His passing was nothing short of absolutely brutal, but with advanced kidney disease, the time had come to let him go. Knowing it was the final act of love we could give him, did provide some comfort, and it was a peaceful, loving goodbye. It’s prompted me to tell you just how we go about the process assisting families with their final goodbyes.
While we do not always have the choice of when we get to say goodbye to our pets, in the case of advanced age or long- term illness, we are often asked “how do I know its time to let them go?”
In the case of our Pedro, knowing the time was coming, and not wanting to cut a happy life short, nor wanting to see him suffer, we had gone from watching him on a week to week basis to day to day. So long as we were seeing signs that he had quality of life, we were happy, we were looking to see that he was still eating and drinking, happy to see us, purring, and seemingly comfortable when he was at rest.
When the morning came that he got up on our bed and sat between us and did not purr, alarm bells rang, this was very unusual. When a little later in the morning we noticed that his gait when walking had become more of a stagger, we knew.
So here’s the first piece of advice, once that decision has been made, spend every minute you can with them, cuddle them, tell them you love them, feed them their favorite food (fish pan fried in butter was Pedro’s last meal!) those memories will become so treasured.
Secondly, we are always more than happy to come to your home for the euthanasia. While some people would elect to have it done at the clinic (and this too is fine) when there are multiple family member in involved it can be easier for your to gather in the peaceful and familiar environment of your home, allowing you to sit somewhere comfortable and hold your pet as they drift off to sleep. For us this was the preferable option, all jokes made prior to our wedding that I’d have written into our vows that Mike had to love, honour, and keep my pets alive were now very bittersweet. Now I know I’m biased as both a wife and business partner, but Mike did an amazing job in such a difficult situation, kind, loving, gentle, respectful, and I know in a heartbeat this compassion is what he offers each and every pet he is called upon to help across the rainbow bridge.
If children are involved, this is entirely your decision as a family as to whether or not they wish to be present, Mike is happy to chat with them first, and explain the process in as much or little detail as they require.
Mike will always give a sedative first, which will ease any anxiety and allow your pet to just drift off quietly to sleep. It is only once they are asleep, that he will administer the final injection, which acts very quickly, and Mike will confirm when they have passed. Our aim is always to make this process as calm, stress, and pain free as we possibly can.
While we will never rush you through this process, when you have said your final goodbye and you are ready to let go there is a decision to be made as to whether you would like a home burial, or cremation. Cremation allows you three options, either saying good bye with no memorial returned to you, or having the ashes returned in a cardboard scatter box which you can open and the ashes scattered wherever has significance for you, or a more permanent memorial, a sealed wooden box with a plaque. In the case of cremation, Mike will transport your pet back to the clinic with him to enable transfer to our cremation service.
We often find people apologise for being upset, please feel no need to, it is an incredible painful process, which have much empathy for, and while we cannot ease the pain you will feel at their loss, you have nothing but our love, understanding and empathy and what you have to go through.
While choosing euthanasia is an incredibly hard decision to reach we would encourage you to think of it as a final act of love for your pet, and preferable, where possible to the widely held myth that aged pets just “wander off to die”.
Animals that are aged, sick and debilitated are already suffering and need of care to ease their discomfort. While it’s a lovely notion that pets wander way to pass away peacefully, it is far more likely that they wander away and are unable to return, perhaps they are either physically unable to or are too disorientated (much like senior citizens can become).
Ageing pets can suffer from impaired vision, hearing loss, cognitive dysfunction, painful arthritis and muscle weakness, or one of many serious systematic diseases that can make it very difficult for them to return home if they have wandered too far.
Ageing pets can be more work and require more care and we implore you to provide this when they so desperately need it. Please do not dismiss their symptoms as “just getting old” and indeed something to be endured. Much can be done in the way of palliative care to ease their final days and we believe that after a lifetime of being your faithful companion we very much owe it to them to provide care when they most need us.
We are always at the end of the phone and always more than happy to talk through with you caring for your ageing pet, no question is too silly, no number of calls too much, if we can in any way assist your ageing pet or relieve your stress and anxiety as you go through what can be a difficult time, then we are more than happy to do so.
Cherish your pets, you never know what tomorrow will bring, but go in the knowledge that we are here for you when you need us.
“He’s your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog.
You are his life, his love, his leader.
He will be yours, faithful and true to the least beat of his heart.
You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion”