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Farewell, My Friend: Navigating Canine Euthanasia



Over Christmas we lost our beloved Yorkie, Holly. We made the choice to end her life knowing that she was in fact coming to the end anyway.


Holly was a lovely little dog. She came out of a puppy farm at 6 and became a puppy. She went from broken to full of life. In true Yorkie, style, Holly thought she owned me. And that was fine.


Holly came out of the puppy farm all those years ago with breathing problems. She was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis about 2 years ago, but I think she has always had faulty lungs. She’s been on borrowed time for a while and on the 27th it caught up with her. We whizzed her off to the emergency vets at midnight with a breathing rate of over 60 per minute, it came on fast.


The vet told us she was likely going to die in the next few days and would likely also suffer. The vet was amazing. We didn’t want her suffering.


So tucked up in a blanket on my lap, she was gently helped to sleep. Even though we did that, I wasn’t ready for my little friend to die on my lap. I wasn’t prepared but we did it, for her. We let he go sooner than we were ready for – because suffering is never an option when there’s another option.


Euthanasia is a shock no matter how many times we experience it. I wanted to explain more about it in honour of Holly.





What Is Canine Euthanasia


Canine euthanasia is more than just a medical procedure; it's a heart-wrenching decision many dog guardians face. It's about choosing to say goodbye to a beloved canine companion, not out of desire, but out of compassion and necessity. This post dives into the ethical maze surrounding this choice, looking at the reasons, the emotions, and the tough questions it brings up.


Euthanasia, in simple terms, means helping a suffering dog pass away peacefully. It's legal in the UK, but bound by strict ethical rules to ensure it's only done when absolutely necessary. Typically, the process involves a vet administering a strong sedative or anaesthetic, allowing the dog to drift off without any pain or distress.


It's more common than many realise. Though exact figures are hard to pin down, it's a reality for numerous dog guardians every year. Euthanasia is usually considered the last resort, reserved for when a dog's quality of life has significantly declined due to illness, age, or injury


The Ethical Tightrope


Quality of Life vs. Suffering


One of the most significant ethical dilemmas is judging the dog's quality of life against the suffering they may be enduring. It's about discerning if the dog still finds joy in their days or if they are merely existing, burdened by discomfort or pain. Guardians need to assess factors like mobility, appetite, enjoyment of activities, and response to pain management. This isn't a decision made lightly; it's a profound judgment call that weighs heavily on a guardian's heart.


Making the Decision


The decision to euthanise a dog is emotionally complex. For guardians, it’s about balancing their deep affection and bond with their dog against the reality of their dog's suffering. It's a decision that often comes with a mix of sadness, doubt, and guilt. For vets, the challenge lies in providing objective, compassionate advice. They must consider the dog's welfare foremost, but also the bond and emotional well-being of the guardian. They are often the unsung heroes, offering support and guidance through one of the most challenging moments a dog guardian will face.


The Emotional Rollercoaster


Deciding to say goodbye is an emotional whirlwind. Guardians may grapple with intense grief, guilt over whether they are making the right decision, and sometimes, a sense of relief knowing their beloved dog won't suffer anymore. It's a unique form of mourning, mixed with the responsibility of having had to make the decision. Vets, too, are deeply affected. Despite their professional exterior, many vets form bonds with their patients and feel the weight of each loss.


Choosing to say goodbye to a dog through euthanasia is never straightforward. It's a path paved with love, ethical considerations, and deep emotional resonance. It’s about making the hardest decision with the gentlest intentions, balancing the welfare of the dog with the emotional needs of the guardian. This choice, though incredibly difficult, is often the final act of love a guardian can offer their faithful companion.


For Holly


It’s the spaces.


You didn’t take up much room in this World.

You were only small.

A tiny dot.

That was all.

Your dent in the blanket was barely there.

But the spaces you’ve left.

They’re everywhere.


It’s the silence.


For all of the years you made lots of noise.

Big breathing.

Big snoring sounds.


Your bark was much bigger than your size.

Your tiny, big cough.

That joined you running around.


It’s the absence.


The tiny scrap of warmth.

Squashed next to me.

Eyes, telling the others to leave.

You had a human you could trust and just be.


It’s the empty.


It's three supplements that became only two.

Where the meals are one less, like the treats.

It’s the freedom to walk without giving you fright.

Hanging around by my feet.


It’s the empty spot on the bed.

The tiny space where you slept.

When I kissed your head every night.

Where last night I silently wept.


Holly, You were so, so loved. You could have no idea how loved you were. But I hope you had fun while you were here.







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3 Comments


Jim Kane
Jim Kane
Jan 22

We were 3 weeks into a pulmonary fibrosis diagnosis for our Morkie Charlotte when she laid down and breathed her last - before we could even experience the dilemma of deciding on euthanasia. We would have done it though to prevent our little angel from suffering.

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Such a touching tribute to your special little Holly; I'm so sorry for your loss. Your explanation of euthanasia was spot on with what I have experienced too, so well written. I'm glad I had tissues handy.

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A wonderful tribute to Holly. Thank you for sharing this important post about euthanasia during your time of grief.

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