Most people don’t get involved in making life or death decisions, especially about other people, unless it involves decisions that they have to make about relatives in hospice care. Many people, however, do get involved in making life or death decisions about their pets. While we euphemistically call it “putting them down”, it is basically a decision that one makes to cause the death of their pet. I had to do that yesterday with my bog- Sadie.
Sadie was a Blue Tick Coon Hound – a cross between a German Shorthair and a hound of some sort and she was a great dog who was a part of our family for over 10 years. It was a tough decision but one that I know that I had to make. Sadie had developed cancer and it was eating her up. She had lost over 10 pounds and was so weak that she could barely stand at the end. Yet she was loyally and valiantly trying to please us right to the end. She was the perfect representation of unconditional love, and we will miss her dearly.
I was overcome by the weight of the decision that I had to make, but I know that it was the right one for her and for us. The vet who has been caring for her said that we had done everything that we could for her and that it was time to let her go. I knew that, but it didn’t make it any easier. We stayed with her through the process. I don’t often cry, but I cried then and I am crying as I write this. Making that kind of life-or-death decision is a gut wrenching experience and one that I would not want to go through again, if I could avoid it. And yet, I probably will have to again sometime in the future.
We have always had dogs in our family life. Looking back over the years of our marriage we have had 10 dogs (sometimes 2 at once) over half of which had to be put down at the end. A few just passed away at home, but most just got to the point where a vet recommended ending their misery through euthanasia. It was never an easy decision to make and never easy to go through, but I find some comfort in remembering the good times that we had together with Sadie – the long walks, the trips to the dog park and the love that we shared.
My wife often told the story of how Sadie actually picked us. We had lost our lost dog Odie, a Black Lab, a month or so earlier and decided to go to an Adopt a Friend event event at the Detroit Zoo that was being run by the Michigan Humane Society. We were there to search for another Black Lab when Sadie walked up and leaned on my wife’s leg, wanting to be petted. That was that and she went home with us. She turned out to be the best dog ever.
Goodbye, Sadie. You were a good dog.