adventures of beck

Friday, June 30, 2006

A sad thing.

Up until this day, I had only seen one animal that had recently been put down (the very sick cat) and then only briefly seen a few other animals who were already passed on as they were brought into the back to be put in the freezer. I had not actually seen the entire process of an animal being put down yet, nor had I seen any animals who had been put down for any other reason than they were already seeing glimmers of the pearly gates. Today, though the small white dog that had been on IV fluids returned. He had been adopted out, but had bitten his new owners. This was the latest of several attempts to merge him into a home, and it had ended badly. He was here to be put down. His carrier sat in the exam area while other animals were taken care of, and he sat inside it, casting a baleful eye on the world that he had failed to ever become accustomed to. It was a strange thing to consider, that I knew the fate of this dog in front of me. I knew that before I left, he would no longer be living. It finally came time for him to be put to sleep, and he was extracted from his carrier with as much care as was given to any cherished client's dog, even though he snapped his teeth and growled menacingly, struggling mightily to avoid the last muzzle he would ever wear. The techs were entirely reverent and careful, though it would be easier to be more detached, more clinical, to even make a joke, they did not. It was touching. First, he got an intramuscular injection of pre-anesthetic, pain number stuff. He slithered down to sleep and was breathing slowly. Then they pulled out what I dubbed in my mind "the killer needle." They injected it directly into his heart, which he did not feel, and withdrew a bit of atrial blood into the syringe before injecting it. The needle was left in and bobbed with every heart beat, but the dog could of course no longer feel it. Throughout, I rested my hand on his head and stroked his ears, wanting desperately for his very last memory of earth to be a happy one. I did not cry, and I did not feel the need to, but a sad heaviness settled into my chest, and I grieved that the poor dog could not find happiness in this world. Watching a dog you do not know be put to sleep, with no one who loves him around was not the same as watching your own animal be put to sleep. His temperment was foul, to be sure, but I would be truly crushed to see the perfectly friendly dogs with no health problems get put to sleep, as they do every day, with no homes. The alternative of course is starving to death or getting hit by a car, and that is what you need to put the situation into perspective sometimes. Injecting the med into the heart made it work faster, but this would be horrifying to watch in your own animal, which is why vets do it through the front leg instead.


Anonymous barb said...

Hey Beck,
It is sad, and it reminds me of the day Buddy was put down. Only six hours before, he had gone out for a potty and had a few bites of dog food-then the trembling started. He went down for a nap that he never woke up from. The fever that indicated a serious infection would have been too much for him to recover from. Even a few days recoperating would have meant the end-he could have never gotten up with his old gimpy legs. The vet there was very considerate and talked me through every step. I sat on the floor and rubbed Buddys ears and face the same as you described. It was a peaceful passing.
from aunt barb

10:36 PM CDT


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