People all over the country have been touched by the incredible story of Brittney, a 9-year-old bulldog in Michigan who recently saved her 39-year-old guardian's life by barking to wake him up and alert him to a fire in the house.
The poignant twist to this story is that just days after the fire, Brittney's guardian, Scott Seymore, decided to have her euthanized. Brittney had been recently diagnosed with advanced cancer, and her health was rapidly deteriorating.
Brittney is being hailed as a hero for saving Scott's life, and she certainly is one. But there is another hero in this story: Scott. He made the painful (for him) but compassionate (to her) decision to set his beloved companion free from her pain.
According to a news article, after the fire, Scott "said he realized the only way left to demonstrate his love and appreciation for [Brittney]—dying with an advanced blood-borne cancer—was to end her suffering."
I've had to make this same, heart-wrenching decision twice—first, with my beloved childhood dog, Katie, and recently, with the coolest cat in the world, Molly. It's never easy. But I'm comforted in knowing that, when their time came, I didn't let my loyal companions suffer, and their passing from this world was painless and peaceful. The last thing each of them heard were the words "I love you" whispered in their ears.
It's no fun to think about the inevitable, but Scott and Brittney's story is a touching reminder that our animals count on us to do what's best for them, even when that means making difficult decisions.
I encourage you to plan ahead and make a promise to your animals that you will never prolong their suffering just because it's hard and scary to say "Goodbye."
When animals are very old, ill, or suffering with little hope of recovery and they can no longer enjoy life, the kindest thing that we can do is set them free from suffering through euthanasia.
According to a USA Today article, many animal guardians are opting to have a veterinarian euthanize their companion animals at home, where they are most comfortable, rather than at a veterinarian's office.
This can be an added solace to both you and your animal during a difficult time.
None of us knows what tomorrow will bring, so my advice is this: Plan ahead now for the inevitable. Cherish every slobbery doggie kiss and contented kitty purr. Love your animals like crazy, and don't have any regrets.
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