Sunday, April 3, 2011

Tashi delectable

Tashi's full name is Tashi delek, which means auspicious blessings in Tibetan. I named her a few days after I adopted her in Taos, NM, where I was studying Tibetan Buddhism. Her name is used as a greeting and farewell among Tibetan Buddhist practitioners and I wanted to give her a name that would be a bell of mindfulness for her whenever she heard it...and a name that would help her achieve an auspicious rebirth when it was her time to leave this world.

In January, I took Tashi to the vet after a few weeks of coughing that was first diagnosed as kennel cough. The diagnosis this time was a grossly enlarged heart and a recommendation to euthanize as soon as possible.

We've had an extra two months of lying in the sun and going for nice hikes on the Potomac and along our favorite trails. Most importantly, we've had time to cuddle, connect, say the Amitabha mantra together, make peace with what lies beyond. 
Tashi along the Potomac in February

I disagree with the advice of that vet, and of many of my dog-loving friends who say that its better to end a dog's life too soon than too late. Tashi has no doubt endured some suffering these two months, but she has also experienced joy and comfort. She's gotten to do her favorite things, eat her favorite foods. Who knows what goes on in a dog's mind? Who knows what spiritual projects she is trying to complete in this lifetime?

Of course some of my reasons are selfish. After 14 years, how could I put myself in the position of ending this dog's life? It wouldn't ever be easy, but after these weeks at least I know I've packed as much joy into her life as possible. And I know that if I do assist her passing from this world, it won't feel quite so premature.

I don't know what this week will bring. Maybe she will pass peacefully on her own, or maybe I'll feel ready to make that decision for her. Until then, we are going to fill her life with the auspicious blessings that I hoped would adorn her years on this planet when I named her 14 years ago.

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