Spinoff on euths/letting the horses "say good bye"/what about dogs?
In so many of the threads about COTH members putting their equine partners down, it is mentioned that many people feel it's helpful for the other equines to have time to "say goodbye". To see the horse that has been euthed, give them some time with the body, etc. Many people have shared their observations here that it definitely helped and that they felt their remaining horses "got it" and were able to walk away from the body and get on with their normal routine.
This got me thinking - what about your dogs? I'm sure many of you out there have more than one dog. I have four. I was wondering if anyone had done this with their dogs - letting the surviving ones have time with the body of the one that has been euthanized. Did it seem to make sense to them? Did you think they understood, like the horses seem to, and that that it helped?
I hope to not have to really think about the nitty gritty of what I will do for some time yet....but reality is that you just never know. If I've learned anything from reading the COTH BB, it is to have a plan in place before you ever actually need it.
I think the same is true for dogs and other animals. If they see the body, they can understand and accept that their friend has died. I think this is often preferable than just wondering where their friend went. Of course, this isn't always possible, but I have found that dogs and cats also accept the death of their pals better if they can see the body.
Animals accept death so much better than we do. When they can see the body, they have a closure of sorts. I have never found showing them the body to be detrimental, only helpful. Of course, it isn't always possible, but when it is, I have found it to be really helpful for the surviving pets.
I screwed up on both horse and dog. If I had to do it over, I would have let them see and sniff their friend.
My horse is still grieving for his buddy two months later. He's much better in turnout, but completely trashes his stall every night (he used to be a mucker's dream, urine in one spot, a pile of manure in another.
My dogs had a rough patch sorting out their missing buddy, probably because she was the alpha. Unfortunately, they are still trying to figure it out.
I recently had to let my beloved dog go. Afterwards we brought my other dog and the cat in to say goodbye. The best friend dog sniffed the body and seemed to accept it. The kitty who adored the old dog was very confused and curled up next to the body and purred and groomed her. It was very painful to watch but important I feel to let them be able to understand that she was really gone and not just missing.
My vet recently (Dec 3) came to our house to put our beloved Lab "Parker" to sleep. We've had the young Lab "Oliver" for year, and I let him tied within 3 feet of where the vet euthanized Parker. So, he was there the entire time. When Parker was gone, I unhooked Oliver so that he could say goodbye before we buried Parker. Oliver went over, took one little sniff and then "hey, what's that over there" and off he went. I told him that was his only chance to say goodbye, but he didn't much care. At least I felt better by giving him a chance to say goodbye, but he honestly hasn't even given Parker a second thought.
When I had to have my older gelding put down we walked him to a far corner of the big pasture. My younger gelding was kept up in the front pasture while we did it. He ran the fence and screamed the whole time and for over an hour after until I haltered him and walked him to see his buddy. He sniffed the body all over, then breathed into his nostrils and moved off to graze. He never called for him again so I know he got it. When we bring a dog or cat home for the last time we do allow our other dogs and cats to see their buddy for the last time. I'm pretty sure it helps them to accept the loss.
"My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."
All four of our giant-breed dogs were within a couple of years of the same age, so we knew we would lose them all fairly close together. The first one was taken to the vet for euthanasia, and we didn't bring him home before taking him to the crematorium. The remaining three looked for him for weeks.
The second one to go was also euthanized at the vet, but we had learned our lesson. We brought him home before taking him to the crematorium. One of the remaining two sniffed him and accepted it; the other, who was his best canine friend and was within days of the same age, sniffed him, then poked him, then gave me this utterly tragic look, started shaking and then ran away. He was subdued for weeks; I thought we might lose him. Eventually, by spoiling him horribly, we managed to get him to take an interest in life again.
When he was diagnosed with osteo, we brought the vet out to our home and had the most perfect passing that could be imagined. He died while laying in my lap and eating walnuts, his fave. He was so happy, and the last dog was there to watch. She accepted it with no problem.
