My family is faced with a difficult decision. Our family dog is 12 years old and her health is failing. We are starting to consider whether we should put her down. Our family members are divided on this issue. Some of us believe we should do whatever is necessary to keep Molly alive, while the rest feel the humane thing to do is put her down. How do we know what is the right thing to do? We would appreciate any help you can offer.
Alison in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
Wow Alison, what a difficult question!
Euthanasia is an issue that can divide even the closest of family and friends, and there is validity to both sides of this argument. Most of us find it difficult to be expected to make decisions that we believe should be left to a higher power. Nevertheless a lot of people will be forced to make this heart wrenching decision several times during their lives. Choosing to be a pet owner brings us much love, joy and companionship but it may also include making decisions such as this.
To assist you in making this decision you need to ask yourself some important questions about the quality of your pet’s life. Most importantly, how much pain is your dog experiencing? Is she able to eat and control her bowels? Does she interact with the family, or is she withdrawn, isolated and basically just existing? I assume you have consulted with your veterinarian and are doing everything medically possible for Molly.
Perhaps these are questions you could discuss as a family. This discussion may provide a venue to bring forward each other’s intense feelings and perhaps work through this issue together.
Frequently people are reluctant to make these types of decisions because they don’t want to confront their own feelings of grief and loss. However, this decision must not be about you. Your first interest has to be whatever is best for your dog and finding a way to ease her suffering.
In the end there is no right or wrong answer. You and your family are the only ones who can assess Molly’s quality of life and ultimately make the best possible decision for her.
Thanks for writing, Alison. I trust that in the end you and your family will be able to make this decision together.
E-mail your questions to email@example.com. Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality: your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.