When we bring a pet into our lives we make a subconscious choice to begin a journey with them. We don’t often think of the chain of events that occur once we have made the commitment. Every life has a beginning, a middle, and an end. We always focus on the excitement of the beginning. Of bringing a family member home and acclimating them to their new lives. We think of the middle, all the great times we share together. The bond we create. Yet, we never really focus on the end, with good reason of course.
The sad reality is that our best friends do not share the same lifespan as we do. We are lucky if our dogs live for ten years and our cats to fifteen. Honestly, we are lucky for every day that they grace our lives with endless love and devotion. But the reality is that their lives are short and that we will have to say goodbye before we are ready.
This December I had to euthanize a pet for the very first time. My best friend was diagnosed with hepatic carcinoma. Fortunately, and yet, unfortunately, the decision was made for me. I say that because I would’ve done anything possible to buy more time for him. I was very lucky for him to be in the hands of some of the most competent and compassionate veterinarians that I had ever met. With his diagnosis, they offered me several options but did not give me false hope. It was his time and there was no doubt in my mind that euthanasia was the right decision to make.
Words cannot describe the pain and emptiness that accompanies the death of an animal. I had no understanding of how much it would hurt to lose my best friend. I had experienced death and euthanasia countless times in the veterinary profession but nothing truly prepares for losing your own pet.
Euthanizing Gabriel was one of the worst experiences of my life. I will never recover from his loss, but I can just hope that I can learn from the experience. Use it to make myself a better veterinarian. To always remember how I felt in that moment so I can empathize and support my clients in the future.