Warning: This story will make you cry.
I am often asked how am I able to put animals to sleep. The answer is, I don’t know. I don’t know how I do it, I just do it. I would guess that a lot of other veterinarians feel the same.
Somehow we are able to compartmentalize our feelings. And our feelings run the gamut. Grief, with the pet owner whose pet we have cared for since they first brought it to us. Anger, at ourselves for not being able to fix everything or at circumstance that has to bring death. Sadness, when those soft eyes look at you and understand. Often contentment, when you know a pet has had a full, happy life with people who loved it every single day.
I was glad Dr. Palma wrote this article, there haven’t been many that discuss what it feels like when the vet has to say goodbye to one of their own. We feel the same way you do when given the ultimate bad news. In some ways we are luckier than you. We get to work in an environment surrounded by people who understand how hard it is, how much our furry companions mean to us. Most of us have family and friends who support us. In some ways we are unluckier than you. We blame ourselves when we can’t fix it, which is what we trained to do. We blame ourselves, if we just had been a little bit better of a doctor, we might have saved them.
And the end of the article, Dr. Palma recognizes that he is a more compassionate veterinarian for the life and death he shared with Rufus. He’s right. Even though vets may euthanize loved pets every day, it’s different when it’s the pet YOU love.