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By Paloma Torres
Here is a story that helped me understand the importance of gentleness. For most of this summer, my old dog, Scout, had been very sick. Eventually, she started getting even worse. I kept telling myself that she would get better and that it wasn’t time to put her to sleep yet, but deep down inside, I knew that it was close to Scout’s time to go. It was really hard for me to take that, because I loved Scout so much, and she had been with me every day of my whole life, from even before I was born, and I knew it would be so hard to not be with her!
Finally, a few weeks ago, we saw in the morning that Scout had taken a big turn for the worse. She couldn’t walk and wouldn’t eat, and we could only get her to drink water by giving it to her with a syringe. After a few hours, my whole family had to face the hard fact that she wasn’t going to be able to recover, and it was time to put her down.
We called a vet who could do at-home euthanasia, but he couldn’t come until 6 pm. So we carried Scout out to her favorite spot in our backyard, and we lay her on a comfy dog bed with blankets and food and water, and we spread beach towels on the ground all around her so that my sister and mom and dad and I could keep her company. But Scout was in pain and wouldn’t stop crying, and it was awful to watch. So we all lay down around her and put our hands on her very gently, and we talked with her quietly, telling her how much we loved her, and soon she started to become more calm. We saw that she could rest a little, and she quieted down and shut her eyes. She seemed to be comforted by having her family around her, so we stayed that way for several hours.
At about 3 pm, Scout had a few twitches, but she still looked peaceful. I saw the movements first and thought she was having a dream. My mom thought she was having a seizure. Those were actually the last movements of Scout’s old body shutting down, and we knew she was about to die. We were all hugging and stroking her and telling her she was okay and telling her how much we loved her. A few minutes later, Scout passed away. Our whole family was with her when she died.
This is a day I will always remember, and it taught me how important it is to be gentle with others. If we had not been with Scout to gently care for her that day, she would have continued to howl and cry and suffer, and her long happy life would have had a terrible end. Instead, Scout died peacefully, and we could feel glad that her passing ended up being beautiful in a way. As much as we knew we would miss our Scouty, it was easier to bear her passing because she had stopped suffering and was with God.
This experience really showed me how being gentle can ease someone else’s pain. We still miss Scout a lot, but our family will always feel good that our gentleness helped our sweet old dog have a happier end.