#BestForPets Magazine Edition #3 (Spring 2022)

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When it’s time to say goodbye

Back in October 2014, I sat in a consulting room with my little dog Stretch, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel I had helped to deliver via Cesarean section 12 years ago whilst on night duty. His name came about because he’d been stuck in the birth canal causing the blockage that had led to the Cesarean. Fair to say, he was pretty lifeless when I first saw him! He amazed us all when I managed to revive him by giving him some breaths and cardiac massage. His neck, however, took a few days to un-stretch but his name stuck. Shortly after Stretch was born, I took a job as a lecturer. For eleven years he was my sidekick in the classroom and helped over 900 students with their studies, not only in animal care but with behavioral and personal issues too. We taught in an inner city setting and he worked his magic. I loved him so much for this amongst other things. Stretch was one of those legends I mentioned earlier and he had kindness and un-quavering love for all he met. He was my world and, with this in mind, it takes me back to that day in 2014 where I was sat in the consulting room waiting for the emergency vet.

pets who have helped to raise children and grandchildren, been there for major life events, loss of spouses, loved ones and more. These are the legends who are loved by all. I can say with confidence that the seldom asked question among pet owners of young and healthy animals is, ‘what do I do if I need to have him or her put to sleep?’ Often, they grimace and say to me ‘I would not like to think about what I would do if they go’. This statement reveals that they are subconsciously processing the inevitable loss ahead, whenever that may be. People say to me all the time, ‘I couldn’t do what you do, I couldn’t put animals to sleep’. It is the saddest part of my day. Always has been, always will be. If I was no longer touched by the passing of a pet or the grieving family member left holding them, I think I would be in the wrong job. I feel it’s important to mention at this point where this passion and drive for supporting people and animals through loss has come from.

Jo McKeown , Lead Consult Nurse at Animed Veterinary Hospital and Equine Unit, takes a look at the subject we’re often too scared to talk about.

I’m so lucky to have the best job in the world. I see clients with their pets in nurse consults at the hospital, at our branch practice and visit people’s homes in my role as a district nurse. I see pets who are well for their six-month Healthy Pet Club checks, puppies and kittens for their second and third vaccines, pets with diabetes, pets who need a nail trim, cats with knotty fur, lumps and bumps and heaps of others… it’s a lovely opportunity to meet and talk to clients who love their pets and, every day, I get to see the special bond and love they share with each other and their families. I also run a senior life clinic where arthritis, dental hygiene, coat condition, slight sagging and the occasional odd whiff are the stuff of normality. No judgement for these wise old

How many times have you seen an advert on the TV about planning your own send off? The options seem to be endless, funeral, no funeral, woodland burial… you can even be made into ash and fired into space! The point is, we sometimes think about what will happen to us before we pass away. We plan for the future, the inevitable, to help our families, to relieve stress, to ease the heartache of the decisions and the burden of our care. When we adopt, rescue, buy or acquire a companion animal, sadly, there will come a time when we’ll be separated from them, one or the other of us being left behind. A gloomy thought I grant you and surely one that is best swept under the carpet and left for another day?




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