I have a pet that is very ill. My dog, Cooper, is having seizures.
They started about a year ago. My wife and I were home one afternoon when his eyes suddenly grew wide, his legs splayed and his claws were flexed tense. We tried to keep him calm until the seizure ended about 30 seconds later. When we talked to the vet about it, he said that unless he had the seizures more often than a week or so apart, it wasn’t worth it for us to get him on seizure medication.
That was a year ago. Last week he had three seizures in a row, and this morning he had another one. We are at the point of finally taking him in for medication. But there is also the question tickling the back of our minds: how bad will this get? Is this signaling the end sometime soon?
I know that seizures don’t necessarily mean a pet–or a person–is dying. Those with epilepsy can learn to live with it. And we were surrendered to the idea that he may be experiencing these seizures the rest of his life. But they are coming more frequently now, lasting longer, and coming in clusters.
A few years ago, I wrote a blog about another dog I had who was getting weaker and weaker with an unknown ailment. She got to the point where we had to help her up and down the stairs, and eventually had to hold her up so that she could urinate. Finally we had her put to sleep. It was hard, but as adults we have accepted the fact that death is part of life.
And that’s what this blog is about. We try to avoid it. We hide it from our kids. But the reality is that all of us are going to die someday. Those of us who believe in heaven, salvation and the second coming have the hope that this life is not all there is. But we still have to deal with this life on earth ending for us.
I know parents who don’t want their children to know when a pet has been put down. They think kids shouldn’t know about death. But if a child grows up on a farm, they are exposed to death in many forms, just as they are exposed to birth in the form of new baby chicks, new kittens, etc. It’s the circle of life, or so the Lion King would say.
“It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart.” Ecclesiastes 7:2.
I don’t write this to drop a pallor on your day. But if we are real with each other, it’s probably something we could bear to talk about more often. Death puts life into context.