One of the most difficult moments for anyone who’s ever been owned by a dog or a cat is saying the final good-bye to your four-footed best friend. I don’t think it ever gets any easier, no matter how many pets you’ve had or how many times you have to go through it.
Knowing when to put sweet Fluffy to sleep is an incredibly hard decision to make. Sometimes the choice is mercifully made for us – Fluffy simply falls asleep one night and doesn’t wake up in the morning. When death comes to a resting pet, we can at least take consolation in knowing that it was painless and that Fluffy died with dignity.
If Fluffy’s been battling illness or the ravages of old age, it’s very hard to know when it’s the right time to take that final trip to the veterinarian. Here again, the key word is dignity. I always let that be my guiding light. I want all my pets to spend their remaining days on earth with their dignity intact, enjoying some quality of life. Once I know that’s no longer possible, it’s easier to come to terms with doing what must be done. It’s what I’d want for myself. It’s the least I can do for them.
Make your own decision when you think the time has come. Don’t let others convince you. You’ll know when the time is right. Base your decision on only one thing – what’s right for her. Don’t extend her time because you just can’t bear to see her go. She lived life as a smart and clever little creature. She doesn’t want her final days to be any less than that.
Please don’t feel foolish if you grieve. You may even need to take off a few days from work. Not everyone will understand your sense of loss over a pet – especially people who have never been owned by one. Their feelings are of no consequence; it’s a pity they’ve never experienced the special type of loving relationship you had with your precious pet. Grieving is a normal, healthy reaction the loss of a beloved family member. And wasn’t Fluffy a member of the family? Realize that you’re not alone with those feelings. Millions of people have grieved over the loss of their four-footed pals.
If you find the pain is too great to bear yourself, contact your local humane society. Almost every area has a support group to help owners through these difficult times. You’ll be able to talk about your feelings and share your stories. You’ll remember all those funny little antics of hers. You’ll remember all the love she gave you, asking nothing in return for herself. And, yes, you’ll even manage a smile or two.