Time to say goodbye


The hardest decision you’ll ever need to make for your dog is to let him go when the time is right, says Karen Bush. 

Helping your dog to pass peacefully, painlessly, with dignity and without fear is the last, greatest gift you can give him.  

Planning ahead

Nothing ever really prepares you for the loss of a cherished companion; even when expected, it still comes as a terrible shock. But knowing in advance about the options and practicalities that will be involved when the time does come, can at least help to ensure that the decisions you make will be informed ones, made with a clear head and time to properly consider them, rather than when your thoughts are clouded by overwhelming emotions. 

Your choices can be made without being under pressure, which could lead to snap decisions you might regret later. Also, importantly, it gives you the opportunity to discuss them with your vet, and if necessary to put arrangements in place so that when the time is near you can focus all your attention on your dog, undistracted by bureaucratic details. Even if your dog is young and healthy, it’s something you should still give thought to, as illness and accidents can occur at any age.

For some dogs, spending time with you in a favourite spot in the garden can be reassuring.

So, how do you know when the time is right? Often the response to this you’ll get from others is: “Oh, you’ll look into his eyes, and just know”. But it’s not always that simple; it’s sometimes difficult to judge, especially when there are still good days among the bad ones.

Deterioration in health often creeps in slowly over a period of time so you barely notice on a daily basis; and as most dogs are very stoical they may not draw your attention to discomfort until it becomes very painful. If you have an elderly or terminally ill companion, you can find quality of life questionnaires online with pointers to consider including pain, mobility, appetite, sleeping, breathing, toileting, and interaction, which can be helpful in monitoring and assessing your dog’s condition daily, as well as in judging whether it’s time to start making preparations. 

Consult your vet too. Don’t delay making an appointment because you fear what he might tell you; treatment may be available, or pain-relieving medications that will give you more precious time together, and — most importantly of all — keep your pet feeling comfortable.

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Remember all the good times.


Read the rest of the feature in the May issue, available to read instantly on our digital edition HERE or purchase the print edition HERE


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