As precious as our senior dogs are to us, there comes a time when we need to consider euthanasia as a means to respect the quality of life that we've provided them throughout their lives. It's not an easy topic to broach, especially when you're in the midst of the process.
Timothy J. O'Brien, M.S. has put together a very thoughtful book, "Is It Time to Say Goodbye?: A Guide for Considering a Difficult Decision for your Pet" which covers the process from your first inclinations that you might be reaching the end of your dog's life through determining how to best handle what happens after it is over. The book is effective for all pets, although the author does call out that some of the medical procedures might be different for species other than dogs and cats. There are several mentions of older pets and how to best consider their needs.
This book brought up a lot of emotions about my last senior dog, Boo Boo, and I found myself going through the same reactions that I had while reading through this short (80 pages), but powerful tome.
Mr. O'Brien has obviously thought about the emotions involved, as he writes without judgement about the different emotions that come up during this difficult time. His use of a workbook-like format at key points proves an effective means for individuals going through the grieving process (including anticipatory grief) to recall how and why they're coming to the answers that they are. The most prevalent example of this is the Quality of Life Assessment Graph (QOLAG) which helps pet owners understand how their pet's quality of life is trending by asking six simple questions on a regular basis, followed up by a final question about how accurate the pet owner feels they were.
When the time eventually comes the guide walks the reader through the considerations for the pet, themselves, as well as others in the pet's life. There is a lot to consider when working with your pet's veterinarian during this time, but throughout the book, Mr. O'Brien talks about how your vet and their staff might help you better understand the process.
Finally it covers how to work through the challenges and emotions that follow.
"Did I do enough" is one of those questions, that no matter how much you dismiss beforehand, almost always will pop into your head when all is said and done. Besides friends, family, and veterinarian, I think whether a pet owner reads this book well in advance or even during the decision making process that they could find no better resource to help them make the right call and ultimately honor the memory of their caring pet.
A website companion of the book is available at: http://petlossgriefguide.com/
You can get your own copy of the book in the following formats:
PDF Version (Free): Is It Time to Say Goodbye? A Guide for Considering a Difficult Decision for Your Pet
Kindle Version Is It Time to Say Goodbye? A Guide for Considering a Difficult Decision for Your Pet