A Final Farewell to a Beloved Friend
Tally Oaks Veterinary Service is here to assist you when the times provides in home euthanasia services for your pet. We come to your home or farm when euthanasia services are needed. Dr. Woerner personally coordinates and performs all euthanasia services and will discuss your needs as well as consult with your on any questions you may have about your animal’s well being. We believe in a very peaceful and pain free process and a cocktail of drugs is given to allow your pet to pass into a deep and tranquil sleep prior to the euthanasia agent being administered. This allows you to spend some quality moments at the end and also allows the euthanasia process to proceed at whatever pace is needed for you to say goodbye.
We work closely with a well respected cremation service – Agape Pet Services, in Boonsboro, MD, to provide either private cremation (your pets ashes are returned in a wooden box, name inscribed) or a standard cremation where no ashes are returned but cremation is performed in a state of the art facility.
At Tally Oaks Veterinary Service, we believe it is important to be able to offer our companions a peaceful final farewell. It is both a privilege and an honor for us to be available to support you and your family during this most difficult time. We provide families with the utmost respect and compassion to help ease their friend's struggle and to make sure the final transition is peaceful and without fear. We are available for in-home euthanasia regardless if your pet is a hospice patient or not..
Frequently Asked Questions
How will I know it's the right time?
Assessing your pet's quality of life is a very personal matter and really depends on your pet's personality and condition. Nobody knows your pet better than you and your family and you are ultimately the best judges of quality of life for your pet. We recommend that you keep track of your pet's day to day activities and mark your calendar or journal with your observations. Try to rank the days with a number system (1= very poor day, 10 = a very fantastic day) or with a happy face/straight face/sad face. This will allow you to look back over days to weeks to look for trends in how your pet is doing. You can also make a list of 5 things that your pet used to like to do when he or she was well. If your pet can no longer do any of these activities, this would be a strong indication that his or her quality of life is fading. You can also look for the following changes in your companion:
- Dramatic changes in appetite or thirst.
- Decreased interest in playing or family activities.
- Intractable pain or anxiety.
- Inability to stand or walk without assistance.
- Becoming incontinent or loss of housebreaking.
- Having fewer "good" days than bad days.
What should I do before Dr. Woerner arrives on the day of euthanasia?
Plan to have other family members and pets in the house say goodbye if they will not be present during the euthanasia. Have friends and family members arrive ahead of time so they can be prepared to help you and be with you during this difficult time. Try to promote as calm and peaceful an atmosphere as possible to help keep your pet calm. Choose an area such as a favorite room, a special place in the house, or even somewhere quiet outdoors. You may want to play soft music or dim the lights. If possible, take your pet out for a potty break within 1-2 hours of the appointment.
Can I feed my pet prior to the euthanasia?
Yes. Your pet's final moments should be happy and filled with whatever gives him or her joy- be it a steak dinner or a McDonald's burger. Whatever special treat your pet might like is fine. Keep in mind that some of the medications used to help sedate your pet prior to the final part of the euthanasia process may make him or her slightly nauseous so try not to give a large amount of food within 1-2 hours of the appointment. Small amounts of treats should be fine.
Should my children be present for the euthanasia?
This is a very personal question and truly depends on your child's age, maturity level, and ability to reason. As a parent, this is your chance to help teach your children that death is a natural part of life and that it is not to be feared. Most often, the loss of a pet is a child's first exposure to death and including them to some degree in the decision making process can help them to cope with future losses in a healthy manner.
Resources such as the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement (www.aplb.org) and the Argus Institute (www.argusinstitute.colostate.edu) can help to provide additional insight to this matter. If you have decided to not have your children present, please try to have arrangements made ahead of time for their care before Dr. Woerner's arrival.
Should my other pets be present for the euthanasia?
Again, this is a very personal question and the answer depends on the personalities of your other pets. Some animals are quite "in tune" with what is happening and may prefer to lay close to their housemate during the whole procedure. Others may prefer to be in the room but at a distance. Still others may be too excited by all the happenings and therefore too distracted to be present. In this situation, it may be best to have them in a separate area until the euthanasia itself is done. It is sometimes helpful to let the other pets come in after the fact to say goodbye. Animals do grieve and allowing them to see their housemate after the euthanasia can help them in this process.
