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2017 WENDY CORREEN SMITH. Powered by Blogger.

Ten Things I've Learned About the Loss of My Dog & Euthanasia



1. Guilt // In my heart I knew that I had to help Mrs. go so that she'd no longer be in pain. Immediately upon leaving the vet, with her in the wooden casket in the back of our car, I started to feel guilty. I was her fur mommy & I chose to have her put to sleep. How could I not feel guilty? Guilt was a feeling I was unfamiliar with, yes I'd felt guilty about things in my life before, but nothing to this extreme.

2. Feelings of devastation // The loss hit me hard & for a good week my face was swollen from the hot tears, my chest literally hurt from my aching heart, & my stomach was in knots. I couldn't eat & I couldn't sleep. I had several nightmares about her. There is much research that shows that the loss of pet can be just as devastating as the loss of a family member.

3. Support from family // Thankfully my family & friends knew the depth of my pain. The day after we put her down I really needed to get out of the house. Everywhere I looked reminded me of her absence. It was a beautiful winter day & Ryan had the great idea of going to the zoo. Walking around in the fresh air with my Ryan & Magnolia, looking at all the animals, was exactly what I needed to get through the first day without her. My sister called to check on me each day & I received the sweetest text messages & cards in the mail. Just a simple hug made a big difference & I'm grateful that my friends & family were there to help me wipe away the tears of grief.

4. Her stuff // I didn't realize how hard it would be to get rid of her stuff. I'll never forget the feeling I had when I took her dog bowls to the sink for the last time. I gave my sister her dog treats that we got her for Christmas & all of her leftover food. I saved her harness & leash that is still covered in her hair. The blankets on the sofa, the ones she'd spend the day cuddled in, have been put away.

5. Timing // The issue of timing the euthanasia is one of the most excruciating for pet owners. I know I could have given her more drugs in a desperate effort to extend her life another month, two, or maybe even six. I also knew that would mean we'd all have more time to cuddle & love her, but we'd also have to see her pain grow & health decline. I read a lot about euthanasia before we decided to put her down. The common thread was "don't wait too long" & "if you have no regrets you waited too long." This article & this article helped me move forward with one of the most difficult decisions I've ever made. Ryan was the one to schedule the appointment & I would recommend anyone going through this to ask a loved one to make that phone call. There was no doubt in my mind that I'd be there with her until her last breath, but I have heard that some people are not able to attend the final appointment.

6. Future dogs // Someday we'll open our hearts & home to another fur baby. I have no idea when, but I'm guessing it'll be quite sometime. With my guilt came thoughts about how I could have been a better fur momma to Mrs. If I knew then, what I know now, I would have had her teeth cleaned professionally by the vet starting at a young age & I would not have let her jump off our bed when she was in her prime. At the end of her life, her mouth was in bad shape & her back was messed up by IVDD.

7. Triggers // There are still many triggers for Ryan & me. Little things like opening the garage door & not hearing her bark can bring on the tears. Every single time Magnolia drops food off her high chair & looks down to see it land, with no doggie to clean it up, pulls at my heart. When I open the door to get a package I naturally prepare to hear her barking frantically & the silence is hard. Ryan & I are constantly talking about her & missing her. I still look at the sun shining in the living room & know where she'd like to lay in the moment to feel the warmth.

8. Dogs go to Heaven // Go ahead and Google "Dogs Go To Heaven" & you'll find some comforting stories & articles. This one is sweet story.

9. Pre-planning the aging of a dog based on Quality of Life Scale // I was not prepared for Mrs.' abrupt passing. Yes, she had back issues & yes there was a time when I was pregnant that I thought I may lose her, but I still feel like I was not prepared. I never wanted to face the fact that a day would come when she'd have to go to Heaven. I usually turned a blind eye to her aging & pain. What I've learned from all of this is the importance of having a plan before a dog ages, an objective plan that lists what factors would lead to a decision to euthanize. There is a Quality of Life Scale that can help in making the difficult decision. I believe it would have helped had I been just a little bit less emotional about her quality of life. There is no perfect time, but this may help.

10. A dog's love // If you've been blessed with the love of a dog then you know how special it is to have a little soul that loves you unconditionally. Ryan even said, "I never even had to work for her love, she just loved me." There is scientific proof that dogs love their owners with all their heart & nose.
What they found was that dogs’ reward centers lit up like fireworks on the 4th of July when presented with their owner’s familiar smell. It turns out that in the barrage of smells they are presented with on a daily basis, they filter out and prioritize their human’s smells above all.
Dogs are the only species that when frightened, worried, or anxious, run to their humans for comfort, just like children do. They are also the only species that seek eye-contact with their humans. 
Of course I didn't need scientific proof to know the love my Mrs. had for our family. The love that will remain in our hearts forever is the comfort that helps us as we still greatly miss her. We talk about her each day & I'm sure as the years pass she'll still be a part of our conversations. Her tiny footprints made a lasting impression on our hearts.

I hope this helps my fellow dog owners in some small way!

XO
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Wendy Correen Smith
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