Our thoughts wander in solitude and I’m reminded of my dog’s recent passing. I had a remarkable English Bull Terrier named Oscar who lived loudly until cancer took him abruptly on November 17, 2019 at the age of only nine. This hit me very hard, as the dog and I were very close. I spent the greater part of 2019 worried sick about Oscar’s health after a vet discovered he had bladder stones. His first surgery had some complications – leaking, the poor dog was leaking from the surgical wound for weeks – and so he got a second surgery which was successful.
He began to lose weight and get in better shape, which in turn brought out his playful side. He was quite possibly the funniest dog I’ve ever encountered – a real bastard of a dog.
Then, in early-November of 2019, I discovered that the glands under his jaw were swollen to the size of grapes, and shortly thereafter brought him to the vet who diagnosed Oscar with a particularly aggressive case of lymphoma. The veterinarian said that Oscar would be gone within weeks after significant decline and suffering unless we opted for expensive and brutal chemotherapy which we most certainly couldn’t afford. After careful consideration, it was decided with extremely heavy heart to put Oscar down before things got significantly worse for him; Oscar deserved to go out with dignity.
But this isn’t what I’m reminded of under present circumstances. No, my mind was drawn to the day before Oscar’s death. I was playing a game of Dungeons and Dragons to celebrate a friend’s birthday. I personally never played the game as a kid. I didn’t even know about it. But as of late, D&D seems to have picked up some cultural steam. My friend John has been an avid D&D player for quite some time, and so he wanted to organize a game with his friends on his birthday and we (his friends) happily obliged. For the sake of the game, we got very high, with the majority of the heavy lifting done by a highly concentrated edible. So, in my extremely altered (and admittedly twitchy) state, my mind wandered – directly into heavy territory, no less.
In this moment, I left myself and saw my dog. With the utmost clarity, I knew explicitly what was going on. “Oscar is dying,” played in my head and I was trapped in the thought. I somehow pulled myself out of it and back to my body to resume our quest with goblins or whatever D&D entails, but the thought yet remained. I wouldn’t be aware of his lymphoma until the following afternoon, and yet I knew it was Oscar’s time.
Years ago, a friend told me that he heard from a vet that when owners opt out of being in the room when their pet is put to sleep, the animals are often confused and scared in their final moments. That was all I needed to hear, and when it came time to put Oscar down less than 24 hours later, I made sure to be in the room face to face so he wouldn’t be too frightened. This was tough, but the right thing to do for such a special boy.
That prescient awareness of my dog’s impending demise is what I became fixated on in the shower. I don’t think I have powers, nor do I believe that such powers exist. What I am however fascinated by is that the message was so clear.
“Oscar is dying.”
Heavy. Very Heavy.
What is it that gives us such inexplicable notions? Unconscious understanding and reasoning perhaps – simple deduction. Regardless, we must all – now more than ever – listen to that voice . . . as long as it’s reasonable – don’t kill one another.