We have a great mailman. I don’t know how to explain it, but for all the complaints people have about the US Postal Service we seem to have lucked out with our guy. From the day we moved in when he introduced himself 6 years ago, he’s been unfailingly polite, always waving, remembers our name, and pretty much everything you have come to not expect in a federal employee.
He showed up at 10 am today with a package I needed to sign for, and we chatted a bit. I signed, he left. A minute later, he rang the doorbell again. I went up, figuring I signed something incorrectly.
“Sorry to bother you,” he said, shuffling his feet, “but…you’re a vet, right?”
I pushed Brody back inside and stepped out onto the porch.
He has an older retriever who is slowing down considerably, and he was wondering how you know “when it’s time.” I don’t normally do impromptu counseling sessions- oh, who am I kidding, I totally do it all the time- but I was particularly inclined to want to help this guy because he’s so darn nice.
We talked for a bit, I gave him some advice, wrote down some things for him to talk with his vet about, and told him to please come with any questions, anytime. Because I know of all the questions you can ask, that question is the hardest to answer.
I told him the truth: I’ve done it several times with my own pets and I still don’t have a clear answer. Sometimes you just know, and other times, when it’s not a disease process with a definitive course of progress, you don’t. You can come up with benchmarks and “name 5 things your pet loves and when they no longer do 3 of them it’s time” and all other sorts of little games, but it all boils down to a gut feeling. The Look, as I’ve come to know it.
These things come in waves. I’ve noticed a lot of wonderful people around me dealing with loss and choices lately and my heart breaks for them all. For every hello that brings joy to our lives, the price we must pay is a goodbye when we least want it.
It’s funny, people ask me if I get sick of people asking me for advice all the time, and the answer is “not usually”. Because when it’s a question like that, when someone asks you about their loved one’s life with pain in their eyes, how could you not want to help them find peace in their choice? Now pumping me for free flea meds, well, that’s a story for another day. And no, he didn’t do that.