A few weeks ago, our family dog Pickle had to be put down. He had heart troubles as well as several conditions from his old age that affected his quality of life severely.
I was glad I got to spend two weeks dog-sitting him while my family was back in Malaysia. Each morning, he would wake me up by jumping onto the bed to wake me up, presumably to inform me he needs to go outside to take a piss. I would then be forced to wake up earlier than I’d like to let him out. After that, I’d feed him his breakfast and since I couldn’t go back to sleep, I’d go work out and get on with the rest of my day. Pickle wasn’t much of a wanderer and he’d usually be found on my bed, lying there patiently, thinking about god knows what, food most likely. He’d leave to check out what I was cooking (because the smells were overwhelmingly good, at least to him). He’d also brave walking on the tiled-floor if he heard me putting food into his bowl. Anytime I let him out into the backyard, he’d run out barking, which would get the neighbor’s dogs in the backyard barking back. It was a ruckus. Pickle was very good about running back in when called. He did not do this in his younger years; he would run around expecting you to chase him around when you wanted to get him inside and after you chased him around the yard and he evaded you enough and had his fun, he’d willingly walk to the door and wait for you to trudge back, giving him the stink-eye.
When we got the call from my brother-in-law that he had to take Pickle to the vet to be put down (this after spending the weekend at another vet in Austin due to another emergency), our family went to see him in his last moments. I remember the little guy breathing with the help of an oxygen mask. When he looked at us, his face said it all; I think he knew it was time. As the doctor put him down, and with my sister and brother-in-law tearing up watching while my parents waited outside with my nephew, I looked at him lay still, breathing faintly. As the drugs flowed through him and took over, he eventually became still as his soul left his body.
As an atheist, I don’t believe in a heaven or hell. I don’t believe in ghosts or the afterlife.
But Pickle’s passing changed how I am now choosing to think of the concept of Death; instead of a change of state from living to not living, I now choose to think that, when any living thing dies, their spirit is merely transferred into another living thing that is being born at that very moment, reincarnated to live another life.
So Pickle isn’t really gone; he was reincarnated, possibly as a Pomeranian again, unless he was a good enough boy in his past life and got his wish to be another breed. But I think the Pomeranian fits his yappy, mischievous spirit. Maybe I’ll see ya around Pickle. Come say hello if you see us.