Knowing When It’s Time to Say Goodbye to a Pet

It’s been a week of sleeping on the couch, attending to her every need. A week ago we were told that our German Shepherd mix rescue Chesney Ray was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. Bone cancer.

We thought she was suffering from a fracture or a torn ligament but cancer? When the vet told us, I was hysterical. She’s my baby. She’s only 8. She can’t leave this earth yet. She is the sweetest soul, the cutest girl, the best sister and the most loyal, caring pup. She wouldn’t hurt a fly. She doesn’t deserve this.

No dog does. Dogs are perfect when they come to this earth. They are literally God spelled backwards.

So, for a week we’ve been wondering how we would know when it was time. She has had really hard and bad days and worse nights but she’s had good days too. She has lost her sparkle. Her eyes no longer shine, she doesn’t smile. She’s quiet and she’s sad.

We want to make sure we do it right. She deserves the dignity of us doing this right. It’s hard to know if you’re saying goodbye because she’s ready or you’re ready. How do you know if it’s too soon?

Deciding to humanely end the life of a suffering pet is hard. If it’s easy, you shouldn’t have a pet. Euthanasia is heartbreaking and will likely be one of the most difficult decisions you will ever make for your pet.

Every dog and every family is different. It isn’t necessarily based on facts either. It’s true when they say that your dog will let you know. If you’re anything like us, your dog is your family, as it should be. We’ve spent a week agonizing over every little thing. But, in our heart we knew her time was coming.

I’ve “slept” on the couch for a week. In 7 days, I’ve probably had a combined 10 hours of sleep. Every move she makes, I wake up. She has to go outside multiple times and her medication is twice a night, in the middle of the night. One night, I was so exhausted I messed up her medications and I was so angry at myself and heartbroken that I fail my girl that way.

There have been tears. So many tears and there’s also been a sort of acceptance. Yesterday, we took her on what we called “The Ches World Tour”. We took her to my in-laws farm and to my parents. Two of her favorite places.

She loves the farm. She can run and run and swim and chase rabbits and chase the Razor and her and her sister are so happy whenever we are there. We went up and she got to run around a bit and sniff and then we sat in their house and she rested. She rests a lot now.

When we got to my parents it was later in the afternoon. She was tired but she was happy. She has spent so much time in this yard. She loves it there too. Those are two of her happy places and she had a good day. She seemed content.

This morning she was tired. She barely moved all day. Just going outside to potty seemed akin to climbing Mt. Everest. At one point, she was sitting in one of her little beds and she just looked at me. Right in the eyes. Big, gorgeous brown eyes and I knew. She was ready to go.

I’ll never be ready. I’ll forever regret tomorrow. I’ll feel like I’ve given up on her that I didn’t do enough to save her or wait long enough to say goodbye.

There are other factors too. Her little body is tired and it’s failing her. After almost 9 years, so many adventures, running a marathon, training for 2 and so much more, her little body has given up on her.

I was outside playing ball with our other dog and it became very clear that it was time. I opened the door and told Bryson. It’s time. It’s time for her to go home.

I know to some people it’s just a dog. A pet, an animal. But, she’s our family. The four of us are family. I rescued her and she and Aspen and I were the three musketeers, the three best friends that ever were.

Related: It’s Not Just a Dog

But I can’t keep her here, in pain and confused and sad, for me. I know it’s time to say goodbye. I know she has more to do and I want her to run free of pain over the rainbow bridge. Even if it breaks my heart, and her sisters and my husbands, I know it’s time.

In this pandemic era our vet said only one of us could go back with her. That’s not fair. It’s not fair to her, or Bryson or me. Luckily, we are able to find a place that will come to our home. We’re actually going to my parents. The place she loves. Bryson and I can both be with her. It’s important for me but it’s important to him too.

He inherited us. When he married me, he married the three of us. We’re a package deal and Ches is his buddy. He deserves to say goodbye to her too.

I know that tomorrow will break my heart. I know I will sob and cry and I know it will be one of the hardest, worst days of my life. I will hold her paw and pet her face. I will tell her I love her and that she will always be my baby. I will try to hold myself together for her because I don’t want her to be scared or upset. I want her to be at peace. She won’t be leaving us. She’ll always be here.

I don’t want tomorrow to come. I’m not ready to say goodbye. I’ll never be ready to say goodbye. We’ve made a committment that we will honor the dog’s last will and testament. That though our hearts will be broken, we will rescue again. We will open our hearts and our home to another dog in need of a wonderful family and we will carry her love and legacy on.

Related: It’s Not Just a Dog

Whatever you do, don’t make your pet face leaving this earth alone. They are the most pure, selfless animals on this planet. Don’t make them die alone. Be there to comfort them and love them when it’s time for them to go home.

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