“When is the Right Time to Say Goodbye?” by Jonathan Uyede

jadeWhen I was growing up, our family always had animals, but Jade was different; Jade was MY first dog.  A dog for which I made all the decisions.

Jade came into my life in my early university days.  She was obtained as a “rescue” dog, as her loving family realized they didn’t have the time to care for her with the arrival of a newborn.  Luckily,  I knew that I would have the time to care for her, and so I adopted her.  She was my sweet companion who moved with me from student house to student house – stealing hearts along the way.  Jade was with me when I was first accepted into vet school, and she quickly became a very tolerant pin cushion on which my roommates and I would practice our techniques.

As the years went by, I noticed her age catching up with her and saw the slow progression of arthritis.  Our walks became shorter and her energy slowly declined. She always wagged her tail, and our walks were the highlight of her day but I knew that she was in a lot of pain.  To ease the discomfort of arthritis, medications were used – and would help for a short period of time – but eventually each particular medication would not be sufficient to suppress the pain and we would have to move on to a more powerful one. Indeed, it hurt me to watch her get up and greet me as I knew how much discomfort she was in.

When is the “right” time to say goodbye? I pondered this question over and over again, wondering how I would – how I could – make this decision. Then one day early in my veterinary career,  I saw the look in her eye; she was telling me she couldn’t go on any longer.  At that point, I knew in my heart it was the right time to say goodbye.

As a veterinarian, I council pet owners about when to say goodbye to their loved ones.  I review all aspects of their pet’s medical conditions including their blood chemistry, their mobility, their bodily functioning etc. But at the end of the appointment, it comes back to my experience with Jade; is the pet telling you it’s time to go? My tenure as Jade’s owner allowed me to understand first-hand the heart-wrenching struggle that nearly every pet owner goes through when making the hard decision to say “goodbye”.

Jade was MY first dog – and so much more. A true companion, she taught me many life lessons about love and loss; experiences that have allowed me to help my clients make those hard decisions themselves when the time arrives .  Jade, I will never forget you.