Step 7 – Answer the most important question of all…

What does it all mean? What is the purpose of life? Does God really exist?

No, none of those!

At least once a week, and sometimes daily, I am asked, “What are we going to do if Dakota is still alive, and its time for us to board our flight to Oz”?

To allay your initial fears, we are most definitely not the people to put a dog down for convenience.  I firmly believe that animals can’t chose whether or not to be a part of our lives, so its up to us to make sure we treat them with respect and care.

*Marilee steps up onto soapbox:

(I have a real soft spot for animals generally, but especially wild animals who don’t understand how interaction with humans can be dangerous for them.  There is a meme of two giraffes crossing the road and one falls into the other. People add these clever captions like “Let’s get you home!” and “Dammit Frank, keep it together!” And everyone laughs at these clumsy giraffes. But giraffes don’t understand that what pavement is.  They don’t understand that their hooves slip on the smooth roads. There’s another one – a gif of a herd of elk running from highway traffic, but they’re running down the highway, rather than away from it.  (I tried to look it up, but grew too sad with all the videos of hooved animals falling on wet pavement).  The video shows the elk herd panicking and falling into one another. It looks like racing cyclists – when the front runner goes down, the whole pack goes down in a tangled, mangled mess.  It makes me so sad.  Anyway, so animals don’t understand how dangerous we are, so we need to do our best to protect them).

*Marilee steps down from the soapbox and returns to blogging. 

Back to the topic at hand, Dakota has been a beloved member of the Davidson family since he was a puppy.  If you’ve heard the story, you may skip the next paragraph.  I’m actually borrowing this text from the pages of one of my latest reads: my dad’s own autobiography.

 

 “Then, there was Dakota. This is a good one! Dawne and I were on a little trip to Vancouver. The girls were old enough to be left on their own. We were away for about one day when we got a call from the girls. The neighbour’s dog had puppies, can we get one? NO! Aww, can we at least look after one while you are gone? NO! Please! Well, ok, but it can’t come in the house, under any circumstances. It will have to go when we get home. Then, almost every day after that, we got phone calls from our friends saying we should really let them keep the dog – it is so cute. Elvis was its name. We softened. We decided it might be nice for Jessica to have a dog. On our way home, we bought a kennel and food. When we arrived home and opened the garage door, we could see that the girls had been true to their word. I had not said the dog could not go into the garage, so they had their beds set up out in the garage so they could sleep with him in between them. But, we played hard to get. I snarled at the dog and asked why it was still there. (I was mean!) The girls were on pins and needles. When we had our stuff in the house,  one of the girls bravely ventured, “Can we talk about Elvis?” OK, let’s sit down in the living room. They had a presentation for us. First, a song. “Our dog, is an awesome dog…” to the tune of “Our god, is an awesome god…” Next, charts and graphs showing how irresponsible they had been pre dog and how responsible they would be post dog. And, they had a petition signed by everyone we knew and a lot of people we didn’t even know. Finally, the Governor General had been to town to open the new museum, and although she would not sign the petition, the girls reported that she had told them she thought they should be able to keep the dog.  

Well, we had already decided they could keep the dog, but Dawne responded with, “OK but Elvis has to go.” She didn’t like the name Elvis. They didn’t get it. I said, “Girls, the answer is yes.” They still didn’t get it and sat with long faces. You can keep the dog, we said, and then the lights came on. And, Dawne explained how she didn’t like the name Elvis and his name would have to change. We all settled on Dakota, and Dakota became a part of our lives. He’s such a handsome lad!” 

Cutest puppy of all
Cutest puppy of all

Dakota has been with our family through thick and thin.  He’s helped dad discover a lost quadder and because of this, an actor dog played him on Animal Planet!

He’s been skunked, hunted by coyotes, stalked by deer; he’s been nailed by more than a few porcupines, run away from home twice (only to be found on the neighbours stoops, thinking it was our house, politely waiting to be let inside), and travelled with us to Ontario and back.

Koda
He’s been a fixture in my life since I was 16 years old. So the idea of putting him down to suit my schedule is preposterous.

Yet, at least once a week, often daily – I am asked what we’ll do with Dakota when we go.

best

Here’s the sad truth.

I don’t know.

Here’s what I think – that it is humane to let go of (read euthanize) an animal who is suffering.  Uh-oh, I feel another Soapbox coming on!

*Marilee steps up onto soapbox:

(I am very much in favour of allowing people to die with dignity, with the assistance of a doctor, surrounded by family, in a comfortable environment.  It always bothers me when people say it’s playing God, when we’re already playing God in the first place (without medical intervention, many of us would have very serious medical conditions, debilitations and sometimes premature death – so I think its a little unfair to allow doctors the credit of knowing what’s best in life, but refusing to allow them to help a person to choose when and how and where and with whom they can die).  Of course there must be oversights, so you don’t have people offing themselves so as not to burden the family, or greedy kids hurrying rich mommy along to death’s doorstep so we can have the inheritance already! But I want to be able to move into whatever is next without the torture of suffering in old age.  Since when has quantity trumped quality? Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. Insert other related platitude here).

*Marilee steps down from the soapbox and returns to blogging. 

Regal King
Air Dakota
As I was saying, I feel like there is a threshold of humane-ness for treating animals in the end of life.  I think Dakota is already past the leading edge of the threshold.  We’re managing his pain and arthritis with Metacam (a pain-killer and anti-inflammatory). He has numerous lumps all over his body, but we can’t afford to biopsy them, and even if we could, we most definitely couldn’t afford to treat whatever is in them.

He can still walk well enough. At times he acts like a puppy, and at these times I cannot imagine ever putting him down.  Then other times, he’s lethargic and achy.  He does fall from time to time and I think that’s probably how he’ll go.
 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
I’m trying to plan how to let him go, without pre-greiving him.

Ideal plan:

Take him to the park across the street, and have the vet meet us there.  His friend Ollie can come, they can play around for a few minutes until Dakota gets too tired, and lays down – as he usually does.  Then I’ll hold him, while the vet euthanizes him.  He’s so scared of the vet’s office, I don’t want him to die there – in a place of fear.  I want him to die in a happy place, and a place I can come back to if I want to.  Whether or not this is what happens is unknown to me, as I seem to be unable to read the future.Just Looking Good

Anyway – this is a more macabre than I meant it to be, but its hard to talk about dying without talking about dying.

If however, he is exactly the same level of wellness in August as he is now, we’ll have to look for somewhere for him to stay.  He has always lived with either me, or dad (except for a brief time living with the Jones’).  And I know it will be hard for us to find someone who will take a dog whose circling the drain. So I’m hoping beyond hope it doesn’t come to it.

Mwomp, mwomp. (I don’t know how to spell the Debbie Downer sound effect).

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