Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Rainbow Bridge

Euthanasia is a Greek term for Good Death. Euthanasia for pets is often described as providing the most humane death possible to companion animals when everything else has failed. To help them cross over the Rainbow Bridge. This post is about the tug of war that one goes through while deciding whether to go ahead with it or not and when is the right time.

Sherry (our cat) was in a bad shape after a traumatic dog attack in 2009. Everyone said, "you are making her suffer just for your sake....put her to sleep." I didn't have the heart. She battled for two days. She writhed. Painful pangs made her wrench and jolt. I was holding her in my arms in the backseat of our car. The convulsions made her whirl into the air, bump her head on the car ceiling and almost hurled onto the front seat. This happened for a few minutes and she was quiet. My husband asked me, "should we take her back to the hospital (where she was on an IV for two days) and end her misery?"

I said no. Maybe she will recover. Maybe she will fight back and get well. I held on. Maybe that is the difference between a lay person and a doctor. Not to know when to let go.

She suffered for a few more hours after which she went to sleep with her eyes open. I couldn't believe she was gone. We both held her and cried. To get over the 'last look' takes a long time. She just kept looking straight into my eyes before she went. That one look tells you that humans are animals too and all animals communicate. They don't say it, you don't understand it and yet it is conveyed. It just reaches out of them and into you. Such is the simplicity of communication of beings.

We didn't have the heart to put her to sleep. She was gone on her own.

Last December we went through the same with Jojo (our other cat). This time I was alone at home. Hubby was out of town. Jojo was just the opposite. No dog attack, no convulsion, no painful pangs....absolutely nothing. Just a liver that had decided to stop functioning.

I behaved exactly like last year and refused to let her go.
I was party to animal dysthanasia (practice of prolonging life of animals who are terminally ill when either the guardian rejects euthanasia or scientists want to study the disease for a larger cause of finding treatment for such further cases) for totally selfish reasons.

I saw Jojo looking at me just the way Sherry did. You can keep looking at them day and night. Gaze into their eyes and keep talking. But when they give you the 'last look' a chill runs down your spine and you know that the time has come. We had been going to the vet everyday for two months. That was the off day as she couldn't bear the iron injections anymore. She was motionless but for her eyes.

We live in eternal hope. These are the times I remember the night I was at Tata Memorial Hospital. Terrible bone pain had locked my spine and any movement thereof. I lay still. Unable to speak or move but for my eyes. Which would fill up to the brim. The lights at the ITC Grand Central Hotel twinkled like distant stars through the open window until the tears rolled down on their own obeying simple laws of gravity. What if my father and doctors had given up on me them??

I gave the same argument. What if Jojo fights back and lives ten more years? Who am I to take them away?

It has been over six months since she left but I am yet to get over the fact that I finally took her to the vet. The doctor wasn't there. I asked the assistants if she could be put to sleep. They had been seeing her for past two months. I hoped they would say,"She will get better" or any such thing but they said,"It will cost Rs. 1000/-".
I agreed.
They continued," We have an electric crematorium for animals in Chhatarpur. You can take her there after she is dead. It will cost rs. 1000/-".
I agreed.
As they were injecting her with the lethal dose, I asked, "Is it going to hurt her?". They stopped midway, looked at me and said, "Madam, she is already dead".
I didn't agree. I asked,"really??"
One of the assistants tapped, right on the dilated pupil of her open eyes and said, "See, she is dead".

I wrapped her up in a green gamocha I had picked up in Assam. Took almost an hour and a half to locate the crematorium in Chattarpur only to find that the machine had malfunctioned and there was still a dog in it. I didn't know where to go when the assistant at the crematorium mentioned,"We can bury her here if you wish but it will cost Rs. 1500 in fees and you have to buy the salt that is needed for burying."
I agreed.

When my husband came back after ten days and didn't find Jojo at the doorstep to greet him (which she did without fail whenever he came back from office), we also agreed that we will never have a pet again.

We still haven't reached an agreement on when is the right time to help them cross the Rainbow Bridge?

The answer could be hidden in the ambiguous "when they no more have happy days for them".


  1. Euthanasia for pets is one difficult decision! But, Life goes on... Buzo is our 3rd Pet after Puppy (black lab) n Lisa (choco brown with green eyes). You might remember her frm college days. They have a much shorter life span than we do n it does hurt when they depart. I was in Delhi when Lisa passed away, but I did come back the same day to Lucknow for that one last look.

    PS: Get yourself a PET asap. Would love to see pic of a teeny tiny kitten like Jojo n Sherry :)

  2. Yes Lisa :) I remember.

    I want soooo much to get one teeny tiny kitten home...but stuck in that time frame when those two were around...haven't been able to pull myself out of it yet....guess it is going to take time...dunno how much...but time is the best healer i guess.

  3. Yup, Time is the best healer....I too miss Lisa though have very little memories of Puppy. *Hugs*


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