Last week, I helped a senior large breed dog (15 years old!) and his family. This dog was not eating, barely drinking, couldn’t stand or walk any longer. We were all sitting under a tree in their backyard on a Saturday morning: Henry (not the dog’s real name), Mom, Dad, 2 young sons, and me. As is my routine at all appointments, we sat and talked for a while about their life with Henry and everything he brought to their lives for the past decade and a half.
They told me how gentle he was with their boys, and how much he loved being in the yard with the breeze blowing through his fuzzy hair. They also told me they lost another dog about two years ago. They took this dog to the veterinary clinic to be euthanized. With tears in his eyes, Dad said the clinic staff slipped off her leash and placed the clinic’s leash on her. The staff tried to lead her away, to the back of the hospital, and she resisted. He said she didn’t want to go, and the memory of this was clearly still breaking his heart.
The appointment proceeded without incident. After giving the sedative and pain medication, Henry became relaxed and even started to snore a bit. He died peacefully, surrounded by his family in the backyard he loved so much. Mom and Dad thanked me for coming and remarked how gentle and tranquil the experience was. I thanked them for giving Henry the gift of dying at home. His final memory was falling asleep under his tree, being petted by his family.
My hope is that when Henry’s Dad thinks about him now, mixed in with all the grief and sadness and pain, there is also a vision of how he helped Henry have a “good death.” Although this cannot change the story of what happened with his other dog, he can find some comfort in knowing he made a different choice for Henry.
I hear similar stories from pet owners all the time, how much anguish they’ve experienced taking a pet to the clinic to be euthanized. In all fairness, it’s not the vet clinic’s fault. It’s simply the fact that most animals are not comfortable at the vet clinic, and this is compounded by the pet owner’s grief and sense of guilt for making them go there one last time. Most people will tell you they don’t want to die in a hospital. If we each had a choice, we would choose to die peacefully in our homes, surrounded by people we love.
It’s a giant responsibility to decide to have a beloved pet euthanized. The choice of where it happens is entirely up to you. We can help you with knowing when it should happen. If you need more guidance after reading our website, you may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.