For many people, I believe most people, when they think of their dog dying, they anticipate that there will come a time when they’ll be faced with the decision of when to euthanize. It seems to be a given and is highly accepted as such. And it’s fair to add that for most people this is an agonizing and dreaded decision. It carries a tremendous responsibility and can be quite overwhelming and highly emotional. I know that’s how I saw it.
My dog Ace and I had a very special relationship. From the time he was a puppy, he amazed me with how well he seemed to understand exactly what I said. I won’t say 100% of the time, but pretty close. I used to shake my head at the occurrence, but it became expected, and so when he became critically ill at 8 1/2 yrs old with kidney failure, and I was faced with the possibility of his death, I had a talk with him.
I told Ace that I did not want to make the decision to end his life. I told him that I did not want to call anyone to come over nor did I want to take him someplace so that he could die when I thought it was time. And I said to him, “if there’s any way that you can die on your own, with just us, just you and me, can you please do that.”
He did exactly that, and while it was heart-wrenching, it was also one of the most beautiful experiences I have ever had, as Ace very deliberately and poignantly said goodbye to me. Can I be sure that it happened as it did because I asked him and talked with him about it? From my perspective, yes.
However, you may doubt, and that’s ok. What’s important here is that I offer my story so that you can be open to another way, a way other than euthanasia, other than making the difficult decision, other than taking away your dog’s … right? ability? … perhaps both… to die on his own, at his time, not yours or someone else’s.
I am not against euthanasia, not at all. But I don’t think it is inevitable, nor should it be looked at that way. After Ace died, I started to look into pet hospice. Thanks to hospice, my mom was able to die at home, comfortably and peacefully. Why not for dogs or other companion animals?
Fortunately, the pet hospice movement is growing. If it interests you at all, you’re best to learn about it before the time comes when you need it. Search on line for resources in your area. Spirits in Transition is a resource I came across that I recommend. Their website gives a lot of information to help you understand the concept of pet hospice and decide if it may be right for you and your dog. In the comfort of your own home, their online classes can help you prepare for caring for your animal in its senior years as well as toward the end of its life no matter whether you decide to euthanize or it dies on its own. I wish you all the best when that difficult time comes. If you have any questions, please reach out to me. I’d be happy to share my experience with you or help you find answers to any questions you may have.