“Their paw prints will forever be embedded in your heart.” ~ Dave Thorpe
For an animal lover putting their companion animal to sleep (euthanasia) is one of the hardest decisions they will have to make which might be preceded by a progressing disease or even an accident, bringing with it further guilt and emotional turmoil if one cannot afford the medication or surgery needed.
This is the reality of life. And it brings with it a responsibility to make the right decision for the sake of your companion animal, not that of yourself.
WHAT IF THERE ARE CHILDREN OR TEENAGERS INVOLVED?
Dependent on their age level of comprehension get them involved in the decision. And no matter how young, do not try to shield them from the hurt by not allowing them the opportunity to say goodbye to their friend before the procedure is undertaken or lie to them after.
If necessary collect them from school. It is an opportunity to teach children and teenagers about grief and their emotions. Of all their memories, they will remember your action many years down the line. It is up to you as to whether or not it is positive or negative.
Do not get a replacement companion animal immediately after a loss, wait a while so that the owner/s have time to grieve. Only then, when everyone involved is ready, look for another fur friend, together if applicable.
BEING THERE IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY
No matter how horrible you feel or what you feel you cannot face, this is not the time to be selfish – don’t leave your companion animal with the vet or at the welfare and walk away because you can’t face it. How do you think your companion animal feels?
Your loyal and loving companion needs you to be there as they breathe their last, to cradle them, to soothe them and tell them what’s happening, so at their last, they feel the warmth and comfort of the person who they have adored and served.
And don’t forget to ask the vet to overdose as there have been cases of animals which have not had sufficient barbiturate injected waking up with other bodies or en route to the disposal site.
WHAT ABOUT THE DISPOSAL OF YOUR COMPANION’S BODY?
You can consider cremation if it is within your budget or take your companion’s body for burial yourself. However, bear in mind that in South Africa municipalities bury bodies at dumpsites and it is rare that they dig trenches for the bodies and covering them with lime as they should do.