Journal of Michael Baum / Travels of an Artist

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Shadow's Passing

Tuesday, 1/2/07
After a few hours of office work, I got in over 4 hours in the studio. Started painting a commission, "A Drive in the Park", a whimsical painting with a red pickup truck. The first pickup I've done in a long time.

In the afternoon, Patrice takes Shadow to the vet. Shadow still has diarrhea, but is a little more active and interested in things. Later, Patrice calls from the vet, Bill Wilhoit, upset. Shadow is very sick. They are doing blood tests to find out what is wrong, but signs are ominous. Patrice wants me there.

I put away the paints and rush over, wrestling with the options. Do we do whatever we can to save her regardless of cost? Or do we let her go now? If money weren't a consideration, what would I do? A more important question emerges: should we leave her in the hospital, a strange and scary place full of strangers,  where she may recover or she may die alone, without us? I decide that if we can spend $1500 on the car (as we just recently did), then we can spend that much on our friend and companion. The next question is harder. I decide, if the vet gives her a better than even chance, then we should put her in the hospital. If it looks bleak, then we say goodbye now.

When I arrive, Patrice looks at me and says, there is no decision to be made. The blood test shows Shadow's numbers are way off the chart. She has total renal failure without hope of recovery. My first reaction is relief that we have a clear course. But , now we have to say goodbye to Shadow. I ask Patrice if she is ready, does she want to take Shadow home for awhile? She shakes her head. "Let's do it now, I'm ready." Shadow is comfortable on a blanket on the floor, weak, but not suffering. We say our goodbyes, stroke her warm ears, tell her she is a good dog. Bill administers the drug and Shadow slips away under our hands. I can't hold back the tears.  I just recently read that our pets, when they age, sicken, and die, show us where we must go. I think they also show us how we should live, getting the most out of every minute and not worrying about what comes next. We think Shadow was around 15 1/2 years old. She spent 10 happy years with us, hiking, camping, and sharing herself with us. We will miss her.

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