Wednesday, April 20, 2016
A BAD NIGHT FOR GEORGE...
George and I had a bad night last night. His restlessness at 3AM woke me, but I thought he might get back to sleep. Instead, I heard a thud that told me he had fallen off the bed. Thinking he might urgently need a pee, I picked him off the floor, took off the diaper that he has to wear these days, and carried him out into the side patio that we call the Buddha garden. He seemed to want to head further down the steps into the garden so I picked him up again and took him down to the concrete patio, where he had a small pee and promptly fell over and collapsed in a furry heap.
I sat with him for a few minutes, then decided we should get back inside. Fearing the kind of urinary accident he'd had a couple of weeks ago, I found a plastic sheet and towel and laid them out on the bed with George on top of them. By this time, he'd fallen into a kind of catatonic state and I thought he might actually be dying, so I cradled his head and sat with him for a while, whispering sweet nothings in his ear. Aware that dogs can cling to life out of a sense of responsibility for their clan, I assured him that it was okay for him to leave if he needed to--but he kept breathing, so eventually I lay down beside him and tried to doze off again myself.
By this time it was 4AM. The moon--I think it was a full moon--was big and yellow and hanging in the sky above the Santa Monica mountains, and I began to think that this would be a propitious time for George to leave. But no. For the next hour, he slept restlessly, occasionally raising his head as though to reassure himself of his surroundings. Once or twice, he attempted to get to his feet, but apparently did not have the strength. And once or twice--since this is usually a signal that he needs to pee--I picked him up and took him out again.
Finally, around 5:30, I decided I was not going to be able to sleep any more and got up to do my meditation in the chair beside the bed. Mid-way through, aware that George was restless again, I got up and brought him over to sit with me, on my lap, as I meditated. He cupped his head in the crux of my elbow, and seemed happy enough to relax in my lap. At 6AM, we both got up and returned to bed. He has been sleeping fitfully ever since, and now lies beside me on the bed. He summons the strength to stand, once in a while; but when I take him out and stand him, gently, on all fours, he seems to need all his strength and concentration just to keep standing. At most, he can manage a few faltering steps.
He does not appear to be suffering, but we can now no longer overlook the weakness and the lethargy. We must think further, today, about kind home euthanasia...