View Full Version : Letting go...

02-15-2006, 06:32 PM
Didn't know where to post this so I thought this forum might be best?

Anyway, I have decided to put one of my pets down because she's been dealing with a significant injury for the past 3 years, and now she's basically quadriplegic. She couldn't drink or eat on her own, so I have to take care of her throughout the day and give her IVs to keep her hydrated. Her quality of life is pretty much non-existent. However, she seems very happy when I am petting her and feeding her. She's very gentle and loving when I'm with her.

However, I am thinking it's probably time to let her go. I'm thinking of taking her in on Friday. Over a year ago, my cat got really sick (FIV) and I waited too long. While she had some good days, basically she was just going down hill until she was too sick at the end and I kept hoping she would get better. Now I regretted putting her through that ordeal before she died. With this one, I want to do the right thing.

The problem is... I can't find it my heart to let her go. I feel like I'm letting a friend down, betraying her trust and love, and I hate the feeling that I'm the one who's going to end her life. What gives me that right? Most of all, I think I just have a problem of letting go and saying goodbye.

How should I go about it? What steps could I take to make myself go through it without all the horrible feelings and sadness and guilt? I know logically I'm doing the right thing, but I'm still not sure. I'm never sure of anything. I'm usually very logical and in control of my feelings, but lately I've just been very emotional about this.

Any suggestions and advice... I really appreciate it.

02-15-2006, 06:44 PM
This is never an easy thing to do, and I cannot think of any suggestions to offer you regarding steps and all, but I wanted to let you know that I am thinking of you through this difficult time. I wish I could say more that would be of help to you.

02-15-2006, 08:40 PM
Oh, Ray, I am so sorry to hear you are dealing with this. I had to put my cat, Alex, down in 2003 (on July 4th, actually, while the rest of the family was having barbeque). It's never an easy decision -- I'd had Alex in my life for 15 years, and we'd been through a lot together. It was so hard to make the decision to let go -- and then I realized that keeping Alex alive was selfish. It would benefit me, because I'd still have him, but he'd have no real quality of life. His kidneys had failed, he'd lost a lot of weight, and he was dying. It was just a question of when.

I decided to let him go because I owed him that much.

Before we went to the vet, I held him and talked to him, and remembered all the things we had been through together -- moving around the country, a divorce, the birth of my children, playing flashlight tag, him biting my ex-boyfriend the jerk, picking sand fleas off him one by one after a trip to the beach.... I held him when the vet gave him that last injection -- and the vet was wonderful, so caring and kind -- and I looked in his eyes as he left me. I watched the light go out, and felt as though a part of myself was gone.

Animals come into our lives and have such a tremendous impact on us -- they love us unconditionally, and the one thing we can do for them is help them to die with dignity and without pain. I will never forget him, and I miss him each day, but I know I did the right thing.

Hang in there, Ray. My thoughts are with you.

02-15-2006, 11:26 PM
This is something that scares me to pieces to think about. How would I react in the same situation? It's so, so hard to know the right thing to do. Is there a chance that your pet's quality of life will ever improve? Maybe you should talk to your vet and see what realistic options you have.

I wish I knew the right words to help in some way. I'm so sorry you're having to go through this. *hugs*

02-16-2006, 12:08 AM
One point to consider when talking to your vet. I believe it has to do with legality, but a vet cannot tell you directly if they believe your pet should be put down. If you want to get the vet's honest opinion, ask them what they would do if this was their pet. That wording frees the vet to directly address the question.

I've had to deal with this situation with my first two cats. One of them I brought to the vet, a decision I doubted at the time but later realized was correct. The other took the decision out of my hands after I had already decided to bring her in. What gives you the right? You're a responsible pet owner, and you took on the burden of the decision when you let your pet into your life and your heart.

Ray, you're going to hurt. That's unavoidable. Grief hurts, but grief passes. Let yourself feel. What helped me was having friends go with me to the vet and hold my hand afterwards. I also have two more cats who do their best to make sure I never feel lonely (for their own benefit, of course, but I pretend it's for me).

And this may sound obvious to suggest to a writer, but write about it. I'm not talking finished pieces, and I'm not talking about anything you'll show anyone. This is like morning pages from the Julia Cameron book. Find some paper and write down what's going through your head. Work through your feelings on paper where it's safe, and then tear up the pages. It's a lot easier on your hands than punching through walls.

Hang in there, and good luck.

02-16-2006, 07:44 AM
Hi Ray,

I'm so sorry you are going through this. The only thing I can say is to try to think of what's best for your pet.

I understand your feelings; you wonder what gives us the right to make decisions like this. I'm thinking that just by virtue of the fact that we're humans, and are entrusted with the responsibility of caring for our pets, that we inevitably end up faced with this kind of decision. If you chose not to put her down, you could also ask what gives you the right to do that.

IT makes a great suggestion; to ask the vet what he/she would do. If you are confident that medically it's the right thing (and I get the impression that you already do) it will be a lot easier to make the decision.

You ask what steps you can take to go through with this without sadness and guilt. Well, if you truly are doing what is in the best interest of your pet, you shouldn't feel guilty. As far as sadness, I'm afraid I don't know of any way to avoid that. Feeling sad about losing someone you love is normal. The depth of your feelings reflects your sensitivity and ability to care, and these are qualities you don't want to lose.

