When’s The Right Time To Let Your Pet Pass Away In Peace?
Lindsay, our daughter, was four years old when we brought a cuddly, orange tabby kitten named Scooter into our house. It was the same year my mother in law died and we were ready for something new to love. From the very beginning Scooter was the sweetest cat. He was a bundle of joy and a welcome addition to our household.
That was seventeen years ago. Today my wife and I had to make the hardest decision in Scooter’s life. We had to decide if it was the day to take him to the vet one last time.
When people get sick they can tell you if they’re in pain. You know when they stop communicating or become sedentary and bedridden. It’s harder to make a quality of life assessment when you are looking at an animal who can’t tell you how they feel or if they are in pain.
Over the past few months Scooter was receiving steroid injections for intestinal problems brought about by what our vet suspected was cancer. Recently, he had become lethargic and wouldn’t eat. My wife, Marianne, and I agonized over Scooter’s quality of life daily. Was he in pain? Did he want to continue like this? Were we being selfish for wanting him to stay around?
This morning we woke up, and without discussing it ahead of time, independently reached the same conclusion. Today was the day to take Scooter to the vet. Marianne had to go to work even though it was a Saturday, so I would have to make the trip alone. On the car ride there I talked to Scooter most of the way. I could tell he didn’t feel well.
At the vet’s office Scooter just curled up in the corner of his carrier. The vet was wonderful, giving me as much time as I needed alone with my old companion and friend. I spoke to Scooter, crying a little as I talked. When I was ready I left the room and let the vet give him the final injection.
I was pretty much in control until I got to my car then I cried my eyes out. I don’t know how long I sat there, but I couldn’t stop. I was filled with mixed feelings of loss, guilt, and at the same time peace. When the crying stopped I knew that Scooter wasn’t in pain any more. I knew that we wouldn’t have to wake up every morning worrying if Scooter made it through the night.
I guess the right time to let go is when you realize that the joy has gone out of your pet’s days. Scooter, we will miss you and always cherish our memories with you.