This post struck a chord with a lot of readers. Here are a few of many we are planning to post:
I feel your pain. We have had to put four dogs to sleep and one cat (age 18.5). This is not counting my parents’ pets. When we put our last dog, sweet golden retriever Zella, to sleep (very unexpectedly), I did as I always do and stayed with her through the whole procedure. My husband couldn’t bear to be there, and so he said good-bye and left to wait outside.
This, however, made Zella a bit agitated – “Why is Papa leaving?” She was not feeling well (she had hemangiosarcoma, which is basically a blood-fed tumor, in her case larger than a softball and pressing on her liver), but she perked up when the vet came in because he had been working with hamsters and his hands and shirt smelled so awesome. So she was wagging her tail and smiling when we invited her to sit on the floor, which she did not want to do. So I sat on a bench in the room and she hopped up next to me and sat/leaned against me. As the serum was injected, Zella just leaned on me more and more and ended up with her head in my lap. It was really a very peaceful and sweet way to die.
The vet told me afterwards that he wished every pet owner would stay with their pet at the end, because when they leave the room, the pet gets agitated and it’s harder for the staff to keep them still, making the whole process so much more stressful for the pet. He also said that the women always stay, but only about half of men do, which I thought was interesting.
I’ve attached a picture of sweet Zella on the day before we took her in. She was SUCH a great dog! I am very sorry about Dusty’s health. It is so, so hard to say goodbye to a wonderful dog. I will be thinking of you when that day comes.
The decisions you have to make on behalf of your companion animals just rip you apart. We recently faced that problem with our beagle, Buddy. By age 14 he had lost almost all of his teeth (we never could get him to floss), he had been blind for two years and almost completely deaf, yet he seemed to get some enjoyment out of life. He still loved to eat, of course; he could still consume a milk bone with no teeth. And he could usually make it out the doggy door to the back yard when he needed too. Most of all, he seemed to get very happy when we would lie down next to him and pet him.
But sadly, about a month ago, things got suddenly worse. He refused to eat his kibble (he would still eat treats) and his back legs were giving out, so he could not stand up reliably. He could no longer make it through the doggy door; we had to carry him outside and back in. He barely recognized us and he slept 99% of the time. When he would stand up, he seemed to be in pain. After conferring with the vet, we decided it was time. However, he had been my best friend for so long … it took me a couple of days to agree. But we finally put him in the car for his last ride.
He always hated going to the vet. Nasty things seemed to happen there. This time he knew where he was, and tried to struggle before going in the vet’s door; then he sort of gave up. They got us into a room in short order, and we spent some quiet time with him. The doctor came in and asked us if we wanted to stay while she gave him the shots. There was never any question; we had him since he was eight weeks old, so we were going to be there at the end.
By this time he was just lying on the table anyway, seemingly passed out. When she gave him the final shots, it seemed to make very little difference; his shallow breathing just stopped entirely. I took one last look at him and just lost it, bawling all the way home.
When we got our house, our other beagle, Cloe, gave us a quizzical look seemingly asking, “Where is he?” That night, she kept getting up and wandering around the house, then letting out a short high-pitched yelp, and looking at us questioningly. She knew he was missing.
The next day, she seemed to adapt and life went on. So we gave her a lot of love, and we adapted too, but we always remember Buddy. I cannot find the actual quote, but I am sure that Arthur C. Clarke once wrote something like the following: “One of greatest tragedies of human life is the all too short lives of our animal best friends.” So Andrew, prepare yourself.