Why do people not allow their pets to die naturally?
Why do people put old pets like dogs, cats and horses to sleep rather than allowing them to die naturally?
Let me tell you a story about one of my family’s two dogs. Her name was Piggy (her ACTUAL name was Nieve, but everyone called her Piggy because she always snorted). We estimate that she was maybe 14+ when we had to let her go.
Piggy was a senior (we don’t really know how old she was when we got her, but maybe 9–11. I can’t really remember), toothless, blind, half deaf puppy-mill breeder rescue dog. She had one incredible hell of an attitude and was queen of the house from the moment we brought her home to the moment everything went to hell. She taught our first dog (Mac, a stray mini poodle who just followed my mother one day), how to bark. She knew exactly what she wanted when she wanted it and was very vocal about getting it. Need to go outside? She did her raspy, hoarse little bark and sat by the door. Up on the bed? BARK! Need food? BARK! She knew when bedtime was and there was no way she’d let you NOT go to bed on schedule.
Several years after we adopted her, we found out she had mammary cancer. We had the tumors removed, and she was doing great. Then in February of 2017, things suddenly went very bad, very fast. We had been out for the day, and we usually left the basement door open. This was generally never an issue. The dogs knew where it was and neither of them went down there unless there was an emergency like a tornado warning. We came home, and we found Piggy at the bottom of the basement steps. We think she’d fallen. She’d pooped down there from what might’ve been fear, but might’ve been something else.
Soon after these events, Piggy started having seizures (I think that’s what they were, I’m no vet). Full on, terrible, thrashing and screaming (Yes, screaming. If you’ve never heard a dog truly scream, I hope you never do. It’s a horrible sound) seizures. Whenever she laid down at a certain angle on her side, or on her back, she would have a seizure. She would lose control of her bowels. If you looked her in the eyes, you would see that she was unhappy. That she was in pain. We took her to the vet twice, and we were told that an underlying neurological issue (possibly due to her cancer, tumors were regrowing) was causing it all. It was why she fell. It was probably why she started having seizures. The fall just aggravated it. We couldn’t give her medicine for it. After a two days of seeing her suffer like this, we knew it was time. She was taken to the vet, and we let her go. We were with her. My mother held her while I sat and cried even though I had sworn I was going for moral support. She got plenty of love in her last days. She spent most of it held. She went peacefully, being petted and cuddled.
We euthanize our pets because they’re suffering and we can’t fix it. We do it because we love them and don’t want them to suffer. We do it because no matter how much we want to keep them with us, we can’t because they just aren’t comfortable, or happy, or themselves anymore. We are their guardians. We can’t truly ask them what we want, but if you pay attention, they’ll tell you when it’s time. It is up to our judgement as these loving guardians to help them. And sometimes this help means moving them on in a painless, peaceful fashion.
Story by Marisol Graciela Limon