So, I’m just getting to the point where I can actually talk about this, but I lost my dog last month. She was almost 14 years old, so to say she was part of the family is an understatement. She was our baby. Her name is Ladybug and she was an adorable little Shih Tzu. I think what made this really difficult was the fact that we had to make the choice to put her down. I’ve never had to do this before, and can I just say, it was the more heart wrenching experience of my life.
I know we made the right decision for her because she was pretty pitiful. Both of her back legs were no longer working. It was a degenerative condition that rendered her legs useless. In addition to that, she’d lost the ability to control any of her body functions so when she wasn’t crated, we had to lie pads all around the house for her. And, to add insult to injury, she was starting to go blind. My husband and I knew that she was reaching the end of her life, and thought we were mentally trying to prepare ourselves, but we weren’t prepared to make the decision.
It happened kind of randomly. My husband came home from work and noticed that her back paw was bleeding uncontrollably. He called me and told me to come home right away because he thought she was bleeding to death. He took her to the closest vet, telling them it was an emergency. It turns out, one of her nails broke off too far and that was the cause of the bleeding. But that wasn’t all the vet had to tell us. He started going over the laundry list of things that were wrong with Lady, things we couldn’t really fix at her advanced age. He suggested that we let her go and get her euthanized. He said it was the best thing for her. I knew it but hearing him say it just made it real. We took her home that evening, knowing it would be our last night with her.
Can you imagine spending time with your dog, knowing their life is going to end the next day? I kept asking myself, ‘who are we to play God in her life?’ I didn’t want to do this. It wasn’t fair. We normally crate her but that last night, Derek let her sleep in the living room and just put a lot of pads on the carpet. I couldn’t sleep. I just needed to be near her, so I slept downstairs on the couch. Several times in the night, I got up to change her pads because I heard her stirring. One of the last times, I got up as she was peeing on her pad, and she just looked at me like ‘mommy, I can’t help it.’ I felt the deepest compassion for her in that moment, realizing the misery she must be living in, and it broke my heart.
The next day, we walked into the vet office with our dog, and left empty handed. If you’ve never had a dog or a pet, you may not know how close these animals become to your heart. They are family. I miss her so much, but it lingers in my mind that we had to make the choice for her. I didn’t want to be in the room when she took her last breath, but I didn’t want her to be alone and I didn’t want my husband to have to go through it alone either because we both loved her. Quite honestly, I understand why it’s done but I’ve never been a fan of euthanization which is what has made this so hard for me. I’m curious how has experienced the same thing with their pets. How did you handle it? Did you feel guilty? What’s your stance on euthanizing pets?