Animal Care Center lost a beloved pet on May 28, 2017. Our precious Thomas left us to go over the rainbow bridge. With his crooked tail, creeper stalkings and incessant meows for food, and blinds/window open demands, the clinic will not be the same. I first started with ACC in 2003 and Thomas was shortly after, so I feel as though he was ‘mine’. I cannot explain how much I will miss those ‘head butts’ and morning talks we had. He always knew how to make my day better.
I know that with these monthly blogs we usually take this opportunity to educate our clients about some sort of disease or aspect of veterinary medicine that we frequently see everyday. Today, I am going to try to let you guys into my mind and heart. You will not see any ‘statistical facts’ or ‘reference citing’s’ for this blog, just my feelings. I will try to convey how I have learned to cope with euthanasia over the last 11 years of practicing medicine and being a life long pet owner.
No one wants to thing about the day that we will have to say goodbye to our beloved furry babies, but unfortunately that time always comes. There is no magic words that can take the hurt away, no article to read to ease the pain, no poem that makes us forget…but hopefully sharing my feelings will help one person understand how I cope. And that may ease the sadness just a little.
If I have had the privilege of seeing your pet as a patient, then you probably realize how attached I get to my babies. I especially have a soft spot for my geriatric patients, and the bond that they have with their families. With the advancements in medicine that we have today, we are able to keep our pets healthy and with us for much longer than even 25 years ago. I can remember having pets growing up and the average lifespan being 10-12 years, and that being considered ‘old’. Now, ’10 is the new 5’ and our ‘geriatric’ pets are living well into their teens. But, unfortunately, we do have to say goodbye one day. And that is a question that I get asked at least a few times a week – ‘Dr Amy, when will I know? Tell me when it is time…’
And that is one of the hardest questions to answer, because there is no right or wrong answer. For each pet and each owner, it is different. I personally lost four of my own pets last year, one to kidney failure, one to severe dementia/senility and two to cancer. I remember asking my colleagues the same question…what should I do??? Having to make that decision to euthanize my furry baby seemed so impossible. But, that is the one last ‘gift of love’ and ‘self sacrifice’ that we can give our loved ones. They provided us with years of wonderful memories, unconditional love…the least we can do is ease their suffering.
When I get asked, ‘What should I do?’ The best answer I can give is that they will let you know. The bond that we have with our animals is unique to each one of us. As your pet’s doctor, I can give you as much information as I am able regarding their health and options regarding their treatment/care. But, as your mental support, I can give you advice that ‘they will let you know’. It is a feeling that you get in your heart, and no matter how sad and painful it is for you, it is a peace that you feel knowing you can give them this last act of kindness. Ending their suffering.
For my precious Sophia, one of my babies that I lost to cancer, it was when she looked into my eyes and couldn’t give me that little ‘chirrble’ kiss. I could see the pain in her eyes and the struggle that she was having with each breath. For my love Moe, it was when he wouldn’t eat for me (he NEVER refused food in his 13 years of life). For my first husky Bailey Man, it was when he couldn’t keep anything down and had uncontrollable accidents in the house. The look of shame on his face and pain he was in, and knowing I couldn’t stop it; let me know what I had to have done. I could go on and on, but I am telling you this so that you may hopefully understand that each pet is different – it may be when they stop chasing the ball, stop burrowing under the covers, stop begging for food…. Although the pain is horrible in our hearts and the sadness consumes us, it is the last selfless act of love and kindness that we can give to our pets. They let you know when it is time.
And when it is time, we are here for you. We can help ease your pet’s pain, and we can hopefully help ease your sadness. Personally, I still cry every night for the pets that I have lost and the patients that I have lost; but it is a cry of knowing that they are in a better place and just a letting go of my emotions. The sadness stays with us, but knowing that our babies are in a pain free place gives me peace.
Thank your for taking the time to read about my thoughts and emotions. Know that we are here for you at Animal Care Center and Pet Care Center to help you with any hard decisions that you may need to face. It is a conversation that no one likes to have, but we can hopefully offer solutions and provide some insight for you to help make the right decision for both you and your pet.
Thomas, I love you and you and your crooked tail will never be forgotten.
Dr. Amy Sutherland
There is a bridge connecting Heaven and Earth.
It is called the Rainbow Bridge because of all its beautiful colors.
Just this side of the Rainbow Bridge there is a land of meadows,
hills and valleys with lush green grass.
When a beloved pet dies, the pet goes to this place.
There is always food and water and warm spring weather.
The old and frail animals are young again.
Those who were sick, hurt or in pain are made whole again.
There is only one thing missing,
they are not with their special person who loved them so much on earth.
So each day they run and play until the day comes
when one suddenly stops playing and looks up!
The nose twitches! The ears are up!
The eyes are staring and this one runs from the group!
You have been seen and when you and your special friend meet,
you take him in your arms and hug him.
He licks and kisses your face again and again –
and you look once more into the eyes of your best friend and trusting
Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together never again to be apart.