Pet Memorial Day & Euthanasia
June 9 is a special day. It is World Pet Memorial day. This year’s pet memorial day is particularly significant to me. February 9, I had to say goodbye to one of the best dogs I will ever have the pleasure of knowing. She was a beautiful black and white mantle Great Dane, I called Dutchess. She had arrived at the local shelter as an adult and we were not sure how old she was when she arrived. When I took her home, it was like she had always lived there. She could be found curled up on the couch next to my other dog or sunbathing in front of the sliding glass door with the cats. We had her for ten and a half wonderful years. Unfortunately, her body started to give out on her and over the last couple of months, I watched as this strong, amazing dog slowly start to deteriorate. One day, she looked at me and her eyes told me “mom, I’m tired and I hurt. It’s okay. I’m ready.” My heart will never be ready for something like that but I knew if I held on longer I was only being selfish. My family and staff at MVVS were able to show her one more final act of love and helped her to graciously crossover to the other side. Exactly 6 days later, I got devastating news that my oldest cat (12 year old, Ginji) had a significant sized mass in his right lung and the cancer had already spread to other parts of his body. Shocked doesn’t come close to what I was feeling because he had only come in for routine blood-work and exam. March 2, I came home from work with him unable to stand and not being able to locate where I was. I had to rush back to work so that he would not be suffering any longer. Saying goodbye to one beloved pet in a year is hard. But having to say goodbye to two is devastating. I wasn’t through my grieving process of Dutchess before starting again with Ginji.
Believe me when I say all of us here at Mountain View Veterinary Services understand how difficult a decision it is to say goodbye to our beloved companions. Compassion and empathy is what we strive for during this sensitive time.
Knowing when it’s time to say goodbye can be one of the most difficult decisions in a pet parent’s life. As the caregiver of a senior or ailing pet, you are the one who can best assess their quality of life. Some tools to help you assess their quality of life are:
- Mark good and bad days on the calendar. A mark as simple as a happy or sad face for a good or bad day. When the bad days outnumber the good, it may be time.
- Make a list of 3 things your pet loves to do. When they are no longer able to enjoy 2 out of the 3 things, it may be time.
- Take photos and videos. Not only will you have a keepsake of your beloved pet but sometimes changes to their looks and behavior happen gradually and this way you’ll have reference points throughout your time together.
Experts say making some key decisions before your pet passes often makes coping with grief a little easier. Concerns like: who else may want to see your pet to say goodbye and what do you want to do with your pet’s body may help you feel less anxious about facing those final moments.
Mountain View Veterinary Services offers at home euthanasia for established clients to help make everyone more comfortable during this difficult time.
Sometimes, not knowing what happens during euthanasia can also be scary. We offer pre-euthanasia sedation to all animals. Which means we will use an injectable anesthesia that will make them sleepy and they will no longer feel any pain. As your pet is getting sleepy, we encourage you to spend time with them. Once they are asleep, your pet will receive another injection which will stop their body functions. Some people decide they can not be present during this time and it is okay to step away during this process.
Mountain View Veterinary Services uses Pet Memorial Services for cremation services. They offer many different options that can be found on their website.
If you have questions or need direction when it becomes time to let your pet go, feel free to call our clinic at 717-477-8938 to speak with one of our veterinary team members. We are here to help.
Grieving is a natural process with the loss of a life. There are many resources and support groups that can assist with the emotions that you are feeling. Cornell University offers a Pet Loss Support hotline. Information can be found by calling 607-253-3932 or at their website. Day by day has support groups and wonderful brochures (from grieving children, grieving friends, grieving pets and more).
Local funeral homes and your spiritual leader will also have information on grief counseling.
When the time comes and you have to say goodbye to a pet, don’t forget the other pets in the home as well. They will grieve for their lost companion along with you. They may change sleeping or eating habits, disinterest in usual activities and not want to be away from the rest of the family. Some will wonder around the house “searching” for the missing pet. Surviving pets will need a chance to go through their grieving process – there are a few things you can do to help them during this process. Keep routines as consistent as possible (pet’s diet and mealtimes). You may want to comfort your pets but you’ll want to try to spend time with them when they are behaving in desirable ways. By feeding them “special” foods or giving them attention when they are “acting sad” reinforces behaviors that may not be wanted at a later time.
If you have more than 3 dogs and one passes away, the remaining two may have some conflict to reestablish pack order.
Remember, everyone grieves in their own way and what you are feeling is okay. When the time comes, don’t shut your heart off from bringing another pet into your home. Just one bad day at the end of one life shouldn’t take away from the wonderful memories that comes from sharing a lifetime with a furbaby.
This blog is dedicated to Dutchess and Ginji.