Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Missing Finale, a Known Friend and Some Things She Taught Me

I wrote on Sunday about my dog's last day with us and explained what she meant to all of us. She has died of pneumonia. Her last day brought questions to my mind and her absence of two days has underlined some important truths.

Finale was a mutt. She was half Chow and half Golden Retriever, so she was not a "canned" breed of a dog. Finale was known as more than just a dog. She was a beloved pet. I went to the Humane Shelter (both of them) to just remind myself that there were other dogs to be adopted. But, what it revealed was how unique Finale was. She was our dog, which meant she was not "just a dog". We had a relationship to her.

When I went to the Humane Shelter, I saw many different kinds of dogs, and could see that all of them had certain qualities in common. They were, after all, dogs. Now, I am not discounting the fact that these "facts" are also applicable to Finale, as a dog. But, there was much more to her than just her "dogginess".

Her absence these past two days has brought to mind how we "knew" her. I still smell her, can imagine her running toward me when I call. She would come up to be petted and if you didn't oblige, she would nuzzle her nose into your leg, chest or hand. She had a unique way of jumping and was clumsy. But, her idiosyncrisies only endeared her to us. And I miss her terribly.

In thinking of her last day with us, I thought about euthanasia. I watched her struggle and would've done anything to relieve her of her misery, but it was the week-end. And to be honest, I still was hoping for some change for the better.

Knowing Finale as a dog, is not knowing Finale. The same is the case for people. People are more than the material bodies they inhabit and the common characteristics of "humanity". But, their material bodies and the common characteristics are also part and parcel of their existence and "revelation". We cannot reduce man to his parts without doing damage to understanding man and diminishing man to an object to be "conformed" to "right order" or "proper functioning" (discipliship is understood in some segments as a conforming in this way). Man, as an object, is not loved, appreciated, or embraced, but controlled, manipulated and experimented upon for "god", or the "common good". This is not knowing a man as a unique creation, but, controlling man through education (propaganda).

Thinking about Finale's struggle to survive also made me think about what it would be like if she had been a person, who I had loved. What if I was watching my husband or child die like this? Wouldn't I feel the same way, even more so? It was obvious to others that Finale would not survive, but I kept hoping. Is this what happens to others when they face the death of a loved one? I really began to think that it would be best in certain situations to allow life to exit, instead of heroically trying to 'fix" it. There is a time to die. And sometimes embracing death is healing in itself for the person and the family involved.

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