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Saying Good-bye to your pet

Daisy Mae
Photo by Sandra Eastman

Don’t say good-bye easily

People losing their homes because of job loss or death in the family are often faced with an incredible dilemma of finding a new home for their pet. Fortunately, there are many qualified rescue groups ready and willing to provide a new home to any pet no longer able to be cared for by their owner. Many no kill shelters have sprung up all over the country making it easy to find shelter for an unwanted animal.

Often people are forced to give up their beloved pet when encountering disease or accidents that leave the pet unable live a quality life and treating the pet requires more money than the family has available. Yet even with an insurmountable cost, most people would do anything necessary to save the life of their beloved pet as they consider it a member of the family.

As advanced veterinary techniques make is easier to care for a sick animal it was often an easy decision to prolong the life of the ailing pet, however, there often comes the time when that decision is questioned. Often a pet lives well into old age or begins to show signs of ill health before the owner is ready to say good-bye. Sometimes an illness such as cancer surprises the pet owner and they are left with an incredibly difficult decision.

Euthanasia is never easy.

The decision to end your pet’s life is one of the most difficult decisions you’ll ever have to make. What most people forget to take into account is that often we prolong the life of our pet because it makes us feel better, because we can’t make the decision or we just can’t let go. We end up keeping the pet alive to make ourselves feel better and not for the sake of the pet.

Countless pets suffer needlessly for extended periods of time because owners cannot make the decision, refuse to let go or in a worst case scenario they just do not have the money.

What are the costs involved?

It is expensive to euthanize an animal. The cost varies from veterinarian to veterinarian, somewhere between $75 - $250, as each one has a different process. Some give the animal a relaxing shot of valium or something similar and thus the animal sometimes falls asleep in their owner’s arms before the final injection is given. This is the most humane way for the animal and is often less stressful for the owner.

Along with the cost to complete the process, the owner must decide on a method of cremation, either individual with ashes returned to them or mass cremation with no ashes returned. More and more people are finding a solace in retrieving their pet’s ashes and keeping them in an urn at home or burying them in designated spot.

Pet cemeteries do exist in a few cities across the US but are usually utilized by the wealthy or celebrity animals. A headstone alone could cost as much as $500. While an urn for your pet’s ashes would run $50 to $200.

Saying good-bye at home

The newest and most humane method of saying good-bye to your pet is a private euthanasia in your home. The veterinarian will arrange a time within your schedule where all family members wishing to attend can be present. Your beloved pet will fall asleep in your arms peaceful and unafraid. Often it suggested having your other pets on hand so they can also say good-bye. It is a healing mechanism for them. With a sniff of their nose, they will tell you they understand.

It was just a few years ago when a friend’s beloved Golden Retriever who had been ailing from cancer made the decision she was ready to go. She simply lay down on floor and refused to move. It was as if she was saying, “I need to rest and it’s time to say good-bye”. It was a heartbreaking reality that the owner had to face when her veterinarian agreed with the dog. “She’s telling you she’s ready to say good-bye. You need to do the humane thing and let her go.”

Do the right thing

One of the most difficult things in life is to say good-bye to a loved one but to make the decision for that beloved animal because they cannot speak for themselves is an obligation you commit to when you decide to purchase a pet and make that animal a part of your life. You take on the responsibility of speaking for them, of caring for their every need and for letting them go when they tell you it’s time to say good-bye.

As they breathe that last breath just close your eyes and imagine them young and healthy again. See them romping through the lush green grass that surrounds the rainbow bridge --- see them rushing to meet you when your time on earth is past and you cross over the great divide to hold them in your arms forever.

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