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The Gift of Euthanasia

A couple weeks ago we had to send my beloved companion Toulouse across the rainbow bridge. All things considered, her death was ideal. It was a stark contrast to the traumatic experience of putting her fur-brother to sleep in a cold veterinarian office five years ago: trying to calm him as he shook with fear, the doctor struggling to dose him effectively as he fought through his pain and anxiety, watching the panic in his eyes slowly fade to waxy death. When we were given the diagnosis of cancer, my heart shattered thinking about Lulu going through all that, too. She couldn't even make it through a routine visit to the vet's office without nervous pooping all over their lobby so I couldn't live with myself if that was her last memory. Thankfully, our veterinarian gave us another option: there are groups of veterinarians who's sole job is to euthanize dogs in their homes. Lulu left this world in complete peace, wrapped in her favorite blanket and curled up in her favorite spot on the couch. Whatever choices you make for your pet are intensely personal decisions, but I wanted to share this experience in the hopes that it makes this already devastating time a little less traumatic for others. Here's how it works.

Before the appointment:

  • You'll need to decide what happens to your pet's body and make those arrangements well before the vet arrives

  • Be sure to submit an inquiry on 811 Dig before making any graves, to ensure their final resting place isn't also the home of any underground pipes or wires

I spent an entire afternoon hacking a hole in my garden with a spud bar, cycling between bouts of angry digging and crumpled sobbing. Set aside more time than you think you'll need so you can process any emotions that come up.

  • Ask your veterinarian for anti-anxiety medication for your dog. They may not feel their days are numbered, but they'll notice how anxious and heartbroken you are and that may make them anxious as well

  • Make their last day(s) all about them with special walks and chicken nuggets!

During the appointment:

  • Take your pup for a walk before the vet arrives so they can empty their bladder

  • The veterinarian explains the entire process and tries to put everyone at ease

She playfully interacted with Toulouse to connect with her before starting any part of the process. They were good friends by the time any needles came out.

  • The vet will distract the dog with treats while they administer an injection of Morphine and Versed

Lulu relaxed in my arms as she settled into a daze, and after another little kick of meds she began to snore. She went from love and snuggles to a peaceful slumber with no panic, no anxiety, and no fear.

  • A puppy pad will be placed under your dog, just in case

  • The doctor will administer an IV overdose of Pentobarbitol and a within a few minutes your dog's heart will stop beating. Be prepared to feel like yours has stopped beating right along with theirs

  • A clipping of hair and a paw imprint was included in our package, so if you choose to to do this it would happen at this time

  • After condolences, the visiting vet will exit quietly and you'll follow the arrangements you made for your little love's body

  • If you are burying your pet be sure to mound the dirt, as it will sink as the grave settles and the body decomposes

Toulouse was a perfect dog, and twelve years with her wasn't nearly long enough. I miss her so much, but I know that she is no longer in pain, that cancer is no longer eating her from the inside, and that she doesn't have to feel the crushing sadness that I am left with. I'm so grateful that she was given the gift of such an incredibly peaceful passing.


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