The 'humane' thing to do

Heather Lende
Heather Lende photo

I was waffling. I wanted the consultation and an exam. Afterward, I asked for a night to think about it. My patient husband sighed. He said we had to do what's best for the dog.

The vet's assistant, her eyes red, said, "I know it shouldn't be a consideration, but you'll have to think about burying him before the ground is too frozen." We knew that. The visiting vet, who is leaving Friday morning and won't back until mid-December said that we could do "this" anytime and it would be the right decision.

The cancer in my poor dog's shoulder is big, hot and uncomfortable. So is he. His temperature is 104. He can't stand for more than a minute. He pants and cries. He's lived with this for nearly two years. Cheerfully. Without complaint. But winter is bearing down and he can hardly walk, which, next to eating and being in my way, is his favorite activity. He's in pain.

Everyone agrees that putting the dog down is the most humane thing to do. We all do. Even me, who loves that stupid dog way more than I ever should have let myself.

Forte is just so darn endearing. He should have been named Happy. My friend Chuck says that when he gets to heaven he's going to ask St. Peter why the heck he allows parrots to live to 90 and dogs only 12 -- which is how old Forte just turned.

Which just goes to show that even God makes mistakes. My friend Tom wants to know why we can't end human life this way. He says he would like that option if his body and mind ever give out, but won't shut down. He says we all would. You bet we would. All I have to say is easier said than done, buddy. Easier said than done.

Heather Lende writes from Haines. Her new book is "Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs." This post originally appeared on her blog. It has been reprinted with permission.