03 Aug The Life in My Hands Part 4 — Mutability, the Addiction; Passing Time, the Anodyne
The Life in My Hands Part 4 — Mutability, the Addiction; Passing Time, the Anodyne
I promised you intrigue, and I know thus far, I have miserably failed to deliver. But this is a fine place to begin the discussion of how my current addiction took hold of me, like the proverbial dog with a bone. If an initial injury kicks off the irresistible craving for the opiate, the faces of thousands of animals over the years could be analogized to the initial kick in the gut that just kept on kicking. Truly, I eschewed the anodyne of passing time in my younger years. In fact, I used to run from the very concept of mutability. Squeeze my eyes shut from the unthinkable thought that what was here today, will have changed by tomorrow. Flee from the realization that everything would not, could not, stay the same. I never thought I’d hunger for impermanence: Like the heroin addict eyeing her little bag of white dust. I certainly never envisioned that I’d attempt to serve it up in every form: Through the biggest vein, up through my nose, against a numbing tongue, or just plain ol’ down the hatch. But, gradually the addiction took hold, and more than any year before, in 2016, mutability became the life preserver that I threw reluctantly to all of my white and grey matter; matter that had become unmoored against the swells of cognitive dissonance that continue to pound daily against my cerebral shoreline. Let me explain.
For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of an open-admission municipal animal shelter and control facility, a little bit of shelter ‘splaining might be in order. In contrast to shelters that select the animals they will take in (i.e., selective-admission shelters), most open-admission facilities must accept by law any animal that comes through their doors, and in whatever condition they come. And with regard to the Chicago’s open-admission city shelter, I do mean any animal: from garden-variety and purebred felines and canines; to fish and fowl; to members of the class reptilia and the order rodentia; all sorts of wildlife, including skunks, deer, raccoons, and even bats.
And when I say that such facilities must accept animals in whatever condition they arrive, I do mean whatever condition. For example, strays indiscernible as canis familiaris, caked in urine, blood and feces and an army of maggots as abundant as rice strewn after the wedding. Animals riddled with bullets, or replete with broken bones. The starved. From the perfectly vibrant and healthy, to the aged, to the severely neglected, to the horribly abused, to the deformed, to the anxious, to the vicious, to all of the shades of what constitutes behaviorally challenged; and, of course, most generally, the living and the dead — the doors of the open-admission shelter remain open to it all. These shelters are the places where the tame and the wild things go, and they are stark reminders that any creature can become lost, sorely abused, neglected, caught, or abandoned.
When shelter ‘splaining, any discussion of open-admission shelters also requires a sobering discussion of euthanasia. Shelters euthanize animals for many reasons, primarily injury and sickness or very bad behavior, and sometimes for the more mundane reason of what is called capacity for care, which is usually an issue of space and resources. This latter basis is understandably the most controversial.
The word euthanasia comes from the Greek words eu (meaning well or good) and thanatos (meaning death), in sum a good death or death done well. It is the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering. In many animal shelters today, the common, modern, and humane method is an administration of a lethal dose of the anesthetic sodium pentobarbital either intravenously, or via an intra peritoneal (the stomach cavity) pathway, or intra cardiac (heart chamber) pathway, but only after the administration of sleep inducing pre-medications, such as a combo of ketamine and xylazine, which renders the animal unconscious. Once administered, sodium pentobarbital makes its way to the heart, where it then swiftly heads up through the arteries to the cerebral cortex, then to the cerebellum, and then on to the medulla oblongata where it depresses all life functions and vital signs. If deaths can be considered good, this is indeed, as I have witnessed, one of the more peaceful, painless and swiftest ways to die.