By Cheryl Ryan
The truth is that if you have a pet it’s most likely that you will be responsible for their end of life care. Of course, we all know that going in but when it actually happens it’s so hard. We’ve recently lost our loyal, loving family member. She’s been by our side for years. And yikes, let me tell you it will get you right in the heart.
We knew our girl, Ellie, was getting tired. And after a lifetime of draping herself over our laps the instant our butts hit the couch she started sitting apart from us, a little at first then edging her way further and further towards to the edge of the couch as her aches and pains became more pronounced.
Her gallop up the stairs became slower and slower until she didn’t join me upstairs anymore. And when she lost her hearing entirely she didn’t even hear us when we came home.
I was ready for it. I thought. I’d read that one of the hardest things for veterinarians was to watch a dog looking frantically for its owner right before they are putting them to sleep. The thing is that after a lifetime of us taking care of them every day to then hand them off in the veterinarian’s lobby, to let someone else be the last person they see – is the way we in modern society have been doing it.
But increasingly there are vets that come to your home to put your dog down, right in the comfort of their own home with the people they love gathered around them. They give them a sedative which subtly kicks in before euthanizing them. It costs a bit but so does taking them to the veterinarian’s office.
It was just too much
So when she could no longer walk on her back legs, she gave me a look that let me know she was done. She didn’t want to do it anymore. I went inside and made the call. We booked the appointment for 5 days out so that we could spoil her and say our goodbyes. I’m not entirely sure that this was the best idea. It was a prolonged and stressful goodbye.
If she was having a good moment I second-guessed my decision and when she wasn’t doing well I felt guilty about not doing it sooner. I’m sure there is no easy answer but overall I would recommend in-home pet euthanasia. I do think it was stress-free for Ellie and I would have been a mess no matter what we’d done. But be warned I wasn’t prepared to see the life leave her. But again, I believe it was a little harder for me but best for her.
Saying goodbye is never easy
On the final day, I wrote down my memories of her. Writing is often a way that I work through things. I wrote about the time we were stung by a hive of yellow jackets together. And how much she loved to chase balls and eat popcorn. I wrote about all of her pet names and riding in the car. It proved to be a great process because I realized that she was no longer doing any of the things that she used to love. I cried the whole time I wrote it but by the time the vet, who was amazing, arrived, I knew we were making the best decision for her.
When my Mom asked me if I would ever get another pet again after going through that, I said, “Of course, I will. Going through losing our Ellie made me realize more than ever that it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.”
Sending out so much gratefulness and love for all of our family pet members. They unconditionally give us so much as we feed and care for them. And wishing any and all of you that have to go through the loss of your furry partners’ strength as you go through it.