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About putting your pet down

October 3, 2012

I have to write this post. You don’t have to read it – it’s something I went back and forth about, but then decided that it might be a kind of public service announcement so you can prepare if you need to.

First of all, thank you for all of your kind wishes on Goldie’s passing. I know there are a lot of dog lovers and just kind souls out there. I thank you for every thought, word and prayer. It helps to have so many people who love my dog – those who knew her in person and those who just followed her adventures on my blog.

Ok, now to the hard part. I didn’t think about this and it has been the hardest thing and I hope I can help someone else get through this if they have to do it.

Goldie did not want to die. She struggled.

I had some fantasy world idea of euthanizing my pet. I could have taken her to our regular excellent vet, but I had heard that the Ventura County Humane Society was a wonderful place full of compassionate people who love animals, and indeed it was.

I didn’t want to have Goldie’s last trip be a trip to the place she had been poked and prodded so often. She knew what the vet was and did not want to go there.

So up we went to Ojai. Here’s what I thought would happen – the person would gently inject my dog with something who would make her sleep. Goodnight dear dog.

Here’s what happened – deep breath. We put Goldie up on a tall, towel-covered table and I had to wrap my arms around her to keep her from biting the lady, especially when the Humane Society lady had to poke her again after one vein did not work. I had to hold her as she struggled hard to get out of my grasp. I didn’t get that one final peaceful moment with her.

As soon as the drugs hit, she gently slumped down and lay there until her heart stopped a couple minutes later.

The hard part only lasted a minute or two, but I have seen it 100 times in my brain. I just did not know, so I figured other people wouldn’t, either, since no one talks about it.

My dog was tough and scrappy, and even though she was in pain and skinny and decrepit and barely able to walk, she fought like hell. She wanted to survive.

I’ve had a couple nightmares where she’s hurt and bleeding and running loose and I can’t catch her. I figure that is related to that experience.

Please don’t worry about me – I have great moments, too. Happy memories, beautiful photos. We had a great life.

I don’t want to freak anyone out and make you not want to be with your pet at the end. I just want you to know, in case. Because no one told me.

41 Comments
  1. October 4, 2012 10:01

    Oh, I am so sorry for your loss, and sorry you experienced it this way. There are so many diffeerent paths, some are so painful.

    My first dog went quietly – we were there with him at the vet, holding him on the table and he was quiet and still. He was almost 16 years old, and had had a stroke. We held him and watched the light go out of his eyes.

    My second much loved dog went in a way that was so much sadder. He was old and failing, we had travel plans; the kennel wouldn’t take him, but we thought – no, this isn’t the time. So we had a person come in to care for him. All would have been well except there was a terrible, terrible heat wave while we were gone, and our caretaker just couldn’t keep his temperature down. He died there, in our home, and she had to call us in a distant city and tell us. she also had to dispose of his body – which is a lot to ask.

    Our adopted dog – Mr.Lumpy, who came to us in his last days – we learned our vet could do a euthanization house call. So he passed on his own bed, in our home. But – like Goldie – though he was very feeble and on his last legs – he struggled, he tried to rise to his feet before he fell back. He surprised me.

    The only common element of all these experiences is that they were wrapped in love. As was Goldie. And that we grieved as you do.

    • October 11, 2012 06:59

      I know you love dogs as much as I do. Thanks for sharing your stories of these dogs and of Jack.

  2. October 4, 2012 11:58

    Oh, that is so hard. I’m so sorry you had to go through it. But I do appreciate you writing about it, because I have a 14-year-old dog, and the time will come.

    • October 11, 2012 06:58

      Thanks, Catherine. I wish you strength for your pup’s final years.

  3. Skye permalink
    October 5, 2012 15:51

    I’m so sorry, Suebob.

    Layla didn’t fight the needle, she was so drained – but they didn’t warn me about how fast it would go once the drugs were in. I also pictured that one final peaceful moment, but it was over in a blink.

    I think very few places do enough to prepare the people for how it’s going to be.

    • October 11, 2012 06:57

      Thanks, Skye. Over in a blink. Yes, too fast. The whole thing – 10 years – went by too fast.

  4. Greg permalink
    October 6, 2012 00:51

    Sue, this is Greg. That she fought like hell only makes me love her more. She lived with such beauty and determination, but her soul was the soul of a hunter. She was hard-wired to be tenacious, to never give up. That in her final moments her essence came out inspires me. I hope I go the same way.
    And again, thank you for giving Goldie 10 years that she certainly never would have had without you. You saved her from certain euthenasia in 2002. There is a special place in pet owner heaven for you.

    • October 11, 2012 06:57

      Aw, thanks Greg, She was as tough as a boot, that dog. She was a good, good girl.

      If you ever want me to sit Kelly, I’d be happy to. She’s a funny little thing.

  5. October 6, 2012 09:57

    I’m so sorry, Sue. I had to put my 14 year old dog to sleep last year. It was heartbreaking. I was lucky that I had a great vet who told me everything that was going to happen; they also didn’t let me come back to the room until they had got the IV in her. I will never regret being with her at the end of her life, as much as it hurt my heart. I hope you know that you did the right thing for Goldie and that you being there, even when she was fighting like hell, made her last moments the best they could be. I blogged about my experience with helping my sweet girl pass, if you want to read it. http://thiscouldgetugly.com/2011/04/17/goodbye-sweet-girl/

    • October 11, 2012 06:55

      I’ll read your post when I feel up to it. The vet doing the IV first would be ideal. I’m still traumatized, and probably always will be, by Goldie’s last moments. Being a responsible adult is hard, y’all.

  6. October 7, 2012 15:42

    Oh Sue…so hard. We had to put our sweet Genevieve down in February. She had the IV in her already, and had a sedative to keep her from getting up. Her tongue was hanging out of the side of her mouth and she couldn’t move much. She started hallucinating and barking. She calmed down as we spoke to her and pet her, and it all went so very fast. We stayed with her body long after she left it, and it was just so WRONG for it to be there without her in it. I’m crying now, thinking about it. I know that we did the right thing. But it sucked.

    • October 11, 2012 06:53

      I’m sorry for you and sorry that the end was so sad for you, too. It was over way too fast and if I could take it back I still might. It’s hard to know what to do.

  7. Anonymous permalink
    October 8, 2012 10:52

    I’m a long-time fan of Goldie (and you), but hadn’t popped over here and so hadn’t heard the sad news. I’m so sorry – sorry that this day came, sorry that she struggled at the end. That’s all I wanted to say…I’m so sorry you lost your good girl.

  8. Carrie (in MN) permalink
    October 8, 2012 11:26

    Didn’t mean to be anonymous above.

    • October 11, 2012 06:50

      No problem. Thanks for commenting. She WAS a good, good girl. I’ve been looking at the photos of all the adventures we had, and I must say she had an awesome life, and me an awesome life with her.

  9. October 11, 2012 10:56

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope your heart continues to heal and your fond memories give you comfort.

    • October 18, 2012 07:46

      Thanks, Nancy. I know there will be other pets, but no other Goldie.

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