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December 22, 2008

Let sleeping dogs die?

A couple of years ago, whilst sleeping in India, at 5am there was a knock at the door. My husband answered it and there was a young Swedish man there. He explained he had found a dog who had been hit by a car and was in a very bad way, and he wanted my husband's help to put him out of his misery.

My husband did help, but after that night we decided emphatically that we didn't believe in putting animals down. Suffering is part of life, a big part, and a part we can learn from if we only take the time to go through it. I'm not really sure how much conciousness animals have of these things, but who am I to take that opportunity for growth and spiritual development away from anything or anyone?

But, as always, when I decide to believe in something emphatically, the universe throws up a situation which reminds me I'm really not sure of anything after all.

Last week, after months of agonising over the decision, we put our old family dog down. She was 18 yrs old, and had been blind and arthritic for nearly two years. We put it off for a long time, because we wanted to make sure we didn't just put her down for our own convenience, we wanted her to actually be ready. But it went on for years and she just wouldn't let go. She could barely walk by the end of it, and the final straw was a bed sore that couldn't heal due to lack of circulation. She stopped drinking and I was faced with the decision all over again.

We decided to have her killed.

Many of my friends have been saying it's not killing, it's euthanasia, but euthanasia requires consent and how on earth can we have the consent of a creature who doesn't speak? It is killing, and I'm not really sure I did make the right decision.

So I prayed that I made the right decision, and I prayed for her soul, and I prayed for some opportunity to repay my karmic debt to the animal kingdom.

Then yesterday I went to the river for a swim and found literally 70 or 80 fish beached on the sand and the rocks. They were still flapping and gasping for air. I didn't really know what to do, most of them looked long gone, and they are a kind of fish with poison in their scales so you can't touch them.

But one was just on the edge of the water and the waves were lapping up against him. My husband took of his shoe and pushed him into the water. For a moment it looked pretty sad, but once the fish caught his breath he swam off. So I took off my shoe too and we started flicking all the fish back into the water. It took us about half an hour and only about two thirds of them survived. A few more were stuck in between crevices in the rocks so we had to leave them.

I have no idea how they got there. Maybe a fisherman caught them and left them because they aren't eating fish, but I can't imagine how you could catch that many fish. My other thought is that the whole school became disorientated and somehow beached themselves, but I don't know enough about fish to know if this actually happens.

Either way I am grateful for the opportunity to offer life to some little animals. And I am sorry for the lives I have taken, whether or not it was the right thing to do.

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