Nicholas looking distinguished

Making That Loving Heartbreaking Decision


As the country debates our health care system it made me think about two friends who are struggling with the health care decisions of a different kind. This summer these friends had to cancel a lunch because they discovered a tumor in their 10 year old Golden’s mouth and they were too distraught to meet. Luckily, they’ve got the financial resources to do whatever is necessary for Buddy, medically. Since then there’s been some improvement as the tumor has shrunk but they shared that it was only a temporary reprieve. They’ve decided that with such little time left with Buddy they would take him to his favorite lake in the Rocky Mountains.

This is an issue that most anyone who has ever had a pet knows only too well. I’m not even talking about the financial issues.  Even if we had all the money in the world to buy our pets the best care possible, or had the best pet insurance available, at some point, we all come to that same difficult decision. When do we determine that our little loved ones are not going to get better and are suffering unnecessarily?

As a person with a chronic illness I know only too well the toll that needles and medications and trips to the doctor can cause.

This isn’t an article to say what is right. It’s such an individual decision and everyone has a different opinion. I had one dear friend with a Cocker Spaniel who I thought euthanized her dog too soon, though I didn’t share my thoughts with her. She was adamant that she wasn’t going to let her dog suffer. With tears we both dug his grave.

Twice I’ve faced this difficult situation with my Goldens. Nicholas got to the point where he couldn’t walk anymore and Willy was just too sick. Both times I wanted them to keep battling and stay alive as long as possible.

My very opinionated mother will still tell you that I let Nicholas live for too long, that he was suffering too much. But to me, his mind was still sharp and alert. His white face glowed at night and his eyes still beamed with life.  I couldn’t do it. I’d already been carrying him up and down our many hillside stairs for over two years. But it was a labor of love. He’d given me so much. Finally, his legs gave out completely. After consulting with a local dog whisperer I knew it was time.

When Willy got sick a friend told me I was a good and kind owner to help my boy pass on when I did and not let it drag on with him suffering.

As I said before this is a highly personal decision. But I do have one suggestion that the dog whisperer recommended to me. Don’t let the last night be just a sad occasion. Don’t spend it crying alone in your bed. Celebrate the time that you’ve both had together. I bought Nicholas ground beef and pumpkin pie and went down to the river’s side, a place he loved, and had a picnic with him.  For Willy I took him to a friend’s swimming pool. It’s a place where we cooled off on many warm days. Though he was unable to go in the pool now, I made a comfortable bed for him to lie on. These last moments with my dear friends I will hold in my memory forever.

2 replies
  1. Julie Bowman
    Julie Bowman says:

    We lost our first Golden last January. It was the most painful experience of my life. He was 11 and developed cancer in his stomach. He was 11 and our vet said that treatment would be too hard for him. I kept thinking he would get better, but he only got worse. The day before we said goodbye I spent the day with him on my lap. I wept knowing what had to be done. He was clearly in pain and could no longer eat. They say you know when the time is right, but no time is ever right. I miss him dearly, but I have found a new golden to love. We rescued Riley last March and he is now the center of our world. I often wonder if Kirby is still here in some way sharing the joy that golden’s bring; such a special bond that we are fortunate enough to find. I look forward to reading your book when it comes out.

    • Dan Perdios
      Dan Perdios says:

      Thank you for sharing your heart-felt story. Saying good-bye was the toughest thing that I had ever done. I often wonder if my dogs are still here, too. Riley, like Morgan, is lucky to have a loving home and we are lucky to have our Goldens.


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