We had to let a 15 year old JRT go one Sunday morning this past September. I brought him back home to bury him and let our 13 year old JRT see that his room mate was gone. Micro was puzzled but seemed accepting. We buried Slash and all went inside. When I went back outside later in the day Micro ran to where Slash was buried and started pawing the ground. He tried digging Slash out for two more days before moving on or forgetting about it. After the first attempt to get to his room mate we did pile heavy limestone rocks on the grave.
It was sad.
Last edited by SLW; Dec. 25, 2010 at 05:32 PM.
I try not to euthanize any animal in the presence of any other animal of the same species. I also try to remove a horse if it died or was euthanzied ASAP.
Not to anthropomorphize, but the pheromones released by dying animals is upsetting to other animals, not necessarily if it was their "friend" or not. Not saying that animals do not mourn the loss of a companion.
However- last winter, my old AA horse was in a run out shed. He just laid down and went to sleep and died. In the shed with him, were my then 2 year old and pony. It was quite poignant. I removed them, called the hauler to remove him, and when they were turned back out, down they went to where he was last.
When I put down my old Jack 2 years ago, the GSDs would occassionally look for him on the chair for about a day. Then it was business as usual.
Yes, I do this with both horses and dogs. Recently we lost our 14 year old male dog very suddenly to bloat. He and our other male dog were friends but always competitive to some extent. When I showed the surviving male dog Snoopy's body, he sniffed a ton and then started to lift his leg to mark him! He seemed quite pleased his rival was dead, it was really upsetting for me. Our other dog, a female, was depresssed. It definitely helped for them to see him and know what happened, especially since he got sick and went to vet for euth all in the course of an hour.
I bury my animals, so even if it was done at the vet's, there is always a body to see. My dogs have always been brought out to the grave to see. I feel like this is particularly important in cases where the death was sudden, such as being hit by a car.
Just last winter, my old Beagle died. He got very sick and mopey one day...brought him to the vet the next day and ran all sorts of tests/xrays(found absolutely nothing wrong) and he died the next morning. Just laid down and died. My two female dogs had been very clingy with him while he was sick...snuggling, always keeping him company, etc. They both came up to his body on the floor (we were all there the moment he died) and sniffed, then went back to bed. The youngest female seemed okay, my older female who had been Jasper's longest companion moped for a few days, but she is a particularly sensitive dog.
I don't usually show departed friends to my cats, and usually it works out okay. I really regret not doing it last summer when my heart cat died, however. He had another white male cat that he had hung out with/slept with/hunted with for 13 years. He was sick at home (kidney failure) but we took him to the vet to be put to sleep, brought him home in the box, and put him in the ground. Poor Fred (his still-living companion) still calls for Otto....less than he used to, but it's heartbreaking.
Bottom line: Yes, if it's possible, I recommend letting them sniff the body. Disturbing pheromones or not, it's often much MORE disturbing for a buddy to just "disappear."
As a tech I always recommend that owners allow their pets to say good bye, regardless of what species they have. If an animal has bonded to another animal and suddenly they're companion/roomate/nemesis is suddenly gone, it completely disrupts their well-being. Even if they only tolerated each other because they shared an owner, they will still be stricken that their arch enemy is suddenly gone.
As morbid as it sounds when I write it, I always bring my departed pets home before we cremate them and let the others sniff the deceased. I allow them a few hours (yes hours) to notice the change because sometimes, when you allow them to sniff a warm body, it does not register but if it is possible to allow the body to go through its immediate changes, they understand.
We had to put a kitten down that we only had a few months. My older cat adored him and they were the Midnight Marauders in our house, declaring total destruction on anything and everything they could after we went to sleep. They even spent a few nights in the slammer when their binges went beyond comprehensible.
I lived at the clinic I worked for and so when we decided it was time, I took the kitten downstairs and my older cat knew something was not right. He knew his buddy had been sick and had been going downstairs for treatments but somehow he knew he wasn't going to come back.
In the clinic you could hear my older cat screaming and literally freaking out- it was eerie. I couldn't stand it so we went back upstairs and euthanized the kitten with him present. Oddly he was calm and just sat on my shoulder as I held his buddy.
