I love my pets. I enjoy how Bentley says “helloooooo” in his funny little howl when I haven’t paid enough attention to him. I like how Nessa lets the kids roll around on her and can’t get enough attention (ok, maybe I don’t like that all the time, but it is endearing!). My favorite is how Luthien, our cat, plays fetch and shakes and high fives for her dinner. Pets are an amazing enrichment to our lives and I know I wish mine would live forever and always be there to greet me when I walk in the door (even if their motivation is a rumbling stomach). The harsh truth of this world, however, is that nothing is forever and that sadly includes our pets. For some, you may never face anything more difficult than making the decision to let your companion of many years go. For me, it really comes down to a quality of life issue. Unfortunately for me, as your pet’s veterinarian, and you, there isn’t a clear cut line that differentiates good quality of life and bad. Each case is different, depending on the malady your animal suffers from; old age, cancer, arthritis, kidney disease, and senility are a few of the common factors that drive us to question the quality of life of our dear friends. Something to consider as you approach the end of your pet’s life is this; Am I hanging on because it’s too hard for me to let go or do I genuinely believe that my friend’s good moments vastly outnumber the bad?
One of the things that people always say to me when they find out I’m a veterinarian is “I couldn’t do what you do, how do you deal with putting animals to sleep?”. For me, I feel like I have a unique and amazing responsibility and opportunity. I feel like I can gently and quietly usher a creature who has done very little but love from this world, potentially offering them relief from a largely painful existence. Obviously, I take great pride in being able to prolong an animal’s life (with reduced pain) with medical and surgical intervention, but there comes a point when I can’t do that anymore. I am thankful for what I can do, even at the end. Consider all that your pet has done for you, just out of its very nature, and remember that as you are faced with declining health. Don’t lose hope, just look at it as a way you can help repay them for all the love they’ve provided you with during their time in your home and heart.
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together.