Tag Archives: euthanasia

Today we said goodbye

Today we said goodbye to one of our beloved patients. As a licensed veterinary technician who works in an oncology (cancer) department, I often hear the Oncologist quote things like “with [his type of cancer] the median survival rate without treatment is 3 months and with treatment: 12-18 months.” “T”, as I will call him to give his family the privacy and respect they deserve, outlived those statistics living to a staggering 31 months after his diagnosis! 

T was one of those dogs that everyone was scared of when he first came in, a breed that tends to be “not-so-nice” in the veterinary world, but I’m pretty sure it was love at first sight for me! His mom, tough as nails (just like me), his dad, a big teddy bear kinda guy who laughed despite wanting to cry. I met T right after his diagnosis, a scary time for his owners with a lot of unknowns. They were scared he might bite me when we met and insisted he wore a muzzle every time! Over time though, I showed them that their boy trusted me and that I understood him. In the last two years, we rarely ever muzzled him. 

He was one of those dogs that announced he was in the building, the kind of dog that would bark and bark until you gave him attention or treats! I fell in love with T and his family as each week/month/year passed. T truly has a special place in my heart. 

I’ve written about euthanasia before, and how hard it is for the veterinary technician to deal with the loss of someone else’s pet (so I’ll save the repeat post for another time). But, today that loss is as real as ever – it’s hard not to connect with animals especially when you see them so often and for so long. 

Today, as I saw those eyes, they were not the same as they have been in the past. His pain showed, his lungs struggling for air, my heart broken for him, for his family… I thought about all of the great times I had with T. All of the times I snuck away to hug him and give him extra treats, All the times I laughed with his mom about his quirks. Today, after we said goodbye, I cried, I sobbed, I even hugged multiple people (which is a clear indicator of how sad I was because of you know me, you know hugging just isn’t my thang).

T is sure to be one of the pets who leaves a stamp on my heart forever, one that I will likely shed tears for over and over again.

Tonight, I hope you hug your pets a little tighter… I know I will…. 

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Dealing with euthanasia: a vet tech perspective 

I recently read a blog by a veterinary technician about how vet techs cry even though you may not see it. At the time I thought “wow this is so true” but today it hits home more than ever (I can’t find the link but once I do I will link to the post). 

Sometimes as a vet tech we have to deal with owners making the hard decision to euthanize their pet, sometimes we have to witness the owner unable to make that decision and therefore the pet essentially suffers until they make the decision for them. As an oncology technician I feel like we may deal with these decisions more often than we’d like to – not because chemo “doesn’t work” but because our patients don’t typically live for 5-10 years after treatment (don’t be mistaken, I’ve seen some beat some pretty grim odds). Typically our patients live anywhere between 3 months and 3 years after we see them, many come to see us for quite a long time and weekly to biweekly – so as you can imaging we become attached to our patients, and their parents. 

I personally feel like I get attached to some parents more than others, mostly because they come the same day at the same time so I tend to do their appointment. These last few weeks have been trying. First we lost one of our most favorite patients, he had lymphoma and wasn’t responding to treatment, his owners ultimately decided that they no longer wanted him to suffer and decided to let him go. I think of him often, and wonder if his sister (who always came in with him as a support buddy) is doing well as an only pup. I miss his mom and dad, they were dedicated and loved him very much but were also becoming like family – since we saw them so much. 

Then we lost one two many of our other patients – some from sudden deaths others from euthanasia. 

Last night one of our long term patients came in through the emergency service – when I saw him this morning my eyes welled up because he just wasn’t the same happy pup I have grown to know and love. He was just in the other day, bobbing along, wagging his tail. He’s always been so happy and today he just was not that way.  

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t in the best of moods this morning, and selfishly stayed away from him as to not bring down my mood more. Before I left though, I made sure to say goodnight, and hug dad – the worst part of my job is when I see their parents crying. 

I consider myself a very strong person, I rarely cry in front of people, but what most people don’t realize is when I get in my car on my way home, I cry. I cry all the way home – I cry for my patient, I cry for their family, I cry for my team, I cry for myself. 

This is not an easy job – it’s not easy to love someone else’s pet like they are your own and not be able to make any life decisions for them – when a pet parent can’t bring themselves to end their suffering sometimes I wish I could make the decision for them – because it breaks my heart to see their baby (my baby) suffer – it breaks my heart to see them (as the owner) suffer. 

The next time you go to the vet, please remember that the people who are caring for your animals love them, and in time will grow to love you as well. Remember that we, as veterinary professionals may not cry with you, we must be strong – but boy do we cry… Even the strongest. 

Tonight I will pray for my friends dad, I will pray for him and pray that his suffering ends soon. For now, the kiss I gave him before I left work will be a “see you later” as I don’t like goodbyes.

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Good days and bad days

Anyone who has experienced any type of daily challenge can attest to good and bad days. As a veterinary nurse working with pet patients with cancer, I can also say that some days are good and some bad. Today was a bad day. We said goodbye to one of my favorite patients today – now don’t get me wrong, I love all of the patients. I treat them all like they are my own, but occasionally one comes along that really effects you. This pup (who we’ll name “Teddy” for the purpose of this blog) was one the best – even at his sickest moments “Teddy” always wagged his tail. He would snuggle on the floor with me as we waited for his chemo orders, and he was always wagging and wiggling. When we’d be done with his chemo and ready to bring him back to mom he’d always grab his red leash and pull me (as if to walk me) back to his owners. He was such a gentle soul, who you could tell loved us as much as we love(d) him.
Knowing full well that I was “eating my feelings” I went to the vending machine. I was cognizant of what I was doing but I bought a Twix, and pop corn. After work I went to the deli and got a BLT and a crunch bar. Why do I always resort to chocolate when I’m feeling some sort of way? I didn’t continue eating everything in the house though, as all that’s here is salad and chicken and healthy foods – they don’t seem as appetizing when you know you’re not actually hungry but eating because you’re sad.
Although today was a bad day, I’m trying to find the good. Sure, my food choices weren’t the best – but I got in my workout, and I stopped myself before I went totally out of control.
This weeks schedule is a bit crazy again, but I have a plan that I think will help get my training in.

I hope tomorrow is a better day.

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