|Photo by Chelsey Johnson, 2008|
As you may or may not know, I am keeper to two very geriatric dogs. Beija, who is recovering from cancer, and Wishbone, the senile terrier. As of this week, I am down to one dog.
We had Wishbone put down (you can read her obituary here) on Monday, and I wanted to give you the most valuable advice that my sister gave to me: Have your pets put down at home.
Secondly (and this is from me), look into Euthanasia far in advance, so that when the time comes and your mind and heart are all fogged up and confused, you know what your bottom line is.
If you have pets, please take a moment and consider this.
I know that you are attached to your animal, but don't worry- magical thinking isn't real. If you accept that Euthanasia and death are and option, it is not the same as putting a hex on your creature. What it is, is making a plan for the future to give them the gift of a compassionate, swift exit from a failing body.
It's just like a living will- consider under what conditions you would and would not want to be alive if you were them. Also consider what you are willing to do, medically, to keep them alive. What is fair to them, what is fair to you, and what you can afford. It's vulgar and awful to even mention money when considering your best friend's life, but it's real.
For my dogs I've assessed their quality of life (happiness, mobility, appetite, comfort), then their age.
You can also consult an official Quality of Life Scale as your pet ages, to keep track of changes and discomforts that may have happened so gradually you take them for granted. Here is another one.
About home euthanasia:
It is such a "duh", I can't believe I never considered it before being lectured by my sweet sister on how it was the right thing to do. I didn't even realize it was an option.
A kind, professional veterinarian came to our home, administered a sedative, and then the final O.D. to stop Wishbone's heart.
Wishbone got to die while laying on my chest, sleeping. She was so at peace, she didn't even lift her head the whole time the vet was in our home.
She didn't have to be transported to another venue full of bright lights and unfamiliar smells.
Another bonus was that Beija got to be a part of the process. She got to sniff Wishbone after she was gone, and understood immediately what had happened. This might sound morbid to you, but it saved Beija from having the anxious searching that dogs sometimes have for their companions when they don't know why or where they've gone.
In Oregon, I recommend Compassionate Care Pet Euthanasia.
They were kind, professional, and handled all of the after-death issues as well (cremation, etc).
Be well, love your pets, and thank you for reading this and considering this in advance.