Death is full of surprises

I never imagined I’d sit with my mother as she died.  Or view her a few days later.

But then I never imagined we would be right there in our kitchen with our vet, Brendan, as he gave Bill his last injection.  The ‘we’, included Suzy,  Bill’s canine litter-mate of thirteen years.

“It’s better she’s here,” said Brendan, as I was about to put Suzy outside. “She’ll register and know what’s happened later on.”

After a dignified time had passed, Brendan wrapped our black Labrador Bill, in a woollen blanket, lifted him from his bed, carried him outside and laid him on a stretcher in the back of his station wagon.

Bill and Suzy. “Sounds like an old couple in a caravan park,” a fellow dog walker insists.

That was the second visit Brendan made to our house that day.

The first surprise of the day came earlier in the morning when we phoned our Victory Square Vet Clinic in Nelson for an appointment with Brendan and happened to mention, “Bill’s not too good.”

“Just a moment,” came the reply.  And a minute later, “Brendan will call in within half an hour.”

Call in?

A home visit?  Come to our house, just after hearing, Bill’s not too flash?

“Couldn’t see my GP doing that,” quipped a friend.

Our young vet Brendan turned up.  There was no indecision about our old sick dog.   Let him go.

But then two more sensitive surprises from Brendan. “I’ll give you a couple of hours,” he said, “ I’ll come back between twelve–thirty and one.  And I can do it in here.”

Another of our dogs was also euthanized.  But that was fifteen years ago when we made an appointment with our vet, drove her to the surgery and left her with the vet.  And that was that.

Friends have phoned from far and wide. “How is Suzy?”

“Very well thank you.  If anything – seems surprised by the extra attention.”

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Janet Hart

Janet Hart lives in Nelson, where she taught English in secondary schools for nearly 30 years, before dabbling in a little historical New Zealand Art. In 2012 she took up Magazine Journalism, which now consumes her.