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It’s Hard to Say Goodbye

Published on June 26, 2014

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The Most Difficult Part of My Job

I wonder what people think goes through the mind of other veterinarians when they need to put an animal to sleep.  I’ve heard people tell me so often, “this must be the hardest part of your job,” to which I reply, “yes, it sure is.”  But I am not sure it is as painful for us as it is for the owner (momma or papa). . . it’s a different type of pain.

I have lost 2 dogs I was very close to, a miniature poodle named McDole, after Ron McDole who played for the Redskins a long time ago, and a chocolate lab puppy less than 12 months old named Boo Radley who was hit by a car while a friend was watching him.  Both losses hurt deeply and I cried – yet that depth of pain and loss is different than the emotion I feel helping someone else say goodbye to their friend/companion.  In either situation, my heart hurts for those who remain, not for the value of the relationship that I have with the pet but for the depth and value of the relationship that they have with their pet.  My degree of pain and loss varies with how well I know the pet, but it is their connection, their love, their hurt, that touches my heart as I am called on to end the suffering and the pain.

I pray often that it goes well when I serve people and their pets in this capacity.  I am sad on the one hand, yet I also feel honored to be able to walk people through such a difficult time.  It is very gratifying to see pets get better and it’s such an awesome feeling to see a sick animal leave the hospital knowing you were a part of it.  Yet, I also find fulfillment in the solemn honor of being able to support pets and their owners in such an emotional and medical time of need as when it is time to say good bye.


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Article by: Dr. Voell

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