The experience of losing a pet rarely gets any easier, even for professionals
Every now and again a pet touches my heart more than most. As a professional I try not to get too attached, because I need to be objective when offering advice to pet owners who rely on me to be impartial when decisions become difficult.
But when you care for a little pet over many years, and that little pet gives you back only love and cuddles it can be hard to guard against these emotional situations.
Over the years there have been a few ‘best friends forever’ who have pierced my professional armour. For some families I have personally cared for their pets for three or even four generations, and some of these individuals have quirks or extra character. They might always sit on your feet, or tuck their heads under your chin, or insist on eating each claw tip you trim off before you are allowed to trim the next one!
I try not to dwell on past animal friends that are no longer with us. After all, their allotted lifespan is much shorter than ours, in most cases. At least I know for certain that they were loved, and when their time came their passing was dignified and full of care.
Very often, when there are no other choices, their owners turn to me when their pain or suffering becomes too much, and it is time to say goodbye.
These occasions are always harrowing for the loving pet’s owners, and occasionally for the supporting veterinary team too. More than once in my career I have broken down in floods of tears, and been unable to go on with my day because the time had come to say goodbye to a beloved pet.
I will mention one such recent patient, in memory of all the others over the years who have broken my heart. Spud was one of a kind, a Staffordshire bull terrier who didn’t know that some people consider his breed to be vicious and dangerous. Through years of veterinary care, cancer, a stroke and the indignities of old age he remained loving towards me, never missing a chance to kiss my face.
I lost little Spud recently, but think of him and others in quiet moments. Hopefully they are resting in pet heaven, waiting for me to join them when we can all relax in the sunshine with no illness and no needles – just love.