A few weeks ago, on August 10th, I was working in my office when Jeff called out to me to tell me our 10 year old Golden Retriever, Luke, who had bone cancer, was bleeding all over the place. His VERY large tumor on his leg stretched the skin so much that it broke through. I had just been wondering a few days earlier how much more the tumor would grow before it would break through the skin.
Guess that answered my question.
We rushed him to the vet where we had been told the only way to really stop the bleeding and further growth of the tumor was to amputate. However, since he had cancer, he was older, and he was already losing weight and not eating – it was likely he would not survive long with just 3 legs. We had to play God that day and make that decision to put him down.
Dani was with us – and we were pretty sad about having to make the decision to, essentially, kill our dog. It was really a tough decision, but we knew in our hearts that we did not want our beloved dog to suffer.
It was too hard for Jeff to stay while they did it. But I wanted to be there for him – I didn’t want him to die in a room of strangers. I sat on the floor, in tears, and hugged him. I told him “Go find Morgan – she needs her dog”. All I could think about at that moment was Morgan sitting – waiting – watching…. saying “YAY! Luke is coming! Luke is coming!”. I hope to God it was like that.
The nurse and an assistant came in and inserted the catheter. They brought two syringes with them. She told me they would not be the ones to administer the medication, the vet would come back in and do it. They asked if I was ready, I said yes.
The vet came in and sat on the floor with us. I asked her if this was the hardest part of her job. She said it was, and it wasn’t. That she doesn’t feel bad for the animals who have to be put down – because they will no longer be suffering. The hardest part was the families who are left behind and who have to make the decision to let their pet go.
She told me the first syringe she would inject was an anesthesia type medication. She injected it into his catheter, and he quickly placed his head on the vet’s lap and fell asleep. She waited about a minute for the anesthesia to take full affect. She then picked up the second syringe. It was a milky – white color and in a red syringe. “This is the medication that will stop his heart”.
Oh my gosh… those words. My heart almost stopped. Not because of my dog, who I loved… but because of my baby who’s heart stopped on it’s own almost 2 years ago. I broke down. She asked if I was ready – I said yes. And she slowly injected him with the fluid.
My hand was on his back and about halfway through the injection his breathing slowed. About 2 short breaths and he stopped. She injected the remainder of the syringe and waited about 10 seconds to listen with the stethoscope to confirm he was gone.
Painless. He looked so peaceful. It made me realize he was suffering all this time, and that we made the right choice.
When I think of this I can’t help but think of my friends who have had to make the worst decisions of their lives and take their CHILD off of life support. I recall reading the words of moms in my online Facebook support group who feel the guilt and the pain of having to decide when their child would go to be with God. While I love my dog and all – it was tough for me to be truly sad. I cried more about the situation because all I could think of was I miss Morgan. I was sad to lose my dog, but it isn’t something that goes unexpected. But your child. Your sweet baby. It kills me – to think of being in that position. God knew that I would never have been strong enough or selfless enough to make that call for Morgan. He saw that. One of my dear loss friends had to make that call with her husband almost one month after their son went into heart surgery. I told her I just can’t even imagine being in that place. How? When? No…. She feels the same way about how we lost Morgan.
There is no “better way” to lose a child. There is no “I wish I lost her THIS way instead of THAT way”. Every way is wrong, traumatic and should not happen.
Yes, I miss Luke… but I would put down all the dogs in the world to have my sweet baby back.