Animals and End of Life Issues

Dear Reverend Mugo,
I wonder if Peter could feature on your blog as part of my asking for merit for him? He was an old boy of around sixteen. A friend adopted him when he was about seven and had him for nine years. She moved away four weeks ago and he stayed with me (much to Matthew Cat’s disgust). Sadly he passed away on Saturday with the help of the vet. His body was in a parlous state and I feel very sad for him. I would like to celebrate his being with us and share his picture (with others).

Dear Friend,
Sure I’d be glad to publish the photograph and may I publish the information in your email please? Mugo
Absolutely. It may give others confidence to do what seems crazy but was so the right thing!
Best wishes and love xxx

Photograph of Peter the cat, recently deceased.

Reverend Mugo,
The actual process was awful. I could tell you the details if you want. It isn’t nice and easy at all. I felt bad that I hadn’t handled it well. Because the cat had only been with me four weeks I hadn’t thought about what I would do re burial etc. When the vet said “shall I take him?” I didn’t know what to do as my garden is too small and my friend suggested it would be better to let the vet take him for cremation. She was trying to be kind to me as I was distraught and traumatised. This was Saturday evening. I woke in the early hours and thought I could have buried him in the allotment and imagined him all uncared for being put in a pile of animals and treated not kindly (although the vet had said they do it sensitively). I felt he was just as important as my own cat and I wouldn’t have dreamt of letting Matthew go to be cremated without a proper send off.
Then this morning (Monday) I sat with it and asked (in meditation) if I really should ask for the cat’s body back from the vet – and the answer was ‘yes’. They were great, acted like it was a perfectly normal request. He was wrapped neatly in the red blanket I had given to the vet as he left and Peter was curled up inside like he was asleep – quite stiff so had obviously been put like that before this morning. I was able to say goodbye properly.
And strangely, I saw a neighbour as I was setting off to fetch him. When I got Peter I began to go to the allotment and something said – that neighbour lives next door to where Peter lived and perhaps he would be willing to let him be buried in his side garden. I went home and asked and he came straight out and found a lovely spot by bushes, against the wall, dug the hole for me, filled it in. Came to my garden and collected a large thin piece of stone to put on top of him and made it the right size. All this with no big fuss and a kind hand on my shoulder because of my tears.
So Peter is buried properly in a place he used to hang out in and I can say hello to him as I pass by.
What a lovely man. He loves birds and isn’t fond of cats but he did that. He knew Peter and had asked about him when his person left the village and the cat came to live with me. He said it was fitting Peter was buried there because he spent a lot of time in his garden and he had even been found once asleep on this man’s bed.

Recently I’ve been witness, indirectly via email, to a number of animal deaths. All came about through the intervention of the vet administrating a lethal injection. Anybody who has ever been in the position of having to make that decision will know how difficult it is. There are Preceptual issues. There are personal ones both practical and emotional. And there are the other people surrounding the animal and their fears, desires and issues to take into consideration.

When possible we perform a funeral for animals. This can be a simple ceremony or a more elaborate one as circumstances allow. However an animal goes be it by lethal injection or otherwise the important thing is to love them with all of ones being. And in their passing it is important not to harbour regret or self blame.

Published for all those who have been in similar circumstances.

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4 thoughts on “Animals and End of Life Issues”

  1. Thanks Reverend Mugo. I did indeed love Peter with all of my being. I realised how important that was & how no one creature is more important than another. My own cat is very special & so was Peter. I felt I had let him down because I hadn’t been strong enough to follow through after the death & it all seemed wrong. I am so relieved to have corrected the mistake I made.

    Homage to the Buddha,
    Homage to the Dharma,
    Homage to the Sangha.
    Homage to the Buddha’s Relics

  2. That took courage Angie. You did well for Peter the Cat. I have my cat problems still to be sorted out, run over, smashed up.
    In gassho

  3. Dear Rev. Mugo,
    Thank you for all you do for animals. We are all sentient
    beings, fellow travellers in samsara. As Bikhu Bodhi wrote “we all have
    insecurity perpetually gaping underfoot”. I think animals realize this
    too but handle it differently. Thank your correspondent for the story of
    Peter, I was touched by the way she listened to her heart and followed its
    direction. R

    Published by Mugo on behalf of a correspondent.

  4. Thank you for this moving letter.

    Parting from dear ones is so difficult, whether they walk on two legs or four.

    The situation of Peter Cat reminds me that, just as for humans, it’s helpful to have written Last Wishes for one’s animals in case they die while under the care of another person.

    As we too can die at any time, it’s a good idea to arrange with someone to look after your animal friends in case of your death or serious illness. Having worked in a shelter, countless times I met instances of animals “left behind” upon their person’s death.

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