I love the way my dog looks at me. His big browns see a supermodel, a pulitzer prize winner, a saint. Dogs are a gift that take a ticking, and keep on licking. I shih tzu not.
So when the time comes for our pets to depart for their fur-ever home, we entrust a vet to share our grief. Read on for a beautiful description of how it makes one woman feel.
By Brenda Gough
So, you bring me this puppy – she kisses my face, devours the cookies I offer, and our friendship starts.
Several visits later, he starts to learn where all the cookie jars are in the clinic, and that lady in the white coat, well she’s okay….
Fast forward many visits later, now I am in love with your dog and your whole family because, well, you are just really really good people and I have not only watched that pup turn into a really sweet family member, but I got to watch the kids grow every year and be a very small part of your journey.
Remember that time she ate your teenage daughter’s thong underwear? 😝😝😝 Yeah we all had a good laugh over that once surgery was done and she was recovered. Your daughter probably never forgave me for bagging that up and showing the whole fam-jam when they came to pick her up from the clinic.
So many adventures, so little time…..
And here we are, fifteen or so odd years later, having to say goodbye.
He’s got heart disease and I can’t fix it anymore. She’s got cancer and there is no cure. He has arthritis and the meds just aren’t working. I want her to live forever for you. I want that so badly it hurts. I feel like I have failed him and you when I have run out of options to keep them, and you, comfortable and happy.
So now it’s time, and I am supposed to be professional. Objective. I am the doctor. Calm. Cool. Collected. Always under control.
I have known you and her for a third of my life, and most of my professional career.
But I keep it together. My superhuman amazing technicians have put the catheter in. My support staff from reception to assistants have done all the paperwork. Trust me they may not show it but their hearts are breaking for you. They have been there. They know. And they know you and care about you too.
And I have the needle in the pocket of my white coat. The same pocket that was always full of treats for him. I take a deep yoga breath and come into the room. Gotta stay strong now…….
She’s giving me that sweet look she always does, the one that is followed by puppy kisses and a glance at the cookie jar. But she is too weak now. She is ready. You are not. I am not. But this shit has to happen because we love her too much to let her suffer.
She would keep going as long as we asked her too. But we can’t ask her to anymore. It’s not fair to her. I wish our human hearts could be so giving all the time. I wish I could be the person my dog thinks I am. I wish I wish I wish I could find a way for them to live forever. But I don’t have those magical powers. I am just a vet.
So we kiss him back, not much left of his body that still works, but that old tail wags, just enough that I lose my shit on the inside but I try not to cry. Gotta stay strong.
Her body relaxes, she is in your arms and you are sobbing. Another family has lost one of its most cherished members. I put my stethoscope to her heart to make sure it has stopped but she is held so tight to your chest that maybe that is your heart I hear pounding or maybe it’s mine and all the blood rushing through my ears as I try so so so hard not to turn into a blubbering mess.
Confirmed, he has passed. You lay him gently on the table and we hug tightly as you go to leave.
The door closes behind you and I don’t know if you hear this, but I sob hysterically into your pets ear. She is gone, he will be missed, and you have to face what I know will be one of the hardest parts of today.
Entering that house and they are not there to greet you.
Please know that I know how you feel. As you leave the clinic I just wish with every fibre of my being that you never had to face that. I wish they could live forever.
And please know, I am so grateful that I was a small part of your journey.
Brenda Gough is a small animal vet from Burford, Ontario, who deals primarily with dogs and cats. She’s spent a lifetime in the biz, growing up alongside her father the veterinarian, as well as her own practice of 24 years.