If we're lucky, we get to share many wonderful years together. Yet no matter how many years we have, it never seems enough. They seem to fly by and all too soon we find ourselves researching subjects we aren't ready to learn about: pet loss, grieving, euthanasia, cremation and rainbow bridge.
Long before my dogs started to age, I made a list of promises. I called it rainbow bridge - my final gift.
I promise to love you enough to keep you happy, healthy and strong.
I promise to carry health insurance so we are never faced with having to make decisions based on finances instead of what's best for you.
When you tell me it's time for you to go, I promise to set my own emotional needs aside and will love you enough to honor your needs.
When the time comes, I promise I will not leave you alone until after you taken your last breath. I will keep you close to me and my love is the last thing you will feel. My voice will be the last thing that you hear. My presence will provide the comfort you need to pass calmly. You will go to rainbow bridge knowing that you were loved, and that I am grateful for the years we had together.
I spent considerable time trying to understand how my dog would let me know it was time for him to go to rainbow bridge. Some people said it was when the pain of living outweighed the joy of life.
Others said their soul seems ready to leave. Still others said it had to do with a change of habit such as stopping eating, potty accidents, or preferring to spend time alone instead of with his family.
As Jake quickly went downhill, and our vet said it was time to start thinking about what's best for him, I pulled out my list of promises. After fighting the obvious, I knew it was time to let him go. Clearly he was in pain. Yet he loved being with us and would even hobble outside to go potty. I guess he was too proud to have an accident in the house.
I kept waiting for the signal. The signal that so many people had mentioned. Time and time again I heard the same thing "You will know when the time is right. He will tell you. There will be no doubt in your mind."
For days I stared at him and asked him "Jake, is it time?" He would lick my face, wag his tail and I took that to mean "No, I'm not ready." Perhaps he really was telling me he was ready and his licks and tail wags meant thank you for understanding my needs. I will never know.
Trying to plan for your pet's death is very difficult. Use this time to investigate your options. Euthanize at home or at the vet's? Cemetery or cremation? And even plan what you want to say to your pet to help him pass peacefully. I carefully chose the words I knew he understood and those that made him the happiest. I cradled him in my arms and repeated over and over again "Jake, you are such a good boy. Jake I love you. And even sang a silly song that I had made up years ago. A nonsensical song that always made Jake happy.
Having these plans can help make a very difficult time, a little more tolerable. Not easier, just a little more tolerable. The death of a pet is never easy.
Phyllise Kaye is the founder of http://www.justovertherainbowbridge.com, a site for people who have lost a beloved pet. Losing a pet is extremely difficult. Healing from such a loss is just as difficult. The loss of my dog Jake was exceptionally painful and the sadness and grief that followed was much deeper than I ever could have imagined. If you, or someone you know is suffering the loss of a beloved pet, I would love for you to visit our site and see all that we have to offer.