Sunday, August 03, 2008

When you can't cry...laugh

I hated having to do what I did yesterday. I know it was the right thing to do. I know that poor puppy was sick and the chances of her getting better were grim. I hated hearing it and having to walk her down that long hot road to go to puppy heaven.

I got back to Korea a few days ago and decided to give myself a night before I went to the vet to pick up the dog. Since I couldn't really leave any of my friends with a seizing dog for a month I made arrangements and paid a lot of money to put her up at the vet's office for the two weeks I was not in Korea. I paid a friend of mine some travel expense money to come out every night I was gone and take the dog for a walk. I tried to console myself that this was a good thing to do, that her chances of not being dead when I got back to Korea were better if she was with the vet.

About two days into my trip I get a note from my friend that I better call the vet and that the puppy is in a bad way. One very difficult call to vet later and I have mostly figured out that she had some major seizures and they bumped up her medicine again. There was not much else we could do. I was upset as I didn't want her to die in puppy prison. So I hoped she'd get better at least until I could get back to Korea.

When I did get back to Korea I went to pick her up. She was pretty out of it. She didn't recognize me at all. All she really recognized was that she was out of the kennel and really really wanted to go outside. I tried to talk to her but she didn't react. I touched her and she jerked away. I sat down and look at the vets and the three assistants all gathered around.

"What do you think?" I asked them in Korean.

Unfortunately they answered with a really long string of medical veterinarian Korean that I didn't understand.

"Okay. What next?"

The suggested I try to get her an MRI, but that meant getting her to Seoul which was going to be very difficult to do. We talked about that option for a while. Finally I decided it was time to ask the difficult question.

"Hangulma, mol-ya...should I consider putting her down?" I asked, full of nervous emotion.

The vets all looked at me.

"Down...down where?" They asked.

Okay, I think, that didn't work. So I tried again.

"You know, do you think she needs to be put down?"

They looked at each other again. "Down...under?"


"Um, Korean, I don't know...put her to sleep?"

They look at each other again.

"No sleep. You sleep?"

"No, she sleep. You know, put to sleep."

"She sleep okay."

We are still not getting anywhere. I realize it is an American convention that is keeping me from saying what needs to be said and all the euphemisms in the world are not going to help.

"Put down, put to sleep..." They stare at me and each other blankly, I take a deep breath while holding onto my zombie dog. "Should I consider...." another deep breath, "killing her." I make a cutting motion across my neck. It was the only way I could think of to try to say what I was saying.

"Oh, kill, yes, euthanasia. English moya, put down?" Great, I think we are discussing the potential death of my puppy and now it's an English lesson.

In the end we talked about the options a bit more, but even after everything there were not many good choices.

At least the next time someone has to come to the same place they will be able to be more polite when asking for the ultimate solution.

1 comment:

GeologyJoe said...

I feel for you. It was not an easy decision, but the right one.