I am once again seeing patients that I remember seeing as puppies getting to the point in their life where we have to say good bye. I can so vividly remember the happy little ball of energy or fluff or fluff and energy coming in for the first times and the owners needing guidance to get through the terrible twos and all the other rough stages to get to their 'perfect' dog... and sometimes they never got their 'perfect' dog, but they could make do, so to speak.
Now, some come in and you can just see it in their eyes. They're tired. They have done what they have come here to do, and it is time for them to move on to their next mission.
They give us so much during their lifetime. Unconditional, unbridled love is often a benefit we get from them. If only we could be so giving of our emotions to them. We wish that they would just 'go in their sleep'... but sometimes that just isn't in the cards. Sometimes we are put in a position to make the decision that it is time.
I get asked all the time, "how do you know it's time?" The answer I give is this. You will know. If you listen. If you tune in. If you pay attention. Your faithful companion will tell you when they are ready. I also get asked, "what would you do if he were yours?" Ahhhh... the eternal question that is actually asking me my permission for you to make the decision - for someone else to you it's okay, which makes it my decision, not yours. I can't answer that question for many people. There are the obvious cases where the animal is dying a horrible, painful, elongated death due to an organ failure that can no longer be mitigated. But a lot of times, that answer is solely your answer. I cannot know what life is like in your household and how your dog or cat fits into that picture and if now is the right time. You know your pet the best. You know what makes them happy. Maybe they can't go on the 3 mile walk anymore -but a walk to the end of the driveway and back is okay with them. I can't answer the 'is it time' question for you. Only you can.
To be able to release our pets from pain and infirmity can be the greatest gift we can give. When we take on an animal, ideally, we take responsibilty for every aspect of their life. And that includes their death.
If you are questioning it, perhaps it is close. Take the time to block out all distractions from your life and sit with your pet. Be prepared to take as long as it takes. Stroke them gently, in all the places you know they love. Ask them. Is it time for you to move on? Do you need help with that? Be open for the answer. Allow it to come.
You will know when it is time.