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 and 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
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 you’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 knew 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.