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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 30-May-06


Tuesday 30-May-06

Dogs and termination

Today, my dog died.

Poppy was an intelligent Golden Retriever who trained us well. When she wanted to go out, we got up and let her out (and, on barked command, back in again). When she wanted to play, we played. On walks, we played running and hide and seek. At home, we played hide the slipper and more. The whole family loved her to bits and she reciprocated well.

She came to us as an emaciated, terrified rescue dog. She had been starved and beaten and was terrified of young children. It took a year and more, but she turned into a wonderful, fun and affectionate companion.

A couple of weeks ago we took her to the vet as she had been scratching her neck and made it sore and swell up. After a number of tests, it turned out that she had lymph cancer, with a massive malignant tumour in her neck. Greatly weakened and with a dismal prognosis, we decided to have her put down. It was a hard, hard decision and there have been many tears.

Afterwards, we had a family meeting, toasted Poppy and told stories about her life.

Life sometimes has tough decisions to make. They don't get easier. All you gain is the deeper knowledge that they must be made. Putting them off usually makes things worse. And so today we agreed to end Poppy's life whilst she still had some quality.

Euthanasia has always been a difficult topic for humans and is gradually getting more acceptance. I suspect it will be legal soon, with many appropriate checks, of course. Pro-lifers will have something else to object to, of course, as is their right, but I hope they also respect the pain of all involved in such decisions.

For animals, we call it 'putting them down', but it is not that different. Ending the life of a person or animal you love is hard, even if they want you do to it and even if you believe it's the best. I hope I never have to be the subject of such as decision, but if I faced terminal agony or vegetative non-humanity, I think I'd choose the painless way out.

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