I have been helping people through the euthanasia process for many years. In a week, I assist two to five, sometimes more or less, families as they make this same difficult choice to say good-bye. I may be the one to place the catheter, to talk about if you want remains back, to help the doctor give the final injection, to help move the pet’s body from the room and prepare it for cremation. I may be the one to make an ink paw print as a keepsake. I may be the one that stays and holds the pet or their paw because their family doesn’t want to or just can’t bear it. Each time is special. I am always so glad that humane euthanasia is even an option. Each time I go home and hug my own and feel lucky that I don’t have to sit where they sit and say the hardest good-bye. Hundreds of times over the last 10 years and yet it is not any easier for it to be my turn.
Well…this time it was my turn.
I sat on the same comfy couch. Feeling a similar sadness and devastation that others feel. I hugged my dog for the last time. Wishing now that I could hug him one more time. One more, of course, would never be enough.
This week I euthanized my dog–my devoted 14-year-old, four-legged love of my life. I drove him to the animal hospital with my husband and baby. We sat on the couch in the comfort room. We cried our eyes out and wished it wasn’t real. We made a decision for him based on his declining health and increasing pain. His body was so tired and painful. I couldn’t let him struggle. His quality of life was fading. I owed it to him to let him go gracefully with love and respect. It was the hardest thing I’ve had to do in a long time.
While we drove to the hospital, I tried not to get sick. I told myself it was the kindest thing we could do and that it was what was best. My mind raced with thoughts of “what if” and “maybe later”. I was scared. I couldn’t bear knowing I would never pet him, be greeted by him or hug him ever again. I was worried it was too soon. I wasn’t ready. Maybe he wasn’t ready. If I could ask him, I know he’d say, “I’m okay Mom, just a little tired but I love you, let’s go.” He would never complain. He was ready for anything. I had to believe he was ready for this too.
He was anxious. His feet slipped around and I worried it would hurt him more. That weekend he couldn’t get up twice and when I tried to help him, he cried out. His first complaints. He was telling me what I needed to hear, showing me what I needed to see. He was ready. He needed to rest his body for good. He has needed my love his whole life and he needed me now more than ever.
His doctor understood, agreed, and supported our decision. She made it as peaceful as possible. We came in the back door. It was a nice private space for a delicate task. We fed him cooked garlic steak pieces. He loved every bite. The nurse, my dear friend, placed an IV catheter into his leg. We gave him an injection that eased his pain and anxiousness. His face softened and he was truly relaxed. On the floor with him on a comfy bed, we sat by him, feeling all the feelings. Peace came over us and we could see his pain going away. I held his head and kissed his perfect nose.
It was time for the final injection. We were all ready. I saw his last breath and heard his last sigh. He was gone. His pain was gone. He was at rest.
We had our run, 14 years of adventures. Good times and bad times. Scary and sad times. We chased bunnies, hiked mountains and swam in every type of water, puddles included. We traveled to Mexico more times than I could count. We moved a dozen times, in town and across the country. We lived it all. In a world of inconsistencies, questions, and uncertainties, he was my constant. My happy, ready for anything, trusty go-getter companion. He was my best dog and I will never forget him.
Until we meet again, I say the hardest good-bye.
“Rooski” 11/19/2005 – 01/06/2020
Written by Tracy Fairbairn, RVT 01/08/2020