new name!

spacer

Human/Animal Bond

After the Loss, Pet Owners Tell their Pet's Story
July 29, 2013 (published)


Photo by Tony Johnson
I am facing the loss of one of my own pets very soon. Our 16-year-old pit bull, Nyse (yes, named after the stock exchange; it’s a long story for another day) is fast losing ground. She has no firm diagnosis – she is just wasting away, and spends her remaining days shuffling around the house, searching for something she will never find, like a ghost in a gothic horror tale.

‘Cognitive dysfunction’ and ‘sarcopenia’ are as close to a diagnosis as my wife and I (both veterinary specialists) can come to after several rounds of testing, but those terms are descriptive and not really diseases. There is no shot, pill or form of therapy for either one. My wife and I are struggling to find the right time to euthanize her. She is not in pain (that we can detect), is still eating and gets around, but to look at her is to look at a skin-draped skeleton, and her eyes long ago lost the mischievous sparkle that they once had. She sleeps a lot, and when she is not sleeping she just paces relentlessly and seems perpetually confused. She is alive, but not really living.

How this will play out, only time will tell – I doubt we will get the gift of a peaceful passing in the night; the one that everyone hopes for and no one gets. She’s too tough and crotchety for that sort of namby-pamby end to her life. More than likely, she will continue to grind down and we will have to step in and say enough, time to go. We’ll have to see, and we have made plans for the where and how it will happen (probably at home with meds I have brought from work; I will be the one to give the injection), we just don’t quite know the when or the why.

She used to be able to jump five feet straight up in the air, and if a canine face can express joy that was the expression she was wearing while doing it.

Facing this has made me think of the countless times that I have been with pet owners during their own experience with euthanasia. Euthanasia is a big part of what emergency and critical care veterinarians do. I have seen euthanasia and family reactions in many forms – quiet, angry, distraught, sullen, screaming, accepting, relieved, even (once) morbidly curious. (A family had gathered to euthanize a sick pet. After I gave the injection and their pet had breathed its last, the tween son of the family, who looked to fancy himself a bit of a Goth, said one sotto voce word: “cool.”)

Despite the variety of emotions surrounding these many euthanasias, I have noticed a phenomenon than happens during many of them: the pet owners’ need to tell the story of their pet and the pet’s place in the family. It truly seems like a need – they seem compelled, in many cases, to recount how the pet came to them, notable or funny things that their pet did during its life or some other factor that says "he was here and we loved him." They need to mark the moment somehow and commemorate the loss of a friend.

We lack the formalized rituals for animals that people undergo when they die. Pet funerals happen, but they are definitely not the norm and only a tiny fraction of pets have an actual ceremony. I can only think of perhaps four or five that have happened in the 16 years I have been in practice, and I have been involved in literally thousands of euthanasias and deaths. Pet owners don’t often get societal permission to grieve the loss of a pet; they are seen as emotionally weak, overly attached or somehow defective. For a human, the ritual of a funeral is part of the healing process; pet owners just have to suck it up and move on.

Telling the tale, there in the exam or grieving room, in a private sanctuary, allows them to grieve and come to terms with some part of the loss, if only for a few minutes. I am not a big believer in ‘closure,’ but I do think this ritual that people go through, this recounting, helps them move on and live.

It usually goes like this: The injection has been given, and I have confirmed with a stethoscope that the heart has stopped and the pet has died. When I let the owners know, they often cry for a moment or so, then dry their tears and start in on the tale; “You know, we got him from the shelter at about 3 months old, and he could fit in your hand.”

-or-

“He always slept at the foot of my son’s bed – never left his side, even when he was so sick.”

-or-

“He had this stuffed hedgehog that he loved like it was his baby. Damn thing smelled like a pigpen on a hot day, but he loved that thing.”

-or-

“He loved to chase after cars in the driveway and bark like a madman, but he was so gentle. He would come up when we were watching TV and just put his head in your lap.”

-or-

“She is all I have left of my wife – she died last year.”

The stories are heartbreaking, funny, cryptic, touching. Even if I am very busy, I make time to listen. I rarely say anything unless asked – my job is to pay attention and serve as another person to remember. There will be a hole in a household, and telling the tale makes it a little more bearable. Someone knows, someone remembers, someone retains the memory that she loved to chase dragonflies or he barked at shadows or she would swim in the lake with the boys until dusk.

I have many important jobs as a doctor – making treatment plans, calculating doses correctly, checking for tumors on X-rays – but listening, and in particular, listening when it comes time to tell the story of a pet and a family, is the most important.

85 Comments

Kelly Yang
September 29, 2017

I just lost my Mochabear to tumor yesterday at 1pm... It was very sudden and even though we made the right choice and fought for him for as long as we could...  we knew the end of was near and we still wanted to keep him longer with us if possible...  his tiny little body on the operating table… barely holding on and we just had to end his suffering. I just cannot believe he's really gone now and letting him go I feel that I could've done more and feel so guilty. The loss of a pet is unbearable. His bed is empty now and i do not hear his footsteps in the home... everything reminds me of him. I thought I felt his presence yesterday on the sofa with me, and I immediately burst into tears because I feel like I see or feel him still but he’s not here anymore. My entire family is still in shock and we feel so lost and sad. We miss him so much :( :( :( 14.5 years is very long life for a Yorkie I know... go be an angel now my love.


Bruce Bosche
September 27, 2017

This year I had to put down my Maine coon cat named Rocky. His was the love of my life...He lived for almost 14 years and was such a sweet boy. The day before I took him to the vet, I laid down with him telling him it was okay to go, that I loved him with all my heart and that I would always miss him. Later the same day, because he had broken a blood vessel in his chest and was bleeding internally, he could barely walk, he came up next to me on the sofa. I helped him up on the sofa and he licked my hand, acknowledging what he knew would be the last few minutes together alone. He was such a sweet boy. A gentle giant as Maine coons are described. I held him while the vet gave him a muscle relaxer first then the final injection, As I held him the only thing I said was I love you, boy. I hope he knew how much.


