Last year, on August 31st, while enjoying our daily dog walk, Murphy fell. At first, I thought that he had injured his hip. Later, I noticed a lump about the size of a walnut in the area of his back hock (close to the knee). Diagnosis was swift. Cancer.
Our veterinarian advised against chemotherapy and amputation. She felt that it would be too hard on all concerned; the amount of time that would be bought wouldn't be worth the cost. Neither emotionally nor financially.
We knew that the end was inevitable. Just when?
I knew my dog. I trusted that he would "tell" me when it was time to say good-bye. In fact, I asked him to let me know when he was ready to go.
It was a beautiful September, and I was fortunate enough to be able to sit outside and work while he luxuriated in the sun. Many tears were shed during that month. Murphy was a rescue and we had a special bond, forged by the fact that I was the person who drove him away from the noise and chaos of the animal shelter.
As September marched on, it was apparent that Murphy still wanted to remain in this world, despite the rapid growth of the tumour. His appetite was as good as ever. He was interested in us and what went on around the house; even barking when someone came to the door. He looked forward to his walks.
On the morning of October 6th, he finally let me know. He slowly made his way to the tree in our backyard and curled up underneath. I had been paying attention, looking for him to tell me. I then knew that it was time.
For those who have not gone through the experience of euthanising a much-loved pet, it is many things: kind, cruel, heart-breaking. It can also be one filled with judgement.
I heard and felt disapproval from a few people. "You need to put him down, now." "Tsk! Tsk!" The looks.
The thing that some people didn't seem to understand is that I knew my dog. I trusted that he would let me know when it was time. And, he did. It wasn't for anyone else to judge. It was between us.
Often, when decisions need to be made, it is easy to judge the person because they are not doing it as you would do it.
Before passing judgement, I suggest the following:
- ask open-ended questions
- trust that the person is doing the right thing at the right time with the right amount of information.
If you find yourself in similar circumstances, I recommend:
- considering the opinion of a veterinarian you trust
- using stress transformation techniques, so that you and your pet will be as comfortable as possible, given the situation
- listen to your heart and your pet - trust you will know when the time is right (stress transformation techniques will help in this regard).
I prefer to remember him, as you see him in this video, below. Full of life. This was the first time that we had taken him to the beach. As you can see, he didn't quite know what to do with the waves!