Rest In Peace, NapoleonPosted: January 11, 2011
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:
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.
“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.