We shared common ground: we both loved our animals like family. And we both had had to face parting with a terminally ill pet, choosing to euthanize or have it “put down.” We had other things in common, but mostly I remember my late friend Deb speaking of her pets with great emotion and love.
It’s that love that makes choosing to put a pet “to sleep” difficult – and at the same time comforting.
The choice to euthanize a beloved pet is not easy. There are many things to consider, and they may vary from person to person, pet to pet:
• If my pet is terminally ill, will it linger in pain?
• If my pet has had an accident, will it have a permanent, painful disability?
• Can I afford the cost of treating my pet’s condition?
• If my pet’s condition is related to advanced age, how long might my pet survive and enjoy life?
• Is my pet experiencing frequent or continued pain and suffering?
Some may feel guilty even considering euthanization of a pet. But considering your pet’s health and well-being is part of caring for it. It’s the quality of their life that we might better be concerned with.
We owe it to ourselves, and our pets, to think about that inevitable time when a pet’s health is obviously failing, and to prepare for it. If we have a choice to ease our pet’s transition from pain to one of peace, we should know all we can about it so that we will make a wise decision.
Preparing children for a pet’s death was one of the concerns of the late Fred Rogers of the PBS show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. A child who knows how a beloved companion animal leaves life behind will be able to grieve for that animal. It introduces a concept that even adults find hard to discuss among themselves.
Children who have learned to grieve and accept the death of a pet will find it easier, hopefully, to cope with the death of a grandparent, parent or sibling in the future.
Rogers’ book “When a Pet Dies” helps parents to explain death and, ultimately, to direct children toward a lifelong path of compassion for others.
It is what makes us long for a departed friend, and hope that, in a just universe, whatever heaven they may enter will also have their long lost pets waiting for them there.