HOW MY DARLING DOG DRIFTED OFF

As I sit here typing this, my darling Jack Russell has less than 24 hours to live. Tomorrow morning the vet will come to our house and put him to sleep. So what have we done on this, his last full day? Nothing special, just trying to maintain normality with a lot of extra cuddles. He’s not keen on eating, even when I spoon feed him. He can hardly see and his hearing isn’t too good. A walk is out of the question as he needs now to be carried up and down steps and his back legs are very unsteady and so he keeps, despite his best efforts to remain standing, sitting down. I am strangely calm because I know he has a very poor quality of life, but I am dreading tomorrow when the vet rings our doorbell…

Grace holding her beloved Jack Russell / Putting a dog to sleep / CountryWives online magazine for women

I wrote these words four weeks ago. I can hardly believe a month has gone by already. But I am now ready to write about what happened that Friday.

Although Husband and I have been in this situation before, it was many years ago. Again a Jack Russell, he was also an older dog and, in his case, had heart problems. But even though we knew it was the kind thing to do, Husband and I just couldn’t face taking him to the vet. In the end, my brother in law took him. We were so upset we couldn’t bear to hear the details. Which is why the process was a bit of a mystery for us this time.

So, what happens exactly?

We took Jack to the vet and he confirmed that it would be kinder to put him to sleep. He said that, when we were ready, we could opt for a home or surgery visit.  Although heartbreaking, we knew it was the kindest option for Jack. A few days later, we rang the vet and made an appointment for a home visit.

Our vet – as I am sure all vets are – is a gentle and kind man. When he drew up, I went to meet him and he explained what the procedure would be. He was very respectful of both Jack and our emotions at all times, which was a massive comfort. It was a wonderful warm sunny day and so we sat on garden chairs, Jack laid on my lap with his head resting on his outstretched paws. Jack never moved a muscle and it was over almost instantly. It was very peaceful. Euthanasia literally means “a gentle and easy death”. I find huge comfort in that. I hope my own death is as dignified, quick and painless.

That was our experience but it can vary from pet to pet, so here are a few facts you may find useful about putting a dog to sleep:

You might be asked to sign a consent form.

Your dog may be given a mild sedative first to relax them.

The vet will gently shave or clip a small patch of fur from your dog’s front leg. A measured overdose of a drug, similar to an anaesthetic, is injected into the vein which will put your dog into a deep and permanent ‘sleep.’ All your dog feels is a tiny prick of the needle – then the injection is painless.

Unconsciousness follows within seconds, often before the injection is finished. Death occurs within a couple of minutes when the heart stops beating. It may take a little longer if the animal is extremely ill or has poor circulation.

In the few minutes after death you may see reflex muscle movement, or involuntary gasps. These are not signs of life, in fact, they are reflexes denoting that death has occurred. The eyes usually stay open and the bladder sometimes empties.

You can bury your dog at home or the vet will take your pet away and organise for them to be buried or cremated at a pet cemetery. Bear in mind, however, that some councils don’t allow home burials, or at least require you to ask permission, so speak to your local authority or ask your vet’s advice before you make your final decision. The ashes are usually ready for collection in approximately one week.

Costs vary according to the size of your dog – to give you an idea, we paid around £300 for the vet’s home visit and an individual cremation.

More information here from the Dogs Trust

In this vlog, Annabel and I talk about losing our dogs:

Jack Russell / Putting a dog to sleep / CountryWives online magazine for women Jack Russell / Putting a dog to sleep / CountryWives online magazine for women  Jack Russell / Putting a dog to sleep / CountryWives online magazine for women Jack Russell / Putting a dog to sleep / CountryWives online magazine for women

15 Comments

  1. These little beings come into our lives, steal our hearts and.when they go they take a piece with them which we think we will never get back. I remember putting Lottie, our first JR to sleep after an illness she could not recover from and being so broken hearted I could barely speak let alone leave the house for weeks. Unless you have had the privilege of sharing your life with a four legged friend who becomes your companion, it is difficult to comprehend the sadness. However, as my husband said – she was part of the journey and taught us so much about love and companionship. Keep the pictures up, talk about your beloved pooch and one day you might be ready to bring another one into your home.
    Take care.
    Debs x

    • Hi Debs, I really appreciate your kind comments, especially as you are also a firm fan of JRs. Luckily our second dog, a wonderfully natured black lab called Hero who is almost 14 years old, is great company and it helps to have him to cuddle. Hope you are enjoying this wonderfully warm Bank Holiday…. best wishes, Grace

