Agonizing Over Sudden Euthanasia
I recently had to put down my six-year-old Golden Retriever. The decision to put her down was sudden as she was diagnosed with cancer. My Holly was the most wonderful animal. I cannot grasp this as it was too sudden. I am really not dealing very well as I feel that I should have waited, although she was showing signs of distress. I feel that I let her down and I loved her way too much for that. I am trying every day to cope. The loss is too devastating.
Diane, it is so tragic to lose a wonderful dog so relatively young. There is never an exact right time to euthanize. It is almost always too soon for the owner, and sometimes it is too late for the suffering animal. It is to your credit that you proceeded as soon as you saw Holly was suffering. Responsible owners often feel they let their pets down when they acquire a disease. It is our own tendency toward magical thinking that deludes us into believing we can prevent all bad things from happening to the creatures we love.
For most people, the distress symptoms of acute grief last about 10 days. After that you should feel yourself “moving in the right direction.” In other words, the feelings of grief are becoming less intense but you realize that your life will never be the same without this particular animal. You might find it helpful to do things that honor the memory of your beloved Holly, such as volunteer in a shelter or contribute to an animal welfare cause in your pet’s name. Please call me at (877) 474-3310 if I can be of further help.
- Dr. LaFarge