Many of you will recall an article written in mid-October about our dog, Chesney, and the impossible decision our family was facing with regard to the end of her life. For those unfamiliar, our senior German shepherd faced mobility issues from an unexplained incident that happened when she was eight years old and became suddenly paralyzed. Though she regained some of her mobility, she was never completely normal, and as time passed, her rear legs grew progressively weaker.
As time passed, and things became harder for Chesney, and for us, we struggled with making the hardest decision a pet owner can make…when to say goodbye. I can now offer insight into that decision, and provide thoughts about our choice to continue providing essentially hospice care to Chensey until she gave us a clear sign.
This week, Chesney gave us the clear sign that we prayed we would get. She was suddenly too tired to walk and refused food and for the most part, water. Without hesitation, I reached out to the home euthanasia service and they put us on their schedule for the following afternoon. Our family was then tasked with holding vigil near Chesney to ensure that she was as comfortable as possible until her appointment. She was offered broth and water…she took some, but not much. My daughter bought her a steak and bacon…she only nibbled.
For the most part, she slept. My daughter situated a makeshift bed next to Chesney’s in order to be with her at all times and then the agonizing wait came to an end when the veterinarian arrived with the bag carrying the supplies that would end a precious life.
The woman explained that Chesney would receive an initial injection that contained an opioid for pain, a tranquilizer, and a sedative. She told us that Chesney would fall into a deep sleep before being administered the lethal concoction that would quickly stop her heart. But Chesney had other plans. After several minutes she sat up, bright-eyed and seemingly unaffected by the strong mixture of drugs. It was clear she did not want to leave my daughter. Another cocktail of medication was administered and it did what the first one didn’t…it made Chesney slip into a deep sleep. And shortly thereafter, the final shot was administered and she was gone.
Though our family is grieving, we know that we did the right thing in waiting for Chesney’s signal that she was too tired to go on. For us, the round-the-clock care was appropriate, and what Chesney deserved. In the midst of those final months, the physical difficulty of caring for her made us question whether or not we should make “the appointment.” But we now know that we did what was needed, for a dog who very much still wanted to be part of our lives.
Chesney was an incredibly special dog who will be deeply missed.
Rest easy sweet girl.