Today at work a family brought in their 16 year old dog to be put to sleep. He couldnt get up on his own anymore and overall...it was time. Of course that doesnt matter..the family was still heartbroken.
People have asked me many times over the years how I handle this part of the job. There is no simple answer to that. It is, by a large percentage, the hardest part of the job. Even if, like today, I have never met you or your pet before this last, heart wrenching day...a tiny part of me dies too.
Sometimes it is made a bit emotionally easier by the animal being so aggressive they are trying to kill us the entire time. Sometimes the animal is almost gone by the time they come in and the injection is almost a formality.
I do not question the family's decision. The dog was old and clearly he had given them all the signs that he was ready to go. But he was still alert. And still loving. To the point where he was licking my face til the very end.
Most of the family opted to be with their dog for the entire process(their teenage son could not and waited in the lobby while the final injection was given). Many people do not. I understand that it is difficult. Possibly the most difficult thing you have ever done. Definitely the most difficult thing your PET has ever done. So please...if you can, choose to be there with them. As much as we can hold them and pet them and talk to them...nobody can truly comfort them til the end like their family. They deserve that.
Afterward you can grieve for your lost friend. I know I will. I always do.