Saying Goodbye to Your Dog…Will You Be There?

saying goodbye to your dog

 

saying goodbye to your dog will you be there

I know what a tough prospect saying goodbye to your dog is, something we avoid thinking about as much as we possibly can. Having said that it is important to find the strength to give it some thought, particularly when it comes to deciding whether or not you will be with him or her when it’s time.

The moment we have to say goodbye is so heart wrenching many pet guardians aren’t able to be in the room when it happens. No judging please and no feeling guilty. It doesn’t mean they didn’t love their dog completely or was less caring or responsible, it just means it’s too hard for some people to bear. By the same token others couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.

What would you do?

Perhaps you’ve already been faced with this decision and you know what you’ll do. Maybe you weren’t entirely sure you did the right thing so will do the opposite next time. Quite possibly you haven’t had to say goodbye before Saying Goodbye to Your Dog Will You Be Thereand you’re not sure what the “right” decision is. 

This is very important to understand – there is no “right” decision, only the one that you can handle. 

Having to think about the unthinkable

The reason why it’s so important to give it some thought is because it’s irreversible, and when you’re in the middle of heartbreak it’s hard to think clearly.

I will never forget the first time I had to say goodbye to a pet, it was my beloved cat Calypso. She wasn’t eating so I took her to the vet who told me her kidneys were failing and it was time. I knew she had issues but it felt like she went downhill quite quickly so I was stunned…and in pieces. Not only because I loved her so much but  because I had never faced anything like this before and had no idea what was going to happen. My vet was so amazing but there was “stuff” to take care off, and that stuff included being handed a form with big letters saying Euthanasia across the top and being asked to sign it. That’s when I thought I would literally faint. Then the questions came – did I want her buried or cremated, ashes back or not, what kind of urn…

As I write this I realise it sounds like they were heartless but that was absolutely not the case. My vet couldn’t have been more compassionate, but there were important questions that needed answering. 

I had never thought about this subject before, but I knew without hesitation being with her and comforting her was the only place for me. I stay with every pet except I was not able to be with Bailey, but luckily my husband was. I was okay with that because they were best buds and I know Bailey was happy being with him.  

When you’re faced with having to make an immediate “yes or no”, “stay or go” what do you do? I hope the following will help.

Why you might decide to stay

Feeling your dog is comforted by your presence which in turn may give you comfort and peace

Wanting yours to be the last face your dog sees

The fear you might regret/feel guilty not having been there

Knowing how impossible it will be, but doing it anyway because you want to be there for your dog as you have been until now

The vet’s office can be a very scary place with some unfamiliar people around, having you there can be a great source of comfort

Even if you “know” he’s gone, sometimes not actually seeing it can leave you doubting whether it happened 

You want to rest easy knowing he passed quickly and painlessly

Why you might decide not to stay

You’d rather not remember your dog’s final moments surrounding by strangers in a clinical setting

You want your last image to be of him alive in your home, garden, on his favourite bed… 

Concern your emotions will stress your dog

You may be scared of death, almost superstitious

Another option

There is an alternative to taking your dog to the clinic and that would be having a vet come to your house. Your dog will be in a familiar environment, surrounded by everyone he loves who loves him. Perhaps this option is one how to cope with the loss of a petyou’re more comfortable with. Check with your veterinary practice to see if they offer this service or can recommend someone who does. Otherwise a search for “in home euthanasia” should give you some possibilities.

Who wants to be there

Something else to think about is who might like to be there – your children, other family members…If you’re doing it at home you have more flexibility than a vet’s office that can only accommodate so many.

Knowing what to expect

You’ve read the reasons why some people choose to stay, and why some choose not to. You’ve also seen there is another option to a vet’s office. What about knowing what to expect? It is entirely possible being unfamiliar with the process frightens people (which is understandable), and influences their decision whether to be with their dog or not. Have your vet explain what happens step by step and see if that helps you decide.

I will mention one thing – being asked for payment right then and there is not something anyone should expect to experience…yet I did and it made an already heartbreaking experience all the more horrific.

A terrible experience I don’t want you to share

Sadly I’m no stranger to saying goodbye and it never gets easier, however nothing was more disgusting than when I had to say goodbye to my cat TT at an animal hospital in Florida. Although he had cancer for a few months he was doing okay until he suddenly had what seemed like a massive stroke, so we rushed him to the hospital. We so hard saying goodbye to your dogknew we were going to say goodbye and that nothing could be done. What we never expected was for a receptionist to come into the examination room to collect payment before they would put him down.

That tells you everything you need to know about the type of place it is, I don’t care how well known they are.

I mention this because payment is something you need to be absolutely clear about. Your practice may know you well enough to let you leave without paying, respecting your grief, but they don’t always tell you they will not send your pet for cremation (if that’s what you decide) until payment is received. Yes that happened to me as well. I assumed because I had been going there for years and they allowed me to leave without paying (respecting my grief), I could pay when I picked up my cat’s ashes (another cat not TT). When I hadn’t heard from them in a couple of weeks I called and found out they had left my cat in a freezer the entire time. I went ballistic at the owner of the practice, crying and screaming on the phone.

They may not have wanted to say anything at the time out of respect, but a friendly phone call a couple of days later would have been the right thing to do. How are we expected to know their policies.

See why I want you to ask in advance?

Saying goodbye to your dog

A sad topic to be sure but an important one to think about. Whether you decide to stay or not is a decision only you can make but I do hope this post will help.

