It’s always sad to hear the announcement that someone has lost a beloved pet. In my veterinary practice, euthanasia is one of the services I provide for my patients having a decreased quality of life.
Recently, comedian, actress, producer, and author Sarah Silverman, posted a touching obituary describing her relationship with her interestingly named dog, Duck, on her WhoSay site:
"I wrote an obituary type thing:
Duck "Doug" Silverman came into my life about 14 years ago. He was picked up by the State running through South Central with no collar, tags or chip. Nobody claimed or adopted him so a no-kill shelter took him in. That’s where I found him -- at that shelter, in Van Nuys. Since then we have slept most every night together (and many lazy afternoons.) When we first met, the vet approximated his age at 5 ½ so I’d say he was about 19 as of yesterday, September 3, 2013.
He was a happy dog, though serene. And stoic. And he loved love.
Over the past few years he became blind, deaf, and arthritic. But with a great vet, good meds, and a first rate seeing-eye person named me, he truly seemed comfortable.
Recently, however, he stopped eating or drinking. He was skin and bones and so weak. I couldn’t figure out this hunger strike. Duck had never been political before. And then, over the weekend, I knew. It was time to let him go.
My boyfriend Kyle flew in late last night and took the day off from work to be with us. We laid in bed and massaged his tiny body, as we love to do – hearing his little “I’m in heaven” breaths.
The doctor came and Kyle, my sister, Laura and I laid on the bed. I held him close – in our usual spoon position and stroked him. I told him how loved he was, and thanked him for giving me such happiness and for his unwavering companionship and love. The doctor gave him a shot and he fell asleep, andthen another that was basically an overdose of sleeping meds. I held him and kissed him and whispered to him well passed his passing. I picked him up and his body was limp – you don’t think about the head – it just falls. I held him so tight. And then finally, when his body lost its heat, and I could sense the doctor thinking about the imminent rush hour traffic, I handed him over.
My longest relationship.
My only experience of maternal love.
My constant companion.
My best friend.
Although I would prefer to hear that Duck is still alive, Silverman should appreciate the fact that she had the chance to spend 15 years with her beloved canine companion. Not many dogs nor cats live to the age of 19, as duck reportedly did.
The way Duck left this world certainly was very peaceful, humane, and done in a manner seemingly most ideal to Silverman’s preferences in that he was at home with his family. In general, home euthanasia is my recommendation for pet owners.
Pets that are euthanized at home will be under less stress than being forced to experience the process of going into a veterinary hospital and having the final memories be of a place that may harbor unusual smells, stimulating sounds, bright lights, and unfamiliar people.
The fact that Silverman was able to have a veterinarian that she knows come to her home to provide euthanasia sounds as though her final wishes for Duck were appropriately met. This kind of offering is something I’ve done in my veterinary practice on many occasions. I have witnessed pet owners have gatherings to remember their pets lives with bottles of wine, food, and close friends coming in and out for hours at a time.
Conversely, I also have helped animals cross the rainbow bridge in more dire circumstances where both pet and owner were seemingly suffering in an extreme state of distress and an outpouring of distraught emotions was expressed by the owner after the procedure was over.
When it comes down to it, every situation varies and as long as the pet does not unnecessarily suffer, the location in which the euthanasia procedure takes place is a personal choice up to the owner and their family.
I wish Silverman well in the mourning process that she will inevitably go through as a result of Duck’s passing.
Image via Sarah Silverman's Instagram page