  2. Awe what a touching vlog, we had a gorgeous Westie which had to be put to sleep at fifteen it’s a sad time, but a humane way to die.
    I agree fully about human euthanasia, if done in a dignified gentle way. As a retired Qualified Registerd nurse of 35yrs experience, believe you me it was the saddest situation of lingering death of a human being which got me every time. If human euthanasia could be carried out in a proper way , then it’s for me if I am ever in a position where I loose all my dignity etc and I have told my family this in a sensitive discussion we had and they are good with it.
    Of course we had the humour like you two always bring to a vlog about being old and lost our marbles in a nursing home but hopefully it’s a long way off for us all.
    As you now I love your blog on a Sat morning and I enjoy the stimulation of replying to my on line pals, where am I going with this, oh yeah, firstly Annabel I think it’s a bit risqué to wear clothes over the knee at our age but Wow you nailed with the pink ensemble so subtle,but you have great legs to carry it off.
    Grace the M&S festival cake looks divine, I live alone so to buy that would not be a good idea as I would I am be tempted to scoff the lot! but for a Bank Hol with visitors I would pay the £35 and pretend I made it myself Lol. No visitors this weekend as
    , my daughter lives in Angel, Islington and my son lives in Somerset, but they did visit on the lovely last sunny Bank Hol. The weather here in Wales looks a bit iffy this weekend, I have a good book on the go and I think I will daydream about that cake!
    As always thanks for the hard work you put into your blog I do enjoy it, oh marvellous mother-in law looks fab as you say hair, make up ,fashion for us oldies less is more and keep it simple but stylish with a bit of whimsy.
    Have a lovely weekend,
    Pamela from Wales and my two sweet longhairs Chihuahuas.x
    PS wasn’t the Royal Wedding fantastic! Britain in all her glory for the world to see I was so proud to be British although I am Welsh we are all one in the United Kingdom. X

    • Hi Pamela, thank you for your lovely message. Agree about the cake – it is spectacularly pretty… perhaps you should order one and invite some friends over next weekend for a slice with a cup of tea (or glass of prosecco!)… best wishes, Grace

  3. Hi Grace,

    I’m so sorry to hear about Jack – what a little superstar he will always be, lots of love and a big hug – Ems x

  4. Hi Grace thank you for your moving column and the excellent vlog. It is so good to have the pain of losing a much loved pet acknowledged. Your darling Jack sounds a great little character , and was a lucky little dog to be so loved by you and your family.Renny x

    • Hi Renny
      Thank you so much for your very kind comment. You are so right when you say he was a character – he definitely had an eventful life! Hope you are enjoying the Bank Holiday Weekend… best wishes, Grace

  5. I am so sorry to hear about your dearly loved dog, it is so hard to say goodbye to our companions who become such a part of our lives and family.
    I had a similar experience with my elderly three legged cat last week who had developed a tumour in his neck which was affecting his ability to swallow hence he was literally starving to death. He survived our house move but after three weeks of being here I couldn’t carry on seeing him like that, so my first visit to our new vet was to have our dear cat euthenased. Everything was clearly explained and I agreed to stay and comfort him whilst the sedative was injected into the scruff of his neck, I stroked him as he gradually lay down and within a few moments was deeply sedated the vet then re entered the room and took him away to be euthenased, he did not suffer.
    I was upset and at the reception desk was told not to be concerned about payment but to return when I was ready. A few days later I called in to pay and the cost was £45 which included cremation. Yesterday I received, much to my surprise a condolence card from the practice. Very thoughtful.
    I have two dogs and dread their time coming but it is a price we pay for loving our animals.

    • Hi Ruth. Sorry to hear about your cat but good to hear that, like us, you had a very good vet. We can also take comfort in knowing that our pets were much loved. Not all animals in the world have such contentment in their lives. Best wishes, Grace

  6. Hi Grace
    So sorry to hear about your lovely JR , Jack, we had a Jack in our lives for nearly fifteen years, in our case, he was a beautiful gentle Golden Retriever, who was so loved.
    We have always had Labradors or Goldies and lost our last girl last October, she went to sleep at home in my arms, a day after our return from holidays, so very quick and such a shock.
    We have no doggy company at the moment, and the house seems empty. All our lovely dogs were put to sleep at home, I think we owe them that, when it’s possible. They leave us with so many special memories.
    I hope in time you will find another four legged friend to love and to join you and Hero.
    Best wishes
    Angela.

  7. Hi Angela, Thank you so much for getting in touch. You are spot on when you say our dogs leave us with so many wonderful memories. Once you’ve experienced the loyalty, fun and pleasure of owning a dog, it’s hard to be without one isn’t it. Best wishes, Grace

  8. Morning Grace,
    Just catching up with your news about Jack and sending heartfelt hugs. I had a similar experience with my 12yrs Lab 18 months ago and as of 5 days ago now have a new puppy 😉
    Gosh, how I had forgotten in those 12 years how much hard work a puppy can be and at the same time I am reveling in how adorable he is!!
    Wishing you and Hero lots of lovely summer walks and cuddles together 🙂
    Carol x

    • How lovely you are Carol! Such a kind heart. Thank you for asking after Jack. Last weekend we went to a beach he used to love and scattered his ashes there – it was very peaceful. Unlike I imagine it is in your house! A new puppy sounds wonderful – rather like having a newborn baby to look after if I recall correctly. Am so pleased you are happy. Grace x

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