When is the cor­rect time to eu­th­a­nize our pets?

The Compass - - OPINION -

There’s a coun­try song that says: Ev­ery puppy has its day - ev­ery­body has to meet his Water­loo.

In life we of­ten face heart­break­ing de­ci­sions of one kind or an­other. Pet own­ers, and there are hun­dreds of thou­sands in New­found­land and Labrador, have to, at one time or an­other, face the ques­tion: When is the cor­rect time to eu­th­a­nize our pet?

My wife and I owned two pup­pies and it is fair to say they be­came part of the fam­ily. The first, a Bi­chon Frise (curly lap dog) named Al­fie had to be put down at age 12. The sec­ond, a Mal­tese named Sparky had to be eu­th­a­nized at 11.

Both episodes be­came gutwrench­ing ex­pe­ri­ences and sadly one hap­pened ex­tremely fast while we were on our win­ter stay in Florida.

In both cases the ser­vices and most of all ad­vice of our ve­teri­nar­i­ans was in­valu­able. Nei­ther told us when the time was up. That is an is­sue re­spon­si­ble pet own­ers have to face in­di­vid­u­ally.

Vets in gen­eral I be­lieve, stand by with emo­tional sup­port af­ter the pet owner makes the fi­nal de­ci­sion to eu­th­a­nize.

We, like oth­ers we know, watched the be­hav­iour of both our dogs change. Ei­ther they were not eat­ing the same, los­ing bod­ily func­tions un­con­trol­lably, rest­less at nights, ha­bit­ual lick­ing, whin­ing, no in­ter­est in play­ing any­more and both were just plain lethar­gic.

Prior to that, both of them had been treated by our vet in Bay Roberts and were on med­i­ca­tions for their in­di­vid­ual prob­lems, in­testi­nal coli­tis and con­gen­i­tive heart fail­ure. With ev­ery pill and shot ad­min­is­tered we knew time was tick­ing away.

Our dogs first

The first episode took a long time to re­al­ize the time to put him down had come, and the sec­ond was so sud­den it was hard to be­lieve how fast it was hap­pen­ing. The most im­por­tant thing about the ex­pe­ri­ence is that we put our pet dogs first. Those black eyes seemed to say “I can’t tell you how sick I am,” or “Please do the right thing for me; I’m not en­joy­ing life any­more.”

When it reached that point it was def­i­nitely time to put our in­di­vid­ual per­sonal feel­ings be­hind. Re­gard­less of how much you feel you will miss him/her, the de­ci­sion has to be made for the pet and in the best in­ter­ests of him/her only.

Sug­gested steps

The fol­low­ing are sug­gested steps ob­tained from the Hu­mane So­ci­ety of Canada.

Talk to your vet: There is no­body who knows your pet more than your per­sonal vet­eri­nar­ian. He/she can an­swer your ques­tions about the process and lead you gen­tly to the point where the de­ci­sion is made to eu­th­a­nize.

Some­times re­view­ing its strug­gles can an­swer your ques­tions like is he/she just grow­ing old? Is there a cure? Will he/she get bet­ter if we give it time? Is there any­thing else that can be done, and are we pro­long­ing the pet’s suf­fer­ing?

Most likely the vet will read your mind and sug­gest: “It’s one of the most dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions you have to make. But, keep in mind you must make it soon, from a com­pletely un­selfish stand­point.”

Dis­cuss it with your fam­ily and close friends. It should be a fam­ily de­ci­sion, a con­sen­sus that pooch just isn’t en­joy­ing life any­more. If pos­si­ble it might be a good idea to talk it over with friends or some­one who is par­tic­u­larly close - prefer­ably a pet owner.

We will for­ever be grate­ful for our friend Brian who ac­com­pa­nied us when we had to have our sec­ond puppy eu­th­a­nized in Florida.

Pain­less pro­ce­dure

Con­sult a tech­ni­cian: If of­fered it might be wise to speak with a euthana­sia tech­ni­cian who un­der­stands the process in­volved be­fore your pet is even­tu­ally put to sleep. He/she can ex­plain the pain­less pro­ce­dure. You may or may not want to be present in the room. It is some­thing to con­sider. If you do you will see for your­self it is a peace­ful process. It can be­come a re­ward­ing ex­pe­ri­ence if you so choose.

A last­ing mem­ory: When things fi­nally set­tle down, be­ing able to say you did ev­ery­thing you could and you acted in the best in­ter­est of the pet (dog, cat, ca­nary or oth­er­wise is likely go­ing to be the last­ing mem­ory you will have of that life long friend­ship.

You will feel good know­ing you gave your pet a won­der­ful life and when the time came you gave it a peace­ful loving and pain­less jour­ney to the end.

Guilt feel­ings: It is not un­usual to feel guilt af­ter a pet has been eu­th­a­nized. In­stead of a life­time of love and friend­ship we can judge our­selves harshly and think that we have failed him/her.

Lead­ing ve­teri­nar­i­ans ad­vise us to, “try to re­di­rect the feel­ings of in­ad­e­quacy or wrong­do­ing to the times that you shared with your pet in good health, and the times you pro­vided for and took great care of him/her.” An­other de­ci­sion to be made is what to do with the re­mains. We chose cre­ma­tion on both oc­ca­sions. Many choose to bury the pet some­where spe­cial where they can visit him/her now and then.

My feel­ing on that is, “ there would not be clo­sure”.

Why not dog sit? Our vet in Bay Roberts sug­gested to ease the pain we could con­sider dog sit­ting. We de­cided to try it and it worked won­der­fully with great re­sults. Since our sec­ond puppy was eu­th­a­nized we have dog sat nu­mer­ous small dogs. As I write this, Luke (a tiny York­shire ter­rier) is with us for a cou­ple of months while his own­ers are away on an ex­tended win­ter va­ca­tion in South Amer­ica.

He brings back so many mem­o­ries for us. He mag­i­cally licks away the old wounds with his play­ful way and his loyal friend­ship.

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