sallyLess than a month after I had my Rex put to sleep, my other dog Sally got her paw badly bitten by a dog. The paw is nearly healed. On the other hand she became lethargic, very weak and off her food. She is 12 years old, a cocker spaniel cross-breed.

I took her to the vet (not our own who is on holiday but another one) this morning, and he ran a blood test to arrive at something like a diagnosis. She has become severely anaemic and is low on red blood cells and haemoglobin. The vet suggested having a echograph done to examine the spleen and liver, then mentioned doing a biopsy to see if it is possible to remove the tumour surgically.

Hold your horses! This seemed like a ploy to get me to spend a hell of a lot of money for a dead dog! Some vets are just money machines. My father is a retired vet – I know a true vet when I see one…

My wife and I think it could well be exhaustion and shock after the biting and the process of a very nasty wound healing. Psychological traumas have their effect on the body in both humans and other species. She has something to give her a better appetite, and she will be getting rich food for the next couple of weeks: oily fish, black puddings, pig’s liver and kidneys, cat food, chicken bones, cheap cheese and all sorts of nice things to give her strength. Then we’ll see if she has cancer with our own vet, just two weeks until she gets back from her holidays.

If it is cancer, it will be sad to see another dog go so soon after Rex. We can pray for dogs, since the Ritual gives a rite for the blessing of sick animals. They are our companions and it is wrenching when they have to go.

If it is just exhaustion and depletion, then she just needs nursing for another year or two of life. She is a good dog, loyal as most dogs are. Truly, 2013 is an annus horribilis for me, beginning with the loss of my mother, and now my dogs. I too ask your prayers.

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8 Responses to Sally

  1. Stephen K says:

    Dear Father, your dogs definitely get my prayers. I share your sorrow and experience, having done the same to one of our cats 10 days ago. It was very sad. But the moment of death was imperceptible. He was curled up in my wife’s – his mother’s – arms, and stayed in that position. The dividing line between life and death was invisible, almost non-existent. In our belief we gave him back to God. God gave him to us and it was time to give him back. His soul, his little spirit, is merged back into the Divine whence it came.

    Pets have taught me a great deal about love, responsibility, life and death. They constantly challenge me and show me the way to be a better father to my three adult children. Every time one of our pets has had to be put to sleep – an expression I deliberately use because the process is exactly a “falling asleep” and because I have come to believe that death is “sleep in God” – I learn or am pulled up to think of, something very important. I have come to think that all life and materiality eventually goes back to its source. The spirit essence in each of us, including our pets and every living thing, is of a nature and a force or energy I equate with the nature and force or energy of what I call the Spirit, which, of God, is Holy. Death is the transition of the change, and it can be gentle or, sadly, violent. To see the transition, albeit through heavy heart or tears, is a very instructive and salutary thing though. The other pets also sense and know when each has gone. We all feel for a while diminished by a death, but we grow when we think of the life that enriched us.

    All this – excepting the deliberate ‘eu thanatos’ – applies of course equally to those humans we love and cherish or whose vulnerability we personally encounter. The further from personal knowledge and relationship with us the departed one is the less keenly we actually feel, but the considerations apply. Like you I have lost my mother, one year ago to the day. So the mystery of death is also at the forefront of my mind. The spiritual life here on earth might be summed up as the quest to learn how to cope with, and understand, death.

    I recommend the works of Father Andrew Linzey, who has done much to re-examine and promote a Christian ethos that, Franciscan-like, includes a more respectful attitude to animals. For those who are not familiar with his work, an excellent introduction is his “Animal Theology” (1994).

  2. So sorry to hear this news. Fr Anthony and Sophie you are both in my prayers as is Sally this well loved animal member of your family.

  3. Fr Graham Colby says:

    My prayers for Sally’s recovery, & for you and Sophie in another stressful time.

  4. Patricius says:

    Dogs truly are man’s best friend. My thoughts are, as ever, with you and yours.

  5. Jon says:

    Three years ago we had our dear poodle-mutt, Betty, who’d been with us 16 and a half years, put down. She’d been with us ten months longer than our oldest son. Three months later we acquired Molly, an eight week-old Westhighland Terrier. She’s the daughter we never had (she thinks).

    Dogs can be replaced. Moms can’t.

    Father, you, your wife, Sally, and especially your mom, are in our prayers.

    • Stephen K says:

      I know what you mean, Jon, and your sentiment is proper, but for the sake of accuracy, in fact, no living creature can ever be replaced. Each is unique in its own order. One way of understanding this is to realise that the concept of replacement only operates in terms of possession or utility. We can certainly pay money for another animal in a way that is no longer available in a non-slavery society for another human, but this commercial mechanism we have imposed is not sufficient to obliterate the personal uniqueness of each creature or the personality and relationship we and they might have and develop with each other. There may be a hierarchy of affection and sorrow involved – don’t even try to imagine how devastated I would feel at the death of my children – but in truth none of my pets are replaceable because they have all brought me something, and I have related in return, specially and uniquely. They do not live with me by the bonds of possession or utility but by the bonds of responsibility and cosmic community, from which love grows. This is in fact something Father Linzey is at pains to communicate, the essential inalienability of our fellow animate creatures.

      • You have a most insightful way of seeing things. Some people see animals as little more than machines with brute instincts. We get to know dogs and cats better because they live with us, but it is known that pigs are sensitive creatures and can be so affectionate that it breaks a farmer’s heart to have them slaughtered for food. Each animal has its personality. I remember each family dog from my childhood days, a pair of hooded rats I rescued from the euthanasia they faced from our biology master at the end of the school year, and now my two dogs. I have an unshaken belief that the spiritual life of a dog or cat, or other “higher” species, is profound but at a different level. I think they have para-psychological instincts that have become suppressed in man.

        True, we can get a puppy when a dog dies, or a kitten when a cat dies, but the new animal will not be the old one. The personality is other. My wife still mourns the death of her cat Frimousse, even though we have two new cats of the same breed, the cuddly grey Chartreux. A personality or the relationships we have with them can never be replaced.

        Of course, many people live without pets, and that is their choice. It all depends on our lifestyle, what kind of home we have, etc. However, it often happens that those who consider animals as expendable commodities consider fellow humans in the same way. There is the inevitable dilemma of eating animal meat, but consuming plant life is also destroying life in order to live. This is something we just have to live with, easing our conscience by living off the “lower” species and killing as humanely as possible.

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