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Su Lum: Beuthanasia

I knew that my old dachshund Trudy’s time had come when she didn’t as much as flick an ear during one of the longest and loudest fireworks extravaganzas in Aspen’s history.

On Saturday at 10 a.m. I told my daughter Skye that I hadn’t been able to pick up the phone to call the vet, and by noon we were back home and the deed was done. So there was that about it: it was fast.

Skye had called Scott Dolginow at home, who said he could do it at the house or the office, either right now, or that evening, or the next morning and I picked “right now” and picked the office, for fear that something might go wrong. Trudy had just finished the last of her chickie, so I poked a Valium into the only thing at hand, ironically, into a piece of a hot dog, a wiener.

A few months ago a herniated disc in her neck paralyzed Trudy’s right side. For a while she got better, but it became clear that she’d never be able to really walk. It wasn’t much of a life (for either of us), but she wasn’t in pain or unhappy until last week, when she started getting very agitated during the few hours she was awake.

She gobbled the pill in the hot dog, asked for and got some more, and was sound asleep

again when Skye arrived.

Aspen Animal Hospital was closed for the holidays and Scott got there just as we did, so there was no waiting room scene, just straight to an exam room where Scott gave Trudy a preliminary knock-out shot.

It was the

same room where my dachshund Rufus had died eight years ago, moments before the lethal injection, so this was really my first time. As Trudy sank into unconsciousness, I told Scott the saga of Rufus’s ashes, which began with my not being able to pick them up, Skye being stuck with them for several years, and ending when I emptied them into the Roaring Fork River only to see not a cloud of ashes but a tightly wrapped cube of plastic fly out of the box and bob away in the roiling water.

No ashes this time. No burial, no ceremony. It didn’t matter what happened to the shell of Trudy.

Scott brought out a slender syringe filled with a few cc’s of pink fluid. I asked what it was and he said, “Beuthanasia.” Ah, those clever drug company ad agencies: beautiful euthanasia.

“Would that kill a person?”

“Oh, yes.”

It took a few tries to find a vein, but I was glad he didn’t shave her. Even if she wouldn’t have known it, she so hated the buzz of the clippers.

Scott pushed the plunger. “How long does it take?” I asked.

“She’s already gone,” he said.

Like they say, she really didn’t feel a thing. Though I have stabs of sadness and moments of sweet memories, and though I still listen for whimpers and wake in the night thinking she’s still there, she had a good long life, she was ready, and I am glad she could slip away with the help of the beautiful euthanasia.

[Su Lum is a longtime local who wants a vial of that stuff in her medicine cabinet! Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times]


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