Monday, June 12, 2017

Euthanasia : Should Pet Parents Be There?

Mr. Molson got hitched!
Yesterday I came across an incredibly touching and humourous article in the Toronto Sun about a family who is ensuring that every remaining day of their beloved pooch Mr. Molson is one to remember. The 12 year old Golden Retriever was diagnosed with terminal cancer in March, so the Griffin family came up with a bucket list for the pooch to complete.

After reading the article the memories came flooding back of my beloved dogs that have passed away, and they reminded me of one question so many people have asked me over the years, and that's what I want to focus on today.

The question is simple :

"When you had to put your dogs down, did you go into the room with them?"

My answer is just as simple :

"Of course I did, each and every time."

Note : I always make sure to include the words, "of course" because I want people to know that as hard of a situation as it is, it's one I think every pet parent should be there for. I recognize that some people are less comfortable in dealing with death in any form, and I'm certainly not one to be able to judge anyone else's decision when it comes to the heartbreaking decision of saying goodbye to a beloved pet but if I may, I'll tell you why I feel it's important.

I had to put my first pooch (Billie, who was AMAZING!!) down shortly after my dad died and honestly, it was just as or even harder to go through. I believe the reason for this is that as pet parents, we are the ones making a life or death decision as opposed to other medical professionals, and it weighs very heavily on us. I had never actually witnessed the euthanasia of a pet before, so naturally I was concerned for her physical comfort. I will say that the physical aspect of euthanasia is incredibly peaceful and is easier to go through than the emotional one. Every time I've gone through the experience the dogs have simply drifted into sleep, with no discomfort or gasping for air as some might imagine (sometimes I wish we could all go as peacefully, but that's another discussion for another time). Although I wept just as much as I did seeing my father pass I was, and still to this day am, so incredibly comforted that I could be there to hold and comfort one of the few beings who has unconditionally loved me throughout my life.

Every experience with euthanizing a pet is different, and I do believe some pets know what is going on. When I had to have my brother's dog put down he was shaking and incredibly nervous upon entering the vet, whereas he had never before exhibited that behaviour at the dozens of previous vet appointments in his long life. When all was said and done again I felt a great deal of comfort knowing that as nervous as he was, he was calmer as I spoke to him, pet him, cuddled him, and looked him in the eyes the whole time as I told him his dad loved him. Certainly, having a pet that is more nervous going to the doctor is all the more reason do be there and hold their paw, just as you'd hold your child's hand.

I could tell you about my other two experiences with euthanizing pets (and I likely will in the comments on this post) but truth be told I'm tearing up and besides, this post isn't about me! It's about what I feel is a responsibility we all share when it comes to saying goodbye to out beloved four legged family members. Yes it will be one of the hardest things you will experience in your life, but it is one I feel is important for the pet parent and most importantly for the pet.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and follow the conversation on the Toronto Pet Daily Facebook page. While we can likely agree there's no, "right or wrong" answer when it comes to being with your pet when they are euthanized, how do you feel about the issue?

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