Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"Rocky" bichon frise dog painting in watercolor

One of the hardest questions I was asked when practicing as a veterinarian, was when it was time to stop and end the suffering of a terminally ill patient.  Such a difficult decision.  As a member of the family, it is such a horrible choice to be asked to make. 

 Rocky belonged to a friend and suffered from epilepsy and his seizures progressed and did not respond to treatment.  He went to his vet and to specialists, but the idea of him being home alone and suffering when one of the episodes occurred was too much to bear for his family.  So hard to fight the cost of advanced treatments, now that MRIs, CT scans and chemotherapy are options.  So much guilt in not continuing treatments when budgets won't allow spending thousands of dollars for the very best of care.  

My answer to the question was always that only they could know when it was time, the family knows the animal better than I ever could in the brief time I had with them.  The family knows the heart and soul of their friend. When the pain of living that day surpasses the enjoyment the dog or cat has in seeing the owner, chasing the ball or the sound of the can opener ....despite the best of treatments, maybe ......it is time.  

Hardest time ever in sharing your life with your best friend.  But that time is so worth it.

Rocky lived a great life and was of the lucky dogs blessed with a caring loving family.


  1. This post had me in tears, Maria. I had to make that difficult decision several years ago with a sheltie I had for 13 years. She was my shadow and also helped me through a few tough years in my life after college. She couldn't hear very well and suffered from arthritis towards the end of her life. It got to the point where she couldn't make it up the stairs anymore, so I would carry her...she slept on the floor next to my bed.

    For awhile after having her euthanized, I felt like I had let her down, abandoned her. But in the end, she lived a full, happy life and I'm very grateful for the 13 years I had with her.

  2. So sorry Gretchen, that must have been heartbreaking, she must have been such an important part of your life. What a big empty spot they leave in our hearts. My heart aches just thinking of what you went through.

  3. Maria, I do not at all envy you in that position as vet. I had to euthanize my mare, Sweetie, a few years ago, after trying many treatments for founder. But after spending a night outside beside her, I knew she could not take any more pain [sorry - crying] Like Gretchen, I felt I had let her down, done wrong, something. God, it's hard.

  4. Although I worked on dogs and cats my husband works with horses, and there is something soul wrenching about such a large animal in so much pain, especially when you can't get them any relief from it. So sorry you had to make that choice Kathryn.

  5. Lovely work you have been doing! I love your animals, you have a great way of presenting them. You get to really honor animals with your art as well as help them with your skills. Congrats!