Vale Harry. Dying with dignity – what we could learn from Vets

February 24, 2016

For months I lived with the angst of my long-time companion and best canine friend having a tumor in his mouth. When diagnosed he was given weeks to a few months to live… I could have spent thousands and tried to save him—and there were absolutely no guarantees that after surgery and chemo that there would be any cure anyway—so I made the decision to take him home and love him whilst he still had quality of life.

Thus, we commenced a routine of daily mouthwashes, antibiotics to fight infection and encouraging eating by providing lots a yummy high protein food. Add to this lots of love and cuddles.

Hanging over me all the time was the horrible decision of his quality of life and when to decide if it was all too hard for him. We had lots of good times over the months since June last year…

Harry was terrified of thunderstorms and from time to time got himself stuck in the bath tub in the height of the storm; he continued to run around; and, last night when I got home from work he accompanied me to put the bins out and was still running around.

The night of his passing

After tea his mouth started to bleed; with the type of tumor Harry had, it was not going to stop.

I rang the vet…. they were closed and had the number to the 24-hour emergency vet. Another phone call in which I was so upset that I could barely get any words out and the lovely receptionist got my mobile number and sent through a message telling me how to get there.

The staff there was wonderful, such compassion and caring toward Harry and me and my sister and brother-in-law.

I sat and cuddled my boy as his heart stopped beating and sobbed whilst the most beautiful vet supported us explaining everything and making sure we were okay.

We took my boy home and buried him by moonlight in our pet cemetery in my sister’s garden.

Compassion to animals and humans

As a nurse the thing that struck me most about this was the caring and compassion from the vet and all at the practice, and most of all the ability to end my boy’s suffering in such a positive supportive environment… something that is debated strongly in the human health environment but never resolved.

Today I am filled with thoughts of the nearly 13 years that I had Harry in my life: from the moment he was born and I had to resuscitate him to the moment his heart stopped beating, he gave total unconditional love.

He has been a constant through so much change.

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