GG
September 18, 2017

I recently lost my Pomeranian a couple days ago. She had babies and had complications after that and we took her to the vet. The vet said she was going to be ok after antibiotics and stuff but I believe it was too late. 5 weeks in after giving birth, we found her with her babies lifeless.... It was the most heartbreaking experience I have ever had in my life. The night she died, before I went to bed she gave me a look of confusion while she was with her babies. I thought as if she felt better but waking up in the morning said otherwise. Knowing what I wish I knew then, I would have stayed with her all night and maybe made her comfortable. Now I believe that the look she gave me was a goodbye and that “you got from here, take care of my babies ok?” I will carry on that belief until my last breathe. Today would be the 5th day she will not be greeting me when I get home and so far I have not had my daily cries but I'll eventually have it. It is hard to be home when I know I will not hear her bark or even see her stare at me when I'm having dinner. This hurt is a different hurt and it cuts you all the way deep inside where it will not heal for a long time. I miss her so much, she was an 8 pound Pomeranian with a German shepherd attitude. I love her still and she will always be in my heart. I will never forget how soft her coat is or how loving she was to us. No matter the mood she was always smiling and it was a good sight to see. I miss you Moxxi and you will always be with me in my heart and thank you for loving me unconditionally even if I got mad you at times. I wish I let you sleep on my bed more often, I wish a lot of things that I could have done to have made you happier. I wish you were back. Every night I wait for a sign to let me know you are ok. Every day I wait and listen hard enough to maybe hear your bark again. Every second I wonder if you are ok. I hope you are not in pain anymore. I wish I could have been a better owner and gave you hugs always. You are my baby Moxxi and will always be! I will take care of your puppies. You were a good mama my girl. You took care of your babies until your last breathe! I truly miss you and nobody will ever understand the pain that I am going through. You might just be a dog to everyone else but to me you were my baby. I lost my baby, I can’t get her back and I’m lost without her…… RIP My Moxxi Girl!


Carl
February 17, 2017

I just returned from the vet after having my beautiful little cat  Luna euthanized, my heart is shattered. she was the sweetest girl and in her youth she loved to climb and jump onto my shoulders. what makes it so difficult is that she was 24 years old and shared her life with me for 18 years. Even though she had been experiencing  health issues for the last year she always seemed to defy the odds and bounce back. This morning she wouldn't eat and seemed confused and weak meowing constantly for water no matter how many bowls i put out for her. It was so hard to watch her suffer so i had to make a terrible choice....but i made it for her sake not mine because she was dying and i didn't want her to be in pain or afraid at the end. I will never forget my little girl ..my little Lunatic.


Kayla
October 23, 2016

I bought a beautiful female pug puppy who was full of life and very playful, even though we only had her for a week we loved her so much. I noticed that she had been pretty tired a lot of the time but I thought it was just because she was a young puppy, but two days after that she was vomiting a lot so we brought her to the vet. The vet kept her in for two nights, and while her stay she had to get exploratory surgery and they figured out that she had gastritis. She came without papers, but with a vet card that said she had her first vaccination, which was untrue as the cards were fake and the signature wasn't really by a vet, but by someone that was running a puppy farm. She wasn't eating much for the first few days that we had her, but on the last day she wasn't eating or drinking at all. She had to be given fluids with the nutrients and vitamins that she needed, and also antibiotics and painkillers. When we went to visit her she was very very tired, we stayed a while with her and then we went home as it was getting very late even though we didn't want to have to leave her. The next morning (today) we got a phone call from the vets saying that she wasn't going to get any better and that she was getting worse instead, and even though we didn't want to do this, she needed to be out of pain.. They asked us for our permission to give her the injection to put her to sleep. My household is completely devastated and heartbroken at the fact that even though we only had her for a short time, we became very attached to her. We will love and miss her forever I really don't know how I am going to get over this, I feel like I'm going to feel the way I am forever, does anyone have any ideas on how to get over the death of a puppy/dog? I know we will never get over it fully but I really hope I can have some comfort knowing that she is in a better place.


Tiffany 
November 26, 2014

I am a veterinarian as well, so I know those conversations you are talking about very well.  A little over a month ago I lost my 13 year old Yorkshire Terrier to congestive heart failure with secondary mainstem bronchial collapse.  I had been treating her for only a few months before her condition worsened and euthanasia was needed to spare her further suffering.  I was devastated.  I saw her for the first time at three days old.  She had seen me through all of my undergraduate courses, veterinary school, and several relationships.  I adored her and she adored me.  It was awful. After the euthanasia I moped for days, crying at every little thing.  I was hoping and praying that I would get a sign to let me know that she was safe on the "other side".  Four days after the euthanasia, I got my wish.  It was homecoming at my Alma Mater.  A local radio station posted a picture on their Facebook page and the post included a picture...of my dog.  I was absolutely floored.  I thought about it and the picture had been taken during a homecoming parade FOUR YEARS prior!  I knew this was my sign.  My girl is safe and waiting for the day when she will see me again.


Tracey 
May 25, 2014

t is all so true when losing a pet is a loved one so dearly  to your heart, it leaves you heartbroken.  My dear pepe of 14 years


Cathy Moore 
August 2, 2013

I, too, have had to make this difficult decision, but just once.  I must confess that I was very conflicted about realizing that my beloved Sheltie of 14 years, Charlie, was failing, and that I didn't want him to suffer.  But, turns out, I was the one who didn't want to suffer.  I heard an interview on NPR with Nicholas H. Dodman, author of "Good Old Dog: Expert Advice for Keeping Your Aging Dog Happy, Healthy, and Comfortable", and that interview really made me think about what I could do for Charlie.  It's a great book, with really good advice and information on your aging dogs, but could be applied to just about any pet.


Susan 
August 2, 2013

I cried too when I read this article.  I had to let my Skye go. She was months shy of 16 years.  It was the least I could do for her.  I always thought it was the kindest, but the hardest thing I could do.  My vet was wonderful - I was crying, my son was crying, my husband, the wet, and the vet tech were all in tears.  My first dog, Mitch was sick - stomach issues, cataracts, arititis, a different vet at the time would not put him down...boosting he had alot of years left. Mitch got so mean, biting my children who were 3 & 6 at the time, he bite me too when I moved to fast near him. We took him to the Humane Society and asked them to let him go.  I always regretted that decision to take him there... he was alone and probably so scared.  I was younger than and I suppose that is an excuse, but I was looking for the kindest thing for him and it wasn't my wisest decision.  I often think that if we can decide when it is best to let go...I hope when my time comes, the laws will change and I will be able to be "let go" with dignity, free of pain.  I have 2 dogs currently and when the time comes for them, I hope with all my heart, I can let go once again.  I rest in the knowledge that I will see them again, just as I will see my parents, grandparents, and friends who have gone before.


