Monday, October 7, 2013
Goodbye Old Friend
How do I even begin to write this... we've had the pleasure of Guy's company for 10 long years and he's made an immeasurable impression on our lives. We were told he was 6 or 7 when we adopted him in 2003. There's so much to say and yet I'm at a loss for words. Whenever he was around I always felt comfort, joy and love.
Today I'm sad to lose my best friend, but there's also an odd sense of serenity. I know his suffering is over. He left me with his joyful spirit and many happy memories. A big "Thank You" to all my friends and Flickr friends for loving him as much. Having been able to share his wonderful moments with you has made this experience immeasurable. From the bottom of our hearts, "Thank you."
We left Guy with a bouquet of flowers from the yard and a lock of hair from each of us. He will be cremated and I plan on making a "Guy" urn.
We started to notice Guy's health and agility slowing down about 2 or 3 years ago, but the last 6-8 months is when it really started to spiral. We knew from then on we might have to euthanize him at some point. Slipping away quietly in the night was unlikely and we didn't want to prolong his suffering. It wasn't a matter of what to do, but when to do it... I think this is/was the toughest decision we had to make.
There are many resources out there to help you gauge a pet's "quality of life".
Lap of Love has a great PDF/worksheet and I also found THIS checklist very helpful. I thought the worksheet was helpful but too simple so I also took daily logs for about 2-3 weeks. These were a few things I tried to observe:
Did he have a good night sleep?
Did he throw up or have diarrhea?
Had he moaned or seemed like he was in pain and if so the duration.
When and how much he ate.
When and for how long he slept.
By the end good days were when he was able to sleep and eat. It has been at least 3 months since I saw any signs of enjoyment like rolling around or rubbing his face on the furniture. I also like to take a lot of pictures of Guy, a hobby of mine. I went through my library of photos and noticed that I hadn't seen a picture of him smiling in months. Most were pictures of him sleepy or looking droopy. I think in the last 2 weeks he had 5 or 6 "good days" and about 4 or 5 "bad days", with a few "meh" days. We made the choice on Sunday to let him go today.
"Don't You Forget About Me" taken 9/3/12
We spent the entire day hanging out and I made him is favorite meal: fried steak. He ate well and ate willingly. He slept for most of the day with a calmness that I haven't seen in weeks. There was no moaning or his usual signs of discomfort. The sun was out and the sky was blue. We'll always look back on how nice today was.
For those considering euthanasia, I would recommend a "home vet". My good friend Kamala told me about this and it was the best advice I've gotten. Guy went comfortably at home, on the couch in his usual spot. He was not anxious or nervous, we held his paw until the very last moment.
If you're in the Seattle/nearby area we HIGHLY RECOMMEND Compassion 4 Paws and Dr. Sara. She made the transition smooth and painless, having her there is like having a good friend by your side as you go through this difficult passage. Dr. Sara has an amazingly empathetic spirit and she brings a very serene energy to the room. We met for the first time today, my husband made the call and spoke with her previously. She came in and we talked a little bit about Guy, she stroked him and got to know him. They sat for a bit and she asked us if we were ready. She then gave him a sedative which put him in a deep sleep. We got to hold him and hug on him for as long as we needed to. We said our goodbyes and she proceeded with the final injection. Guy just drifted away.
Yes, dogs can smile!