in contact

I now have two cell phones. One is for work, one is my personal phone, and I have them with me all the time. My friends make fun of me for having two phones and for having them with me 24/7. I keep them on, albeit low, at night. Since I’m a light sleeper, it works for me. People have asked me why I don’t turn them off at night. Why would I want to risk having my sleep interrupted?

My dad was in the hospital one day eight years ago. He was unresponsive, but still alive. I missed the call in the early evening from my grandma. When she finally got in contact with me a couple of hours later, it was past the time of the last flight out of O’Hare that would have brought me to him. To say goodbye.

Instead, I arrived in the morning, steps away after the moment of his death.

There is no such thing as control. It’s an illusion. I try to not make decisions based on fear, or let fear control my actions. As we all know, fear is the mind-killer….But we all have irrational things that we allow ourselves to believe, fears that we let rule. This is my concession. I feel like I have a modicum of control, even if it is just over receiving a call.

Now, I keep my phones close. It gives me a small comfort to know that people whom I love can find me if they need me.

pets

There is an old dog in my house. When I met him, he was a small, young, upstart of a puppy. That was over fifteen years ago.

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He is now old. Some say that he is past his life expectancy. He doesn’t seem to always know that. My Alyosha loves to play fetch, although instead of all day sessions of running back and forth in a field, he now can seem to only muster enough energy for two to three rounds of bringing a tennis ball from one end of the yard back to me. His hips bother him quite a bit, but he is stubborn.

Yosh has always been an anxious dog. But it has gotten to the point where his daily life is greatly impacted by this tension. He pants and paces, he claws at carpet and doors. He is often inconsolable.

When I was 13 my childhood dog, Hoka, died. He was a 14 year old Shepherd mutt and my best friend. He had gotten into a fight with an opossum and hadn’t fared so good. A bite from that opossum on his face became infected and in his old age, he became a sicky dog. My mom made the final decision, and it made sense with that old and sick dog.

I understand making that decision when your pet is physically ailing, obviously in physical pain and unable to care for him/her self. But how do you make that decision when it is their mind that is going? There is no measurable quantity. The critter can’t tell you how badly they are ailing either by voice or by veterinary test, only by their actions. And those actions could be misinterpreted. When do you decide that all reasonable options have been exhausted? A dog at 15 years old is an old dog. A very old dog can get up around 18 years old, but rarely with good quality of life at that point.

Our responsibility towards the creatures we keep in our lives as pets includes feeding, healthy care, giving and receiving love, and end of life comfort. It is a unique situation that we have agreed upon as a society that ending the life of these creatures is also our responsibility. Some people are more pragmatic than others. I have seen pet parents who have been unable to make that final decision, and instead, watch their pet wither away for years. That is not the quality of life I want for my critters, but how do you decide when is that date? Do you decide once you see the inevitable downhill slide of their physical and/or mental state? Do you wait for them to be unable to groom and eat for themselves? What metric do we apply to this process?

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