Karen 
August 1, 2013

I cry as I read this.  I have a 16 year old lab with arthritis and a 19 year old cat with kidney disease.  Both are living on borrowed time and it breaks my heart. My cat is going downhill fast and the daily fluid injections are not helping as they once were.  Trying to decide when to euthanize them is terribly difficult and I am trying to decide the right time for them and not for myself.  They are the loves of my life and it is killing me.  All part of being a pet owner- its worth it, but terrible as well.


Rick Christmas 
July 31, 2013

I just laid my Nacho to rest, he had the symptoms you listed for your Nsye. Its broken my heart. He was 11, the symptoms came in steps until his last day, his back legs didn't work anymore. He couldn't stand at all. He tried, he wanted to go out side and pee as he had since I showed him how, but it wasn't possible. Before his hind legs gave out, he would pace the house in various circles, getting stuck behind an open door or in a corner by my desk. When I could get him to lay down, he would sleep a heavy restless sleep, then wake up and pace. He ate until his last 2 days, if you put water in front of him he would drink. Asking my vet to put him down was the hardest thing I've ever done. Everyone who ever met Nacho, loved him. He was a wonderful, kind soul. I wish I could say something that will make your experience easier but as I don't know what it would be. You are in my prayers and I wish you all peace. When I posted on Facebook about Nacho's passing I quoted something I'd seen some where - I strive to be all the thought I was.


Angie 
July 31, 2013

I've had three cats that have passed.  One was 15 and was euthanized when I was away at college. I still harbor anger over that one.  The other two were my babies, here for years.  My tortie was 20 years old and had liver failure once at age 17, but the vet helped her heal and she lived for another three beautiful years.  I treasure that!  She died at home but it was the most awful few days and I wouldn't do it again.  The other was 15 and had cancer.  I knew he was beyond sick even though he was eating and using the box. He was really bad the last few days and I had called a mobile vet clinic to come euthanize him in a few days.  However, I came home from work and found him gone.  Thus, I never had to euthanize them.  I should have but I couldn't do it.  I don't think they were in pain, but with cats it's so hard to tell.  I appreciate the care and compassion of our vets.  I wish all vets would take just a few moments to be with the owners when a death occurs.  It is one or two minutes out of their day.  On a last note, both times I received a note and card from the vet that was signed by the entire staff.  It was a truly kind gesture that made me cry.  If we all realize that we're human and we need some compassion, the world would be a better place. Animals make life so much more colorful and forgiving.


Diane Suddeth 
July 30, 2013

I lost my buddy when he was 14 yrs. old. we had a wake for him an my husband built him a coffin he was my baby. hes been gone now a while an I still cant talk about it without crying I loved him like a child. the only time he would not cry for me when I had to leave is when I went to church, tell me tht was not of god!!!! we had his wake I sit an held him. had candels going an gospel music. just like a funrual!! an I have a little book of him in his coffin with his bigbird in his arms!! pictures of his brothers an sister an mom an dad his shoe he loved an football. an a red rose!!! so yes we do love our babies!! god bless you, ur in my prayers!!!


April 
July 30, 2013

Thank you for your deep understanding of this process. I wish your baby NYSE a peaceful and dignified passage to the rainbow bridge.


Cheryl 
July 30, 2013

God bless Nyse, your wife and you as you travel this last road.  Wishing strength and comfort to you all on the journey


Janet E Kropat 
July 30, 2013

May you find comfort and peace when the time comes.  It is so very difficult to suffer the loss of a beloved pet. Mine, and I imagine yours have become members of the family.


Mary Dehart 
July 30, 2013

God bless you and your wife for the work you do. I have always had a dog in my life and have had to let them go at one point or another. I have a 10 year old lab/pit mix who I worry about daily. She is in pain from her back legs/hip area but seems to still enjoy life. Hopefully  she will still be around in another four  years when we retire. We also have to male pits both around 4 yrs old. The newest one "Brick" was apparently the runt of the litter from an idiot to did too much inbreeding. He has a hard time breathing (sounds like an asthmatic) and his hips and shoulders were not formed right. He drags his rears toes on the ground when he walks. I just wish to give these gentle animals a life of love, happiness and no pain. I often thought of working in a vets office but I would be crying all the time with the families of sick and dying pets. I pray God continues to give you and your wife the strength to continue doing to wonderful work you do. Thank you again for performing the work of a true healer.


Teresa 
July 30, 2013

I just lost my baby sissy Girl and still am not sure why??? She was 10 and had diabetes and just crashed one day and the next thing I know she has pancreatitis and lost weight from not eating and I was told MAYBE I should let her go??? My heart is filled with guilt did I let her go too soon could she of gotten better!!! I can't stop crying and it's been a month!!!


Helen
July 30, 2013

It is our job as their friends to give them the best life we can and the best possible death we can. It is the most heartbreaking decision that we have to make. We put our dear Sadie down a week ago, today. She had congestive heart failure and we, as you so eloquently put we're hoping for her to pass at home, with us. Ultimately we had to take her to our wonderful vet. I had an appointment for a week, for a check up, as she was holding her own. A few days before the appointment she started failing. We knew that she probably wouldn't be coming home so I took her for a long walk, the night before. She trotted the whole way( this from a dog in failing congestive heart failure) and was so happy to go for a long walk again. The next day, before the appointment I told her to let me know if it were time. When she walked into the vets she just laid down(she never did this before). I knew she was telling us it was time. I was holding her and fed her lots of marshmallows and she had a very peaceful death. We are heartbroken and sick to not have her with us, but I know we did the best for her. Thoughts and prayers in your difficult days ahead but know you have given a wonderful life to her.


