I had to take our dog to the vet and have him put to sleep last night. We’ve known for months that his health was failing and this day would come, but that didn’t make it any easier once the time arrived. Last night was rough. Today, it’s a little easier to think about. There’s a mix of sadness and relief in the strange reality that Einstein isn’t here. It was hard to see him struggle to live, and even harder to decide to end his life, but at the same time we know it’s good that he’s no long suffering with so much pain and a body that couldn’t really function anymore.
Jon stayed home with Ian and my brother, Richard, went with me, which I really appreciated. When Rich lived with us he was Einstein’s roommate in our extra bedroom and took the dog for long runs that Jon and I couldn’t do. He took care of the dog after Ian was born and we were consumed with a child and jobs, and continued to help this past year as Einstein’s health got worse. Einstein was as much his dog as ours of late, and he felt the events of last night just as much as I did.
I have to say, our vet is a wonderful man. Thank you to Dr. Maxwell and Union Hill Animal Hospital for making something awful and difficult as relatively easy as possible. Einstein was always comfortable with going to the vet. The staff was always very caring, and last night they were so reassuring and sympathetic. They enabled us to grieve, but to know that we were doing the right thing at the right time, and they let Einstein’s life end very peacefully.
Many people are very attached to pets, so I know lots of others have dealt with this situation. In thinking about Einstein, I think one reason our dog had a special place in my heart was due to the fact that he must have had some terrible moments early in life and was glad to be in a decent home. We knew that when he was adopted from a shelter he had signs of an animal who’d been abused or suffered trauma (like fear of certain noises and types of people for awhile). This past fall we found out what part of that was. An xray showed his body was being taken over by cancerous growths and that he was full of BBs. This dog, who was so sweet and smart and easy going, had once been the target of someone’s gun. It’s sickening and upsetting. So, to get on a soapbox for a brief moment, care for animals. If you want a pet, adopt from shelters and rescues and provide a home (and maybe some healing) to an animal who needs it. And if you can’t care for an animal, then don’t get one. Animals aren’t people, but they do have feelings and want to be loved and cared for. If you can do that, then do something wonderful for the pet that enters your life.