If you are searching the internet and came up with this article, we’d like to extend our love and prayers to you. It’s a very tough time when we have to make a decision concerning our pet. Our pets are family and we want to do right by them.
The ASPCA says, “When your pet’s quality of life deteriorates due to an untreatable disease or aging, please speak with your veterinarian and family members about end-of-life issues.”
Being the person who actually takes the pet to be put to sleep can be extremely difficult. There are things to know about it, such as where will it be done and who should be there. You should talk to your veterinarian about this so that you can feel as comfortable as possible when the time comes. The Humane Society can do it, your vet can do it, and there are other ways it can happen. Some people choose to have the vet come to their home, but most people choose to take the dog in. One thing you will might to remember is bring the pet’s bed or a special blanket. Also plan what you will carry the animal out in, if you choose to bury him or her. If it’s a large dog you will want a very strong blanket or some sort of carrier.
There are some people who don’t want to be present with the pet, they choose to say their goodbyes in the front of the office, and hand him or her over to the professionals to take care of it. Maybe it was too painful for them.
We knew a person who worked at the Humane Society and was tasked with putting a large dog to sleep. The family had found it too difficult so after saying their goodbyes they handed their St. Bernard over. She held that dog and did not let it fall. “I wanted him to die with dignity so I held him until he was gone and I gently laid him down.” Maybe that thought can be of some comfort to those who don’t feel they can be in the room with their lifelong friend.
There are many who choose to be with the pet the entire time and hold the animal until his or her last breath. For a family pet, this often falls to one or both of the parents. Some families choose to bring the whole family. This is a personal decision and one that others should not judge. It is such a difficult situation and is personal to every person.
According to WebMD.com, “Many vets give the pet a shot of sedative before the euthanasia drug. The vet will explain to you what he’s doing and where he’s giving the shot. Some vets only use a sedative if the pet is frightened or can’t relax” because the shot can actually hurt the pet.
WebMD.com has information on pets and here is the link about putting a pet to sleep: http://pets.webmd.com/what-happens-put-pet-to-sleep
“The euthanasia medication most vets use is pentobarbital, a seizure medication,” says the website. “In large doses, it quickly renders the pet unconscious. It shuts down her heart and brain functions usually within one or two minutes.”
Once the pet is gone, there is the decision as to what to do with the body. Many wonder if it is legal to bury their pet in their yard. The website Memorial.com discusses that topic. “In rural areas and small towns, generally, the rule of thumb is that you may bury a pet in whatever manner you see fit on private property, so long as you have the owner’s permission.” http://www.memorials.com/Rules-for-Pet-Burials-information.php
Some choose to have the dog cremated. There are several ways to do this and your vet or the Humane Society can tell you more about it, but it depends on how much you want to spend. You can have the animal cremated by itself or as a way to save money leave the pet and they can do with others who have chosen that method. Some people choose to get an urn, some decide to spread the ashes out in a special place, and we know one person who put the ashes in a pouch and carried them around with her every day.
Whatever you choose, make the choice and don’t regret it. If you are feeling the least bit of guilt– don’t. You have to remember you saved your beloved friend from suffering.
Here is a coping tool from GoodTherapy.org. “If you are experiencing guilt about euthanizing your pet, write a truthful letter addressed to your deceased animal friend about all the reasons you chose to do it. This may help you work through your guilt by addressing the practical, and perhaps merciful, reasons for your decision.” [For more on ways to cope with guilt, grief and loss of your pet: http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/ways-to-cope-with-grief-and-loss-after-putting-a-pet-to-sleep
After the pet is gone, some families choose to have a little memorial service to say their final goodbyes and let family members and friends express their feelings. Whether it is a goldfish that is about to be flushed down the toilet or a 13-year old dog who has died of old age, it’s always a good idea to acknowledge what has happened and help each other get through it. Often when a pet dies the owners are feeling such grief they take a day off of work, but most businesses do not offer time off for the loss of a pet. Their sadness is profound and they must find a way to go through the grief.
There is a pet loss grief-support message board: you can go to http://www.petlossmessageboard.com/post/to-those-suffering-with-guilt-over-euthanasia-5770471
Whatever you are feeling right now, those feelings are normal. Whether you are reading this during the final days of our pet’s life or shortly after you lost her or him. We recently read a private letter that touched our hearts so much we asked the writer if we could use it and we are very honored that he said yes, and by sharing this very personal letter, maybe it can help someone realize they are not the only one feeling that way.
Augie; Saying Goodbye to a Friend
On 2/10/2017 I was able to be home to send off our beloved friend, Augie. I thought I should write this because not all of us were able to be there with him, and it’s frankly very hard to say the words right now.
As you can imagine, I didn’t have a Friday free of events, but when I found out that today was his last day, I began to think. I knew that I could miss the day at college, and I felt that I owed it to him to be there if I could. He had always been there for me.