Jeannette Pastrana 
July 30, 2013

Your story made me cry. So sorry to read about the dilemma you face with your "baby". May you be strong enough to do what is right, soon. Your pet deserves a quality life. I know it is hard to let go.  I was an "Auntie" to my sister`s beautiful Golden, Allie. She was the light of my life. She had to be put to sleep due to cancer. The decision for my sister and husband was not an easy one. She was one of a kind, so sweet, so adorable.  Her passing away made me unconsolable. To this day I think of her daily and tears stream down my face. Good luck in your decision. My heart goes out to you.


Dee Douglas 
July 30, 2013

Hello from southern Illinois....I am a beloved pet owner too of a pitbull named Chocolate...my heart goes out to you and your family....my fur baby is a big part of my family too...we love  him dearly...he sleeps in our bed on our comfy mattress....he loves to play with his 'Kong' bones...he don't like cats or other animals because he's never been socialized that way...I am overly protective of him...he is my sweet boy...folks just don't understand that...I know you got a hard decision to make...I would wait till the very end, give him lots of love and kisses till the very end..well, just maybe, he might die in his sleep...I hope you find some peace in all this...after all, they are our kids, aren't they????  God Bless you, Dee


Lee T. 
July 30, 2013

How can we love them so, KNOWING that we will pay the ultimate price... grief.  Yet our heart tells us we will survive to love again, and we do it again, and again, and again.  I am grateful for the lessons of love and compassion my animals have taught me.  Wishing you peace and comfort as you face this most difficult time.


Marilyn Williams 
July 30, 2013

I had to have my feline companion, Tristen, euthanized at 18 - I had had him since I adopted him at the Humane Society at 5. He was quite independent, but not too aloof. When I was sick in bed, he would remain by my side the entire time.  The last year of his life, he did not SEEM to be in any pain, but he was a trooper, so who knows for sure.  He got dementia and at night he just yeowled - he was in the front room - I just called to him and he came to bed. He spent the last year of his life barfing a lot, but the vet didn't give me any indication of anything serious, so I just chalked it up to old age.  Then, he barfed a rather large, neat circle of blood.  I took him to the vet and was told that he had cancer of the intestines..or some such - I was hardly listening because I knew my Tristen was not having it easy.  He had lost 2 lbs. since last seen - there were treatments but they would only have postponed the inevitable and I didn't want him to whither away - his quality of life was gone, so I let him go to the Rainbow Bridge.  I was expecting this necessity for quite a while, so I wasn't surprised.  I kick myself for not being at his side at the end - he had always been there for me - but I was just too weak, God help me, to say Good Bye in that atmosphere.  He knew and understood me, so I am sure he's not mad at me.  He's having a ball now with other critters and we both know we'll see each other again - at the Rainbow Bridge.


Liz 
July 30, 2013

A lesson I learned on my journey through life, sadly and difficult to forgive and forget, is that to be with your pet when they get their angel wings , is a  p.e.a.c.e  of mind I am thankful for each time I have to say good-by. Till we must physically part, overnight perhaps, these moments I will cherish. The sadness does not stop there and each time I think of how I will have to go through this again...  ***IN MEMORY OF *NIKA* MY 1ST GRANDDOG WHO HAS JUST GROWN HER ANGEL WINGS***


Sandra Peters 
July 30, 2013

May you and your lovely NYSE find peace in the near future.


Adrianne Welborn 
July 30, 2013

What you do for people at one of the toughest times in their lives is wonderful.  I have been blessed with only 2 vets who did that and I still remember them.  One let me cry on her shoulder and I will love her till the day I pass over "The Bridge".


Cindy C 
July 30, 2013

 I sit here with tears in my eyes knowing the pain in your heart for your baby! I'm sorry you must bear this pain but we do if we love our babies. I think about a lot of things when it comes Time to decide. Mostly its "Can an open ended no limit credit card give my baby a Quality Of Life with little to no pain?" Sadly the answer is normally No! So next I ask myself "Can I Love them enough to let them Go?" I have done this with 4 babies I've had their Whole Life from 6 wks on the longest 17 yrs the shortest 12 yrs! The pain with each was different but still hurt & still does hurt! They were all Different & Loving. I remember them all & have cremated them all. They are here in the Living room with me! At Home, Their Home! They after a while I "Honor" each of them by loving another 4 legged babie with all my heart & Soul! Time helps, but the loss & pain are always there but so are the Memories & the Pictures of those lost. It never fails when I'm Sad or Teary Eyed there's a wet nose, a wagging tail to bring back a Smile & Dry-Up those tears. I tuck them Safely back into my Heart & Memories! Then I see some of those silly things they have all done in the pass in the baby I have come to love anew! A baby who would have ended up God Only knows where!!But for me its My Home & Their Home!! My Thoughts & Prayers too All Who Have Loved & Lost.


Kay Burnette 
July 30, 2013

I am so sorry about your pet, I had to put my cat to sleep yesterday and this article was what I needed to read. She also had lost her love of life. I am hurting today and have looked for her several times in her favorite place she loved to lay. Your pet is so fortunate to have her family and your patients are also very fortunate to have you and your wife.


Janet.falcon 
July 30, 2013

Reading your message about your sweet fur baby brought tears to my eyes.  Not too long ago, we had to put our baby down - encephalitis (idiopathic.  He was at the emergency MRI center.  Only wish, like you speak of, he would have gently gone in his sleep.  Thinking of you and praying that you can get through this.  It never gets any easier, the tears just don't flow as frequently.  God bless and thank you for all you do for our animal loves.


Tawny Maus 
July 30, 2013

Dr. Johnson, thank you for your personal story. I am always amazed at the inner courage it takes for Veterinarians to euthanize a beloved friend; my Vet is also a wonderful, caring person who spends her time to share the lives and the ends of dear friends. My cat, Grace was euthanized last Monday after my Vet spent the last 6 months trying to fight the Auto Immune Disease that showed up at Grace's last well check up. She did all she could and ultimately allowed me to help end my girls suffering. Over the last 4 years, my Vet and I have shared all the little things from Grace's kittenhood until the day she died and I appreciate the time and kindness that my Vet gave both myself and my friend. In my eyes, a caring and compassionate Vet is a hero because that Doctor shares not only the good times and well visits but also the difficult times and heartbreaking decisions. I'm so sorry for decision you will one day make for your own friend and I know the pain and loss you will feel; nothing but time heals this loss. Thank you so much for sharing your story.


