Over two months ago I posted that I had put my yorkshire terrier Ellington to sleep. I wanted to wait a while before sharing this next post, as I know it's an upsetting topic for most of us.
Once you make the decision to put a pet to sleep, your decision making isn't finished. You have to decide whether you want to stay with them for the process, and what you'd like done with them afterwards.
Around the time of putting Ellington down, I'd recently put a family cat to sleep, so I thought I'd share my experiences, in case anyone is soon having to consider their options for their pets too.
With both pets, Biskit my family cat who was 20, and Ellington, my old boy, I didn't hesitate to say that I'd be with them for the whole procedure. Both of these pets were very challenging for strangers to get near (I may be the common demoninator there!), so I had prewarned the vets that it may get quite distressing.
With Biskit the cat they took her away, out the back, to put the cannula in (so that they can inject the medicine without having to pierce the skin again). They take her out back so that I don't have to see her struggle. They then inject the first dose, with me holding her, and she goes dopey. They then inject the second medicine, which stops their hearts. They warn you that you may 'feel' it, and as Biskit was so skinny at that stage, it was certainly something you were aware of happening. Her passing was very quiet, and I laid her on the table and left. I met my then-boyfriend outside, and paid the bill.
Ellington's passing was a little different, and I'm not sure if it's just chance, or because he's bigger. He was given a jab in his back, which he yelped at, but then I had about 5 mins to wait for the drowsiness to kick in. I sat with him and held him. He just got very sleepy, and even started snoring in typical Ellington fashion.
I then laid him on the table for the second dose. The vet took the time to double check I wanted to stay, explaining that many owners leave at this point. I knew I owed it to Stinks to be there, and I listened to vet carefully explain what I may see happen to his body while the medicine and death started. He described that Ellington would no longer be with us, but that his body could have reactions that can seem upsetting, but that Elli wouldn't be aware of any of it.
If I'm honest, it was very hard to watch. I'm a pretty tough cookie, and I found it hard to witness. I can certainly see why many people leave at the sleepy stage. I know, logically, that a dog can't tell if you stay till the end, but I just needed to know that I had.
It's hard to have that as your last memory of them, so I took the vet up on the offer to just stay with him for a bit, once the process had finished. Putting a pet down can be such a mixed bag of emotions, it can help to have a few quiet moments.
Sometimes we have to be the brave ones, and make the decisions that our pets are unable to make for themselves.