I sat through a lecture and heard nothing. My mind was already heading home, I was on the road. I was planning miles and fuel and timing and food. After that lecture I hurried myself out of the door. I drove at full speed and didn’t waste any time on stops. I made it home at 1:40, his appointment at the Vet was set to be at 2. When I got home I walked inside and was greeted by mom and Mark. The door to the back yard was open. I walked out and down the peeling wooden steps. Augie was basking in the sun, laid out in his usual place in the grass. He was lying down flat, not upright as he often was. His face was aimed toward the door that I came through, and as I trudged down the steps his tail began to wag and rapidly beat at the earth. A smile spread on his face as I approached him, and I was glad that I got to come home, just for that moment alone.
He was laid out on his side, with his bad left shoulder up to mom and I. We spent a few minutes together sitting there in the grass. The day was an unusually beautiful one. It was 66 degrees with a very low breeze. We talked to Augie, our words fell on deaf ears, but I think our love got through to him.
I went inside to ready myself for the trip to the Vet and the farm afterwards (to bury him). As soon as I was gone from his sight, Augie came to follow Mom and I as his usual self, just a bit slower. He plodded around the kitchen and came to see what all his family was doing. I gave him his last cookie, a whole one instead of half. Truth be told, I always gave him whole cookies over the years, sorry mom 🙂
As we moved to the garage to get into the Jeep, Augie kept walking and went out to his place in the yard where we used to stake his leash and let him greet all who passed by. I thought maybe he was confused, and that he would try to sit and have us tie him up there to stay, but he didn’t. He walked to his spot and looked around the yard. He didn’t sit or lay to rest there, but he gazed the area, checking one final time on his kingdom, guarding his home.
After that we gently lifted him into the Jeep for a ride. I drove on the trip. Mark sat beside me and mom was in the rear, talking to Augie the whole way. It was the shortest drive of my life.
Getting out at the Vet, Augie took his time sniffing and exploring the small yard in front. Under his own power he led us into the building, back to the room that would be ours. We were left alone for a few minutes. Mom embraced Augie and we all petted him. I wanted to be happy, show a smile to assure him everything was alright, but I could not. I cried and thanked him for all that he had done for me in my life. As we huddled together and braced ourselves, he seemed content. I think Augie had known all along that today was the day we would say goodbye.
As the pink-colored injection was administered, Augie lay upright and calm. He was a tough dog, always. We all had our hands on him. I was holding around his shoulders and neck, stroking him. As the drug took effect Augie shifted his weight into my arms and together, we lay him down. My vision went to fog as tears took over. We held him all through his journey. Augie died with dignity and strength, in the arms of his family.
Afterward we took his body to his favorite place on Earth. We drove to the Farm in heartbreak and near-silence. We decided on the place to bury Augie together. The place is right where I last was with him on the Farm. On that past trip we took pictures there, over the ground that now holds him. Mom, Mark, Ted, and I all worked together to bury Augie. He is placed well below the surface, curled sleeping in a soft blue blanket. By the grave mom planted a small pair of sticks in the form of a cross. I think he will be happy there. He is free now.
The most tearing moment for me was leaving home last night. As usual, I had parked my truck directly outside of the front door. It was past dark already, it had been a full day to say the least. As I brought all ten cylinders roaring to life, I looked back toward home along the path I had taken. The wooden door was ajar, the glass door shut. I thought I saw Augie sitting there watching me, as he always would as I left home. But as I looked, the doorway was empty. The porch light shone down over the entry creating a bright frame of white, and I could see darkness and the warm yellow glow of light inside home in the distance. I knew that Augie was gone, but I still felt him there in the house. I know that he is watching over us from a doorway, somewhere.
Many people I run into don’t have a connection with their animals like our family does. They don’t understand how a dog can be like a brother to you, or a son, or a best friend. But I know you all feel the pain in your hearts that I feel today. Augie was a very special dog. He was very intelligent, nurturing, and tough. We all shared good and maybe harder times with Augie.
We got Augie when I was about 9 years old. I grew up with him. He has always been a big part of the many things I imagine when I think about “Home”, and I will miss him terribly. He was a great friend and in simple terms a great dog, too. He loved his family with all he had, and he held a role in all of our lives. Augie was a study partner, a roommate, a jogging buddy, a babysitter, a comfort provider, a protector, a shotgun rider, and many more.
I hope this helps you to find peace in our heartbreak. I know Augie won’t ever be forgotten. I figure not all of us will be in Church tomorrow, but please say a prayer for him and give thanks for what he brought to our lives.
Goodbye Pup, we love you,
On the off-chance you can still see through your tear-filled eyes after reading that beautiful tribute, there is a wonderfull poem called the Rainbow Bridge that can help you in your grief.
The Rainbow Bridge
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….
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Thank you for including the quote from the ASPCA that says that one should consider end-of-life issues when a pet’s quality of life deteriorates due to a disease or aging. My friend has had her dog for more than 16 years, and even though he has been a great dog, she thinks it might be time to put him to sleep. I will be sure to forward this article to her, and hopefully that process isn’t too hard for her to handle.