Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Another Furr Baby Passes On To Rainbow Bridge

My best friend Dawn called to say that she knew it was definitely time to say good-bye to her 14 year old dobie mix, Cleo.

Dawn asked me numerous times over the last few months when she would know, without a doubt, when the time was right for euthanasia.

From my last two experiences with Casey and Kandie, they both let me know in their own unique ways. While my rescued 3 year old golden retriever Kandie lay on the floor at home, just two days after being released from the hospital, I asked her if she was ready to go. She slowly raised her head up to make eye contact with me, and placed her right paw over my clenched hands. At that moment, the song "Angel" by Sarah Mclachlan came over the airwaves. That was my sign.

Less than seven months later, Casey, my rescued 7 year old golden retriever's health quickly deteriorated. This time, I refused to be the hero as I didn't want to put him through any more than he could endure. He fought to be there for me through Kandie's passing, but he could hang on no longer. His sad eyes locked with mine, and we hugged for a very long time. That was the sign I was looking for. My best pal and I shared a final lunch of McDonald's french fries together on the back porch. The wrenching pain I felt upon his passing is something I will never forget. He was closer to me than any human on this earth.

In both cases, I was blessed to have found the most wonderful vet to administer the medication to help my fur babies find eternal peace. She had a room set aside with the lights dim, blankets on the floor and no other patients in sight. She explained everything, step by step, and stayed with us through the entire procedure. We cried, laughed and told stories...and she never left our side.

To see my loving fur baby pass peacefully to Rainbow Bridge was an experience I will never forget. I realized there was no reason to fear death, and that experience ultimately helped me deal with my Dad's passing just two years ago.

Euthanizing a pet is one of the most difficult decisions a pet owner can ever make. I accompanied Pat and Dawn to our local vet yesterday after the final decision was made, not to allow Cleo to suffer any longer. She was a fighter from the very beginning to the last moment of her life. Very courageous, loving and sweet.

The three of us stood around Cleo, reassuring her that everything was going to be alright, and that it was time to go to sleep. It was extremely emotional for everyone, but I stayed as strong as I could be for my friends. Since I am formally training to be a minister, it was the perfect opportunity to offer prayers for Cleo. I also tried to guide her to the afterlife, petting her head and closing her eyes.

The vet first injected a needle with a medication to relax Cleo so she wouldn't be agitated and nervous. Within a few minutes, her breathing slowed down and she seemed "out of it." The doctor returned with another needle to actually perform the euthanasia. He inserted the needle in her right paw, the one closest to the heart. The injection worked extremely quickly...as she passed with no reactions, just one sigh.

I feel blessed to have been part of Cleo's life and to be present at her passing. In Metaphysics--Whenever one whom we have dearly loved and cared for passes from our physical sight, we should think that they have passed more into God's sight. In this thought, though saddened by our loss, we should be gladdened at the gain of the one who has passed on before us.

The following is a special poem that has always helped me with the grieving process after I've lost a fur baby. It says it all!

Rainbow Bridge
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....
(author unknown)

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