Saying goodbye to a loved one is the hardest thing we ever have to do in our lives. And, when it comes to saying goodbye to our pets, it can rip our hearts out just as much as saying goodbye to a person we have loved.
Since Dr Melissa Meehan shared her story about euthanasia from a Vet’s perspective we have had a lot of comments from our social media community about their experiences.
It has been sad to hear that some of them were traumatic and owners were left feeling that their Vet did not care about them or their pet as much as they should have at such a time. We did also however hear some heart-warming stories from owners who said their Vet was very supportive and caring during the process.
I had to make the tough decision about my beloved Max a week before Christmas 2013. I had just sold my house and it was almost like he knew it was a new chapter of my life and that much upheaval was to come.
He went from being what I thought was a healthy but aging dog to suddenly walking unsteadily around the house going from room to room as if to say goodbye and sitting on the front porch (which he never did), as if reflecting upon his time with me in our home.
Within a week he had gone from being a perky and cheeky little Maltese to breathing heavily, dragging his legs and looking at me as if he knew the time was right. I had consulted my Vet during the week about his behaviour and health and had him checked out.
We had a discussion about his age, the great life he had lived, what could potentially be wrong and whether opening him up to check was the best thing for him. One comment made on our Facebook page was that an owner ‘knew in her gut’ the decision she was going to have to make that afternoon when she was taking her dog to the Vet.
I had that same feeling when I took Max home and thought that as soon as he looked in too much pain I would do the right thing by him. Whilst I didn’t want to say goodbye to my best mate, it was no longer about me and how much I was going to miss him, it was all about Max and ensuring his life, even in the last days, was a loving and positive experience for him.
So after taking him out with me a couple of days later where he got to see some of his friends and having to carry him down from the car, I called a couple of people I knew he loved around to say goodbye and made the appointment with the Vet for the next morning.
That night was one of the hardest nights of my life to date (the other was when he got lost and he spent the night in the Vet’s after being picked up and I didn’t know where he was!). I took some photos of us together and lay him on my pillow next to me. We both knew it was time.
As we walked into the Vet’s I could see the Vet watching us through the window and he just nodded and said ‘come on in buddy’. Even Max, who normally hated being there, looked up at him in peace.
Just like in Dr Mel’s article my Vet explained the process of what he would be doing to me and true to Max’s funny little characteristics, he even managed to snore loudly and deeply once he had been given the sedative and the Vet and I both had a good laugh at him. Even at the end he still managed to make me smile.
I wanted share this story with you because I have known so many people struggle with the decision of whether to euthanise or not and, in my opinion only, some have left it too long because they were going to be too sad to say goodbye whilst their pet has suffered for longer than it may have needed to as a result.
Each to their own, but I just wanted to share that it can actually be an experience that makes you smile with fond memories and a good feeling that you have done the right thing by your best mate, which at the end of the day is what we all want for our pets.
Lara and Darcy x
PS: if you do have to face this decision some time soon and are wondering about what to do with your beloved pet after they have crossed over, then Sweet Goodbye has a beautiful pet burial and farewell kit for the burial of all companion furry friends.
About the Author: Lara Shannon is co-Host of Pooches at Play and has completed a Certificate III in Dog Behaviour & Training with the National Dog Trainers Federation. Lara also runs her own dog training & minding business in Melbourne’s Bayside area.