Believe it or not, one of the observations I hear most during my visits is
“He’s having a good day today. I’m not sure I should continue.”
The best way to think about this question is to realise that this it is simply a small part of this bigger question:
“Is now the right time?”
To put it simply, when one our pets is declining steadily over weeks or months, and there is nothing to be done, as owners, it gradually dawns on us that we will probably be required to make a decision to have them euthanased. At some point in the future. When we have recognised this fact, then we watch our dog or cat more closely to see if there are any signs to tell us when exactly to put them to sleep. If their decline is steady, then there will probably be very few sudden signs that tell us it should definitely be today. Or tomorrow. Or next week.
What I recommend we do in this situation, is make a balance between “good” and “bad”. I suggest trying to work out in our minds how much of our pet’s life is good, and how much is bad. And this is not just their pain. Or their discomfort. Or their incontinence. Good and bad also must include us. Are we happy or unhappy in our life/relationship with our pet? Having a dog or cat is not just about them, it’s about us too. That is not selfish – in fact it’s the opposite – because our pets live for us – so if the relationship is suffering, then so are they.
So we create in our minds a balance between good and bad. And if there is more bad than good, then for me, the time for ‘calling it a day’ has arrived. But it’s still probably difficult to make the phone call to the vet. How about waiting one more day? What harm can it do?
I advise all my people to trust their hearts. You wake up one morning and you know that your beloved pet should be put to sleep. Listen to that thought, and then think ‘when’? Today? Tomorrow? Trust your heart – it won’t let you down.
Then I arrive at your house one afternoon. And suddenly as we are talking, you ask yourself again
“Is this the right time? He’s having such a good day today”.
I will be honest, if I am visiting a very ill cat or dog who really seems to want to ‘call it a day’, then there is nothing better for me than to see them having a great day.
To have spent the morning in the sun, purring in mum’s lap, I can’t imagine any better day to end a life. I love it when an owner says, “yes but they’re having such a good day today”, and I say, “yes it’s great isn’t it? What better day to do this.”
Rather a life should end on a good comfortable day than leave it until their days are all pain filled and miserable. Euthanasia becomes less of a gift that way.