Welcome to Southwest Florida German Shepherd Rescue Inc. Tuesday, October 04 2022 @ 08:49 am EDT

When is the right time to say Good-Bye to our best friend?

  • Saturday, August 13 2022 @ 03:37 pm EDT
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When is the right time to Say Good-Bye to our best friend? When do you say Good-Bye?
I received an email letter from a prior adopter who asked me about his dog Chief. He said Chief was 15 and in dire straits with an inability to walk, stand and even being uncomfortable to lay down. He has a limited quality of life and has stopped eating and drinking but wants to be petted and comforted. He asked me “when is the right time to say good-bye”?
I really didn’t have to search my soul for an answer, as I have faced this crisis numerous times. I have an entire closet in the house with boxes of ashes, and a brain full of wonderful memories of dogs I loved more than life itself who passed. Each time I see a photo of a dog of mine that has passed, and I have hundreds of them, I stop for a second and reflect on that pet. I have not stopped loving any of them, ever. I just love them in my mind and spirit, and I allow myself to drift off thinking of them and seeing their faces and I just wind up smiling and saying their name. Once that moment has passed, I am able to move on. Those brief seconds are so fulfilling that my mind is able to actually speak to them and then I am happy and I typically smile.
My biggest regret is that with one of my dogs, Gunther, I was too emotionally broken to be with him when he passed. I have never forgiven myself for that and I have regretted my actions for over 20 years and I will continue doing so until I met him again and can say I am sorry face to snoot. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be there, it was simply I was so overcome with emotion and hysterical that I failed him by not being able to face him in his moment of need. I was just feet away but I didn’t hold him and say goodbye as he passed. Diane was there, but I turned away crying. I swore this would never happen again. It had never happened before, with at least 10 others, but somehow Gumpy was different to me and my love for him prevented me from holding on to him until he passed.
I tried to answer the email with love and understanding. Here is what I said:
The hardest decision we can make is to let our best friend go… but at the same time that is a blessing for him. We can control little when it comes to our own mortality and whether we are in pain or not, we still can’t control anything. With a dog who we love dearly, we can see his suffering and we can know his pain because we can feel it as if it were our own. In my experience when we see little chance of recovery, when we understand he is uncomfortable and in pain, we as his caretaker, parent (if you will) and best friend can take the needed action to stop that pain and end the cycle. We do this out of love and not out of any other emotion. The key is to be there for him. When the vet puts the catheter it, we are there. We he injects him, we are hold his head in our hands and saying good bye with the greatest amount of love and compassion we can muster. I have done this quite a few times and each time it was extremely painful. Each time I said good-bye I cried for days and still do in many cases. My love for my dogs is not unique. I know you love him and this is the best way to show that. The timing should be when he is not in any distress but when he is calm and you can enjoy the day together. The timing is really unimportant as a few days either way will not change things.
My heart goes out to you for sharing this. I wish I could make that pain less but I don’t know how.
Show him you love him up until the last moment you are together and cherish his memory for the rest of your life.
Sincerely,
Erik
I hope these thoughts helped him and that this short note helps others in making a decision on end of life for a pet. Nothing is more selfish than to keep a dog alive past what is a reasonable quality of life. Keeping him alive but in pain or suffering for you surely isn’t what is right for him. We have control over these things where, with humans, we have to sit idly by regardless of conditions and hope the loved one isn’t in pain or discomfort. We can do this with drugs for people, and for dogs, but is it fair when we can stop the suffering and allow our friend to pass with dignity? Everyone makes their own decisions in this area based on who they are inside and their value system. No one can say what is universally right for everyone but in my opinion we need to understand that a few more days may be desirable but unfair and they we need to show our love for this best friend by doing what is right for him.

Erik Hoffer