I had to have my beloved Maltese/Shih Tzu cross put to sleep two weeks ago. Simply put, she was the light of my life from the day she entered it till the day she left.
At twelve years old, she was by no means old for a small dog. We should have had at least three or four more years together.
Who am I kidding? Four years from now, I wouldn’t have been any more ready to let her go. The stickler, though, is having to decide when she should die, and the whole process has left me with more questions than I know what to do with.
When is the right time?
Is it while they still have their dignity?
Do dogs even know what dignity means, or do they accept all that life throws at them with the same singleness of purpose?
Where is it written, and by what great authority, that humans have the omniscience to dare to make such a decision?
In the end, my precious little girl stopped eating, and I suppose I could have watched her waste away. So, by ending her life, did I stop her suffering…or mine?
Where Tipper was concerned, I didn’t do so well with discipline. In fact, it was a running joke with those who know me. The harshest thing I ever said to her was, “Oh, Tipper, you cute little bad girl, you.”
I would have given her anything if it were in my power…good health…many more years. When it really mattered, all I could give her was death.
Which brings up the most important question of all. Where do ‘cute little bad girls’ go when they die? Do they cease to exist, mere soulless creatures, as many of our evangelical brothers and sisters propound?
Just one more question I don’t know the answer to, and maybe I don’t want to. Maybe it’s better to go on believing she’s sitting in the shade somewhere, under a huge cottonwood tree and a glorious blue sky with a warm breeze ruffling her little ears, waiting for me. I just hope she’s not disappointed in me.
So…when is the right time?