Terri 
July 30, 2013

It's always been a comfort to me at the time to say.."you gave them the best life any dog could dream of" I hope you might draw comfort from that also. Thank you for writing your blog.


Carole Elderton 
July 30, 2013

If you have ever lost a pet or had to have one put down, you need to read this!!  Read the entire article, and if this doesn't describe 'your' vet...you have the wrong vet!!!


L. Haynes 
July 30, 2013

I have always been a "rescuer" of every animal on the side of the road or in the parking lots and still am.  The loss of my horse nearly killed me and that was at the UGA hospital.  The this past year I lost the last of my three girls I picked up or the kids brought home when they were all 6 weeks old.  Betsy was 16 when she died and I about cried a river and could not stop.  I hate the way we have to put our dogs down in a "clinic"  - vets who know your animal should be willing to come to your house and do this in the comfort of their home.  That is something that needs to change in my opinion.  So sorry for your loss but when it is their time it just is.  It is like they have mentally already crossed that bridge and are looking for the friends on the otherside.  God bless you for being so caring.


Lorri Redmon 
July 30, 2013

Thank you for being the one who "listens"  Now we are listening to you about your beloved NYSE.  Bless you and your pup.  Don't ever forget, you WILL meet again!


Sharon B. 
July 30, 2013

Such a beautiful piece.  When I get home,  I'm hugging my Pit mix Dood in memory of all the precious moments with him and the others who needed that same decision.   Thanks!


Alice Antonelli 
July 30, 2013

I stayed with one of my Labs and I felt like I had murdered her!!!  I remember the look she gave me til I die.  I dream about that still and it  was years ago.  I will never stay with again.  :(


Teresa 
July 30, 2013

I too had to face that same decision with my pit as she grew older and she had broken her leg and lived on pain meds since she was 6 and I had to put her to sleep at 14. I realized I was keeping her living for ME not her, the pains meds had begun to eat away at her stomach as she was on 3 different ones, it took me 3 months to come to grips with what I had to do...God Bless you as you travel this road and I pray for you and your family and Nyse to have peace when you decide the time is right. It won't lessen the heartache, because Nyse has been a huge part of your lives...I will pray for you all...Sounds like you are a wonderful pet parent.


Debbie 
July 30, 2013

Bless you for your compassion and love of animals.  Wonderful, if sad, post.


Renee 
July 30, 2013

I am so sorry for the illness your pet has. When an animal has an illness like cancer or kidney disease it is with heavy hearts that we make the decision for our pets to go on without us. Your decission will be doubly hard & my heart breaks for you. Know that I will pray when the time comes it will be easier than the decision to end NYSE's confusion. It must be so difficult for her. Please keep us up to date on her progress.


Linda Virnig 
July 30, 2013

This is a beautiful message to all who care and love their pets. My heart goes out to you....we are facing the same dilemma with our Maggie Mae....she is blind now and confused....she wanders around bumping into things and seems so lost. Our vet has advised us to euthanize her, but I just can't seem to make that decision.  When I talk with Maggie she wags her tail and listens to me intently. She still loves her food and is excited when I call her to eat.
Well, I guess I am like your pet-patients' owners....I am telling you all the ways Maggie has mattered to us and made our lives special.


Carla M 
July 30, 2013

Dr. Johnson, I am sorry you are having to face this grief.  THAT is what it is, grief.  Our pets are part of our families and they become a living part of them.  We share in their joys and sorrows.  We feel for them when they are in pain.  May God bless you and your wife for caring for not only your pet but also all the others that have come into your lives.   I think, who else would take care of them if we didn't?   Who would sit up all nightin a recliner, holding and comforting this little love... who else would run out in the rain to carry her back inside, because she is now blind and cannot find her way to the door.  There are jokes, teasing, even times of impatience; yet we love and care for them with compassion and true caring.  Remember how they have unconditional love for us, their owners... so can we NOT have the same unconditional love for them.  As puppies or kittens they may have slept in your tennis shoe, slept upon you chest as you sat watching tv in you favorite chair.  They sneaked up onto table and jumped off with your sandwich in their mouths or stretched their paw out and played with the cereal floating in you bowl of milk.


Marilyn E 
July 30, 2013

So sad. I have gone through the pain with several dogs I have loved and couldn't bare to loose. My last Pom was diagnosed with kidney failure at the age of five. She lived for 3 years after that, and at the end of her life, I feed her and gave her water with an eyedropper. When her kidneys shut down, she died in my arms. That was 5 years ago, and I still cry for her to this day. So sorry for your pain.


Debbie McGee 
July 30, 2013

It's good to know that vets understand. It is no different that loving a human companion/best friend. I live w/ 3 dogs-2 are my daughters and 1 is mine. I love them all like children. Sometime when I am watching them sleep, or play or just look outside the window, my mind "goes" there, and my heart will ache and eyes spill w/ tears. "How will I ever endure it when her time is over?" She has been a most excellent companion to me. I love her so dearly. So I really understand the heaviness in your heart seeing your loving companion go through these sad changes. I know that you will know when enough is enough. How blessed you will be the one at her side to administer the shot that will take her out of her misery. God bless you and your wife. I pray he will give you the strength to watch Nyse in her last days, and offer plenty of love and affection. I pray he will keep her from pain and distress. And I pray in the times ahead, God will brighten all the memories you've made together as a family...at all her funny little "quirks" that made her, her.


Catherine Messina 
July 30, 2013

This has flooded my memory with all the wonderful pets who have come and gone throughout my life, and no matter how many times one faces the loss, it never gets any easier.  My heart is with you as you are going through this.  I once read something written by Fiona Apple when her aging dog was dying.  It has stayed with me and I hope you find it comforting "... But I know that she is coming close to point where she will stop being a dog, and instead, be part of everything. She’ll be in the wind, and in the soil, and the snow, and in me, wherever I go..."


