A Gift of Love at the End of Your Pet's Life

Dr. R.J. Peters

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Sadly, our pets don't live as long as we do, and many of us who love animals will have a number of pets throughout our lives. Some of them may die of old age, giving in to the ravages of time on their bodies, while others may suffer from one disease or another. Or perhaps one is injured and must be given the relief of death if the trauma is too severe.

No matter the reason, losing our pets can be a devastating event, often reminding us that we, too, will reach the end of our roads one day.

For those of us who deeply love our pets, the euthanasia needle can be terrifying, despite the fact that we usually know when it must be done if we do not want our furry loved ones to suffer.

The key word is “suffer. " We love them so much that we do what is best for them. But what many pet owners may fail to consider is that our pets feel the same about us. They don't want us to suffer on their account and will do everything they can to please us. . . to make us happy again.

This is probably more true about dogs than any other pet. Dogs seem born to please, and most will go to great lengths to keep their masters happy. Nothing seems to depress or confuse a dog more than seeing his master in a negative frame of mind. Many dogs will even feel responsible for this sad state and may believe it is their fault.

Now, do you want your dog to die feeling this way? Do you want his last moment on earth to be one of sadness because he could not make you happy?

One of my favorite scenes in a M. A. S. H. television episode is when Nurse Kelly is holding the hand of a dying soldier and there is no hope. He's very young and is leaving a girlfriend behind back in the States. He calls out to her. Nurse Kelly says, “It's OK. I'm here. "

They plan a picnic and even pick out the foods they will bring. They hold hands even harder, but he can't feel it. She continues to reassure him that she'll never leave him. Soon, however, he passes on and that's that. It's sad, but he died happy. . .in a way. . .believing he was holding on to his sweetheart.

If you are at the vet's and you know this is the day, and there is nothing to be done about it, here are some tips to help you and your dog get through the ordeal:

* Be Nurse Kelly. Don't leave your beloved Rover in the back room to die with strangers, on a cold metal table, wondering when you are coming back for him as his last thought.

* Be with him. Hold his head in your hands. Gaze into his eyes. Smile!

* Tell him what a good dog he is and how proud you are of him.

* Do not let on that you are sad. You can cry later. Right now, you need to be giving an Academy Award performance.

* Give him the gift of love now, when he needs it most. If you cry now, he will die thinking he let you down.

* If you need to be gruff to cover up your grief, that’s OK. Dogs don’t seem to mind “gruff. ” Just as long as he doesn’t think you are mad at him.

Dogs are very sensitive to our moods and love their masters more than anything in the whole world. Can you give him that last little moment of love, of reassurance, before he must pass into that permanent sleep?

Of course you can! Those folks who think they cannot be with their dog during this time are only thinking of themselves and the pain THEY are feeling. Get outside of yourself, and give your dog that last loving moment that he so deserves.

Just remember to “Be Nurse Kelly. "

Dr. R. J. Peters has an extensive background in health care, animal care, journalism, computer repair and systems administration. She has co-authored a book on PC security, writes articles over a wide spectrum of topics and has numerous ebooks available on the Internet. Visit her website, http://www.theproblemcat.com for more articles and information about pets.


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