There have been times in my life when I just wished we didn't have the option to choose euthanasia at all.
I mean who wants to make this decision, I know I don't, it is gut wrenching.
Like it or not though euthanasia is an option and if you have an animal, odds are at some point you will be faced with making the decision to end their life, their suffering.
Many people feel that euthanasia is totally wrong, they feel like we are playing God and that a natural death is the right way.
I use to be one of those people until Annabelle.
Annabelle was Felv Positive (Feline Leukemia) and at the tender age of one and a half years, the vet found a tumor in her chest. I already knew Annabelle was positive for the virus which was the reason I decided to keep she and her litter mates. Everyday of Annabelle's short life, I had thought about her dying at least once during each of those days. I knew it was coming, I read everything I could find on the subject and had played out her last moments in my mind a thousand times trying to prepare for the day I would lose her but nothing could have prepared me for what I would eventually face when she died.
On the day Annabelle's tumor was discovered, I told the veterinarian that I would be taking her home instead of euthanizing her, he tried to explain things to me but I wouldn't listen, couldn't even tell you what he said at this point because I wasn't listening. I had already made up my mind that I wanted a natural death for my babies all three of them. So the vet gave me some prednisone and sent me on my way, he said it could help stop the tumor from growing.
Annabelle did ok that first night, not really ok but she was alive, her breathing was shallow but I gave her the meds and continued believing that I was doing the right thing.
The next afternoon while I was giving Annabelle her prednisone, she began to fight me, she didn't want to take it, as I struggled to get the pill down her, the tumor in her chest shifted, she could no longer get any air and she suffocated in my arms. From the moment she could no longer take a breath until the time she actually died couldn't have been too long but it felt like forever. There she was in my hands, my sweet little girl, her eyes pleading with me to help her, reaching for me with her paws, nails extended, the fear in her little face was almost more than I could withstand and in those seconds, minutes maybe, I was in a full on panic knowing it was too late to get her any help and she was suffering this most awful death.
Once she finally died, I was so relieved, I held her and told her that I was so sorry that I put her through that, I was on the floor, I had her head on my shoulder like when you hold a human baby and I just rocked her back and forth, trying to comfort her but it was too late to comfort her by then, I was so sorry.
I regret that day more than anything, I regret the day before that even more because I had the opportunity at that veterinary hospital to help her and I chose not to. I know now that I made that decision based on me more than her. I was too scared to make the decision, I didn't want to have to choose when she would go, I didn't want to feel guilty for killing her.
That was eleven years ago and the guilt I feel today for allowing her to suffer that way still remains. But I made Annabelle a promise before I put her in her grave, I promised I would never allow that to happen to another animal in my care and I have kept that promise.
Annabelle's siblings did not suffer her fate, I chose to euthanize them when they began to have symptoms, they both ended up with tumors in the chest cavity as well but they went peacefully, not struggling to get air. After them there have been a couple more I have had to make this decision with and it isn't easy by all means...not for me anyway, for them, it's much easier than suffering.
We have a responsibility to these animals that some call 'Pets', I don't like to call them 'Pets', for me it takes away so much of what they really are to us...they are friends. They give us so much and ask for so little in return. We owe them this last gift of a peaceful passing.
Several years ago, I found a website online called 'Tanya's Comprehensive Guide to Chronic Renal Failure' this is a fabulous site by the way, so informative but what I want to share with you is something she writes in a chapter called 'The final Hours'
She shares her thoughts about her own two cats, Tanya and Thomas who both lost their lives due to Chronic Renal Failure, So I will leave you with the following paragraph... her words make sense of so much......
"When Tanya was ill, I felt that I would never be able to bear having her put to sleep. The only way I was able to do it when the time came was when I finally accepted that neither Tanya nor Thomas was ever going to get any better than they were at that moment; that we had tried everything in our arsenal but our weapons were no longer working; and that waiting any longer would therefore ultimately be for my sake, not for theirs. How much more could I ask of them? Ultimately you cannot avoid death; but often it is possible to avoid suffering. Once I began to look at it from the perspective of what was right for them and what would spare them pain, it was still by no means an easy decision, but I did at least feel it was inevitable, because I simply could not stand by and watch them suffer when it was within my power to prevent that. By not acting, I would not be prolonging their lives, I would be prolonging their deaths"