The very first home euthanasia appointment I facilitated was a bit of a debacle. The dog’s name was Sage and she was an old, beautiful Golden Retriever. While she ultimately did have a peaceful passing, the technical challenges I faced in those 60 minutes stuck with me for years. Looking back, it would have been easy to throw in the towel and call it quits. Instead, I took a hard look at what Sage and her family taught me and used it to forge ahead.
As of 2021, I’ve been blessed to guide over 10,000 pets out of pain and suffering. The early days of my home service had its good days and bad. As my experience grew, so did my confidence to handle just about anything. What I’ve come to realize over time is that every pet euthanasia holds its own legacies for veterinary professionals. Whether straightforward or tricky, we take something away from each one. They teach us and shape our craft. I’m a more capable and refined doctor because of what these pets (and their families) have taught me.
Before, during, and after euthanasia, veterinary professionals have an opportunity to reflect on the:
~Goals for the appointment
~Ways to reduce risk
~Things that went well
~Things to do again
If things go awry, there is always something to learn and use towards improvement. While it may seem like a failure, a failure holds limitless potential for growth and maturation. When things go well, we create a blueprint from it to use again and again.
If it helps us formulate a clear action plan, CAETA suggests the idea of Refine, Replace, and Repeat
Refine = find ways to polish protocols
Replace = eliminate trouble points
Repeat = harness only the good
Pet owners are relying on veterinary professionals to deliver a gentle death for their companions. They want to know their pet’s life and death mattered. They hold a legacy and place in our hearts.