Supporting Loss

Regal, a liver color flat coated retriever tongue out smiling

It’s been a rough month around here. Between my gram passing away after a long fulfilling life and a few friends in the process of shifting into hospice care mentality for their geriatric dogs, it’s been a rough go of it. I’ve found myself asked more than usual my philosophy on end of life decisions for our canine companions.

Having been through it too many times with my own pets over the years and supported friends and clients through such difficult times with their dogs, at this point my philosophy is rather simple.

It boils down to this for me: what ever decision made is the right one.

Simple as that. I don’t care what your family thinks you should do, or your neighbors, or a vet, or even what you may have done with a past dog. As long as you feel you are doing as best you can to honor that individual dog and your relationship with them, any decision you make is the right one. Each relationship we have with a dog is an intensely personal and individual one and at the end of the day when such difficult decisions are made from a place of love, whatever decision made is the right one.

No one else has the right to judge you for any decisions made in such circumstances. There are so many factors emotional, financial, location, behavioral, physical, personality and more. None of which are ever the same for any case. Anyone expressing judgment or shoulds is saying more about their own fears, discomfort or insecurity than about you and your decisions surrounding your dog during such a difficult time.

For each of my dogs, I have based the decisions I’ve made on what I know of that individual dog, their personality, their way of going about life, their relationship with me, others and the world around them, plus whatever medical diagnosis they have, and the realities of our life situation at the time. Every single dog I’ve personally had to date, none of the end of life care decisions have been the same, yet all have so far felt right for that particular dog at that particular time.

And yup, I’ve had times where I’ve disagreed with the vets on our case in treatment approach, which may have been a wonderful approach with another dog, knowing my particular dog as I did, would have been a form of torture for him. So I found a vet team that would take more than my dogs diagnosis into consideration. instead of having 3 months of his version of torture followed by maybe an additional 4-6 months of life, we were able to have 6 months of palliative care and excellent quality of life the entire 6 months. A decision I’m glad I made for that specific dog, knowing with a different dog I may very well have made a completely different decision which would have then been right for that particular dog at that particular time.

Hopefully I won’t have to make such decisions again for my own pets for a good many years in the future, (knock on wood) but when the time comes I will do the best I can to do right by my dog and know that whatever decision I make will be from a place of intense caring and love. And I’m doing my best currently to support my friends going through such difficult decisions with their wonderful dogs knowing and believing fully whatever decisions they make are the right ones for them and their pets.

0 thoughts on “Supporting Loss

  1. What a wonderful post. We just said goodbye to a cat we’ve had for 19 years. We could have kept him going longer, but it wouldn’t have been fair to him. Not long ago I kept a Great Dane alive longer than I should have. I was sure I could manage his care…I couldn’t. With every pet I’ve let go, I always think I could have handled it better. Letting my cat go sooner than I would have liked was probably the best present I could have given to him.

    1. I’m so sorry to hear of your cat’s passing. Though am glad you feel at peace with the decision you made for him. It is always so hard, but I’m positive he knew, as each of your past animals did, how much you loved and cared for him.

  2. Tough times. I hope it will smooth out for you . And as for the decisions about our animals I have been there with the horses and quality of life has been my criteria and I stick to it no matter what others may say or mutter.

    1. Thanks. I too generally find myself on using quality of life as my criteria, glad that has helped bring you peace during your times of loss as well.

      1. I have had to say goodbye to several horses and I have never had regrets. I a couple of cases there was a necropsy done for insurance and in both cases it showed the horse would have suffered a horrible end. I was glad I spared them that.

  3. Sorry to hear about your grandmother. And the ailing dogs. I think this post is stellar in its clear humanity to both dogs and their companions.

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