From the age of 7, I knew I wanted to be a veterinarian. Growing up on a farm, our family had many dogs and cats – but as with most animal lovers, there is frequently one that touches your heart more than the rest. For me, that one was Whitey, my Great Pyrenees. She was by my side every day as I did chores at the barn, as I played outside, and even as I waited at the bus stop. She was a gentle soul, and always seemed to sense my mood. When I was happy she wanted to play, when I was sad she would sit with her head in my lap giving me comfort and companionship – but when I moved away to college, Whitey got sick. My parents called to tell me that Whitey may not be able to hang on until I returned home. I went home that weekend to see her one last time, and I felt blessed that during Whitey’s last minutes, we were both at home and she was able to lay her head in my lap and pass away in peace.
Many years later, after I had graduated veterinary school, Mom and Dad had a dog named Abe who needed my help. He was a very sweet old boy, but he was dealing with cancer, and his body had grown painful. He hated riding in the car, and Mom and Dad didn’t want to put him in the car on his final day. They asked me to come to them, and I was honored to set Abe free from their front yard at sunset, with family surrounding him. I realized then how important it was for a pet’s final moments to be in a comfortable place, with loved ones nearby.
During my career as a veterinarian, I have worked in mixed animal hospitals, in an emergency clinic, and in small animal hospitals. The experiences have been very different, however, my favorite aspect of the job remains the same; I love interacting with clients and witnessing the bond that they have with their pets. A pet loves unconditionally and brings joy to the family. I believe it is the same kind of unconditional love that allows us, as veterinarians and pet owners, to make the difficult decision of when to say goodbye to our beloved companions.
We are never truly ready to let go, and euthanasia is never an easy decision – however, a familiar, comfortable environment can make the process less stressful and more peaceful for everyone. My hope is that I can provide a listening ear, professional advice, and a compassionate experience for you and your pet when the time comes to set them free.