When I first moved in with Mister, Sugar would greet me every morning with a happy wag of the tail and a cursory but tell-tale lick on the hand. She would wait in the room until I got out of bed, and then proceed to follow me around as I carefully avoided reading the newspaper. She would wait patiently for me to pet her. I would often sit on the floor, resting my back on the ugly-ass black leatherite sofa in the living room, and Sugar would promptly sit down next to me, touching me just a little bit.
She’d growl if I got up before I finished my tea. She’d whimper if I ate before passing on a morsel of whatever it was I was eating to her. She’d follow me around like a puppy, because she became one when she was with me. She was having fun, being in the here-and-now.
Now, she’s eleven. She has cataracts in her eyes and no energy in her body. All she can manage to do in the morning is walk up to my bedroom and crumple in a heap near the door. She doesn’t lick me or wag her tail anymore, or whimper or growl at me for not giving her attention. She just drags her feet trying to be in the same room. He favorite treat, ice-cream, goes untouched. Now, I’m no longer sure if she’s enjoying the here-and-now so much.
We recently had her uterus removed. And then, right after her surgery, we discovered that there was a tumor in her breast. We don’t know if it’s cancerous yet, but what if it is? The doctor says she may not make it, and it may be kinder to “put her down”.
Most of my life I thought – hell, I knew I was against euthanasia. Not on religious grounds – because god knows I’m not religious at all; but because I don’t think it’s ethical. And here I am, entertaining the thought that maybe Sugar would be better off dead than dying. It seems, suddenly, the more humane thing to do.
But is it ok to even consider euthanasia just because we’re talking about a dog and not a human being? A pet, however old, is still like a baby – completely dependent on us human beings for their survival, unable to speak their minds, unable to give consent.
I wouldn’t request a doctor to put down a terminally ill baby, so why Sugar? What makes it ok for me as a human being to assume superiority over a being not even from my own species?
Have you ever been faced with this situation? What would you do?