Usually when we receive notes from our clients it is usually to thank us for the care over the years and to acknowledge our staff for their empathy when it is time for their pet to move on to the next place. Always we, as pet owners, find it difficult to say good bye to a friend that has meant so much over the years. Unfortunately that is the reality of pet ownership. Occasionally we have a pet where the decision to let them go is not so straightforward. The disease the pet may suffer from may not be so catastrophic. The dog or cat may not obviously be “suffering”. The quality of life, although diminished from the pet’s younger days” may still be acceptable. These decisions are often the most difficult ones we face. The very special relationships we enjoy inserts many of our own emotions into the situation. In addition to our own feelings toward the particular pet there can also be attachments beyond the obvious. The pet may represent the final connection to a deceased family member, or a former life we may have enjoyed. The potential factors that can complicate this process are multiple. It is our role to assist clients in working through this decision. It is one of the most difficult parts of our profession. The following is an excerpt from a note we received from a client who recently had to work through an emotionally draining situation with her family and her pet. I paraphrase it here to give some insight into the complexities of these situations in the hope that those of us who have experienced this can feel less alone. It is never too late to seek the support you may need.
“To the Staff at the Brockton Animal Hospital”
I take this moment to thank each and every one of you who cared for me and my family when we made the decision to end our pet’s life. The process was very hard and painful for my husband. We all loved our pet so dearly. For two weeks we knew the end had come. He struggled so much to make the decision to end our pet’s life. I feared the worst that the bedsores would get infected and they did. Yet my husband still couldn’t make the decision. He helped our pet eat and drink lifting him to the water and placing food in his mouth all the while thinking he was doing the right thing. I asked him to stop but he couldn’t. Finally when our loved one’s condition became so terrible we finally came to an agreement to bring him to you to end the suffering. I was so embarrassed by his horrible condition. But no one there judged us. You respected us and gave us time to say good bye. No one rushed us through it and so many helped us that last day.
Thank you for respecting us and not judging us. Thank you for helping our pet finally pass. We needed you and you were there. Thank you for so much.”
None of us ever want to face the above situation. Unfortunately most of us will. When the time approaches and the discussions begin please seek the support you and your family needs. Reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness as our society often intimates. It is a sign of strength that you are willing to face the reality and to do what is necessary to work through it. We are here when you need us.