Life, death, and animal euthanasia

Today we bury our family dog.

Pipa, the cocker spaniel, lived with us for nearly 15 years, growing alongside us and taking the 16,000 km journey across the world to migrate to Australia. She was a lively dog, always included in every stage of proceedings, never complaining – except in anticipation to get to the beach already. After a life well lived, her health started deteriorating in the past month and we knew the inevitable was nigh.  

Last night, Pipa’s health took a turn for the worse; her breath shortened, and her golden fur trembled in agitation, perhaps due to the suspected tumour in her brain, perhaps because she knew what was coming. Animals sense this, and before she lost the ability to move altogether as her furry body wrung itself in little spasms, a big last lick across my face told me she knew. Her brown blind eyes stared into the distance, looking ahead as if fearing what was coming. You stare into her glassy gaze and the only worry in your mind is to free her from that pain.

When the nurse came, her death was a swift one: a simple injection into her front right leg and she passed surrounded by everyone who loved her as if falling into a most peaceful slumber. The moment she was gone – confirmed by a most laudable veterinarian nurse – the tears stopped flowing, and an overwhelming sense of peace fell over the room. Her struggle was over, and the memory of Pipa in her prime filled our souls.

For nearly half of my lifetime – from 13 to 28 – Pipa was there, happy to be included. And in less than 15 seconds, her life came to an end, and the pain was gone. It’s moments like these that make a writer’s brain tick and make you feel most alive. A chapter closes with death staring you in the face, taunting you as if to say: this will be you in 60 years – if you are lucky. A quick reminder to live your life.

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