One part of my job is to help ease pain and suffering for pets. Sometimes this requires me to help the owners make the ultimate decision about their pet. Many of these owners I have come to know over the years of helping with their pets, and even though we all may know what the right decision is for their pet when the time comes, I cannot help but to be sad. I am sad for the obvious reasons, but also sad in a few other ways as well. I am sad that the owner has to go through this very difficult decision and process. I know how agonizing it can be because I have gone through the same process with my own pets. I know the guilt they are wrestling with and the hurt of the thought of not having their companion around. I am also sad because many times it also means that I may not see that person as much or at all, if this is their last pet. As doctors we are supposed to remain unemotional and unattached to our patients and clients; however we as veterinarians are terrible at this. I get to know our clients, and we form special bonds with them as we work through these emotional decisions. They become friends and many are like family. I know that I as hug them when they leave the room, I might not see them again or it may be a while, and that is always hard for me.
However, as down as I get and our staff gets when we see that owner leave our office, there is such an immense joy when that client walks back into our office one day with a new pet. It feels like Christmas! We get to see the person again under such happier circumstances, and most of all we get to catch up. I get to find out what their kids and family are up to, and I get to see them with a healthy pet and talk about all the fun things in store for them with their new friend. I get to remind them of all the details they forgot about young animals as they were caring for their older pet. It creates an excited buzz around our office, and many times the pet gets paraded around the back so everyone can partake in the joy. (…Sim-baaaaaa!) I know the owners may think our office is crazy as we make such a fuss over their new pet, but this is the reward that helps us get through the hard times. So try not to laugh at us as we steal your pet and march them around, take pictures of them, talk to them in goofy voices, and all the other silly things we are apt to do. It is simply part of our healing process from the loss of previous pets, and a welcome thrill which makes the harder moments of our job much more bearable.