Becky S 
July 30, 2013

So sorry you are facing the loss of your beloved NYSE. I have lost many pets in my life. Only one was euthanized a cat who clung to life much longer than should have been and I had to let him go for his sake. No matter how you lose your loved ones it hurts and your caused me to shed tears for you and all the other families who have to say goodbye.


Patty Gross 
July 30, 2013

Dear Dr. Johnson, My heart goes out to you and your wife as your face the impending loss of your beloved Nyse.  There are no words to soothe the pain of losing a beloved pet, anymore than there are for a human who you deeply love.  You have all my prayers and condolence as you grieve so great a loss.....and I feel perhaps you are both in what psychologists call "anticipatory grief."  It is such a necessary job you are doing, and I agree wholeheartedly when you state that we are made to feel we have no business crying or grieving over a pet.  All people who have had the joy of loving a pet and losing it must grieve in order to heal.  Thank you so much for your very enlightening and so heartwarming message.  Patty from Maine


Robin Yale 
July 30, 2013

I support this totally and couldn't have said it any better!


Sue M 
July 30, 2013

I'm sorry that you and your wife have to go through this. We had it happen in April. My husband is a trucker and he left the day before she died, and yes for once I had one that made the decision for me and me not having to make it. I think he was waiting for me to make the decision for him and because she was his dog I wouldn't. I have had 4 in my life that really were special to me and 3 of them are gone now and one that is only 2 and cuddles more than the rest of the group. Please know my heart goes out to you and your wife as this is the hardest decision you will ever have to make.


Vicki 
July 30, 2013

I am going through the same thing with my 14 year old boston terrier.  Several times he has even just stopped and urinated on the rug as if he is outside, something he would never do before.  I have tried several holistic remedies but none seem to work.  Just trying to keep him comfortable as I can. He is practically deaf but luckily he had cataract surgery a few years ago so he can still see.


Mallory Cook 
July 30, 2013

We are very sorry to hear how sick your family friend is and feel your pain..our pit, Jack, I could hold him in the palm of my hand, has recently gone blind and at the same time has lost so much weight you can see each bone in his tail.. he still eats and everything so we are at the same place as your wife and you about when is the right time.. he isn't showing pain yet..
I'm glad we get to share these wonderful souls in our lives


Terry Hill 
July 30, 2013

Thank you for the article.  We too have a cognitive dysfunction dog exhibiting pretty much the same symptoms you describe.  She's a Havanese cross, 17 years old. We've had her for 11 of those.  I'm a songwriter.  Some 6 years or more after the passing of my old red lab George, I wrote a song about him, telling his story, and hoping for a future time when we might play ball again.  I realized that creating that musical poem was a healing thing for me.  More than two years later, our precious Gracie developed a large growth in her heart/lung area and became too ill to continue.  Only a couple of days later, I wrote what I consider to be my best song, about dreaming of Gracie, then waking to find her gone.  It was cathartic and once again, healing.  My heart goes out to anyone who faces losing their precious pets/friends and my hope is that they too can find a way to reach that catharsis I found.  My best wishes to you and your wife.


Germaine Rihacek 
July 30, 2013

This made me cry!!! This is what my puppers is doing, and how she looks. She is 17!!! Like you, I know the time has come, but I don't know when!!! Prayers and hugs are with you!!!


Linda 
July 30, 2013

I cried for Nyse, for your family and for all the people who have given their pets to the light.  One thing I remember reading about euthansia is that no matter when you decide to do this you will always feel you did it one day too early or one day too late.
I didn't want my last one to suffer from the heart attacks he was having even though sometimes in between he was his old self.  But every time I think it was too soon or too late, I know he forgives me.  When giving up Coco 9 years ago, I spoke to a pet psychic on the day she died.  She had an ear infection and was treated with Rimadyl which led to her demise.  The psychic really described things about my dog that no one could have guessed.  But the most important things she told me were ones that concern compassion and love for our pets.  She said first, animals do not fight going over to the other side.  They know it's their time and they just go.  Sometimes they will stay around just to make sure you are ok and then when the pass they may stay for a while as well.  She told me Coco would come back to me but not right away and it would not be a puppy, it would be an older dog.  For a couple of years no dog seemed right to me and then Chucky came to me as a rescue and it seemed like he just knew me and belonged here.  His age was just right for when Coco had died.  Even if you don't believe in this, at least believe that your pet will be there in heaven with other people and pets you love and who love you and he will come back in some way.  So just give him your best and let him know it's ok to go now.


Vickie 
July 30, 2013

I know and feel your pain, I remember my Queensland who was 16 when she passed, more than my dog, my best friend, side by side always, and waited for me everyday from work. I cry today, she was part of me! I pray for you and your loving pet. May she go easy. God bless you three!!


Cindy 
July 30, 2013

What separates us from those folks who have never loved an animal? I think most of us who have lost a pet would agree that in spite of the heart ache, it is worth it to have been on the receiving end of pure, unconditional love & trust. My sympathies on the decline of your dear Nyse, and thank you for being an exceptional vet. I have one and I am grateful.


Debbie 
July 30, 2013

We went through a very similar situation. Our boy had very little use of his back legs and slept the majority of the day away but still kept eating. Come to find out, when his Dr. came to our home to see him, she stated that he was still eating to please me! Upon her arrival, he barked 3 times and proceeded to lay down on his cushion that he longer was comfortable laying on. He laid down as if to say "this is it, I am ready to go and be well again!" People told us that we'd get a sign from him and we took that as his sign. That was 5 yrs ago, we've not replaced him and it's still hard for me being that he was our only "child". I know that one day we'll be together again and I can't wait for that day. I miss him so.....My thoughts & prayers are with you and your pooch. (As my Grandma told me the day we lost our boy, you'll never forget him, but it will eventually get a little easier as time goes on.)


Kathy Tracy 
July 30, 2013

Thank you for your beautiful words - I wish more Veterinarians were like you. I worked in vet clinics for years as a receptionist and haven't seen many vets who showed your compassion. It wouldn't hurt so much if we didn't love them do much...


