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putting a dog to sleep

Putting a Dog to Sleep as a Final Act of Love

We had to put down a dog today, and it is something I must write about before my memory fails me. Because first, it wasn’t as hard a decision as I thought it would be. Second, it was a final act of love. Putting a dog to sleep or simply dog euthanasia is a sensitive topic that no one wants to talk about. It’s common especially for elderly or senior dogs. But what we had to put down today was a puppy. Yes, a puppy about three months old. Too young to be gone, but I believe it’s for the best.

Sending Cola to her fur-ever home

If you do not know yet, we were fostering a dog named Cola in our apartment. She was also abused with visible cuts on both ears and had severe mange. Then, she was rescued and brought to our foster home. With love and care, she grew beautifully and when you look right into her eyes, you can find almost no trace of whatsoever abuse or neglect. Just because she feels loved. So, we found her an adopter, and we sent her there today.

Lo and behold, just right after we sent her home, we found this puppy at the side of the road. They called him Puthaw – a puppy once very active and playful, but now lethargic and curling up at the roadside. He has a big wound on his right leg – which later diagnosed by the vet as a result of car accident. So, we looked for the owner of Puthaw, and talked to them. And never had I felt so much anger and frustration inside towards the owners for not taking the initial steps of bringing him to the vet. He’s been suffering for days already, and I see no interest in them looking after him as if Puthaw is a ticking bomb – just waiting to go off. Then, I knew I MUST DO SOMETHING!

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Without hesitation, I decided that we bring him. Thankfully, we had a crate with size just enough for Puthaw. The nerve of the owner telling us to bring him back just in case he gets well. The nerve! On the way to the vet, I was already looking forward of him transforming into a beautiful boy, playing with our other puppies – Carcar and Ferdie. But when I looked inside the crate, my heart just stopped.

Remembering Bongga

Very familiar symptoms have shown. I remember Bongga whom I fought so hard. But still, we lost our battle to distemper.

Puthaw was in excruciating pain –  his wound was infected and already showing flesh and bones. He cried so much in pain everytime he was moved. I couldn’t bear hearing it. Yet, I still hear it right now – loud and clear. The people back there didn’t understand Puthaw. He saw them as getting aggressive – what they didn’t know he was in so much pain! What else? Eye and nasal discharges. Difficulty in breathing, and most of all, seizure. At the back of my mind, if ever he tested positive in distemper when we reach the clinic, I MUST DO SOMETHING.

Tested positive for distemper

So, we reached the clinic. The queue was too long. It was a three-hour wait before our turn. Puthaw also patiently waited, but still  he was having seizures. So we explained to the vet what happened, and yes he confirmed, Puthaw was hit by a vehicle. Imagine the pain this puppy had to go through – I JUST COULDN’T! They tested him for distemper, and in just a few minutes – a very clear line appeared. He was positive.

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I know that the question of putting a dog to sleep or not is very distressful. I had sleepless nights with it when I was still taking care of Bongga. Those days were so difficult, and no day my eyes weren’t swollen from crying. I didn’t put Bongga to sleep. He died naturally, and I was with him till his last breath. But remembering it is very tragic.

Today was different.

Without a second thought, I must do it – make that decision. And I told the doctor, let’s do it.

The doctor fully understood, and I know she confirmed it was the best decision – a final act of love. Puthaw was on his final stages – twitches and seizures, and he couldn’t stand by himself! His ribs were showing due to malnutrition plus the broken leg. Most of all, he was only a puppy – a young innocent pup deprived of a good family that all pets deserve.

I heard him cry so loud when the vet tech was holding him. It was only a gentle grip, but the pain made him do that. His cries were all over the clinic. But in a few minutes, it was followed by endless silence.

They pre-sedated him first before they injected the pink fluid. I couldn’t stop my tears from falling down. I was there and witnessed everything. When the pink fluid was injected, he was no longer resisting. And in just a few seconds, his breathing slowed down. And then stopped.

It was time…

During that short process, he didn’t experience any pain. And he no longer will. Isn’t it what rescue is all about? Removing the hurt and saving them from their pains. The very slim chance of surviving won’t even make his quality of life good. And I don’t want him to just exist, but live – which is nearly impossible given all the circumstances. I know it’s the final act of love. Puthaw, you were loved by us even if your family failed you. Run free and play endlessly like you did when you were younger.  

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Putting a dog to sleep – final act of love

I know that this is a sensitive topic as no one wants to talk about death in general. I’ve learned if you’d be faced with similar situation someday, remind yourself: if your pet already lost the ability to have positive experiences (like getting excited when receiving treats or playing or chasing a ball), just let go. It would be easier to let go. Your pet can’t talk, and if he is in the similar situation with Puthaw, he is no longer experiencing the pleasant “now”.

I just hope someday when death comes looking for our pets, the adopted or the rescued ones, even for the people that I love, or for me, we all have the luxury of just slipping away – peacefully. No more pain.

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