Gentle into the Night


By Kurt Belzer

Lisa and I have been away from our blog for a time. It has been an eventful Spring season this year. Only days after the spring equinox in late March we lost one of our dogs. The amazing Aries, whom we regularly called “Bacon” for is eating habits, left us with lessons of truth, knowing, and love. We have little knowledge of his life before he came to our family in January of 2012, except that after nine loyal years to his former family, he was left at the Friends of Homeless Animals (FoHA) shelter in Northern Virginia. In his life he carried himself with a quiet, courageous, and confident certainty rarely, if ever, seen in this tangible dimension. True leadership was present in every step he took. He knows where he wants to go and how he is going to get there and, ultimately, it probably involves food. In the end his legs gave up on him but his inner strength and wisdom remain steady and alive in the memories of those he leaves behind.

As we close out this season and enter into the summer solstice we find that we face more tribulations within our family. Today we say goodbye to a creature of unending beauty and gentleness. Buddha the dog, often referred to as “Shoes,” known for his large feet, began a journey early this afternoon that, we trust, brings him the peace and happiness he deserves. Buddha came into our lives three years and four months ago, after a short stay at the FoHA shelter, where he befriended Aries before they both came to join our family. Buddha had been abandoned by his former human at about seven years old and spent nearly a year in a veterinary clinic before his transfer to the shelter. By the time he came to our home, Buddha never fully trusted humans, or even other dogs for that matter. Yet, his gentle nature was always in the forefront of his personality. His large size and beauty frequently drew attention and he greeted every curios admirer with politeness and a certain sense of understanding. He loved us all in his timid and gentle way. As his family, we will forever carry the memory of the time with which he graced us and the beauty that he brought to us.

As humans we have built cultures around fighting and, as such, we respect and revere those who rage against nature when the Reaper comes knocking. Yet, I find myself wondering if peace with the natural order of life and beyond is the more dignified approach. I looked at Buddha lying on his bed of blankets and pillows and saw no fight in his eyes. Death or recovery are processes of nature. In our studies of natural selection we have found that creatures beyond the human world find a place of peace to rest when they are ailing or injured. Most tend to avoid social interaction, nourishment, and movement while they await the results of what their body will reveal. They don’t fight… They wait. And when the right time comes, they either remain within the earthly body, stand up, and carry on with life; or they drift into the depths of spirit, leave the body behind, and begin the next phase of their existence. This all assuming they aren’t a casualty of natural disaster or a predator, in the mean time.

We love our family members and will do what it takes to see them live happy and healthy lives and to give them comfort when life is no longer within their grasps. When there is truly suffering and there is no longer hope for survival, I believe that it is undoubtedly humane to help our loved ones out of this life and into the next as painlessly as possible. That said, I am finding myself also believing that we often lack the patience that those we love require in these situations. This is a difficult subject because it can be extremely challenging for ‘civilized’ humans to really know what will come next without our intervention. Whatever the path we choose, it seems that peace begets more peace. I hope that, when my time is near, I WILL go gentle into that good night.

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