My Pet Died… and I Think It’s My Fault

Holding Dog Paw

“I’m so, so sorry. This is my fault.”

With that, the man before me began to shake and sob.

I have seen more adults cry in the past year than most people see in a lifetime. And I’m here to tell you that the saying “Real men don’t cry” is a myth. I have witnessed the toughest men you’ll ever meet bawling over the loss of a beloved pet, and I don’t blame them. I will join their tearful ranks when my dog (who is now 12) passes.

Unfortunately, sorrow is unavoidable when we own pets. They simply don’t live as long as we do, and it breaks our hearts when they leave us.

The Crying Man

I wish I could tell you medicine holds all the answers. I wish veterinarians could always speak to people with certainty when discussing their pets. The truth is that no one has a crystal ball, and we cannot know the future. We use our knowledge, diagnostic tests and personal experiences to take our best shot at clairvoyance, but ultimately, veterinarians can’t always know what will happen with a sick pet… and you can’t, either.

Two days earlier, the man sitting across from me had brought his German Shepherd, Mildred, into our clinic because she would not eat and was vomiting. It turned out Mildred had eaten a turkey truss (a long piece of thick string), and rather than the string passing through her body, Mildred’s intestines had bunched up around it. To make matters worse, the intestines' contractions had created a sawing effect, and there were now multiple holes in Mildred’s gastrointestinal tract. Mildred was in serious trouble.


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