In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 2, 2005 / 23 Nisan, 5765

Why we put pets down, but not people

By Debra J. Saunders

Debra J. Saunders
Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | My Basset Hound Delilah died before I could, as the euphemism goes, put her to sleep. This was decades ago, and it made me believe that when I got another pet — a cat named Chloe, whom I brought home 18 years ago — I should try to allow that animal to die a natural death.

It was not to be. One day, as Chloe was making her rounds — smelling all the flowers in the back yard — she was having trouble navigating a small slope. I went to investigate. Her left eye was filled with blood. I took her to the vet.

At 17, Chloe already had kidney problems, a thyroid condition and arthritis. Mark, the vet, gave her a shot to ease the pain. Two days later, Chloe hadn't eaten any food. She could barely move. She had lost half her body weight. We told Mark to put her down — to kill her — to end her suffering. My little girl was gone.

Because of my line of work, the experience was political. As an opponent of legalizing assisted suicide and married to a consultant for the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, I replayed in my head one argument by assisted-suicide proponents — that by allowing owners to put down their pets, America is kinder to its pets than its people.

I've never bought that argument. Euthanizing pets is not always the result of compassion. As Nancy Peterson of the Humane Society of the United States noted, some 6 million to 8 million dogs and cats enter shelters each year. About half are euthanized. Some of those animals are sick. Some are strays. But many are pets, Peterson noted, taken by owners who can't handle "behavior issues," or "have unrealistic expectations about how dogs and cats do act." Or maybe they're moving or getting a divorce.

In my book, those aren't good reasons to kill a dog or a cat. And they're certainly not good reasons to kill a person.

What's more, as Chloe died, my friend Julia Smith, 50, was in the hospital, losing a nine-year battle with cancer. She died April 25.

How to describe Julia? She refused to give in. Nine years ago, she was told she had less then two years to live. When she came home from the hospital this winter, she told me, doctors had given her two to eight weeks. She beat those odds by about a month.

Her sister, Marguerite Capp, explained to me that Julia never wanted her three daughters — Lily, 13, Irene, 11, and Collette, 8 — to believe that she would ever leave them without putting up a tremendous fight.

And so she endured surgery, chemotherapies, laser treatments for brain tumors and experimental drugs with their myriad unwelcome side effects. The laser treatments were painful; the steroids bloated her face and feet. A leg wound festered and took months to heal. The cancer spread from breast to brain and ate at her bones. While pain pills helped tremendously, they couldn't always make her comfortable. Still, she fought to live.

Julia had a stubborn streak. While her strong bond with her daughters and her husband, Colin, kept her going, I think another factor was the anger she experienced many years ago when insensitive doctors lectured her about accepting her fate and impending death.

She understood that the very slogan, "death with dignity," implied that it was undignified to fight for her life, and she didn't like it. Bombarded with movies about cancer patients choosing a hastened death, she complained in The Chronicle, "Are the filmmakers so deaf that they can't hear what they are telling us? Let go, they say. Give up."

Julia wanted a doctor who would do whatever it took to help her watch her daughters grow up. She did not want a doctor to tell her to give up. She very much opposed legalizing assisted suicide lest some of the very doctors who told Julia two years ago that she should accept the fact that she had but months left — tops — follow up their gloom-and-doom predictions with an offer for a prescription of lethal drugs.

There is a lot of emotional work that needs to be done at the end of life. There are wounds that need to heal and fences to be mended. What astonished me most about Julia was that she could spend an afternoon near the end enjoying mashed potatoes, critiquing purses in magazines and considering what activities her girls could do this summer.

Julia was a true hero because she squeezed life for its last drop. She saw no virtue in cutting out early because she didn't have the body she once enjoyed. She lived as fully as her body and medicine allowed. Then, when her time came, she had to leave. But as poet Dylan Thomas said, she did not go gently into that good night.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment JWR contributor Debra J. Saunders's column by clicking here.

Debra J. Saunders Archives

© 2005, Creators Syndicate