When my sister Anna brought Chip, our Yorkie, into our family at the turn of this century, he became the third dog in the family. His attitude to me could be described as the following: “Oh, yeah, that guy.” No belly rubs with toleration of my petting.
He had an uncanny ability to climb over barriers and onto beds. Yes, climb. My sister Anna and I saw this feat.
The years went by and the two older dogs passed away. My father brought in Teddy, a Yorkie-poodle mix. Now, Chip is the oldest in the family.
As Chip entered his mid-teens, he needed to be carried up and down stairs. Arthritis slowed him down.
Earlier this spring, my sister Anna on leave from the Army wanted to put him down, but the vet said his heart was still strong. Chip bounced back with medication.
When I returned on the 20th, my sister Liza said that she wanted me to see him one more time. She thought it was best to put him down.
My sister Anna was present when the two older dogs were put down. But I didn’t want Liza to be alone when she brought Chip to the vet. My mother said her goodbyes before we left. He trembled on the drive Saturday. He seemed to have a hunch what was happening.
Liza hugged Chip a few times as we sat in the waiting room. We entered the examination room. The vet looked at Chip and refused to put him down because he was still alert. Only when he hasn’t eaten in days and becomes lethargic, will he put him down. “You wouldn’t put someone down if he or she is in a wheelchair, wouldn’t you?” he asked.
With joy, we took Chip from the vet’s office. I knew he was very much alive when he peed on me on the drive back home.
But this incident made me think about euthanasia. Twice, the vet stood up for Chip, demanding more justification for euthanasia. Meanwhile, advocates press for lowering standards for people to obtain euthanasia. Even the vet said he would put down a human first than a pet. Maybe we blurred the lines between humans and animals that both are to be treated as disposable. Shouldn’t we give everyone a fighting chance? Even those who see no chance have plenty to fight for and live for. Someone might argue that I’m mistaken for comparing euthanasia and the incident with Chip similar to apples and oranges. It might be true. Is not a human different from all the other animals? But which one is the apple? And which one is the orange? They are different. Which one is which determines how we treat it? Have you ever eaten an orange pie? But I will leave those questions for another day.
I’ve learned my lesson: Don’t give up on anyone (including pets) because it’s not yet time to say goodbye.