On May 7, 2017 I took a chance on a senior dog languishing in an animal shelter at the later stages of his life. Fast forward to August 4, 2019, when I helped my senior friend over the Rainbow Bridge. Even though Scout and I only knew each other for 2.5 short years, he stole my heart. Scout was my four-legged soul mate. Making the decision to say goodbye to Scout was one of the most heart wrenching decisions I’ve made as an adult. In my lifetime I’ve euthanized many other fur friends; horses and dogs, but none had the emotional impact of Scout.
When I adopted Scout at 12 years old, I hoped for 4 or 5 years to give him the love he had been missing his whole life. Sadly, the universe had other plans and I watched my friend steadily decline over the last 6 months. Scout suffered from Canine Cognitive Dysfunction which was slowly deteriorating his brain, body and his quality of life.
For months I struggled with knowing the “right time” to let Scout go. What I discovered was there was no right time for me; figuring out the right time for Scout became my purpose. I looked for answers everywhere; I consulted my primary veterinarian, I read books, I joined Facebook groups, I scoured online resources, and even consulted a second veterinarian for an opinion.
When it became obvious the answer I was looking for was only going to come from me, I started documenting concrete evidence of Scout’s decline. I took pictures of him daily and compared them to last week, last month, 3 months ago, last year. This allowed me to see the light in his eyes extinguishing. My fiery little terrier was losing his flame. I took video of him once a week. This enabled me to see Scout as others did; walking in circles obsessively, pacing and panting for hours at a time, falling down and not being able to get back up, a lost interest in food, and in the end, not knowing how to drink from his water bowl.
Documenting Scout’s condition allowed me to see I was keeping Scout alive for me and not for him. In the end, the one piece of information I read that helped me make a final decision for Scout was this snippet from the organization Lap of Love (LapOfLove.com) “If the most important thing to you is waiting until the last possible minute to say goodbye to your baby, you will most likely be facing an emergency, stress-filled, sufferable condition for your pet. It may not be peaceful and you may regret waiting too long. If a peaceful, calm, loving, family-oriented, in-home end of life experience is what you wish for your pet, then you will probably need to make the decision a little sooner than you want. Making that decision should not be about ceasing any suffering that has already occurred, but about preventing suffering from occurring in the first place.”
Until Scout became sick, I did not know in-home euthanasia was an option for pet owners. Once I learned of the service, I knew this was the only way I could let Scout go and set out to find a vet who would help us. In the end, Scout was euthanized in my home with me, my husband and our dog Fletch by his side. Another piece of information I learned on my journey with Scout is that pet owners have the opportunity to bring their pet’s body to the crematorium rather than arranging transport through your veterinarian. Scout and I made one final road trip together and I got to chat with him and hold his paw the whole way. When we arrived at the crematorium, I brought him inside and the staff placed him in a room for me to spend our last few moments together. When I was ready, I carried him to the crematorium and said my final good bye. I’ve recounted this story to friends and some think I’m a little batty, but for me, spending as much time as possible with Scout before his body left the earth, gave me a sense of closure on my abbreviated relationship with my bestie.
For those of you dealing with a pet in failing health, I wish you peace and hope my experience with Scout will help some of you find your way to the “right time” for your fur friend.