The Pain of Life

by Robert Dean Karp
(Santa Cruz, CA USA)

5/07/2012, early morning:
Akila the Wolf Malamute has been the closest thing to a child that I will ever experience. I listened to most every breath, and tended to each and every need as it arrived. In the recent past his breathing often became fast and accompanied by excessive panting, walking distances became very short. Getting comfortable became a challenge. We tried swimming therapy, Laser treatments and Acupuncture. His lack of interest in eating and drinking was the final indication that things were getting as close as they needed to be. Releasing Akila from the pain of life became apparently clear to me day by day over the past month or so. The past several days the bad has definitely been outweighing the good. Losing the only real partner I have had for the past 14 years, I found myself in need of the strength to do the right thing, for I knew this was the right thing. The thought of waiting longer would be at the price of more pain for Akila, and more degradation of both of our mental well-being which has been under much duress during this final process.
The birds started to chirp their greeting of another day; this was to be one of the saddest days of my life. Hearing them will always be another reminder of Akila. I did not greet this day well as puppy was sleeping comfortably next to me. Happy and at peace, and that is all I wanted for him.
Akila’s passing was as peaceful and sorrowful as could be imagined. Dr. Burtch at Pacific Vet has been caring for Akila since 2008 at the onset of his IBD issue when he bloated. She euthanized Akila in his favorite place - his truck, his den, his comfort zone. She was quite taken back as the tears fell from her cheeks. She said “I never witnessed a person with a bond as strong as Akila and you have shared”.
I will miss him forever and feel that this was the right thing to do at the right time. I never imagined the void I feel within me, one I have never felt before. Every day Akila possessed a significant amount of my mental capacity. He was always at the forefront of anything I did or planned. Akila’s special needs became pretty intense over the past couple of months, and to witness his decline over the initial weeks to the final days will be imbedded in my thoughts forever. I let Akila go before his degenerative myelopathy got to a point that he could not walk at all, or get up to relieve himself most of the time. Akila left as a proud Wolf with his dignity intact. Akila and I made hand/paw impressions in clay which I will be able to treasure forever. Now it is just me left to contend with the Pain of Life without Akila by my side.

Comments for The Pain of Life

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Jun 16, 2012
by: Mary Teacher

Dear Robert, I stopped in Shampoochez to see my friends there, and they informed me of Akila's passing. Even though I do not work there anymore, I did for four years and I will always remember looking forward to the both of you coming in. We all looked forward to it. I used to ask Terrie all the time if I had not seen you in a while if she had seen the wolf? I showed my son, Ethan, who often came into work with me, the Shampoochez news with your article and the picture of Akila, and even though he is only 6, he looked up with tears and said "Is the wolf gone?". I said yes, and Ethan immediately said, "He will be ok now because he is in heaven." It is a beautiful thought, but when you are the one left behind it can be a lonely one as well. I love animals, and I truly know how much pain you must be in. I know how much you loved him. I saw many dogs over that four years, but a select few stick out in my mind,and Akila will be at the top of that list forever. Dogs are so special in the way that they can endure so much, and still be so loving, so loyal, and so completely devoted to a person. Akila knew just how much you loved him, and that is more than most people get even in human relationships. I am thinking of you. Please contact me if you wish to talk or just hang out and remember that beautiful friend of yours. 8313254629 or my email is Take care, and we are thinking of you.Lv, Mary and Ethan

May 28, 2012
Memories of the good times
by: Karen and Craig

Hi Robert,

Your sister Barbara shared the link to your story. We met briefly once. When we met I was immediately struck by Akila's beauty. The bond you and Akila shared was inspiring. You were very fortunate to have had such a lovely companion and friend. Keep your happy memories of Akila close to your heart so they may comfort you.

Karen and Craig
"Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains unawakened." -unknown author

May 28, 2012
by: Liz Reed

Such a beautiful creature and wonderful story. Thank you so much for sharing, and I am so sorry for your loss.

May 27, 2012
by: Frank B

So sad to hear about Akila! You did the right thing and I know it must have been very hard. Just writing about is the start of your own healing. He was your best friend through a lot of change in your life. I will be thinking about you. Thanks for your story. Call if you want to talk.

May 26, 2012
by: Debi M.

Robert -

I am so sorry for the loss of Akila - what a beautiful picture. It is so hard to put a beloved pet down. I just lost my bulldog Chewy 3 wks ago and I think about her constantly. Wishing comfort and happy memories to you.

Debi M.

May 26, 2012
your story
by: Bill

Very nice story that many of us can identify with. Bill

May 26, 2012
I know your pain..
by: Sharon Hoopes

Hello Robert,

Your precious Akita was one of the most beautiful creatures I have ever seen and I am so happy I was able to meet him. It was so apparent how you loved and cared for him and you were both so blessed to have had all those years to share. I know the pain you are going through loosing your best friend. I have always loved and adored animals and they truly provide unconditional love for us that cannot be compared.

I know you pain will ease with each new day.

Take care, Sharon

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