In 2005 I lost my dog Idgie to breast cancer. I swore I would never "put a dog to sleep", that it was really just putting MY pain to sleep, because I couldn't bear to watch the suffering. But in the end that is exactly what I did.
I felt like a murderer.
But after I got over the guilt I knew in my heart it was the right decision. She was suffering. I was suffering. Hers was physical, mine was emotional. She wouldn't get better. I would. Well, as good as one can get when they go through these heart breaking decisions. I don't want to play God. Ever.
One of my dearest friends is now going through this anguish. And it breaks my heart to watch his suffering as he says his goodbyes to his companion, Blue.
I first met Mike back in the early 1990s when I took a rock climbing class at the Ledges. We didn't know each other well then, but he made an impression on me, as he does with everyone he meets. Mike is outrageously funny, deeply caring, loves Michigan as much as I do, is an adventurer of life and wilderness. It was only fitting that a Being as special as Blue would come into his life.
Blue is one of those breeds of dogs that chases sheep around (he doesn't really chase sheep around but would if he had any sheep to herd). And he is the most highly trained dogs I have ever seen. Wherever they go Mike and Blue give a show, with Blue fetching his frisbee and doing all things that go with fetching frisbees, all by Mike's hand signals. I have been with them in parks and a long trip to rice camp in the UP and it is the same everywhere. People stop to watch in amazement. Young and old, rich and poor. Blue is simply amazing. He is an equalizer, an angel of joy.
If I were a dog I would want to be Blue.
Blue has traveled by canoe to places I have only dreamed of. With his personal flotation device strapped securely around his black and white furry body, Blue rides contently in one of Mike's beautiful cedar canvas canoes while Mike paddles him through Michigan's wild lands. He has Mike wrapped around his little toe, such as it is.
It was just a bit over a week ago that Mike got the news. Blue has some serious cancer. And of course he is devastated, as are all who know and love Blue. Yes it is true, death is a part of life. But that doesn't make it any easier.
There is a very special magic that the Creator has given to Dogs. For those who can open their hearts to it, there is no deeper love or healing than that which is freely given by our Dog companions. And because it touches us in places we rarely feel, it is that much harder when they leave us. I am finding there is still some pain in my heart as Mike and Blue's journey is reminding me of Idgie and my last days together. It hurts like hell. I have tears right now as I write this. Such is the love for a Dog.
I am keeping Mike and Blue in my prayers as they walk these final days together. I hope you will to.