The love from a pet is deeply unique and an experience that can’t quite be explained in words as the vast expansiveness of the bond and connection runs deep. Trying to explain this in the right words is something only a fellow pet lover would understand. Would you agree with this sentiment?
I’ve had many conversations with pet parents who have told me that they feel the only downfall of loving a pet is that their life span is not the same as a human's. And each time they say this to me, I nod my head in agreement. More times than not, we will invite a pet into our lives AND also experience having to say goodbye to them as well. As with all life, death is a part of it and is inevitable. We cannot get away from that. It is one of the rules of life and one we must live by. However, because of the many gifts animals bring to us, we can learn to accept that and although it will be hard, it is worth it because of the deep and loving bond shared.
Animals are here on earth to love, be loved, and much more. One of the hardest choices we will ever have to make when nearing the final stage of their lives is to decide when the right time is to let our beloved pets go. And we’ll start asking questions such as, “how will I know?”, “will I make the right decision?” and “how will I cope?”.
Our pets depend on us to care for them and especially nearing end of life stages, the dependency increases and our lives begin new routines of care, comfort and love.
At the time of this writing, and very recently, I had to say goodbye to my sweet Mr. Mooshie and I remember all the thoughts, feelings and turmoil my brain and body went through. Making the decision and saying “it is time” is extremely hard, however when we remember that we have our beautiful animal’s needs in mind, it can bring us comfort knowing we are doing our best for them.
Let’s consider two key areas that are helpful in guiding us when having to make this extremely tough decision:
1.Close connection to your medical or holistic veterinary team: Ensuring your pet’s medical needs are taken care of can be of valued support. Having someone you trust and knows your animal can be a wonderful ally in helping you understand the stage of health your dog is currently at. A good veterinarian is one who is compassionate, caring and understanding not only of your pet’s needs, but yours as well. Keep a daily journal of how your pet is doing and talk with your care team. By working together, you have support and are not alone.
2.Your Pet’s Quality of Life: As your furry companion ages, it’s important to identify the difference between aging related changes and actual quality of life. As pets age, they begin to slow down and their lifestyle changes. They might spend more time sleeping vs. playing. Old age is not a disease; it is a natural transition of life. When pain and suffering become present in the body, this is where quality of life is important to monitor.
It’s also important to note that pets will mask pain and most times, we don’t even realize they are feeling it. In the wild, if an animal is injured or sick, they are hunted as prey. By instinct, our pets will do this too, making it difficult for us as pet parents to know if they are suffering or not.
Although there are various aspects to look for when considering your pet’s quality of life, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t other supports that can be put into place to make your pet more comfortable. For example, if they aren’t eating their favorite foods any longer, perhaps they are having dental pain and aren’t able to chew. This is something where an adaptation can be made to help them feel comfortable once again. That is the difference between not eating because of requiring pain relief vs. poor quality of life. And that is where working with a team of support will be helpful to you in determining what category your pet is in and the best course of action for them.
In conclusion, I truly believe that deep down inside, we know when it’s time to say goodbye to our beloved furry ones. It’s just that our mind and emotions overcome us and we question the validity of what we are feeling. We want to make the right decision and it hurts so much. If the question has come to your mind about your pet in asking if it’s time, seeking help can guide you so you can make your final decision with strength and support. And bottom line; know that you need to be at peace in your heart when making the decision. If someone is telling you that it’s time but you clearly don’t agree with it, follow your heart as it will rarely steer you wrong, knowing that your decision is always in the best interest of your best friend and confidant, your canine family member.
These decisions are never easy and I wish there was a magic wand I could swing to make the anguish go away. I will say however that going through this can make you stronger and although it never takes the pain away, it can bring you comfort knowing that support is available. Should you ever wish an ear to listen as you are making this heartfelt decision, know that I am here. I honor your journey while standing beside you through each step of the way.
About the writer: Marybeth Haines empowers people to make choices that promote action, personal growth and healing. She is an Author, Speaker, Consultant and Grief Specialist from Ontario, Canada. She is a wife, sister, daughter and a mother to her furry children with tails and whiskers. Marybeth is the author of The Power of Pets – 7 Effective Tools To Heal From Pet Loss, From Empty To Empowered – A Journey To Healing From Unexpected Pet Loss and I Miss My Furry Friend - My Feel Better Book With Kamilla and Magrau. In 2012, she founded the “I Believe In The Power of Pets” movement. Her focus is teaching proven step by step strategies in reinforcing the bond and connection between pets and people.
Her books are available on Amazon.com or via her website. For a limited time, Marybeth is giving away FREE copies of her book The Power of Pets at: www.authormarybethhaines.com . There is no obligation or anything to buy when receiving this book. All that is required is a request and your book will be electronically delivered to you right away.You may follow Marybeth on Social Media.
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