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  • Stardance, beloved Stardance, black wolf with golden eyes; independent, focused Stardance, is now 15 ½ years old. We found her a few days ago lying down shaking in a corner. It was cold but not so cold that a wolf should be shaking so we brought her into the cabin for observation. It soon became clear that she was on the path to dying but she did not appear to be suffering. Our vet diagnosed a tumor on her heart, ultimately fatal. She had swelling in her legs because her heart was not functioning properly, and as we walked her into the cabin she lost control of her back legs.

    The ever present question when you have a being you love, at the end of their time on earth. Do you help her pass? Do you let her take her own path, easing her suffering as you can? So many perspectives.

    Our vet, humanely, suggested we put her to sleep to end her suffering. But Tibetan Buddhists believe that if you interfere, you are disrupting their karmic path – that this is something that is necessary in their life. And my own question: when a person has cancer and is suffering we make them comfortable but never consider putting them down. How is it different with animals? Another thought: how often do people who are suffering ask to be put down? Almost never. Most people want to live as long as possible, even in the throes of intense suffering. Why, actually, when you think about it, should animals be different? Are they? What assumptions are we making? We all have the same basic emotional brain structures and a passion to live.

    It has been five days since we brought her in and she appears to be resting comfortably, going through her own process. That would have been 5 days, so far, taken from her. Her presence fills the cabin with the bitter-sweetness of life; the sadness but the richness as she brings forth the age-old question we all have to face and re-face anew.

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