 

I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, my Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saying Goodbye to Your Dog…Will You Be There?
Hindy Pearson
Helping people care for their senior dogs
I am a certified dog trainer and pet care consultant, specialising in working with rescue dogs and first time pet parents. I foster and adopt senior and special needs dogs, and advocate for shelter adoption of all animals, particularly older dogs and cats. I am currently working on a spay/neuter program in Spain.

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16 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye to Your Dog…Will You Be There?

  1. Hindy,
    I held my last two dogs when they passed. The first was eight and the last was fourteen. I think I got as much comfort from it as they did. I have not been able to take my dog to the vet and have them put down because they are sick.
    John

    1. Hi John, thank you for sharing that. As horrible as it is to witness, I couldn’t imagine not being there with them, and like you say, you each got comfort. All my pets have been put down at the vet, because we were there when the test results came in. I had never considered having a vet come to the house to do it, although someone very close to me always does. This way the whole family is around, and their pet is in the comfort of their own home. Seems like a very kind alternative.

  2. Hindy,
    I held my buddy of 16 years while he was put to ‘sleep’ .. his name was Happy. we enjoyed him from puppy-hood till 16 years of age. Happy trusted us completely and his love was surrounding us all as he left. thanks for you post.

  3. Hindy,
    I have been with most of my pets upon their passing and it was not easy. One of my dogs I was not with because I did not feel like I was emotionally able to handle it at the time. There was a lot going on in my life including loss in the family etc. so I had my husband go instead. You are very right that the moment is not for everyone and that is nothing to feel guilty about but you should make sure someone is there for support upon their passing. Thank you for addressing such a difficult issue.

    1. Hi Camille, No it’s certainly not easy. I’ve been through it too many times and it’s always heartbreaking. I’m sure your dog was comforted by your husband’s presence. It is a difficult issue, but I want people to know there are resources and places to turn to for help, and advice.

  4. That is a very sad time in your life. A dog that I had for 11 years passed, and we decided to have the vet come to our house since it was too hard for him to get up – so where they are put down, I guess depends on the situation. Very interesting article, thank you!

    1. Hi Mary, yes indeed – one of the saddest. There is something to be said for having the vet come to your home, to where your dog feels most comfortable. The whole experience must be a lot less frightening for them that way. I think it’s definitely an option worth considering, if the situation allows.

  5. Hi Hindy,

    This is probably the reason why I chose not to have pets. I can’t bear to see them leave. Your suggestion here to pet-lovers, though, is a good one as sometimes they overlook this, and I know of some friends who’ve been through this situation.

    1. Hi Mylu, I often hear of people saying they don’t want pets because they couldn’t bear having to say goodbye, and others who would never get another for the same reason. I totally understand what you mean, it’s a terribly heartbreaking experience, but no matter how many times I go through it, I would always adopt more. It doesn’t cancel out the love you have for your pets, or how much they add to your life. It’s a shame to deny yourself those experiences.

  6. Hi Hindy,
    2011 was the first time ever I had to put a dog down and it is agonizing! Our pets make us so happy and it’s so incredibly hard to say goodbye to them. With that said, I must also say that the method by which the vet puts an animal down, I felt was very peaceful and humane….I kinda wish we(humans) could go like that when we are ready !!
    julie

    1. Hi Julie, thanks for the comment. It is definitely agonizing, something I’ve had to do too many times. Many people choose to have their vet come to the house, so they can all be together to say goodbye, and it’s in comfortable and familiar surroundings. Makes a lot of sense to me. I agree with you about humans having the same option. How could it possibly be someone else’s place to decide that someone who is in terrible pain with no hope of a reprieve, must suffer. But that’s a discussion for another time.

  7. I have a 13 year old terrier, dachshund mix male dog named Scruffy. He was recently diagnosed with a heart murmur. We can treat it for a while. I dread losing him. Such a sweet boy. We are blessed to be able to take good care of him. I found him in a gutter when he was a puppy. He has been a gift to our family. I hope he passes on his own when it is time, but if the vet every says it is time and we should put him to sleep, it will be done and quickly. My only regret about losing pets in the past is that I tried to hold onto them and because of my selfishness they suffered. Scruffy will not. ~Gina

    1. Hi Gina, thanks for sharing your story. I obviously don’t know Scruffy’s medical situation, but speaking from my own experience with pets and heart murmur, they can live for years with treatment. How wonderful that you saved his life, which makes him even more special. No one can deny feeling the same way you did – wanting to hold onto our pets because the alternative is not something we want to face. Having said that, it really is always about what’s best for them, not us, but we’re human things happen. You know Scruffy won’t suffer and that’s all that matters. I hope you and Scruffy have many more years together.

  8. What an important post. I’m not one to judge at all. I’ve been there for both my pets. As awful as it is , being there does give a sense of final closure. I also know what you mean about the payment in advance. The urgent care I visited presented that to me however they were very compassionate and professional about everything. I had no idea they can withhold the remains though. 🙁 I’m fortunate that I had a very compassionate sincere vet at the time.

    1. It is awful Kamira but I agree about being there. I feel like as heartbreaking as it is for me, it’s the right thing for me to be there with them at the end, giving comfort so they know they’re not alone. It’s definitely not for us to judge, everyone does the best they can do at that moment. I don’t know if every practice holds the remains, but apparently it was because they had to pay the company up front so they didn’t want to be out of pocket. All I can say is, during that time compassion from your vet and staff is what you want to experience.

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