Recently, I had to say goodbye to a sweet, loyal and loving friend.
Bailee’s time had come. The numerous and aggressively growing tumors were starting to cause her visible pain and discomfort. I made an appointment to have euthanasia administered at my local shelter on Saturday morning. Her diet for the last few days of her life included many more bits of her favorite “people food” than was usual, and perhaps a bit of extra ear rubbing.
Saturday morning arrived, she had a small breakfast and off we went. We were a little early, so she got to inspect the planted areas surrounding the parking lot, leaving her “mark of approval” upon her favorite spots. Then it was time to go in.
After some obligatory paperwork, we were escorted into a room with a large rug, rather than the more usual table. We were given a few minutes for farewells. When we were ready, they held her, for the injection. This change in demeanor frightened her. As she began to struggle, more force was required to hold her still. She weighed nearly a hundred pounds, and when her adrenaline kicked in she could be quite powerful. After about 10 seconds of this (it felt a lot longer), the injection was given. The end was virtually instantaneous.
What bothered me then, and continues to bother me, was that the last moments of her life were spent in terror. I owed her better than that. The purpose of euthanasia was to ease her suffering, not to add to it. I paid extra to be with her at the end. It was difficult, but I felt that I owed her at least that much. She was a “rescue dog” who had been abandoned twice in her life, and I was not going to abandon her at the end.
I think a general anesthetic in the form of a treat of some sort should be given first. Something that takes a few minutes to kick in. Wouldn’t it be better to let the pet drift off to sleep in the lap of a loved one? The lethal injection can then be administered while they’re peacefully sleeping. Why do our human condemned criminals receive this sort of favor, but not the animal companions that we share life with?
If I ever have to do this kind of thing again, I’ll be sure not to do it the same way.