Does my pet understand what is happening?
None of us will ever truly know how much our pets understand of our human activities. However, our pets definitely feed off of our emotions. Try to reassure your pet that they will be alright and that you love them. Give them permission to let go and move on to their great transition. Some people find it best to explain each step of what is going on and others like to tell their pets that they have been the best possible companion and that their friends will be waiting to welcome them home. Other people like to have a memorial service incorporating the euthanasia as a final farewell for their friend. Whatever you decide to do is appropriate for your pet and your family and please know that it is normal to be upset and grieve. You are losing an important family member and all of the emotions you will be experiencing are normal and to be expected.
What happens once Dr. Woerner arrives?
Once Dr. Woerner arrives, she will answer any last minute questions you may have about the procedure. She will also need you to sign a form giving her permission to perform Euthanasia and stating that your pet has not bitten anybody in the past 2 weeks. You can also make payment arrangements at this time if you have not done so already during a previous conversation. Once these logistical items are taken care of and you are ready, Dr. Woerner will give your pet a sedative shot either beneath the skin or in a vein. This will help to relax your pet and alleviate any unnecessary stress or pain. This injection is no more painful than a typical vaccination and your pet will be deeply sedated within 5-10 minutes. During this time, you may continue to comfort and talk to your pet. You can also share stories with friends and family members about your pet's life.
Once your pet is sleeping soundly and you have said your final goodbyes, Dr. Woerner will inject a euthanasia solution that will stop the heart and respiration, usually within a minute or two. This injection may be given into a vein or into your pet's abdomen. Regardless of the route used, your pet will remain unconscious during this injection and will not feel any pain or discomfort whatsoever. Occasionally, pets may take a few final deep breaths or have some slight muscle twitching. Most likely, your pet will not close his or her eyes and this is normal. In general, the final injection allows your pet to pass on peacefully and quietly. You have the option to be present with your pet throughout every stage of the euthanasia process or not. Everybody is different and that is O.K. Just let Dr. Woerner know what you prefer to do.
What happens after my pet is euthanized?
Once Dr. Woerner has confirmed that your pet has passed away, you can continue to spend as much time as you need with your pet. If you have elected cremation, Dr. Woerner will wrap your pet in a blanket and carry him or her out to the car. Tally Oaks Veterinary Service will arrange to deliver your pet to a local crematory and the ashes will be available for pick up at the office within several days. You have the option to have special items cremated with your pet such as a favorite toy or blanket, a letter, or a special picture. Just let Dr. Woerner know what you want to be done. Dr. Woerner can also help to arrange other after care options if you do not prefer to have a private cremation for your pet.
What are some ways I can honor my friend?
Honoring your friend is an important part of both the grieving and healing process. Our pet companions enrich our lives and give us so much joy. It is important to remember that your pet has benefited from your relationship just as you have. You have already honored your pet by giving him or her the best quality of life you could and that is a very important gift. Now, as your pet's end-of-life approaches, there is no limit to how you can celebrate your pet's life and honor the bond you shared. Be creative! A few examples are:
- Sharing a story about the good times you shared together with a friend or family member.
- Write a eulogy for your pet or a love letter to your pet to give thanks for your relationship.
- Purchasing a keepsake or personalized treasure that reminds you of your pet.
- Make a photo collage of your pet's life.
There is no time more important or more precious as when your pet embarks on his or her final transition from this world. For us, the difficulty lies in knowing that we will never feel that cold nose press against us or the feel of the soft fur under our hands again. It is even more difficult to remember that only the earthly part of our relationship with our pet is ending. The bond we share with all of our pets will continue on forever in our hearts even without the daily physical reminders of their presence. This is a time of courage, selflessness, and tenderness. It is a sacred event and truly a final gift of compassion for a beloved friend. At Tally Oaks, we will do all we can to make the process as smooth and peaceful as possible for all those involved. Good communication is key during this sensitive time and please don't hesitate to let us know if you have any special needs or requests regarding your pet's final moments. Remember, this is a final gift of compassion for your pet and a selfless act of love!