I had my first euthanasia during the Covid-19 crisis and it was soul crushing. I can remember my first euthanasia as a real life veterinarian, blue under the collar, ready to take on the world and save lives. But what I learned that day was that we take lives too. No one can prepare us for the emotional hardships we internalize when we agree to send those beloved pets over the rainbow bridge. We help honor those we serve with the unwavering duty we took an oath to do, end suffering. The love and the bond we bind ourselves too; from the pet’s we serve, their owners, extended family and friends of the pet, and the work family provides us with inspiration and wonderment but sadness as well. Even though the covid crisis has sent us all into a tailspin of fear and confusion, I believe, as most veterinarians, we are problem solvers and we are slowly gaining confidence that we can persevere. Until the day that my long time client with their 15 year old Corgi decides it’s time to go to the rainbow bridge after a long hard fight. I spoke with them over the phone and set a time for them to bring their fur baby in. All I could think of was how this pet has pledged his life to his owners; to be their keeper until the end of his days. It literally made me pause, put my head in my hands and cry. Soul crushing. The worst part of all. was not the actual process of the euthanasia, but the inability to physically comfort my clients in their most vulnerable moment. A moment they are choosing to share with me. Sitting silently in the room, everyone’s hands place on the pet but not touching each other, saying our goodbyes. Soul crushing. To not be able to convey in words what a loving hug would do for that owner. I never worked it out in my head what to do if my clients need my assistant in their pets passing during this time of crisis and all the restrictions that are being placed on us to stay safe. I can only hope that they know how much I love them and thank them for the honor in sharing such a beautiful moment in time. Soul crushing on many levels. I will never take for granted the ability to hug my clients in those moments, to hold their hand, to wipe their tears. So moving forward, I will be grateful for my chosen profession and all the love that we get to experience on many levels. As my mother always says, “this too shall pass.” One day I will be able to once again hug my extended pet family. Until then, I will take a moment to recognize all the small tokens of appreciation and love that me and my clients share on daily basis without physical touch.
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