There is a bridge connecting heaven and earth. It is called Rainbow Bridge because of its many colours. Just this side of the Rainbow Bridge there is a land of meadows, hills, and valleys with lush green grass. When a beloved pet dies, the pet goes to this special place. There is always food and water and warm spring weather. The old and frail are young again. Those who are maimed are made whole again. They play all day with each other. There is only one thing missing. They are not with their special person who loved them on Earth. So each day they run and play until the day comes when one suddenly stops playing and looks up!
The nose twitches!
The ears are up!
The eyes are staring!
And this one suddenly runs from the group!
You have been seen, and when you and your special friend meet, you take him or her into your arms and embrace. Your face is kissed again and again, and you look once more into the eyes of your trusting pet. Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together, never again to be separated.
– Author Unknown
Making the Decision
Deciding that euthanasia is the best choice for your pet is the most difficult decision you will make in your pet’s lifetime. While there is no right answer for every pet (or every owner), you may choose to consider the following points when making your decision:
Does your pet find joy in life? This may include performing activities such as going for walks, chasing a ball, basking in the sun, or even just eating a meal with enthusiasm. If you find this difficult to assess, take time to create a list of the top 5 things your pet has always enjoyed most in life. These activities will vary between dogs and cats, but should represent common activities your pet loves. Perhaps your dog has always loved to walk in the park, while your cat’s happiest time of day is meal time. Next consider how often your pet is still able to perform these activities. Once a day? Once a week? Not at all?
Keep a calendar or diary. Each day, record whether or not you feel your pet had a good day or a bad day (this may be as simple as a B or G on the calendar). This will help give you a more objective view of when the bad days outnumber the good.
Consult your veterinarian. Vets are professionals at assessing quality of life in their patients and providing you with valuable decision making tools. Ultimately, however, no one else can make this difficult decision for you. Consider euthanasia a gift you can give a pet who is suffering and unable to enjoy life any longer.
Euthanasia is carried out by administering an overdose of an anesthetic agent. The process is rapid, humane, and generally very peaceful. At Truro Vet, owners are always welcome to share in this experience by staying with their pet, holding them close. The choice of whether or not to be present with your pet is a personal one and there is no right or wrong decision. Your veterinarian can discuss the procedure with you in more detail to help you decide.
Coping With Grief
Sorrow and grief are normal and natural responses to death. Like grief for humans, grief for animal companions can only be dealt with over time, but there are healthy ways to cope with the pain. Here are some suggestions:
Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel, and don’t tell yourself how to feel either. Your grief is your own, and no one else can tell you when it’s time to “move on” or “get over it.”
Reach out to others who have lost pets. Check out online message boards, pet loss hotlines, and pet loss support groups. If your own friends, family members, therapist, or clergy do not work well with the grief of pet loss, find someone who does.
Rituals can help healing. A funeral can help you and your family members openly express your feelings.
Create a legacy. Preparing a memorial, planting a tree in memory of your pet, compiling a photo album or scrapbook, or otherwise sharing the memories you enjoyed with your pet can create a legacy to celebrate the life of your animal companion.
Look after yourself. The stress of losing a pet can quickly deplete your energy and emotional reserves. Looking after your physical and emotional needs will help you get through this difficult time.
If you have other pets, try to maintain your normal routine. Surviving pets can also experience loss when a pet dies, or they may become distressed by your sorrow. Maintaining their daily routines, or even increasing exercise and play times will not only benefit the surviving pets, but may also help to elevate your outlook too.
Some websites that may be helpful during the grieving process can be found here.
What Happens Next?
After the decision to euthanize, one of the most difficult decisions for pet owners is what to do with their pet’s remains. At Truro Vet you may choose one of the following options:
Many owners choose to take their pet’s remains home for a private burial. If you choose home burial, ensure that you have sufficient space to dig, in an area which will not be disturbed in the future. Please consider the by-laws in your community regarding home burial. If you are unable to bury your pet at this time but would like to in the future, we can provide a place for her until you are able to take her home.
Your pet will be cremated at a dedicated pet crematorium together with other pets. The ashes will be spread and the site will not be marked, but your pet’s remains will be treated with respect by people committed to caring for your pet as if he was their own.
Your pet will be cremated at a facility dedicated to this purpose. The ashes will be returned to you for you to keep close, or spread in special places in memory of your pet. We also have urns available for purchase if you would like to keep your pet’s ashes in a special place in your home.
Should I Get Another Pet?
The death of a beloved pet can upset you emotionally, especially when euthanasia is involved. Some people may feel they would never want another pet. For some, the thought of having – and eventually losing – another pet may seem unbearable. These feelings may pass with time. For others, a new pet may help them recover from their loss more quickly. Just as grief is a personal experience, the decision of when, if ever, to bring a new pet into your life is a personal one. Family members should agree on the appropriate time to bring a new pet into their lives. Although you can never replace the pet you lost, you can find another to share your life. Some people find comfort in volunteering with a pet related charity while deciding on the best time for a new addition to their family.
If you have more questions about saying good-bye to your pet, please do not hesitate to contact us.