Linda Kitchens 
July 30, 2013

I feel your pain and sympathize with you.  I agonized for a few months last spring about my maltipoo who was 14.  He had hypothyroidism, developed cataracts almost overnight and January 2012 had to have one eye removed due to what almost looked like a rupture or ulcer of that eye. Within a month or two, he lost vision in the other eye and went deaf.  He had been on medications for skin issues for a long time.  He became aggressive and wanted to just be left alone.  I even had to remove my chihuahua from sleeping with him.  We did some bloodwork and it suggested Cushings disease. I just would not put him thru this treatment.  He had also had a benign tumor removed from rectum.  I appreciate what you said about Nyse still eating but not living.  That is exactly what I said about my Drake.  Upon approaching him, I had to carefully and quickly scoop him up from behind or he would bite me. He would start fear snapping like he was surrounded by coyotes.  I decided although he was still eating/drinking and eliminating, he was not living.  He had not wagged his tail or enjoyed giving and receiving affection in a long time. The decision literally made me sick for 6 months.  I relived those last moments many times.  However, I saw a picture at the kennel where I occasionally boarded him that she had moved to the designated area for deceased pets.  I realized just how bad he looked and that along with adopting a two year old Shihtzu mix and seeing what a healthy happy dog's life is like, I finally accepted that I did the best thing for him.  I feel literally sick sharing this and tears are flowing.  I know I love animals too deeply I suppose. My brother made me feel better when I told him that after the injection to relax him I was cupping his face and he actually kissed my had three times as she was giving him the last injection.  My brother said he was saying thank , I love you and goodbye.  I believe he was. I know this is long but I just wanted to reach out to you as I can feel you pain and agony in this difficult time.  God Bless you both.  I also find comfort in believing that we will see our pets again.  God made them before He made us after all.  Perhaps they do wait at the Rainbow bridge until we are joined again.


Chris Dorman-Fox 
July 30, 2013

I completely understand how you feel. It's such a personal, emotional journey you are on but many know it. One thing is that your dog knew love, she gave love and will be cradled in your arms in the end and that is something to be grateful for. My son had to let his Shadow go 2 yrs ago. She was nearly 16..and she also refused to go quietly, peacefully in the night. You hit home because I am going through the same thing right now with my 12yo rottie , alert as he is, those back legs. I often have to towel-sling his back legs to get him up. He barks at us if he can't get up. He is on medication and it has helped a lot but not enough so we are enjoying our summer together  but we don't know when we will do this either..and it is a dread I guess I have to feel he is ready, and that I can handle it. Give your Nyse a hug from me, I will say a pray for all of you.


Donna L 
July 30, 2013

Dr. Johnson so sorry about NYSE, I recently had to euthanize my cat who was 23 and it broke my heart! I know she needed to go but it didn't make it any easier. I did appreciate my vet when she said "it is hard but the last kind thing you can do for her". When they are ill there is no quality of life. Thanks for sharing!!


Susan 
July 30, 2013

I am so sorry you are facing a loss of your beloved pet.  I've had many dogs and have loved them unconditionally as they have loved me and most of them passed of old age, some I had to have euthanized because they were so sick..We never get over the loss.  My last one was this last January and the only thing that gives me solace is holding her collar close to me and our new dog, Sabrina.  We are lucky we have our pets for as long as we do and must make the most of it.


Heydelray
July 30, 2013

I found your writing the beginnings of closure. Perhaps now you can begin to understand its importance in the healing process. You posted. We "listened." As you say, "I have many important jobs as a doctor ... but listening, and in particular, listening when it comes time to tell the story of a pet and a family, is the most important."


Eva Flores 
July 30, 2013

As I sit here w/ tears streaming down my eyes feeling your pain and joy of having NYSE, I can only think about my and my sister's pain when the inevitable comes for our beloved dogs.


Katie 
July 30, 2013

I am so sorry for this time that you are facing, it is never easy. We had two little Chihuahuas, Mikey and Maggie, they were our babies, but Mikey died 10-10-11 and Maggie died 2-7-12, we don't know what happened, but Mikey left us during the night, but not Miss Maggie, she got in my lap and lay down for a bit and got up and went over to my husband and loved him and came back to my lap. She lay down and in about 5 minutes, she passed, in the peace and love of us both, with her.
They were both a little over six years, and Maggie was named Maggie,by my Moma who passed away on '06. They are still in our hearts, and still in our thoughts. Now, we have Kota, she is a blessing to us, she makes me laugh, when I don't feel like smiling.
Again, so sorry for your situation.


Deb 
July 30, 2013

Thanks so much for your thoughts, Dr. Johnson. It has been the fourth time for our family to say farewell to a beloved dog. Who ever told me it would get easier! Being absolutely certain that there IS a Rainbow Bridge certainly eases the pain a bit.


Tamara L. Keegan 
July 30, 2013

I'm facing a similar situation right now with my 13-year-old "soul dog".  He's been dx with vestibular disease.  It's an awful thing to watch...no treatment.  He's 13.  I'd make a deal with the devil to exchange my soul for 10 more healthy years with my baby.  But alas, that's not an option.  I wish the vet's in my area would come to homes ... it's awful having to bring them there ... leave them there ... and be sent to the front desk in sobbing tears to pay.


Jacqueline M. Jakle 
July 30, 2013

Dear Doctor Tony, I have lost 11 dogs over the years, and only when they were sick beyond hope was euthansia used to take them out of their pain and suffering. I did the same things...cry, reminisce, hold my beloved dog and kiss and pet them, speaking to them softly even though they could no longer physically hear me. I had my dogs cremated and I have their ashes here, with framed photos of them, and I love and miss them every day. With living life and going through all kinds of experiences, I have to say that the sweetest, purest love I've ever known came from my dogs. I am sorry you are having to face the upcoming loss of your Nyse, but I pray the love you have for your sweet dog, and your memories help comfort you before and after you have to say what is one of the hardest of good-byes a human has to experience. Wishing your sweet Nyse a peaceful transition, and I just know she'll be greeted by all my fur kids - Buddy, Barney, and Nicholas to name a few. My heart feels for you and your family as you say your farewells. I wish you peace for your hearts and your special girl.


Melissa 
July 30, 2013

I am so sorry about NYSE.  But how wonderful it is that she has such a caring family who have treasured her all of her life. I hope that NYSE will go quietly and peacefully into the night. Thank you for taking the time to listen to bereaved owners who have just lost their furkid...what a blessing your gift of time to listen has been.  Grace and peace to you and your family and Nyse!


