How to help my dog as he gets close to death?

Jan 1, 2023

 

QUESTION

Dear Ven. Robina,

 

I am seeking an answer to a question that is troubling me.

 

I met you recently at a teaching and felt an immediate connection so I hope that you can answer.

 

I have a much-loved elderly dog who is going to surgery for suspicious lumps in his throat.

 

My problem is that I am trying to live by the five novice precepts, especially the no killing vow, but I do not want my dog to suffer in this life. 

 

So what can I do about euthanasia if the vet recommends it?

 

He sits with me during meditation and mantra chanting and I frequently say om mani padme hum throughout the day.

 

The Medicine Buddha mantra is played on a loop when he is in the house.

 

This is a question that is constantly playing on my mind the closer it gets to surgery day.

 

Thank you

G

 

ANSWER

Happy to hear from you, G.

 

Yes, it’s difficult, this one. These days most vets encourage euthanasia, because of course most of them probably don’t have the view that your darling dog will take a future life.

 

He’s already so blessed, hearing all the prayers and mantras! So so good for his mind.

 

There are a couple of things to think about.

 

1. Of course, from your side, you don’t want to do the action of killing, and that’s just for your own sake. And that’s excellent! You must want that for yourself.

 

2. But because your motivation for killing your dog would be pure – compassion to stop his suffering – you could say that even if you do kill your dog, you won’t create much negative karma, because the motivation is so important.

 

But that’s just for you. That’s for your sake.

 

3. But what about what’s best for your dog? As His Holiness the Dalai Lama says, “Compassion is not enough; we need wisdom.” We’re not clairvoyant so we simply don’t know what his mind will be like, and what karmic seed will be triggered at the time you decide to kill him, which of course means what his next life will be. 

 

It’s like playing Russian Roulette with your darling dog by stopping his life without confidence that a virtuous karmic seed has been triggered, which is what will ensure that his next life will be a good one.

 

Of course, we can’t guarantee that, no matter what, but we need to be cautious.

 

4. Ideally, the very best thing is to get him to be really comfortable, stay close to him, have prayers and mantras recited close to his ear, and allow things to take their course. This will make him so peaceful and will attract the buddhas to be right there!

 

The thing with animals, especially dogs, they’re so devoted to you and simply having you there, close to him, will make him unafraid. The mental thing is more important than the physical. If he feels safe and secure, his physical pain won’t be such a struggle for him.

 

5. And remember that every second of suffering he has is purifying his karma.

 

6. Finally, try to get past your own fear because that will cloud your judgment.

 

Just some thoughts, G.

 

What do you think?

 

Much love,

Robina

 

QUESTION

Dear Robina,

 

Once again I am encouraged and comforted by your wisdom – and thank you so very much for being very quick.

 

My dog has to have surgery on Monday but I will not be allowed to be present – I will ask the vet if she will play the Medicine Buddha mantra while he is in her care. The vet is a very compassionate person and I can but try.

 

Thank you again Robina. I find myself wishing I had given you a big hug at the teachings; much restraint required on my part!

 

G

 

ANSWER

Good, G.

 

Just to be clear, how are you interpreting my advice? From your answer, I’m not quite sure.

 

Love,

Robina

 

QUESTION

Hello again Robina,

 

Regarding your points:

 

1. Of course, from your side, you don’t want to do the action of killing, and that’s just for your own sake. And that’s excellent! You must want that for yourself.

 

Yes, for my own sake, I definitely don’t want to be the cause of killing him.

 

2. But because your motivation for killing your dog would be pure — compassion to stop his suffering — you could say that even if you do kill your dog, you won’t create much negative karma, because the motivation is so important.

 

Yes, for my own sake, I definitely don’t want to be the cause of killing him.

 

3. What about what’s best for your dog? We’re not clairvoyant so we simply don’t know what his mind will be like, and what karmic seed will be triggered at the time you decide to kill him.

 

It’s just as well that we’re not clairvoyant.

 

4. Ideally, the very best thing is to get him to be really comfortable, stay close to him, have prayers and mantras recited close to his ear, and allow things to take their course. This will make him so peaceful and will attract the buddhas to be right there!

 

The thing with animals, especially dogs, they’re so devoted to you and simply having you there, close to him, will make him unafraid. The mental thing is more important than the physical. If he feels safe and secure, his physical pain won’t be such a struggle for him.

 

I understand that having helped quite a few animals pass peacefully before I began studying Buddhism. Now I need to add in the mantras and so forth.

 

5. And remember that every second of suffering he has is purifying his karma.

 

Oh, I forgot about that! I think I’m too weak to be able to allow suffering to the end and I hate to think what my partner would have to say about it. The power of my convictions is so very small.

 

6. Finally, try to get past your own fear because that will cloud your judgment.

 

Now that’s a really hard part. Am I frightened of living without a dog in my life? Am I afraid of causing bad karma for myself? or for future suffering for both of us?

 

I wonder if the distress that grips me at this time is due to attachment rather than simple affection – and what can I do about it?

 

That’s something I’ll have to address myself, I think. As you say, we cannot know.

 

G

 

ANSWER

Very clear, dearest G.

 

Be brave. Don’t expect the worst. Your loving him and taking care of him and saying mantras will soothe him, calm him.

 

Yes, for sure, our attachment and fears play a big role. So do your best.

 

Don’t make plans. Take it one step at a time and adjust to the situation as it unfolds.

 

Keep me in touch as time goes by.

 

Be brave!

 

Much love,

Robina

 

QUESTION

Robina, thank you!

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