I recently came across a question on one of my threads about whether putting their dog down was the right decision. I couldn’t answer the question, as I really didn’t have enough information. But the question raised a lot of important issues, worth discussion
What was the problem with the dog? what was the disease? And what is the treatment.. is this a permanent condition? why wasn’t it being resolved? Very often the approaches of western medicine, including veterinary medicine- do not look at the whole system.. do not take into account, or ask the question: how do we help the body heal and return to its optimal function?without knowing this- making a life-determining decision wouldn’t be optimal. On the spiritual- moral note.. there are no right/wrong answers. There are no answers, only choices.
Only the person making the choice, can know if it is the right choice. No one else, should ever take choice out of a persons hands. What anyone, even a medical practitioner should be doing, is adequately arming and informing a person so that they can make the best wise choice for themselves and all concerned. They won’t be the ones second guessing choices for years afterwards, or crying for the loss… will they?
It is also the very real responsibility for anyone in this sort of situation, to step into their own responsibility. First question to address: what is it I am facing? What is this condition or circumstance? Assuming ownership of information and knowledge- from the fullest spectrum, is the most important thing anyone can do. It is much like that first step in addiction- admitting there is a problem. In this case, the “problem” is lack of full information. And on this note, one should NOT inherently trust any individual who is dispensing information: especially when that person is recommending a life-death choice. Question the validity of that information. Take down that information and then make a point of researching for flaws in that data. Some might call this playing devils advocate…
I like to think of this as arguing both sides. All too often in discussions, whether it is political, medical, or philosophical.. we only hear partial information, or information from one side of the “debate.” In this instance, it is our responsibility to create and build our own counter-arguments. This is a similar fashion of testing a horse’s soundness, by trying to break it down. Not inhumanely, but to see if it does hold up to basic “stress.”… If soundness is suspect, then the lameness/ dysfunction will manifest under that stress.
I had a horse for over 20 years, who had what some might consider an ugly ankle. The joint was completely calcified. I bought him for 300.00 out of the slaughterhouse. It turns out Wookie was a very highly trained dressage horse ( I’m not that good a dressage rider).. an OTTB, to boot. Wookie: aka the jabberwok, A gorgeous dark bay, 17.1 or 2.. with a massive solid frame that would be mistaken for a warmblood. I will guess that when he lost his range of motion, someone sold him on, and then he was either cashed in at auction, or sold on and ended up at slaughter.
Regardless, initially, for me, Wookie was a second-thought, secondary ( or tertiary, if you count a first pre-existing horse, another OTTB, for that matter, Doc) purchase, to my other ( also 20 yr owned) OTTB slaughter horse.. Autumn. I didn’t want to see Wookie slaughtered, so added him along..
While still being a college student.. Autumn, as horse number 2 was somewhat viable, horse number THREE, Wookie… was stretching it. So my initial goal was to take him and place him. I soon decided he might be a keeper, but the ankle was questionable. I was schooling horses for a trainer/ dealer- who had seen an awful lot in her years, and had both a skilled rider’s and a seasoned horse dealers eye for soundness. It was she that first noted that the ankle wasn’t a problem for him. Visual but not painful.
So, to test this, I took him out for a good gallop ( not death defying).. down a dirt road. Wookie never blinked, flinched or pulled up sore. Not then, not the next day. Walk, trot, canter and over fences. He had gone over 4 foot fences.. never blinking.. I didn’t pound him, and I don’t know how he might have withstood the stress of show-jumping.. but for his 20 years here ( on top of the 7 he came with:), he remained very sound and viable.In fact, he did the most stunning extended trot, and dumped me in a mud puddle only 2 days before he died.
Anyway- Back when I first had him, a vet looked at the ankle and listed him as pasture sound at best. This was only on a visual examination. When I later had a vet.. perform an actual soundness test.. the vet was quite astonished that the horse came through 100% sound. And I suspect the vet was trying to “prove” unsoundness based on his initial perception of the joint. His end comment was that, his being sound probably made sense. The joint had no pain whatsoever, because it was completely fused. No movement, no pain. He might become arthritic in later years.. which he might have..
The point here, is had I listened to what the initial information that had been given, by a qualified vet.. I might not have had twenty amazing years with this fellow. I could hang on his neck, crawl under his belly, vault over his rump ( when i was in good shape:) and stand on his back.. and I could also have delightful rides and share what a huge heart had to offer.
So back to the initial idea of deliberately trying to disprove a theory. If the theory is solid and accurate.. then that data will withstand scrutiny.But when it comes to making life-death decisions about ourselves, our families and our extended pet-families… someone better be pretty damn sure about their information.
On a final, aside note.. when the time comes.. with pets,least-wise.. they let us know when it is their time, and do not resent us for helping to make their end easier. In the wild, animals would not live in pain-distress.. predators take them before that happens, before they lose the optimal quality and joy of living.so for anyone unsure, about making that kind of choice.. find that inner quiet and tune into the animal. Hear their voice, and what it is asking, or saying. And be sure to find the stillness that is their voice, rather than the voice of our inner fears, or grief, or regrets.