Ray, I would be far more concerned if you didn't have these feelings. It's hard sometimes, when your head tells you something, and your heart just can't accept it.

I don't know if I helped, or even made any sense, but please know that we are all here for you and care about you, so if you need several proverbial shoulders to cry on, we've got you covered!

Hang in there, Ray. I'll be thinking about you.

02-16-2006, 06:24 PM
Hi, Ray.

Sorry to hear that you're in that situation.

As an animal lover and owner of many, I've been through lots of euthanasias. It's never easy, but I try to remind myself that animals don't think exactly like we do. It's more of a betrayal to let your beloved pet live in agony and with such a poor life quality than it is to let him go peacefully. I've found that most animals become very close to me when they're ready to leave. My most recently-euthanised cat, who had not been to the vet in person in many years (he had anxiety issues, so we always had house calls), got in the carrier as if he'd been doing it daily. He purred through the whole trip, cuddled on the scale, still purring, and went out as peacefully as could be. I was left with the feeling that he was done. He knew he was done and was ready to go. I had no regrets.

Go through the grieving process, but don't let yourself wallow in it. Don't donate yourself to grief. You know in your heart that you've given your pet the absolute best care you could. Now it's time for him to go and for you to move on. There are five steps to grief, and you have to experience them all to achieve closure. It sounds as if you're already in the sadness stage, which means you don't have too much farther to go, but there's no time limit. You will get over this, I promise. You'll be a slightly different person for it, but you will move forward.

The only euthanasia I really suffered with was the one that I didn't attend. My favorite mare was put down miles away from home while I was at work. I opted for that and have regrettted it daily. It's been nine years, and I still think of her and have twinges of regret now and then that I allowed her to go alone.

The vet may or may not give an opinion on this. My small-animal vet is a long-time friend, so she always lays the cards on the table, making the decision fairly clear-cut. The vet who recently euthanized one of my horses was a stranger and refused to take a stand. He simply told me what the odds were for the animal's survival and the progression the disease was likely to follow. The choice was obvious to me despite the vet's unwillingness to commit to an opinion. This was a death I didn't think I could handle, but I have. I eased my pain by hiring an artist (I can give you the information via PM if you're interested) to do a watercolor painting of the horse (very reasonably, I assure you), and had prints made for my daughter, who owned him, and each member of his fan club. In 26 years, he'd developed quite a following. The catharsis of going through the portrait process was very helpful, and having that image of him framed and hanging next to my bed is wonderful.

If you keep a beloved pet alive because it will hurt YOU to let him go, who are you serving?

My thoughts are with you and your pet.

02-16-2006, 10:29 PM
So very sorry to hear you have to make that decision-because you struggle with the thought, means you love you precious friend so much. Little comfort I know. It is never easy, as so many others have said. I'm sure you will make the best decision for you both. I've included two links that may help you. I hope you find some comfort there, and in knowing others understand. Dana



02-16-2006, 11:09 PM
I agree with schoolmarm. I've had to put down two of my pets, and there's just no way to completely steel yourself for it. There's no easy out, no way to avoid pain.

I was lucky enough to co-op with a vet for a semester. I watched a lot of pets be put down, and it helped tremendously with my understanding of euthanasia in general. I saw sick and dying animals meet a peaceful end, and I saw the alternative ... pets who were constantly in and out of the vet's office, unable to eat, drink or move. I know that those pets still likely had good, comfortable moments with their owners, but I also saw a lot of misery and unhappiness. After all, a pet can't spend much time with its owner if it's always being admitted to the vet. I never wanted to put my animals through that, so I made my choices when the time came.

Best of luck to you. :)

02-17-2006, 01:23 AM
Not much to add, Ray, except that the struggle and indecisiveness is all part of the package of being a loving and responsible pet owner. As a multi-pet owner and animal rescue volunteer for many years, I have experienced the same process and understand the depth of your sadness.

Only once was I ever lucky enough to actually witness my ancient cat, already blind and deaf, wander the garden on a gorgeous summer day, lie down in a bed of flowers and peacefully go to sleep forever.

02-18-2006, 03:23 AM
She's gone.

02-18-2006, 03:30 AM
My condolences.

02-18-2006, 03:33 AM
I'm sorry Ray. Take care.

02-18-2006, 04:08 AM
I'm so sorry, my friend. *hugs*

September skies
02-18-2006, 04:14 AM

02-18-2006, 04:24 AM
Ray, my thoughts and tears are with you. I wish I could give you a hug right now but this will have to suffice. *hugs* ((((((((Ray)))))))) If you want/need to talk, I'm here.

(check your rep area, by the way.)

02-18-2006, 11:24 AM

My thoughts and prayers are with you. I'm so sorry for your loss.

((((((((((((((((Ray and his loved friend))))))))))))))))


02-18-2006, 08:09 PM
Oh, Ray! My thoughts are with you.

02-19-2006, 10:26 PM
:Hug2: I'm sorry, Ray.

02-20-2006, 08:47 PM
Many hugs, Ray. Howie and I are so sorry. :Hug2: