Sunday, October 13, 2013

Silas. When Your Client Becomes Your Friend.

I have a very good friend and client Carole, who breeds sphinx cats. 

She didn't start with this breed, she ended with this breed. 

Her breeding history has evolved from small dogs, to Dobermans, ( I met her at the end of this time) to sphinx cats. She is a devote lover of pets, a highly religious spiritual person, and she has been fighting a life threatening disease for years. She has been hospitalized for weeks at a time, and has been told to make her “final arrangements” many times.

One of the most difficult euthanasia’s I ever took part in was her beloved companion Silas. He went with her everywhere. And when I say EVERYWHERE, I mean it. She had every canine good citizen certificate and service dog title they make. He had more medals than my husband accrued in 26 years of active duty and multiple trips to war zones. He went with her on airplanes. Yes, he had a seat, He also went to every restaurant, in every building, continent, hotel, etc. I am sure he was more world traveled than our current secretary of state. He was a big, soft, kind gentle soul. And he was so devoted to Carole. They were mutually inseparable. He lived a long and very happy, very spoiled life. 

When he started to fail it became time to start thinking about his final arrangements and so I was put “on call” to be ready to come to her house to put him down. There were many days of her just crying uncontrollably as his time grew shorter. She couldn't imagine going on without him, and she stated on multiple occasions that she hoped god would take her before he took him.  I knew it was going to be an emotional catastrophe, and I was glad we were going to be at her home. The veterinary clinic is never calm or quiet enough to ever allow a client to grieve freely.

When that dreaded phone call came, it came from her husband. She couldn't speak and she certainly couldn't utter the words that it was his time. 

I came to her house and she was lying on the floor on Silas’ dog bed by the front window. As soon as I walked in he jumped up and grabbed his ball. I know he used his last shred of energy to do this. But this was part of his welcoming ritual and it was hard-wired. There was no convincing him that he was too sick to stop doing that. 

When he got up and grabbed his ball his mom went from sobbing to hysterics. 

He immediately lay back on his bed and I looked at his lips and saw that he was ghostly white. He started panting and his distress and his mom’s distress pushed him into agonal breathing. I was trying to get everyone to calm down so that everyone didn't go into cardiac arrest and I just looked at his mom and gave Silas the syringe. He died very quickly and quietly. 

Then the hysteria hit a new level. Carole fell apart. I was really worried that she might not be able to recover from his loss. It took her months to re-surface. She has never been the same woman. There is a whole wing oh her house dedicated to him, and she received hundreds of condolence cards and gifts and all of her friends gathered around her to try to carry through the loss. 

After Silas she started raising sphinx cats. These are the hairless cats. I have grown to love them. At first I thought that they were just these alien looking little loud mouths. They are very demanding, affectionate little critters. They love to snuggle, purr on impact, and they are always seeking a warm body to steal some body heat from. They get filthy within a day(no fur to keep them clean, they have black stained teeth, (I still don’t get why this is?), and they have the most outgoing abundant personality. If you want a little naked, self-assured dynamo you need a sphinx.

She breeds sphinx because after Silas she decided she never wanted to keep any pet long enough to see them die. She never keeps a cat longer than a few years. It is a hard thing for me to accept. But I guess when you flirt with death as much as she does that maybe I understand her desire to avoid any more funerals.

For as long as I live I will never forget euthanizing that sweet big boy with a ball in his mouth.  


  1. "It's not that they died, it is that they lived" This is what has helped me over the years of so many of my pets who have gone to the Rainbow Bridge to wait for me. The way I honor them is to adopted or foster animals or give wildlife a better day than they had the day before.

    1. I agree with you! Life is a precious fleeting sparkle that is too short for many. The key is to live in the moment, be grateful, and love, no matter how much loss you face.

      For me I see it as another chapter in the long book of my life. Some chapters have more pages but the common thread is the love, joy, and happiness in spending my days with all of the living beings I get to share it with.