Vaughn Hardacker here: This past month has been an emotional roller coaster. On January 29th we were forced to have our seventeen year old Maltese, Maggie, put down. She had been failing rapidly and was blind, deaf, and living in constant pain from arthritis. Throughout my life I’ve had a number of pets but this was the first time I have had to have one put down. It is an experience that I never again want to have.
I started feeling guilty the minute we made the decision (actually I wimped out on that one–Maggie was my domestic partner’s dog and I left the final decision to her) and now three weeks later, I still feel as if I have betrayed her. In the nine years I was in her life, Maggie taught me about unconditional love and trust. On the drive to the vet’s office, she rested in Jane’s arms and all I could think of was how she trusted us and we were about to end her life. I’ve often thought that when my quality of life deteriorates and quality of life is no longer good I wanted to end it. I’m certain that Maggie’s QOL was gone and all she did was sleep twenty hours a day but I asked myself: What gives you the right to make this decision? Would Maggie agree with our decision? I can only rationalize our actions and tell myself that Maggie is no longer suffering.
Jane had periods of crying from the moment she made the toughest decision she’d ever made and I (the world’s most adept at pain avoidance) vowed no more pets: it hurts too much when they pass on. However, watching Jane’s grief as she perused facebook looking for puppies made me relent. I realized that while a new dog could never replace Maggie’s place in her heart, a new pup would help her deal with the grief. Henceforth, Skipper, a nine week old Yorkshire Terrier (aka Yorkie) entered our lives.
Skipper has a lot of Maggie’s mannerisms and some that she didn’t share. It has been over twenty years since I’ve had to train a puppy and it has opened my eyes to how they can be like a human child–for instance, instead of the 2:00 A.M. feeding, there’s the 2:00 A.M. pee call. It has been just over three weeks since we brought Skipper into our home and we have found him to be extremely intelligent–as a matter of fact, in the short time he’s been with us, he’s already got Jane and I trained…