DO IT.

I may have talked about this on the blog before, and I thought about applying in the past, but of course, the issue of money is one that has stopped me from applying.  But I’m starting to really feel this pull inside like this is the right thing to do.  There is a Master’s degree program in Humane Education offered by the Institute for Humane Education.  The degree is taught online and has a week long residency requirement in a beautiful part of Maine, not far from Acadia National Park. The program is accredited through Valapraiso University, and the program I would look to finish is a Masters in Arts in Humane Education, because if I’m going to educate, I would rather it be outside of a traditional classroom, and have it be through my daily work, either with a non-profit, or a civic engagement, or an animal shelter, etc.  (They describe the MA in Humane Education as “designed for educators who wish to work outside of school settings, such as through community work, non-profits, arts activism, social services, law, and many other professions.“)  I like the idea of being able to use the education in many fields.

Part of the program involves a master’s thesis. It can be creative, professional, and/or research-based. All of those sound right up my alley.  If I could find a way to marry research with a realistic plan of how to bring my ideas into reality, I will feel successful.  And hey, maybe it could even become that book I have been wanting to publish. 🙂

 

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DO GOOD STUFFS! (Picture from the ABQ BioPark where lots of good stuffs are happening!)

I am grateful to have friends to bounce these ideas off of.  I swear to God, my friend Dan is kind of my grandmother reincarnated in the way that he kindly asks me probing questions to get me to think, and he reminds me that I’m always “go, go, GO!!” when I set my mind to something.  He wants me to sit back and breathe and really think about things, and for that, I love him to death.  I need someone like that in my life.  Especially when I’m 44 and considering putting yet even more money into education without the 100% guarantee it will get me a job that will pay that tuition money back, and again, I’m 44!   Putting myself through school again?  Didn’t I just consider this with the vet tech program at CNM? These are all questions I really need to think about. 

 

Dan has asked me to think about why I would want to do such a program, and here is my long-winded answer.  Many of you who have read my blog for a long time, or who were gluttons for punishment, and decided to go back to the beginning and start and catch yourselves up (and I LOVE all of you!), know that I have these big dreams, or big ideas, and I want to do so much, both in every ordinary day of my life, and with my life as a whole! But one of the problems I know I suffer from is being able to focus.  I can be like a raccoon that you throw something shiny in front of, and I’m already distracted.

My point is this:  I need the structure and guidance of someone else who has felt the same way and knows how to narrow down the wish list, how to take all the grandiose ideas and ACTUALLY put them into concrete action.  And I want to meet with others, both virtually, and in person, through the online class tools and at a practicum where I live, who feel the same way, who I can be made accountable to, and who can encourage me when I get discouraged along the way.  And I can learn how to integrate some of my ideas, because really, a lot of my concerns are interconnected:  animal protection, environmental protection, etc. You can’t really look at things in a vacuum anymore.  I look back at these earlier posts of mine and know now that figuring out how to focus my energies and integrate my ideas, has been my problem.

I also want to be like some of the students you see profiled on this page.  Some of the students who really caught my eye were involved in issues related to animals:

When I die, I don’t need to have been known for winning a Nobel Prize or having been someone like Bill Gates, or Mother Theresa.  I just want to have left this world in a little bit better place than it was when I entered it, and for some people to think of me and think “You know?  Terri was all right.  She did some good stuffs!”

What kind of good stuffs have you seen being done around you or do you want to achieve in your life?