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OUR ANIMALS, OURSELVES: It’s not easy saying goodbye to our beloved pets

June 1, 2018
By ANNOEL KRIDER , Lake Placid News

It was day three, and I knew it was time. Three days earlier, my beautiful dog Molly refused to eat.

It was unheard of for a dog who spent the first few months of her life as a stray foraging for food wherever she could find it and never, ever refusing anything edible ever since. She had been diagnosed with cancer in her shoulder the previous year and a half ago and given four months to live.

With a combination of conventional medicine and alternative therapies she lived longer than expected, but now her swollen shoulder made it difficult for her to walk and whenever I looked into her eyes, which always conveyed love and gratitude, I was now seeing pain and sadness. I know my eyes, my heart, and every ounce of my being, were overflowing with that same emotion.

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They always tell you that you'll know when it's time to euthanize your pet but it's never quite that easy. One bounces from guilt to desperation to heartache when trying to make such a decision. I've had many cats and dogs all with their own individual ways of dying. I look back at some of them and wonder if my decisions where the right ones. There were one or two that I know weren't.

So how do you know what to do? It's all about quality of life however I hesitate to suggest what that means for each individual. If trusting your instincts isn't an option then have an honest conversation with your veterinarian.

I had a dog named Laddie who had leukemia. Although given literally two weeks to live, he lived five quality months, but one day after a drive into town he didn't want to get out of the car. He gave me this look that so clearly communicated that he had enough and I knew we had approached that time. He had no interest in doing anything including eating so I set up an area for him to lay in. He seemed comfortable although needed assistance to go outside to relieve himself.

I decided that I would stay with him and do Doggie Hospice. I gave him Bach flower essence Rescue Remedy to keep him calm. I played Reiki music by Deuter that was calming for both of us. I sat with him for three days, did Reiki on him, gave him water and talked to him, until he left us, on his own. He didn't appear to be in pain, so I felt I could allow him to depart naturally.

On the other hand, I had a cat, Mr. Kitty, who was 23 years old and failing. He needed intravenous daily to rehydrate and he hated it every time I put the needle in his back to give him the fluids that would keep him alive. He was clearly uncomfortable and finally when he died on his own I was painfully aware that I should have helped him pass sooner.

Each one of us has to make our own decisions when to end the life of our animal family member. One that we will ultimately feel comfortable with for the rest of our lives. I've seen people euthanize their animals because they were given a diagnosis that would eventually lead to suffering but the animal wasn't there yet. You don't want to be hasty in that moment of heartache. Or an old pet that was just old and too much of a burden. Old is not a reason to euthanize.

Then I've seen the opposite. My sister and I visited an art studio in Ohio and towards the end of our tour we saw this skin and bones dog laying on a blanket in the artist's work space. Not only could he not walk, he couldn't even stand up. He could barely move. Perhaps they still saw a will to live in that dog but to my sister and I this dog was suffering and should have been put to sleep; however, this couple needed to arrive at that decision on their own.

You don't want to be burdened with doubt thinking you euthanized your pet too soon, but guilt can be just as heavy when you realize after the fact that you waited too long.

Below is the advice from Dr. Richard Pitcairn, who wrote the "Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats."

"If your pet seems reasonably comfortable and peaceful, you may wish to allow the process to unfold naturally. If the animal is restless, crying or has great difficulty in breathing or has convulsions euthanasia is the recommended response."

My dog Molly was clearly letting me know it was time to go. The entire third day, her last day of life, was agonizing for me beyond words. When my husband returned home that afternoon and saw the shape I was in, he helped me make the call. I had been giving Molly Rescue Remedy to keep her calm, but clearly I should have been taking it too.

So we carefully put Molly into the car, brought our other dog Arlo with us, and drove to the clinic. They gratefully came out to the car where we laid with Molly. The doctor said, while giving her the injection, that "all dogs go to heaven" at which point Molly lifted her head and gave me one last kiss before going to heaven. As difficult as it was we knew we had made the right decision for her.

It was a year before getting another dog, and now we have two. I look at both of them, and our cats, too, knowing that their lives will be far too short but the pain of losing them will never outweigh the absolute joy and love they bring to our lives. And besides, they will all be waiting for us ... in heaven.



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