Sara Bajger 
July 30, 2013

Please check out my page on Face Book, Pet Loss/Beravement Groups. Most of the animals are mine. But you will find Bible Passages, that show scriptures revealing God's wonderful eternal plan for his Non-Human Creatures. You can send me an email or send me a friend request on face book email is sbajer@comcast.net or Sara Bajger on Face Book


Anita Epperson 
July 30, 2013

I am so sorry, because I too have a tale. My Alex had cong. disfuction too. She was 14 had everything wrong, stomach problems, constant ear infections, hip dysplasia, anxiety, and acted as if she did not even know us near the end (much like my grandmother did with dementia.) I prayed for her to die in her sleep, it was not meant to be, when she could no longer stand on her own I had to make the decision. I still tear up thinking about it after many years. I know it was best for her but not any easier for me. We have a pet cemetery at home where our past loved ones are placed each have their own little rock and place in our heart.


Peggy 
July 30, 2013

Quite literally, tears are running down my face as I am writing this to you.  I cannot imagine what you and your wife are experiencing right now with NYSE, and the thought of having to face the same fate someday with my two boys (kittens) is almost overwhelming.  I don't know how one makes that decision.  It must be heartbreaking.  My thoughts and prayers go out to you, your wife and precious NYSE.  I ask God to bless all three of you with a peaceful ending.  Thank you for sharing your story with all of us.


Karen 
July 30, 2013

Thank you for sharing. As with all of us pet parents you and your wife will know when the time is right to let go of Nyse.  She will cross the Rainbow Bridge and wait with the others until you are reunited again.


April 
July 30, 2013

I understand how you feel. I lost my beloved boxer Headezs two years ago, and I miss him dearly it helps me when I talk about him and we had a small service for him.


Linda Hilferty 
July 30, 2013

God Bless you and your wife for what you both do for the animals and may he be by your side while Nyse crosses. I have a 15 yr old pit and cry just thinking about that day ( I will probably loose it when it comes ) God Bless you all! <3


Pat Lerch 
July 30, 2013

My own vet is understanding like you, as have been the ones who've euthanized some of our dogs in places like Tufts.  It is a tremendous loss and they have realized what it meant to us.  We lost all three of our dogs in 2009 and I am still on antidepressants from that.  Time is helping...


Michelle Nelson Statham 
July 30, 2013

I am so sorry for pending loss. I too am going through this with my 9 yr old JRT . Jazzy has stage three heart failure and while the vet has he on meds she is responding well however her breathing is so raspy now when she gets excited. I have days I just cry and days I try and stay positive . Each Day is a blessing with her .


Jane Clements 
July 29, 2013

Thank you so much for sharing your experience & love of animals.  I have always said, "Everyday is a Blessing with my dogs!" & it is!  Our last Berner, was a true Peter Pan, Nana,who grew up & care for my children (taught my 1 year old to walk by allowing her to hold his fur, got up slowly & then took baby steps right along w/her while she gripped on tight, followed my son & daughter thru teen years & was their best friend & lean on when they needed an ear, a paw around or a head in their laps to console them.  Travis waited for all of us to be together,& then left us, but not before we had all gathered around him. He looked up @ us, thumped his tail twice & died. Thanks for letting me remember him - he was a GREAT DOG & well loved by all of us!


Jennifer Z 
July 29, 2013

Dr. Johnson, I am so sorry that you and your wife are facing the imminent death of your dear NYSE. You are a wise and compassionate veterinarian, and your patients and their families are fortunate to have you. I am grateful for having such veterinarians in my life as well. Thank you Dr. Kay for sharing this blog post.


Ellen Wildfeuer 
July 29, 2013

You are quite the man!  Your words brought tears (to most of us I am sure).  And of course dredged up my very fragile emotions about losing our Weim last year.  Still hurts-still so close to the surface.  Had many dogs but she was THE one.  I know you know.  God speed to Nyse--I really had to laugh at what you said about dying in their sleep versus making THE decision to euthanize.  I am 70+, had pets since a child and never had one just die--not even the pet rat.  Always had to make that gut wrenching decision.  I hope my family is as good to me as I was to our animals when the time comes.


Sally 
July 29, 2013

My vet told me one time about a dog who I had that was sick with cancer I was afraid he would die while I was at work . The vet said to me he's not going to be that kind he will let you know when it's time. He did and went peacefully and gracefully in my arms after he was injected  by the vet.


Cath 
July 12, 2013

Beautifully written, very touching. Thank you.


Amy 
July 29, 2013

My last euthanasia was in the middle of the night at an E.R. I'd never been to before.  I was referred there for specialist treatment, but the specialist didn't think it would help.  I really needed to tell her and the tech just how special Murphy was, how I'd adopted him at age 14 and how he was a happy, seemingly healthy boy for over a year and a half until just days before.  They'd told me the clinical reasons why it had to be this way, and I think I needed to make sure they understood that he was more than just a sick, old dog.  He was a momma's boy who loved his life.


Carol 
July 29, 2013

I am sorry to hear about  your nyse. I had to make that same decision a few months ago.    It breaks your heart.   My little guy was a chi  named  Lilbit. I had to let him go.  I could tell  he could not control his back legs very well, and mainly  the lights went out of his eyes. He was 1 month from being 18years old. I will be crying with you. God bless you for the good lift you gave   RIP nyse


Carol Clark 
July 29, 2013

My Hannah was such a sweet soul. Her last few months were a trial, and I kept hoping for a miracle. At the end, she still smiled, gave the most incredible hugs, and loved to chase a ball. I will always be grateful to Dr. Billingsley for helping her to go so gently; and I will miss her forever.


Dr. Nancy Kay 
July 29, 2013

What a lovely blog post and a tribute to all of us who have participated in euthanizing a beloved pet. Thanks for sharing this with us.


Virginia Rudd 
July 29, 2013

Thank you Dr. Johnson, for reminding us that sharing those last moments of a pet's life with a family is not just our job, it's also an  honor.....



 
Home
Loading


Browse by categories


About us



Connect with us

Twitter Find us on Facebook RSS feed

VetzInsight
Powered By VIN