I love my job. Everyone that knows me, knows I love every aspect of it. Even when things get tough, I tend to find a way to see the positive. We often get asked how we handle euthanasia’s, followed by the comment “I could never do that”. Believe me, when I say that most of the time, it really isn’t the hardest part of our job. We feel like even then, we are helping the pets and being their advocates. But then there are the times that it becomes the hardest thing you’ll ever do…

When I first met Andy, he was in his prime. He pranced around like a well-bred dressage horse. No wonder standard poodles are referred to as “king poodles” (Königspudel) in German. He certainly was majestic. His hair coat was black as coal, with curls so perfect as if they were done by a French hairdresser. His owner was an older gentleman, with similar curls and a classy mustache, possibly sharing the same hairdresser and a similarly noble posture. They were the perfect match. They both were genuinely kind, always carrying a smile on their face.

As both matured, his owner started carrying a walking cane, swinging it around like a fancy accessory, while Andy became stiffer in his rear end and his prancing seemed to have lost the spring of his youth. It was around that time that the owner’s wife passed unexpectedly and their life changed forever. She had taken care of both of them and the pain of her loss was written all over their faces. The constant smile was replaced with deeply sad eyes. They eventually moved to be with the owner’s daughter and I thought I would never see them again.

But here they were for their last visit. They both had changed tremendously, since I had last seen them. The owner was a skinny, fragile, old man with silver curls and hands so thin as if they were made of glass. His walking cane had become a true crutch for his marked weakness, as he barely made it to the chair. He was a picture of misery and his eyes were filled with tears. Andy was unable to stand and like his owner, he was skin and bone. His eyes were sunken and had lost their sparkle, he could barely lift his head, there was a large open wound on one of his pronounced hip bones. He hadn’t urinated in 3 days and as I helped him up, he was able to relieve himself, making his owner give me one last hopeful look, but no words were exchanged. As I slowly let him go, he sunk back to the ground and I touched his owner’s hand “you know this is the right thing to do, to let him go in dignity” I heard myself say. He weakly nodded his head. His sadness overcame me. I was taking his last true friend, there was nothing I could do to make it better.

It was time for Andy to cross the rainbow bridge and we both knew it, yet that didn’t make it any easier. Andy was tired, he closed his eyes as I gave him the injection, almost like he was waiting to be put out of his misery. His owner’s hand was gently stroking his face and his fingers were shaking. Tears, like raindrops were falling to the ground and onto his silver curls. He took one last breath before letting go forever. His owner’s eyes seemed empty, he seemed in disbelieve that Andy could be gone and at the same time strangely relieved that it was so easy for him to go.

I cut a few of those special curls and put them in a small bag and he held them tight as he was leaving, his sadness had filled the room for hours to come. These are the moments that you can never be prepared for, the moments that break your heart. The moment that you wish “I could never do that”…

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