Rest In Peace, Napoleon

My Dog, Napoleon

Today, the 11th, marks the day that my dog Napoleon passed away. He died 6 days after our daughter was born, after a prolonged 3-month intestinal illness that turned out to be cancer. He was an older Pug, already 9 years old and neglected when we adopted him, but he was our little boy (and grumpy old man at the same time). Here’s a photo of him sleeping with his favorite toy, a small stuffed animal:

My Dog, Napoleon, and his favorite toy

When I had to put him to sleep, that was the hardest thing I had to do in my life, and I still frequently reflect on that bitter, wintry morning and feel a lot of pain and regret. His intestinal problems were so bad, he was severely emaciated, had no bowel control left, and according to the vets, he barely had a pulse. After 3 months of his deteriorating condition, I felt he had suffered enough. In the vet’s office, once we were ready, I petted him gently, said thank you and good bye, and stayed with him as they injected the solution to stop his heart. He was cremated with the toy shown above.

Five years have passed, and his ashes are still in a tiny urn that sits alongside the various Buddhist images in the den.1 I pray for him sometimes, and that his next life is a lot easier and nicer than the one he suffered, and that we can meet again someday. I apologize too sometimes.

As I mentioned in a recent post, the Buddha once said in a certain sutra:

“Long have you (repeatedly) experienced the death of a father… the death of a brother… the death of a sister… the death of a son… the death of a daughter… loss with regard to relatives… loss with regard to wealth… loss with regard to disease. The tears you have shed over loss with regard to disease while transmigrating & wandering this long, long time — crying & weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — are greater than the water in the four great oceans.

The sutra above reminds me that I am not the only one to have lost loved ones, and that death is a part of life. It helps put thing into perspective, and I can’t change the past. I can only control what I do now.

Namu Amida Butsu

P.S. The story of the Buddha’s disciple, Kisa Gotami, is probably even more approriate.

1 Ironically enough, the urn is a clay urn made in northern India, home of Shakyamuni Buddha. His urn also sits beside another urn for my box turtle, “Kamé”, who died from an accident shortly after we came back from Ireland. She was in someone’s care and so I never got to see her when before she died and it had been over a year. I still feel a lot of regret toward Kamé too.

6 Comments on “Rest In Peace, Napoleon”

  1. Narda says:

    Thank you for sharing. I appreciate your blog, even the sad posts.

  2. Doug 陀愚 says:

    Hi Narda, thanks very much. :)

    P.S. Welcome to the JLR!

  3. Kuei-sen Chen says:

    Your recollection of that cold morning when you said goodbye to Napoleon reminds me that my Spot, a Jack Russell Labradore mix breed turning to be 13 years old this September, is only 3 years away from his day to leave us if the average life span of 16 years applies to him. Impermanence is inescapable, what a cruel reality.

  4. Doug 陀愚 says:

    Indeed. I had a “Buddhist proverbs” post recently, and the one I still remember most is that meeting is the beginning of separation. :-/

  5. Rory says:

    a very touching and profound post. I had a little pug Cecily who was dying at 4 years of a degenerative disease. When the vet, our friend, came to put her down, we were all basically crying, but I held her on my lap and chanted Nenbutsu to her. It was the only thing that gave me strength and I chanted the Amida Sutra at her graveside. I love Buddhism as it recognizes the buddha nature of all beings. I’m going to include Napoleon tonight during Eko at my altar, so he’s born in the Pure Land.
    Namu Amida Butsu

  6. Doug 陀愚 says:

    Hi Rory! Long time no see! That’s sad to see your pug die at a mere 4 years of age. That’s really rough, but I know how you feel at the end. Thanks very the very kind thoughts too. :)

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