I had a particularly difficult goodbye at the clinic last week.
It was actually an ideal situation in many of the ways we would hope for; Bubba was old, Bubba was loved beyond measure and the Bubba’s health was rapidly declining.
Regardless of all of that, getting the message that it was “time” grabbed me in the throat. My very young son taught me so poignantly about “throat pain” when he said his “throat hurt” when our cat died and I realize now that when the tears well up, it TRULY does hurt in my throat. What the heck!?
The relationship between pets and their people is without a doubt the number one reason I do what I do. Seeing the joy in people's eyes when they interact with pets; and just as stunningly, the joy in pets when they see “their people”- it just takes my breath away! So, of course it’s no surprise that the good-byes are heartbreaking.
It’s a double-edged sword to help with a peaceful transition. As a doctor, I know it’s a gift to the animal, but even when timed perfectly, it requires an almost unrealistic amount of strength to make that choice. I have such deep respect for families and individuals that put the pet’s needs above their own grief in every effort to prevent suffering. On the other side of the equation, I can also respect and support those that just can’t let go. It truly is an immense task to choose a time that will be a final goodbye.
I am taking part in a business course with business owners from all sorts of industries across Iowa and it has raised so many interesting ideas and observations about the work we do at Adel Veterinary Clinic.
How lucky are we to be able to smell puppy breath? How lucky are we to heal sick animals? How lucky are we to work with an amazing team with a positive and uplifting focus! But- we also lose our beloved patients. We see heartbreaking unexpected disease. We make mistakes. We bring work home and home to work. We see grief- and it is raw and painful. Some days it hits harder than others.
I always try to help clients understand that when it hurts so much to lose a pet it is because there was so much good together in life. Bubba’s loss hits hard. He was loved so much and he will be missed deeply. Watching his parents make the choices of his last day; knowing they took him on a final day of joy before coming in to say goodbye- it hit me right in the throat! What would I give to be able to make such amazing choices for my grandparents, parents, and eventually myself. They showed him such grace and kindness and he was a very happy boy. I admire their strength so much. RIP Bubba.
By Dr. Elizabeth Holland