Dear Barb-The Hardest Decision

Dear Barb:

Hi, I recently put my dog down and now I’m wondering if I did the right thing. Tasha was a ten-year-old miniature schnauzer with lots of health issues. For the last two years she was on several expensive medications and they really weren’t making a difference in the quality of her life. When I asked my vet whether it was time, he said he didn’t want to influence my decision; however I finally got him to tell me what he would do if Tasha was his dog. He said he would probably put her down, adding that it was completely my decision. One cold snowy morning last week I took her out for her morning walk and she just stood there shaking, even though she had a sweater on. I began to doubt whether she would be able to make it through the winter, so I took her in. At the time it felt like the right decision, but a week later, I’m having second thoughts. How do I resolve those conflicted feelings within myself? Thanks Pat.

Hi Pat:

The decision to put a pet down is very difficult and many people agonize over when is the right time. We love our pets like members of our family.  We don’t want to see them suffer, but we also don’t want to lose them. Remember that when you decided to put her down you believed it was the right thing to do. It’s only after the fact that you are having second thoughts as the good memories are replacing the painful days at the end of Tasha’s life. It has only been a short time since putting her down, and, although you will always grieve, you will eventually learn to live with the loss. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help make the transition to life without your dear pet.  Create a memory box with your pet’s collar, favorite toy, and sweater.  Take the time to create a scrapbook with all your special memories. Talk to other family members and share stories about Tasha. Check online for support groups in your area or counselors that deal specifically with pet loss.  Make a donation to your local shelter in your pet’s name. Give yourself time to grieve, everyone grieves differently. Check out the following story, it may help with your doubts Pat.

Dear Barb:

I just put my twenty-year-old cat down and I wanted to share my story. I often read about people who have difficulty making the decision to put a pet down. I was that person and I kept Mitzie with me much longer that I should have.  When I look back I know she was suffering, but I just did not want to face the pain of losing her. In the end I wasn’t thinking of Mitzie, but was thinking of myself. If I had to do it over I would have put her down long before I did. I just wanted to share my story and hopefully help someone else who is having doubts and second thoughts about their decision to euthanize a pet.  Thanks Terry.

Hi Terry:

Your letter couldn’t have come at a better time. Thank you for sharing. I’m sure Pat appreciates your story.

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