I laid his friend on the floor and let everyone sniff him good-bye but my older cat sat near him like he was watching over him. Then about an hour went by while I was calming my girls, I noticed that my older cat was licking the kitten's head and then he just walked off and sat in the window watching the birds the rest of the day.
It was so weird how he knew but he did. I can't imagine what he would have done if he hadn't gotten to say good-bye. Now it's mandatory that everyone who crosses the bridge comes back home first.
We had a husky with lung "issues" where she went through several episodes of spontaneous pneumothorax and spent several days in the vet hospital each time. The last time it happened we had two other dogs, our Berner and a malamute/mix pup (2yr old maybe?), who she had basically raised.
We took her off to the hospital and the boys were absolutely beside themselves. They were nervous and anxious and whimpered at the gate for the entire 3 days she was there. And these were not "sensitive" or high strung dogs at all.
We brought her home for a day and the boys settled down. Unfortunately her lungs didn't hold and she suffered her final episode that prompted us to put her down. We took her back to the emergency vet and brought the boys with us. We had all 3 in the room with my husband and I and the boys were basically fawning all over our poor injured girl. The vet gave her the shot and she passed away quickly. The dogs sniffed her over once and then completely ignored her body. It was like they went, "oh, she's dead and gone. Ooh, I smell treats...."
We brought them home and they were completely normal acting. They never whimpered or looked for her or acted like anything was odd. I'm so grateful for my horse vet who had suggested that we do that in the first place.
My Bernese Mountain Dog, on the other hand, died very suddenly and unexpectedly a couple of years later at the vet clinic because of splenic hermangiosarcoma (we think he ruptured his spleen as he jumped out of the car at the clinic for a quick checkup). We didn't have time or wherewithal to get our malamute to the clinic after the fact (I was pregnant, had a broken leg, a toddler, and had just lost a horse on the 4th/5th of July a week earlier, and was absolutely devastated about losing "my" dog). I still feel bad about it because the malamute grieved the loss of his friend for the next 3 or 4 months. If I could go back and do it all again I would take him to the clinic afterwards without even thinking twice about it.
Today I put down my 28 year old Hanoverian dressage master. He was a LOVELY old gentleman. He had spent the last few years working as a therapy horse but was quite blind and recently developed an eye ulcer the size of Rhode Island. Today we did The Deed in the dooryard of the barn, within view of my 2 TBs. Once the Old Gent had died, I took my 7 year old TB over to see him. The youngster sniffed every INCH of the old guy. Smelled his nose and mouth the longest. Soon he began to lick the legs. The whole going-over took about 10 minutes. It was so interesting. I've always believed they need a moment to say 'Bye' but this was such a thorough going over. My vet (who is also my best friend in the world, who drove 2 hours each way to do this for us) said her job is so cool because every single day she gets an education. She had not thought the saying 'bye' thing was as important as my guy proved today.
Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.
I always let the other animals have time with their deceast pals. The mares body is still in the pasture now. The other horses are all standing around her with their heads down. The guys are out digging her grave now.
We recently (October) had a home euthanasia for our elderly Labrador. We kept the Golden Retriever, who had lived with the Lab for 8 years, in another room so that he would not be in the way.
After the Lab passed my vet solemly suggested we bring the Golden in so that he can process the death of his friend. We bring in the Golden who goes into classic Golden raptures of joy at seeing the vet. Tail wagging, body wagging, happy panting "Oh look, company!" I try to get him to stop his Golden-ness long enough to acknowledge that his best friend in the world just died but he gave her a cursory sniff and then went back to looking for attention from the vet.
Nothing like a Golden Retriever to lighten the mood! Perhaps he did not have enough time to absorb what had happened and would have behaved with a bit more solemn dignity if he has spent more time with the body but my 8 yr old son was pretty upset about the Lab and I could not really have kept the dead dog around in the house.
I was expecting the Golden to have some trouble adjusting to single dog life but he seems to be enjoying the extra attention. He is a glass half full kind of dog.