I Have Your Heart

I spent last night curled around Seneca, my ancient and bony dog. I have not been sleeping with her the past few weeks because her incontinence has become so severe. But on this short night, her last, I did not care.

Today I will take her to the vet for the last time. I’ve been putting this off for weeks during her long and gracious decline. She rarely complains. She mostly does as she is asked. She will go anywhere with me, waiting patiently in the car. She has always been well mannered and willing to please.

IMG_20120919_171658

Well past one hundred in dog years, Seneca has lived her whole life with that kind of grace. I’ve had her since she was seven weeks old. Runt of the litter, my standard poodle was chosen for me by the breeder for her gentle temperament. When I picked her up that day nearly fifteen years ago, she readily transfered her affections to me the moment I pulled out of that driveway, and has been my true and loyal friend ever since.

This has been an incredibly difficult decision to make: to help my dear friend have a good death (euthanasia from the Greek literally means ‘good death’). I have watched friends grapple with it, have gently encouraged them to let their pets go. It is indeed much harder from where I sit. I deeply do not want to lose my dog. I have cried like a six year old, losing her puppy. And then the other day I blurted out to a friend: “How can I do this to her?! All her life I have had a vow to protect her from all harm!”

My friend asked me: “Haven’t you done exactly that? Aren’t you still doing that for her?”

I have to admit that I have, every step of the way, given her the best life a dog could have. I began to see that I am not failing in my promise to her. I cannot prevent her aging, arthritis, the atrophy of her limbs. I could not prevent her dementia or it’s confusion and nightmares.

I can prevent further distress from these things, and I can prevent seizures or other painful experiences as she approaches her death. It is completely in line with my vow to her.

Last night as we curled together, I drifted in and out of sleep, and cherished the sensation of her warm, gently breathing form. I wrapped my arms around her and the words came to me “I have your heart.” I was saying this to her, as she has always said it to me.
Rest in Peace, Seneca
May 1998 – November 2012

8 thoughts on “I Have Your Heart”

  1. Beautifully expressed, Patrise. I don’t think any human is fully complete until he or she has loved and been loved by some animal
    pet. I, too, have wept (and wept with a family member or friend) over the loss of a beloved animal—an opportunity to purge oneself not just for the loss of the animal but for all the other losses in life that we experience but cannot bring ourselves to feel fully. It is my dogs, and not family members or friends, who have taught me what unconditional love looks like. How lucky you are to have been loved by your wonderful Seneca.

  2. Joan Pierotti says:
    November 30, 2012 at 9:24 pm
    Beautifully expressed, Patrise. I don’t think any human is fully complete until he or she has loved and been loved by some animal
    pet. I, too, have wept (and wept with a family member or friend) over the loss of a beloved animal—an opportunity to purge oneself not just for the loss of the animal but for all the other losses in life that we experience but cannot bring ourselves to feel fully. It is my dogs, and not family members or friends, who have taught me what unconditional love looks like. How lucky you are to have been loved by your wonderful Seneca.

  3. Patrise, You are one of my oldest friends and I, too, have loved Seneca. I just cried my eyes out and have many wonderful memories of her. Right now she’s up there tossing Frisbees are everyone. She brought you joy, but souls are only here for a short time and not ours to keep. Much love, Ferne

  4. I know what you are going through at the moment ! But it seems you gave her a wonderful life, full of love, and that is the best you could do. I whish you a lot of courrage and maybe in the future a new puppy ?

  5. Beautiful writing on such a sad event… I congratulate you on the strength to make this very tough decision. Seneca will be missed, but the love she gave, and the love you had for her endures.

  6. Thank you, Patrise, for including me in the lovely farewell to Seneca, when we gave her back to the earth. I hope you’ll post a photo of the beautiful gravestone fashioned by Ancient Man, Patrick Holmes.

  7. Patrise, “I have your heart” may be the most loving expression I’ve ever heard and the truest as we face separating from the physical form of our loved ones. Our true essence flows from our hearts and is everlasting. Sweet Seneca’s physical form may be no longer in your presence, but her heart and yours are forever connected, because of the loving, caring bonds the two of you grew over the years. May you take comfort in that as your allow your grief to move through you. Take good care of you. love, t

Comments are Love!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s