Lessons in Letting Go

Letting go.

I have to put down my best friend of twelve years.  I keep asking myself,  who am I to decide the date of her death? What gives me this  power?  If I look at the big picture I don’t feel like I have a choice, but is the most heartbreaking decision I have ever made.

Nala has been an amazing dog.  She has rafted many rivers including Hells Canyon and The Middle Fork of the Salmon.  She has hiked thousands of trails all over the country and has traveled to the tip of Baja twice.  She has not left my side since the day I adopted her.  Since I made the decision to let her go, I have had a pit in my stomach.   Physically ill.  Nala is 14 and has a lot of pain.  She has trouble getting up, falls a lot and now has bitten Zephyr.   Well it was only a snap, but it did draw blood. I keep holding on.  What makes this so difficult is she does have some quality of life.  She enjoys eating and lying in the sun and going for small walks.  However the risk for Zephyr increases every day and Nala’s pain becomes more and more pronounced.   She is starting to become incontinent.  The guilt of euthanizing is so heavy.  Besides growling and snapping at my son, she has been the perfect example of true love.  She never left me even though I have moved her to eleven different times.  Lived with countless roommates and their various dogs.  She sits at my feet, follows me from room to room and has slept by my side for 12 years.  She has outlasted six different relationships and four different jobs.   She is unconditional love.

I have an appointment on Wednesday.  I am thinking of canceling it.  I might need to take this journey with her week by week.  Although I know she would not aggressively hurt Z,  the images of a child we had to send to a plastic surgeon who was bitten by their family pet keep playing in my head.  Those parents did not think their dog was capable of such a bite either.   Their dog was also old and in pain.  They lost their dog, their son has a scar for life and now is deathly afraid of all dogs.  I don’t want that for my son.   Oh Nala!!!!!!!  How come the right thing to do totally SUCKS?  I also know it’s not just about Zephyr’s safety.  It’s about her  pain.  She fell down two steps today.  She pants and pants, she not longer wags her tail.

Now I have to let her go.  And as much as I know it’s the right thing to do, I am having trouble doing it.  We have had a lot of loss this year.

Life is like a sand dune, always changing, moving and shifting.  We are here to learn to love deeply and to let go.  I keep reminding myself that people, things, and situations are always moving through our lives like the sand moves across the desert.  I know that love goes beyond our attachment to the physical.  It never dies.  Love is endless. It is a bottomless spring.  That said, how do I let go of that sweet fuzzy face?

~Dayl

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5 Comments

Filed under Family

5 responses to “Lessons in Letting Go

  1. Love is one of those tricky things that we can’t grab hold of but we can’t ever let go of it either. Nala was chosen for you and you for her, there is no better gift than that of love. You got each other…forever. I love you Sweet One and am here on stand-by if you need me.

    XoXo,
    Cp

  2. Awe Dayl, that is heartbreaking.

  3. One of lifes most endearing moments. I have had to do this already twice in my life with the kids being involved. Those moments are something the kids remember in great detail. I do mot know the right way or the wrong way but I believe honesty is the key. There is no hiding of crying. The death of a family pet is more real to kids than the death of for example a grand parent. I am impressed you had the guts to put it into writing. Probably not a creative endeavor but rather an attempt to organize your thoughts.

    Thanks for sharing and I know you will do what is best.

  4. I had to make the same decision in May 2010.
    My beloved Oak was failing.
    It was so hard to say goodbye, but she is always with me.
    She was my angel on earth and is now the angel that watches over me and my family everyday.
    My thoughts are with you.
    You are a kind and compassionate doggy friend.

  5. I really believe that dogs are here to teach us what unconditional love looks like.

    Making the decision to end a beloved’s life is impossible. But in the end it’s not about what we want, it’s about what our loved one needs.

    I know you’ll do what’s right for sweet Nala, whatever that may be.

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