"Was" because Congo died more than a decade ago. His heath problems began to show up when he simply could not even climb a couple of steps of the staircase. He could not walk for long. He started curling up like the proverbial sick dog.
The vet examined him. The verdict was in. Congo had an enlarged heart that was slowly weakening. The fellow literally and metaphorically had a big heart. The vet didn't think Congo had more than a few months left, unless we were willing to spend a whole lot of money on a few options.
Over the weeks, Congo seemed more and more tired. Sometimes he did not even walk up to welcome me when I came home; instead, he continued to sit in his basket and waited for me to go to him.
At one point, I asked the vet when I would know what the time will be to ease Congo's troubles and put him down. I still remember the vet's words: "You will know."
About six months after the diagnosis, it was clear that Congo had suffered enough. A different vet, who made house calls only for the terminally ill pets, came home to administer the euthanizing drugs. It was a traumatic for us, but a peaceful end for him.
Congo died at home, with his loved ones. A privilege that we do not extend to the human kind. Rarely ever do suffering humans get such good deaths.
David Goodall could not get such an option for himself in his home country of Australia. The 104-year old had to travel to Switzerland in order to get help for his life to end.
On the eve of his death, David Goodall, 104, Australian scientist, father, grandfather and right-to-die advocate, was asked if he had any moments of hesitation, “even fleeting ones.”
“No, none whatever,” Mr. Goodall said in a strong voice. “I no longer want to continue life, and I’m happy to have a chance tomorrow to end it.”
It is a shame that he had to do this in an alien territory. Far, far away from Australia.
He expressed gratitude to the Swiss and regret at having to leave home for Switzerland, the only country that offers assisted-dying services to foreigners if the person assisting does not benefit from the person’s death. (Only 40 Australians are known to have made the journey, according to Exit International, because of the length of the flight and the cost of the trip.)
“I am very appreciative of the hospitality of the Swiss Federation and the ability that one has here to come to an end gracefully,” Mr. Goodall said, adding, “I greatly regret that Australia is behind Switzerland in this move.”
Even when the person is 104, and wants to call it quits, society does not extend him the treatment that Congo was legally eligible for and which he received. Some day we will change the way we think about good death. Soon, I hope.