Monday, August 13, 2007

When Is The Right Time?

If you have been reading the blog for any length of time, you are probably aware that I have two dogs: Kirby, a Border Collie, and Mike, a Broward Humane terrier-mix, rescue pup. Kirby was purchased/adopted at 9-weeks and Mike was adopted three years later, at 10-weeks of age. Mike is 9-years old now.

Kirby, at the age of 12-years, has been in failing health. His vision and hearing were both on the wane. Like me, arthritis was causing him difficulty. He could no longer jump onto the bed and had difficulty walking at times, especially in the mornings. He recently developed a severe internal problem that was not responding to treatment.

On Sunday, August 12th, 2007, his race was run. Kirby passed away and I can only hope that the concept of the Rainbow Bridge is correct. I am left with an emptiness that Mike is attempting, to the best of his ability, to fill. Yet, how can one make the decision to allow his best friend to pass on and not second guess the decision?

In my heart of hearts I know that as Kirby gazed into my eyes on Sunday morning that he was asking me to end his suffering, his unhappiness, and was telling me that it was okay, that he was looking forward to peace. His look told me that he was ready. Yet I was torn.

If I waited would he feel better in a few day? If I waited would he suffer additional discomfort for those same few days? Was it too soon? Had I already waited too long?

I decided to let him go, but the questions remain. He was my best friend, literally, not just in the sense of the old saw that "dog is man's best friend." He actually was my best friend, my big boy, my baby, my son. He is gone based on my decision and I wonder in moments of reverie if I was correct in my actions.

I have had four dogs during my adult life. Chrys was a foundling Golden Retriever-mix, who came to me one evening, skinny and injured, wandering in a parking lot. C.J. was a Golden-mix adopted from the Miami Humane. Then there was Kirby and Mike.

C.J. died at age four of pancreatic cancer. It was swift in onset and there was no choice to be made. Chrys aged well until the day he simply could not rise, though valiantly trying with all his might. His eyes that day conveyed an apology because he was unable to stand. I allowed him to go away later that morning, to leave me forever. His eyes told me he didn't want to go. They said he wanted to stay with me despite his pain, but there was no other option. He only wished to stay for my benefit. For Chrys I berated myself for postponing his departure and allowing his pain to continue. I thought myself selfish.

Today I ask myself if I couldn't have waited a bit longer for Kirby. In thinking back I must believe that had I waited any longer, I would have only continued his discomfort. I think back to his eyes gazing into my own. Those expressive eyes that told me that he was ready to leave me. Those supremely intelligent eyes that said the decision was the right one and that everything would be alright.

It is less than 24-hours since Kirby passed, and I ask myself if I correctly interpreted his gaze. I ask myself if I should have waited. I ask if I had waited too long. I ask, and I ask, and I ask. There is no answer save that down deep I know it was the right thing do, the right time, the right decision. And, yet, I continue to ask, and ask, and ask.

In time I will stop asking, second-guessing or wondering about my decision. I can only hope that I interpreted his final gaze correctly, that he understood, that he agreed, that he forgives me. I can only hope that when Kirby and I meet again that he will view me with compassion and our friendship will be renewed. That he and Chrys and C.J. will have already met and become aquainted; become friends. That they are, even now, keeping one another company until my time comes to join them. My friends, my boys, my children. How I miss them all.

Kirby was born on December 17th, 1994, in Homestead, Florida, and was adopted on February 9th, 1995. A certified animal therapy dog, he was a pure-bred Border Collie, registered with the American Border Collie Association under the name  Chase's Kirby Cameron Dell. He was the smartest dog I have ever known. He was a supreme gentleman. He was my best friend.

In  Memoriam
Chase's Kirby Cameron Dell - Click picture to visit Kirby's online photo gallery.
Chase's  Kirby  Cameron  Dell
December 17, 1994   to   August 12, 2007

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