By Charlie Herbert
‘It’s the very last comfort you can give your friend’
A vet has urged pet owners to stand by their animals when they are being euthanised after an experience left her “in tears for weeks.”
Losing a pet is never easy, and while some owners would sooner sit in the waiting room while they’re put to sleep, an unnamed veterinarian has taken to Reddit to urge them to do the opposite.
While the vet refrains from casting judgement, she said that it’s hard to look the other way when a “dog [is] spending its final moments looking for where their owner went.”
“I feel like it’s the very last comfort you can give your friend, just being there by their side to comfort them. We had one recently that hit me hard, I just wish it could have ended differently,” she explained.
She continued, describing a recent experience that saw a dog’s owners step out into the hallway only for the pooch to try and follow before the medication had fully hit them.
“I am not judging the owner’s emotional capacity for grief and I am not saying the dog died thinking ‘omg I’m dying alone’. I’m not even talking about the actual euthanasia, but the moments leading to it,” she explained. “For those of you saying dogs ‘just think their owners stepped out for a moment’ are missing it. Even if that was the case, they still stress out.”
The vet continued: “This dog we euthanised literally tried so hard to walk himself out the front door with his leash after his owners left and continued to cry and stress out until the Propofol got him.
“We did our jobs and gave all the treats and love, but the focus was always ‘where did they go?’
“Say what you want, I just think it’s a bummer that those were his final moments. He was a really good boy and I wish he could have been more relaxed because I think he deserved it.”
While most people agreed with the vet, others said that people have varying capacities for dealing with grief.
“But on the same coin, not everyone can handle seeing death the way we do, especially when it’s a loved one,” another vet said.
Another compared the scenario to a family member dying, where doctors or nurses would usually take the family outside.
They explained: “Not everyone can handle seeing the moment of death happen. I mean there’s a reason relatives and visitors are kicked out when a human is coding or critical.
“You’re not meant to watch loved ones die. It’s easy to forget how well we cope with things as professionals.”
In a similar post, another vet explained how a woman dropped off her 13-year-old dog to be euthanised at the expert’s clinic in the morning, leaving the animal with the vet all day.
They wrote: “I told her we didn’t have a vet in the clinic as she was on farm calls all day, but she insisted on leaving her there at 9 am knowing that our vet wouldn’t be back until well after 6 pm.
“She was too busy to bring her back later, so she left her sweet girl to be alone all day before dying.
“I kept her with me for most of the day, took her for a small walk, bought her a cheeseburger and doughnut on my lunch and laid on the ground and cuddled her while she cried, scared and confused.
“I kissed her and told her she was a good girl while she crossed the rainbow bridge, but her eyes never stopped looking for her family.
“Dogs know what’s happening, don’t do this to them. Be there when they cross that bridge. It won’t kill you, I promise.”
Responding to the heartbreaking post, many thanked the vet for their honesty, with one person writing: “I’ve sat in the room with every family dog and last year, my first “me” dog needed some peace after nearly 17 years of life.
“The biggest issue was her cognitive decline- I don’t think she even know where she was any more and I’m sure it was very stressful for her.
“When the vet gave her the sedative (prior to the euthanasia) she finally looked at peace for the first time in about two months.
“I saw my baby dog again and she was so beautiful and sweet. My ex who basically raised her with me was in the room too and we both hugged and kissed her. It’s sad but also great to finally give them the peace they deserve.”
Another added: “Seeing my dog euthanized was one of the worst experiences of my life, but I would never have made her go through that alone. People don’t deserve dogs, they are too good for us.”