A story from Larry Ferguson

12:15 AM on Bella’s last night I was with her in the backyard as routine, like all the other times in recent months. Lately, in response to her sad and plaintive whining I usually had to assist her down the few steps in our split-level house by lifting her hindquarters using a soft towel as an improvised sling. She could still maneuver her front legs and we were now independently on the lawn outside in the semi-dark, lit partly by the back porch fixture. She was sniffing the grass after doing her business and I was deep in thought.

Something from a movie…..Field of Dreams  ….a movie….a book.

What was I recalling?…..details in the story….there were Voices in the corn field…..the most remembered line was “If you build it , they will come”.  Now my foggy mind was searching for some words spoken by the Voice in the corn connected with our situation. So my thought process was “Ease….,  Ease who? Ease what?  Ease…….Pain.  But How? …..and what did this have to do with our dilemma. We had already made a decision earlier in the week but my mind was catching up. Later I Googled the quote and verified my recall. It was “Ease His Pain” and the meaning was clear as it applied to Caroline, and me and our pet. And so the words kept repeating , “Ease Her pain!”.

Much has been written about Field of Dreams; the movie, the book and the story like all great cinema and literature is layered and wrapped around a few themes. For me, it is ultimately about our struggle to come to grips with the End of Life of those around us who we love whether they are nearing a time of death or already passed. The story seems, on the surface to be about a reluctant Iowa corn farmer who is struggling to “make a go of it” against a lot of odds with his young family.  The basic plot could be almost comic as it pits the “city slicker” against the “country folk” until it turns a little weird as our hero Ray starts to hear a Voice in the corn rows. From there we are drawn into a tale and a journey that is as deep and thoughtful as are all our searches for meaning about life and death itself. The universal theme is explored through a tale of baseball. It draws from real and fictional characters in American history and Ray interacts with them all, alive and dead through Baseball. It may seem that this is all about guys and women are excluded; but I believe it applies to people everywhere and it speaks to a very human attempt to deal with real emotions that range through grief, guilt, joy, fulfillment, frustration, satisfaction, love and more. It actively works to have reconciliation and resolution of relationships and estrangements. It ends in the simplest of ways. A father and son have a game of catch and mutually ease their pain.  

We adopted Bella, our noble friend from the pound in Orillia exactly 3 years ago…

She was wandering streets and dropped off …..her earlier life remained a mystery to us …..no one ever knew her breed and all her care plan was done speculating about her age and previous health issues. In all, four veterinary services and SPCA were involved in assisting us to give her the best life possible. 

After research and observing her , I came to believe that she had most attributes of an Australian Kelpie (/Cattledog). She adopted us as her herd and was anxious when she did not have both of us around. She had a look of high intelligence, even brilliance and had a total mind of her own. We were smitten and laboured to please her. She was a wonderful companion and easy to love. Caroline disagreed with my breed designation but did purchase Kelpie calendars over two years.

She was old when we got her and quite elderly in the end as she came to suffer more and more from rear leg, hip and/or spine problems, and most sadly Dementia.

Often the whining, moaning and sometimes howls of agony were happening more and more without apparent physical cause. She was being tortured by her own demons from a past that we had no way of knowing as most of her life had happened long before we had adopted her.

She made it clear to us that she hated veterinary clinics; not the mostly well meaning and kind professionals and staff (she was not mean) ; but she was traumatized by the confines of an examining room and we knew this in no uncertain terms.

The last week started Sunday night , all night she was in agony and we could not comfort her, no matter how many treats or kind words . We were at our wits end, worn out and considered taking her to an all night emergency clinic….but to what end and what could they do?  She was already on pain killing, anti-inflamatory and anti-anxiety medication. In the morning we met with Dr. Sharma for a “Quality of Life” consultation. We came to realize that we were doing Bella no favours by trying to hold on to her.

By Tuesday we had made our decision to seek a peaceful End of Life for her. Our search for such care providers led us to Heart With Wings. Dr. Laura Coulter provided the service that we needed.

At 9:00 AM as scheduled, Dr. Laura pulled into our driveway. She was all that we could have hoped for. She truly embodies professionalism and compassion in the best way. She quickly bonded with our dear old girl and lavished treats on her. She reassured us about the procedure and that we had her with us as long as necessary. This gave Bella and us a sense that we were just having a visit with an old friend in the relaxing environment of our familiar living room. The kind and gentle approach and technique is hard to describe. We had all time needed after our girl was no longer living to say our goodbye.

 When Dr. Laura pulled away from our driveway at 10:30, we knew that this had been the right thing to do and as for me I had come to terms with the voice in my mind and a story rattling around in my brain. With exactly the best help and support, we had all eased her pain.