There is never a good time to say goodbye to a beloved pet.
An obvious statement, I know...
But I just got word from our vet that our precious princess little Gypsy (Daddy's girl and the sweetest, most delicate of our whole furry family) has a deadly cancer of the mouth with a very short time left.
How to describe the grief and dread of this painful loss to come?
How to describe the deep soul love between a human and animal?
No amount of pain or sorrow could even match the pure love, devotion and joy shared at the deepest soul level that doesn't even require words.
Hubby told me that he believes the deep soul bond between a human and an animal is ordained by God.
After all, God made animals before He made Eve! Man's first relationship with animals was perfect, whole and complete.
And every time we cuddle our kitty-cats, romp with our dogs or simply share a soul-to-soul moment that requires no words or actions at all, we experience a deep, soul-stirring connection that even death cannot sever.
Some of you know the anguish of anticipating an impending death.
I wish I didn't but I do.
I also know that no matter how deep the grief, every tear is worth it.
Over the years I've had my life enriched beyond measure by
my furry friends...Taffy, Sophie, Scruffy, Bo, Keona,
Shebekia (my dearest, deepest bond ever) Jessie, Hooney,
Peanut...and my current furry family including Jasper, Gypsy,
Elsie, Itty-Bitty and Teddy.
Today, hubby and I must face the the sad, sad heartbreaking responsibility
of easing the transition of our beloved Gypsy from her Earthly-bound physical life
into her next adventure.
Writing these words makes it seem so clean, so practical, so right and correct --
while my heart is lurching and heaving and breaking into a million pieces.
Not another loss, please no...I cry and wail and heave and sob -- especially not
of our precious Princess Gypsy, Daddy's little girl, the sweetest and most fuss-free,
and up until the diagnosis the horrid deadly cancer, the healthiest and sprightly of all our brood.
I hear you, yes I do -- "It's for the best" "She had a great life" "She'll be out of pain" "She'll be at peace".
Yes I know, but I don't want to feel better right now.
I want to feel the full weight of my loss, my pain, my sadness, my grief.
It's the least I could do, feel, experience as a tribute to her sweet, precious life,
from the moment we saw her at the cat rescue, with her tiny kitten brothers and sisters.
Gypsy was so composed, so intelligent, so curious and adorable.
Daddy picked her up, and from that moment on it was a soul bond never to be broken.
Gypsy put her paws around Daddy's neck and hugged him, heart to heart, so tiny, so precious, so ours.
And she has been a perfect, trouble-free, precious princess ever since.
How to explain the loss we'll feel -- especially Daddy, when little Gypsy is
no longer curled up at his side all night long, his arm across her lithe, silky body,
as she completely surrenders in trust and comfort, knowing she is safe, loved, treasured, protected and cherished.
No more art tours in the morning, when cradled in Daddy's arms they inspect with ceaseless interest
the various paintings that they looked at the morning before. The colors! The light! Being carried and cradled by Daddy!
Such simple bliss brought great joy to us all.
Some people who have never know the deep soul bond of a precious pet might brush it off as "it's just a cat".
But there is no such thing as "just a cat".
Having had dogs my entire life and swearing I could never survive the loss of another one,
I agreed to get cats, so I wouldn't lose my heart so completely.
After all, cats are independent, right? I won't get as attached to them, right?
I was so, so wrong.
There was no way I could protect my heart from further loss.
You see, my kitty-cats curled up right inside my heart and will take an unreplaceable piece
of my heart when they go.
But -- every single tear is worth it. Every. single. tear.
The reason I'm writing this to you today is because we have to make the heart-wrenching decision
to ease our Gypsy's transition.
In other words, euthanasia.
Having had to put other pets "to sleep" in years past, and knowing it was the right and honorable thing to do,
nonetheless in our grief and despair, anxiety can cloud our decision-making and unfortunately
create more fear and pain and suffering for our precious pets.
So, in my research to prepare for this heart-breaking time, I came across some
extremely valuable resources that I want to share with you in case you are
or will be facing this very difficult decision of having to say good bye to your beloved pet.
Home Pet Euthanasia is a wonderful website, which answers question such as...
"It it time?" (You might be surprised that it's not what you think)
"Should other pets be present?" (yes, we are giving them a chance to say goodbye)
A few observations of mine, supported by veterinarians and counselors, include:
- It's better to euthanize earlier rather than later.
In other words, don't wait until the animal is literally at death's door before easing her suffering.
Let your pet enjoy a high quality of life and don't wait until "they tell you" it's time,
which in most cases causes much more suffering that could be avoided.
There are many reasons why to compassionately euthanize earlier rather than later:
- Animals are masters are hiding pain and often will not cry or show physical pain.
Often, they are in more pain that we an imagine.
Most people who have had to put a precious pet to sleep in the past decide to euthanize earlier
the next time, realizing they had prolonged their pet's suffering in an attempt to delay their own loss and grief.
- The more pain an animal is in, the more fear and anxiety they are experiencing.
And even if there is not a great deal of pain, the terror of something not being quite right is extremely distressing.
In fact, some experts believe the terror and anxiety our pets experience when they are close to dying
causes far greater suffering than physical pain.
I never realized that before and now I am so glad I do so I won't be the cause of undue suffering and agony.
Please read this: Understanding Pet Pain
- If your pet has a terminal disease and the treatments are causing a great deal of stress.
For example, my Shebekia had advanced, terminal cancer and could not tolerate the radiation treatments,
so I stopped after the first one. Taking her to the treatment center and the fear and nausea it caused her
was not worth it in my opinion because it only interfered with the little time she had left,
which she much preferred to spend sitting on the patio in the sunshine.
