(I have never had to euthanize a pet... ever.)
Two days ago, I scooped up my beloved, old friend, wrapped her in a blanket and took her to the vet. I really needed to talk...and I wanted to make sure that the doc could see who I was talking about.
Opal is 10 years old, nearly blind, nearly deaf and a bit senile. Over the past year and a half her back legs have gradually become useless. She drags herself about far more than she walks and if she walks, she falls. Opal has also become incontinent of bowel and bladder.
So why haven't I done something about this a long time ago? Well, she's not in pain and she enjoys her food and a good gnaw on squeaky toy. Opal is also alert and still gets great joy from scolding anyone, real or imaginary (usually imaginary), that should pass by her windows. And most of all, I love her dearly. So up until now, the positives in Opal's life seemed to outweigh the negatives. Though as I reread these last two paragraphs, I think that I can see a woman in denial.
All right, back to the vet's office... Dr. B. has examined Opal and listened intently to my tearful tale of woe and ambivalence. I know that she cannot tell me what to do about Opal, but in the midst of all of this she says:
"Euthanasia is absolutely the worst part of my job. But I have come to really believe that, if it's possible, it's far better to end a pet's life before they are completely debilitated, miserable and in pain. I think it's better for them to still be able to have the ability to enjoy their owner's love... and a lot of spoiling before they go."
Dr B.'s words are no less than a kind of enlightenment for me. I can actually feel them physically impact me. It's a quick jab to my solar plexus. Before I can even respond, the doctor adds:
"Oh, the vet tech mentioned that you asked if someone would be able to euthanize in your home. If you choose to do this, I'd absolutely come to your home. It's what I'd want for my dogs."
And that's when I wept.
(Next Friday, Opal will be surrounded by all those who love her and we will all wish her well as she goes onto her next adventure.)