Pet Euthanasia: Making Hard Decisions Around the Holidays

Dog Ornament
Thinkstock

As I write this post, December is only 12 days old. Yet already I’ve euthanized 11 patients since it began.

So you know, this is an unusually high number of pet euthanasia procedures for a period that effectively amounts to six working days (given my current schedule). It’s enough to give even the most seasoned veterinarian pause — if not a touch of agida too.

But the holidays are special. We know this and we prepare ourselves psychologically (as best we can) for the onslaught of final decision making and the scores of aging pets whose Rainbow Bridges beckon.

A Stirring of Memories

The holidays, though ostensibly a time of joy and celebration, are also a time for reflection and even deep contemplation.

Even as they whip us up into a dizzying frenzy of commercialism and merriment, they conspicuously mark our time on earth too: Baby’s first holidays. Grandpa’s last. The memories of those who passed this time last year — or many years before — swirl insistently in the shallows of our subconscious.

With all those memories and the holiday cultural touchstones that raise them, unbidden, is it any wonder our thoughts turn to death?

I think not.

When the Family Can Be There

But holiday euthanasia isn’t merely to do with our existential musings. It also happens to coincide with the kind of practicalities we’d like to think have no bearing on life and death decisions:

“The kids are home for the holidays. I know she might have a little time left, but wouldn’t it be best to see Misty go in the comfort of all those who love her?”

“How can I go away for two weeks when she’s obviously only got a couple of months to live? Might it not be a kindness to see her off gently and preempt any suffering?”

Much as we’re loath to think that the minutia of our human lives might take precedence over the life and death of those who have made them so livable, the reality is that, yes, it often does. And quite rightly, I tend to think.

Though you may disagree with me, I’m of the opinion that as long as we’ve offered our pets a lengthy lifetime of love, they well deserve the dignity of a quiet death — even if it does arrive during times of the year traditionally reserved for rejoicing in the commemoration of new life.

Google+

Join the Conversation

Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!