By Dr. Faith Banks
If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me this question… I’d have lots of dollars!! What amazes me most about this question, is it is often asked by the people whose home I am in, while we are sitting around their now sedated, beloved pet, as we are about to begin the euthanasia process. I feel the answer is obvious, it is right in front of them. Sleeping peacefully, sometimes even snoring. I do it for their pets, I do it for them, I do it for me.
I do it for their pets, because every feline and canine companion deserves to spend their last moments on THEIR bed, in THEIR house, surrounded by THEIR two legged parents. They deserve to be calm and confident, not stressed out listening to other dogs barking, or smelling the scent from another cat that has tried to mark out their territory in an exam room. Or hearing someone in the waiting room of the veterinary hospital ooh and aah over the cute new puppy that just walked through the door. Certainly, not on a cold stainless steel table. Home is what they know and where they want to be.
I do it for the pet owners. They deserve to feel comfortable, not embarrassed to talk and cry over their four legged children, to love on them without feeling out of place. They deserve to say their goodbye where they want to, in the house, on a bed, in the garden, on the couch. Wherever they think their pet will be most at ease. They deserve to have their husband, wife, children, friends and family over to help them through this gut wrenching process. In home euthanasia also means other family pets can be present throughout the euthanasia process to eventually see the deceased pet. Often if this does not happen, the surviving pet may wander around after, searching and vocalizing for them, visibly mourning.
I do it for me. When people share their stories, I feel honoured to be the one to help bring their sick and aged pets to peace. When I recently helped a St.Bernard pass, his pet parents were saying “sorry” over and over. I told them they need not be sorry, for they were giving their precious dog the greatest gift. To end his suffering. He was no longer able to walk, he had urinary incontinence and he was no longer a happy dog. They cared for him right to the end, with his head resting on their lap. It was definitely his time and by ending his suffering and letting their own begin, they put his needs before theirs. We shared stories of how they got him, all the mischief he got into and I left feeling enriched by their tales.
So, how do I do what I do? Sometimes I do it with a lump in my throat, sometimes with tears in my eyes, but always knowing that it is with pure love and kindness, after their good life, that we are ensuring our wonderful fur babies die a “good death.”