Pippin’s passing

by Andrea Elizabeth

I had epidurals with my first deliveries, but not with my last. I wanted to experience childbirth and not avoid it. Since the ’50’s we’ve been told childbirth is too painful for people. We’ve become very afraid of pain.

With the same idea, we chose not to take our old,  dying dog to the vet to be put down. Since studying natural deaths at home and natural burials without embalming, I’ve come to appreciate leaving out institutions in normal situations. I leave room for extraordinary situations. I want to die at home, surrounded by the people closest to me. And I think I want to chose when my last breath will be. I believe that normally we have some control over that. Last night, after a day of labored breathing, that definitely progressed in natural stages, about how long labor lasts, actually, I took a little break from Pippin’s side on his pillow on the floor in the living room and sat in the chair above him. After a bit, I saw that he was fighting really hard and fast all the sudden. I thought he was anxious, so I placed my foot on his head and rubbed behind his ears to calm him down. He did measureably. Then he drew one last breath, purposefully. And quit. I know he wanted to get my attention to say goodbye before leaving. You can’t do that when euthanized. And I know doctors administer Morphine to comfortably stop people’s breathing who are lingering. We are of course afraid of being oxygen starved, but natural deaths are different than being suffocated. I think we are given the chance to give up our spirits on purpose.

Rest in peace, you faithful, devoted, shepherding dog. We love and miss you, but hope you are pain-free and happily running around in cool, Welshlike Corgi mountains with your family and maybe mine who have passed on. Here’s an Orthodox perspective of the place of animals in God’s Kingdom.