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Last Thursday, I had to put my best friend of 15 years to sleep.
I was incredibly fortunate that not only did my parents make the 8+ hour trip from New Jersey once they knew how sick she had become, but that I had an amazing vet (Dr. Eve at Harmony Animal Hospital) who was able to come to my house and do a peaceful, compassionate home euthanasia.
My parents and I got to spend the entire day with Penny before she went to sleep at 9:30PM. It was clear from the way she was refusing food and water and barely able to walk that this time there would be no recovery. We’ve always been able to nurse her back to health in the past few years when she’s gotten ill, but this time she seemed to know that she had reached the end of her long and happy life. I stopped trying to push remedies on her and accepted the inevitable truth that I’ve been expecting to come for months now. She knew it was her time.
If you’ve ever experienced the death of a close family pet, you’ll know how hard it was for us to make the final decision to put her to sleep. She was still completely mentally sound, but her body was failing her, and I knew she was suffering even though she seemed to be putting on a brave face. I’m so glad she had one more chance to see my parents, and I could see the joy and quiet excitement on her face when they showed up at 2:00 in the morning of the day we euthanized her. She obviously recognized them and was glad that they were there. I was glad they were there too.
I cuddled her and pet her and told her how much I loved her, how she was such a good girl, throughout the entire process. I felt the breath go out of her and her ears turn cold. I sat there stroking her and kissing her head even after she was gone – I didn’t want to stop because I knew once I stopped I could never touch her soft fur again.
The experience was the saddest day of my life. I have obviously lived a very blessed life to be able to say that, but that doesn’t make it any less painful. It was very hard on my parents too. We all loved Penny like a child of our own family, and watching her pass was excruciating. But I’m glad I was able to make the most humane decision possible, and I gave her the best death possible. Peaceful, painless, and surrounded by her family.
It amazes me how many of my friends remembered her so fondly as well. Friends who I went to middle school with remember her as a happy go lucky puppy, while my graduate school friends remember her as a sweet and dignified lady. People used to stop me on the street as I was walking her to ask what kind of dog she was and compliment her on her beauty. Even last month a man in the car next to me asked me to roll my window down so he could tell me what a pretty dog I had. She had a magnetism about her that even strangers noticed. And she made every morning worth getting up for.
It’s hard to imagine ever having another dog as amazing as Penny, but I know I’ll be starting over with a new puppy very soon. While I can never replace Penny, her loss has left a gaping hole in my daily life that, for my own sake, I need to fill again. Penny was one of a kind, and the best dog a girl could ever ask for. She was the joy of my life, and I’ll be forever grateful that I had 15 long years with her.
This experience has demonstrated to me that God will never give me anything I can’t handle. He knew I wouldn’t be able to go through this alone, so He made sure my parents could be there and that I had a compassionate vet taking care of the medical necessities. I don’t know what I would have done without those three people by my side as I said goodbye to my baby.
I’m going to miss her so much, but I’m so glad she had such a wonderful life. She knew she was loved, and I hope wherever she is, she knows how much we miss her.
We love you Penny. <3
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away. And He that sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold, I create all things new.’’” Revelation 21:4-5