If you have an aging furbaby, reading this blog post might be worth your time. Sadly, I’m probably writing for selfish reasons rather than trying to help anyone. Consider it therapy for me, possible guidance for you.
Euthanasia is not an easy decision. We look to our veterinarians for guidance. We ask friends and family for their opinion. We fill out every quality of life survey available, hoping to get the results we so desperately desire all the while knowing they will be the same every time. We hold private conversations with our furbabies, hoping they will give us some kind of sign that they’re ready.
Ultimately you and your family are the only ones that can make the decision. It took us nine months to decide it was time. Over the course of that nine months, Nana was on meds to help her sleep, meds to ease her arthritic joints and wearing diapers daily. She slept most of the time but didn’t appear to be in too much agony. She was very stiff and only walked to eat and pee outside. She still had plenty of life in her heart but her legs were slowly giving out. She was almost 16.
Over the past two weeks, we watched as she slipped away more and more daily. This is when I started reading blogs written by veterinarians and working every “quality of your pet’s life survey” I could find online.
One thing I read that truly helped my heart was regarding the musculoskeletal system. Nana’s heart and other organs, although ageing, were functioning as well as an ‘ole girls could. Her legs however had all but given out completely. She didn’t really need to have working legs, I’d justify. I carry her everywhere. She wears a diaper, she doesn’t even have to go outside. I stumbled across a veterinarians blog. She wrote that the hardest scenario is when everything else is still functioning as expected but your pets legs aren’t working anymore. If her heart, lungs or kidneys were failing the decision would be obvious. This vet said that the musculoskeletal system should be treated like any other organ. If your pet isn’t able to walk anymore, their quality of life is not good. I knew this but it helped to think of it in this manner.
I spent the last part of that little dogs life praying that she would pass in her sleep. Selfish and such a human desire, was it not? Don’t fool yourself. Unfortunately, this isn’t a common occurrence. It would be so much easier if it were.
The deciding factor for me was the look in my ‘ole girls eyes. Eyes speak volumes in all living things.
Hers, although still full of love were weary. We knew for several weeks that it was time. That realization doesn’t make it any easier.
Thankfully our vet makes house calls. This small gesture on Dr. Kim’s part made the process easier on my ole girl. Nana was not one to enjoy car rides. There was no unnecessary stress as we never left the house.
My advice for families of ageing animals:
- Develop a plan of action prior to the last weeks of your pets life.
- Take a look at the quality of life surveys online. They help.
- Ask your vet if he or she makes house calls.
- Talk to your vet regarding what to expect. It was much more peaceful than I imagined.
- Get all of the details ironed out prior to the moment. Pay up front so you don’t have to deal with any of that after.
- Above all, watch your pets eyes. It’s subtle but you will know.
I don’t know if I will ever have another dog. Time will tell. Right now, I’m trying to mend our broken hearts. That will take time as well.
My heart goes out to any of you who are facing the decision of euthanasia. It’s that part of animal ownership we don’t give a second thought as we are soaking up that puppy breath smell.
Missing my ‘ole girl,