America's Smartest Girl

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portland, oregon
America's Smartest Girl, Nicole Georges, channels her powers for good as she drums up answers to the world's most complicated questions.

Romance, Career, Health, Pets, Finance. Send questions to Nicole via twitter (@nicolejgeorges) or addressed to her via No suicidal inquiries. Please limit all questions to 150 words or less.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Unsolicited Advice, re:Home Euthanasia

Photo by Chelsey Johnson, 2008

Hello, Readers.
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.



gabriel said...


This is so helpful, real and honest. As my sweet friend is getting on in age and having more health issues, I want to be as mindful of his end of life care as I have been in taking care of him during his life. Thank you for your compassion and thoughts.


Rae - Say It Aint So said...

wow, i didn't even know that was an option. we had to put down my first dog and it was awful taking her to the vet because she was big and mobility was a problem. i wish i would have know this. i'm glad wishbone was able to be held by you at peace in her last moments. what a gift for a little friend. as a keeper of two geriactric dogs myself, i need to talk to my husband about a plan for that day when we have to make a decision.

Robert Cook said...

This is such a great idea! My parents had to put down their Alaskan Malamute years ago...they took him to the vet and into the room where the deed would be done. The vet told my parents they could leave and they said, "No, we're staying with him to the end!" As they doc injected Buck (their dog) with the agent of his passage, my parents both hugged him tightly. They said he went almost instantly. They tell me they were both crying on the drive home, and they agreed it was the worst thing they ever had to do.

My dad is gone now but my mom has a 15 year old Llasa Apso who has Cushing's disease and arthritis, and is showing signs of canine cognitive disorder. She sleeps all the time she is not eating her meals or out peeing or pooping. I've told her that if her dog dies at home she should call my brother, who lives nearby, to come over after dark and dig a hole in the back yard so her dog can be buried there. If it comes to pass she will have to have the dog put down, perhaps she can have the vet come do it at the house.

Anonymous said...

Hi Nicole,

Many thanks for a sensitive and informative piece on this most difficult of subjects for pet people. My 15-year-old Standard Poodle has some mobility problems but continues to have a hearty appetite and joyful disposition. However, I am keenly aware that a dignified and peaceful end to life when the time comes is something that is owed to all companion animals. The quality of life checklists you cited have been duly bookmarked...

Soya's mom