When It’s Time to Say Goodbye…..Should You Be There?

Euthanasia…….at some point in every pet owner’s life we have to make this choice for one of our very best friends. None of us ever want to think about it but it is a reality of pet companions. Although the act is one that puts an end to the discomfort with which our cat or dog may be living the decision is never easy. We may know with all of our heart it is correct but that doesn’t reduce the pain we feel at the loss.
A client, whose pet is far from the end of his life, mentioned to me the other day that he worries whether he could be there at the time of his dog’s final breath. He was feeling guilty that at the time of his companion’s final moments he could not be there. “Is this OK” he asked me. “Does that make me less than a responsible pet owner” he wondered. “Absolutely not” I responded. This particular client, who had never owned a pet before this greyhound, was anything but an irresponsible owner. He had always followed all of our recommendations and done everything within his power to keep his companion healthy and happy.
The decision of whether to be present at the euthanasia of a pet is a very personal one. As many clients are surprised that one would choose to be present as are those that are shocked that one would choose not to be. Personally, when avoidable, I choose the latter. I prefer to remember my friends, full of life doing what they are put on this earth to do. Racing around the house, running through the fields or just cuddling in my lap, these are the images I wish to hold on to. That doesn’t imply that I ignore my pets at the end of their life. I ask one of our other doctors who has known my buddy as long as I have to be gentle, caring and understanding in the end. I am confident that my friend is in good hands.
Is this right for you? Only you can answer this question. But whatever the answer, remember that one spends years nurturing, caring and building relationships. The final decision never changes all you have shared together. I believe that our pets are the happiest when we are happy. In the end if they could choose, I feel certain they would feel more secure in our happiness than sadness. Whatever the decision…it is the right one for the two of you.