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When It's Time to Say Good-bye to the Family Pet… – Resident News Network

PARIS- To some, it is no big deal. To others, it is intense grief.
Family pets provide years of love and enjoyment for everyone who crosses paths with them throughout their short life spans. Whether you are a dog lover, cat lover, or a lover of any other pet, you know that with the love and enjoyment of sharing your life with them comes the very painful time when you have to say good-bye.
For my wife and I, that time has come. Our beloved labrador, Sophie, passed away this week. Elaine brought her home as a puppy when she was eight weeks old, and I first met Sophie when she was about two years old. So, both of us feel like she has been part of our lives for her entire life, and it has been very hard for us to say good-bye to who we have always felt was the greatest dog a family could have. And anyone who knows Elaine and I knows that Sophie was dearly loved.
But in our grief, my intent for this story is to help others who may be facing this eventuality with a loved family pet.
Some people just don’t get it, and some are very empathetic. But whichever side you fall on, it is important to note that the grief you may feel is both very real and unexpectedly intense. And for me, the decision to end a dog’s life has been especially painful and emotional. Some who have experienced the pain of letting a beloved pet go refuse to have another pet and potentially go through this intense grief again. It is very painful and hard to cope with.
I found it to be a terrible dilemma of “am I doing the right thing, or am I rushing something that doesn’t need to be rushed?” But in Sophie’s case, I eventually realized that my desire to extend her life was a selfish act on my part. In her final days, Sophie was not experiencing any degree of a good quality of life. She was merely existing from day to day. She was experiencing severe immobility, loss of appetite, and her tail, that wagged all of the time, just didn’t wag anymore. She was refusing to eat, and acted as if she were in pain every day and had lost a significant amount of weight in a very short time. So, our desire to extend her life was purely selfish, and as hard as it was to let her go, we knew, it was the only fair thing for her. And it may be hard for others to understand, but we felt honored to be there to help her pass peacefully as was deserved by her for being such a loving and cherished member of our family.
So, in offering our story to our readers, we are not psychologists, veterinarians, or any other professional that is qualified to give advice. But as dog owners who loved our pet very much, we do think we are qualified to speak as owners who want to help others cope with what we have found to be one of the most difficult decisions we have ever had to make.
If you are a pet owner and you feel that this day is approaching for you and your pet, please know that your feelings are real and that they will be more intense than you fear. But the decision to let them go, along with the consultation of your veterinarian, is a final act of love for your pet. One in a series of loving acts you have extended to them for their entire lives. And it is the only fair thing to do in exchange for all of the love they have given us. As painful as that is, we have found that to be the only thought that consoles the two of us.
One final thought. It is so important to acknowledge the grief and the steps of coping with the emotional loss of a pet that provided so much love in your life. As a final tribute to your pet, and to help you move forward in life, help someone in your life. It may be their own struggle with the loss of a family member, or some other loss, but helping others is a positive way to help you move forward from your loss.
Elaine and I are certainly not at that point at this early stage, but we know that we will eventually move on and celebrate all the great things that made us love Sophie so much. In offering this story, we hope it helps anyone out there who is coping with a similar loss.
Grieving the loss of a beloved family pet is OK; it just means you love them and will miss them.

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