- Often you hear of making sure the pet is experiencing a good "quality of life".
Here is a way to help you understand exactly what that means and helpful ways to measure it: Quality of Life
- Home hospice pet care is an emerging option and your precious companion can still get comfort care
if it is not yet time to say goodbye. Hydration, nutrition, pain medication etc can be administered.
- If at all possible, have home pet euthanasia so your precious companion can pass in the comfort and peace
of his own surroundings. Ask your vet for recommendations, do a google search or ask trusted friends.
- Prepare for the event carefully so it will be as compassionate and caring as possible.
- Finally, it's normal to struggle with feeling such as "I don't want to play God" and "I just want my pet to die in her sleep".
Once we take on the responsibility for a pet, it is up to us to ensure their well-being from start to finish.
In fact, it is not just our responsibility and duty but our HONOR to do so.
Who else should be charged with this essential task of ensuring a peaceful and dignified end of life?
Please take a look here for answers to these issues: Am I playing God?
As to wishing for a "natural death" you might be surprised, as I was, what I learned here and
how in most cases, euthanasia is the preferred option to natural death, which brings anguish and suffering that
could be avoided. Read Natural Death vs Euthanasia
Finally, it is perfectly natural to grieve deeply the loss of your beloved companion.
Often one death brings up grief of previous deaths and losses and the grief can be overwhelming.
You don't have to go through this alone.
Fortunately these days there are many pet loss therapy groups available which help support your
healing as you mourn the loss of your precious loved one.
his is the day no animal lover wants to face.
I'm so very sorry if this is the case for you as it is for me and hubby and our little sweet princess Gypsy.
Please know that our hearts and prayers go with you and we share in your sorrow of losing your precious baby.
I would love to hear your stories here, where you can read more and leave your comments.
with love and hugs,
P.S. Our pets depend on us to ease their transition and prevent suffering. As hard as it is on us to
let our precious pets go, it is much much harder on them to suffer.
Deciding on euthanasia is one of the most heart-wrenching, soul-agony decisions we have to make.
Please know my heart is with you in your sorrow.
For info on nationwide in-home pet euthanasia: Lap of Love
Good-bye My Friend
If it should be that I grow weak
And pain should keep me from my sleep,
Then you must do what must be done,
For this last battle cannot be won.
You will be sad, I understand.
Don’t let your grief then stay your hand.
For this day, more than all the rest,
Your love for me must stand the test.
We’ve had so many happy years.
What is to come can hold no fears.
You’d not want me to suffer so;
The time has come -- please let me go.
Take me where my need they’ll tend,
And please stay with me til the end.
Hold me firm and speak to me,
Until my eyes no longer see.
I know in time that you will see
The kindness that you did for me.
Although my tail its last has waved,
From pain and suffering I’ve been saved.
Please do not grieve--it must be you
Who had this painful thing to do.
We’ve been so close, we two, these years;
Don’t let your heart hold back its tears.
One of our COFA partners, Angela Halfman of Cause for SB Paws is the Hero behind the rescue of Pearl. Take a look at these before and after pictures and consider fostering an animal to get it off of death row at county shelters, and into the arms of a loving forever family!
Thanks to the compassionate hearts of generous friends and neighbors, we have have countless carloads of new and gently-used blankets, towels, sheets, pet beds, toys, food, medicine go directly to help needy cats and dogs!
COFA has covered the greater Southern California area from the mountains of San Bernadino to the coast of Orange County all the way down to Mexico, dropping off needed donations to rescue groups, county shelters and independent rescuers who are in the trenches, saving dogs right off the street from certain death.
Here are just a handful of photos documenting our latest efforts. Sign up to stay in touch with our news and events and please join us in our efforts, because YOU are making a difference in the lives of these precious animals who otherwise would have no hope.
Click on the photos below to launch slideshow!
Thanks to the vision and effort of the remarkable Dr. Alicia Harvey Vera and her students in public health, the first-ever Health Fair for Pets and People was held in Tijuana Mexico on April 25, 2015.
Several dozen people and pets were given health care, including vaccinations and spay/neuter for dogs and cats; glucose and blood pressure screenings for humans, and all around compassionate care, education and outreach.
It was so heart-warming to see the loving bond between people and their pets. A caring caress, calming words, cuddles and hugs were the norm. Everyone (animals too!) waited patiently for their exams and treatment and the feeling of goodwill was enormous.
Many thanks go out to all the volunteers including the Lions Club of Tijuana, the medical students of the University of Baja California, the Tijuana vets, the local volunteers, Royce Bordes and Noretta Baker of COFA partner organization Angels N Paws animal rescue, and the many people who donated food, pet supplies, medication.
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More than 200 dogs and cats were flown to freedom by Wings of Rescue, founded by pilot and animal lover Yehuda Netanel. These abandoned animals were sponsored by several rescue groups coming together along with countless volunteers. COFA was on the scene to assist with media, press and publicity. "Thank you" is not enough for all the hard work from so may people...
The Wings of Rescue airlifts have been featured in national media, as well as spotlighted on Fox's All-American Dog Rescue national television specials!
Click on an image below to launch slideshow!
The remarkable Alicia Harvey has one foot in the US and one foot in Mexico, driving miles to pick up and deliver donations to her network of compassionate people rescuing desperate animals off the streets near Tecate and Tijuana, Mexico.
Alicia not only has a compassionate heart for animals, but she also is a Doctor of Public Health and is researching ways to elevate the health and well-being of communities in Mexico, especially the hardest-hit populations.
Alicia is an exemplary COFA HERO and we celebrate and honor her commitment to alleviating the suffering of animals and humans, creating a better life...for All!