Saturday was a hard day for my family as we put our beloved pet Skittles to sleep. She developed some very uncharacteristic behaviors over the past month and a half that seemed to culminate in her suddenly going completely blind in both eyes.
Because she can’t tell us, we can only assume that her odd behavior was at the beginning of the onset of blindness. She has spent the past several weeks as an entirely different dog. It has been difficult to watch her walk into walls and parked cars, and to have her under my feet all the time. She had periods where she could not go up and down stairs and had to be carried, and she began to fall off the bed where we allowed her to sleep at night. She also had terrible periods of anxiousness each day and night where she wandered around and just cried and moaned. Humans experience something called Sundowners Syndrome when they are elderly and sick in nursing homes, and I would liken Skittles behavior to that. Everyone who heard her symptoms thought she had a brain tumor, because of how drastic she changed.
She seemed to gravitate towards me in these last few weeks, as though she wanted to be mothered and as though she knew I would keep her safe and protected. That is why it was particularly difficult to be the one making the arrangements and phone calls to the place that would end her life.
I am tired of being the Death Angel…I am tired of being sad and mourning and experiencing loss upon loss. I ministered to my beloved Mom in her last years and was present as she passed into the arms of Christ. There was great comfort in her passing (although my heart was broken in losing her) because I knew she went to be with Jesus and waits for me in heaven. It is most certainly different with my dog…she does not have a soul, and I have no idea “where she will go” once she dies.
As Mom was passing on I was telling her truths about Jesus and heaven and the peace she was about to experience. When Skittles was dying, all I could do was cry.
I have struggled greatly with this, as have my husband and children. We loved her, she was a part of our family for the past 7 years and our first dog. The night before she died each of us seemed to find a few minutes alone with her to proclaim our love and to tell her what a wonderful dog she has been.
This has made me think of people who are facing the death of a loved one where there is no understanding of salvation in Christ. What an uncertainty they face! To not know for sure where that loved one will be after their death leaves a dark vacuum of uncertainty for those left behind. The grieving is harder, the loss is deeper, the pain is greater.
I cannot imagine facing these feelings and thoughts about someone I love…feeling them about my pet is bad enough.