In Favor of Gentle Goodbyes

OK, before you start reading: Max is not dead. Onward.

Today I am grateful for a service called Gentle Goodbyes. Their website says “when it’s time to say goodbye to your pet, it should be gentle, surrounded by family and in your own home.”

Um, YES. About time. And for the record, I am still completely traumatized from the last time I had to end the life of a beloved dog. My primary memory of her last moments were of her struggling, unhappy and scared, carrying her into the vet (and I still believe that she was scared most of being left there again, hooked up to an IV and miserable in a cage). And before that, a judgey vet who kept telling me we could prolong her life if I would just commit to her being on an IV and in a crate for much of every day.

My largest beast (Maxim) has been on the downward slide for three years. The move to Boise has revived him somewhat but he continues to age, growing increasingly more arthritic with delicate internal systems. He’s not young, somewhere around thirteen or fourteen, and he came from the pound with some signs of . . . not precisely a rough life, but one without much in the way of preventative care.

I’ve made the decision that when he goes into massive shut down mode again, we’re not going to reengage in the weeks on an IV, thousands of dollars worth of inconclusive tests and drug experiments. It’s partly because I know I don’t want that for myself, and that he hated it last time, and yes, that the resources just aren’t there these days. Also, what resources we have need to go to keeping the rest of the animals fed and housed.  There will be a point, not to far off, when it will be time to let him go.

But ah, the total dread of dealing with the vet. It’s not just the backbreaking effort of hauling an 90lb dog in and out of the car to a place he REALLY does not want to go. Or the MASSIVE guilt of refusing to do just one more test or regime. Or the expense of it all. Well, it’s all of those things. But it’s also the horror of putting him through all that misery.

So, it might sound dark but I was so happy to find an ad for a vet service that will come to your home, administer the kill shot and help you deal with the body in whatever way you wish. IMHO, it’s the kind thing to do for Max.

In Boise, it’s called Gentle Goodbyes. They employ a group of vets who will come to your home within 48 hours of being called. When I spoke with them to get the details, they were kind and patient. Pricing, while perhaps a little higher than a vet visit (about $220 for the visit/shot, additional costs for body removal and cremation depending on your choices), was not high and seemed reasonable to me.

In practical terms, it was also a relief to know they had a service to cope with the body, something I really didn’t think I could do on my own. And I appreciated knowing it in advance what it would cost versus having to write a check at the vet office while sobbing brokenheartedly (yes, that happened. More than once.).

I was headed out on a long-planned trip and worried that Max would start failing while I was gone. On the phone, Gentle Goodbyes worked with me to authorize the decision to euthanize and emailed me a healthcare directive form for use by the vet and my dog sitter. They understood that my priority was minimizing Max’s distress, not making him hang on in misery until I could get back to the U.S. and watch him die.

We both got lucky and there was no need to call for their services while I was gone. Still, knowing I had a good plan that would minimize Max’s distress relieved so much anxiety for me. So thank you to the vets and staff at Gentle Goodbyes. I’m not looking forward to my next call to you but I am really, really grateful that you are there.

And so here’s a question for every other location in the U.S.: what’s the deal? Why isn’t this an available option everywhere? And why don’t more vet offices offer a home visit for this service?

OK, those are sort of rhetorical questions. I actually have a pretty good idea of the answers. What I’m saying is, I hope we can find more ways to offer compassionate care for our animals everywhere.

Totally off topic: this monkey is in rehab in Costa Rica. He need socialization and to form bonds to a new family group. Go Costa Rica. And boo to idiots who think they can have baby monkeys as pets and then dump them in the forest when they get older and aggressive.  Don't do that.
Totally off topic: this guy is in rehab in Costa Rica. He needs care and socialization to form bonds to a new family group. Go Proyecto Asis near La Fortuna for working to make that happen! And boo to idiots who think they can have sweet baby monkeys as pets and then dump them in the forest when they get older and aggressive. Don’t do that.

And now back to Max and the rest of the Mints. None of whom have recently died.