Hear from other pet owners ” I had a wonderful doggie put down in my lap. I was hanging on until the Vet said “Shes in heaven now”. No matter what you do, it’s a terrible experience. “
Jim Schenning knew he was going to lose it, and he didn’t want to lose it in public.
So when the dreaded day came to end the suffering of his beloved Emma, an arthritis-stricken, 15-year-old Jack Russell terrier, Schenning didn’t go to his veterinarian’s office. Instead, he ended up cross-legged on the floor of his spare bedroom, crying quietly as Emma looked up from his lap. After a few minutes, he nodded to Julie Rabinowitz, a veterinarian he had never met before she arrived at his house a half-hour earlier. She leaned forward with a syringe. A little dog’s fatal dose of pentobarbital.
“There was no whimper. Her eyes just slowly closed,” Schenning recalled. “Dr. Julie waited two or three minutes and checked her heartbeat. She said in a quiet voice, ‘Jim, she’s gone. I’m going to let myself out now.’ ”
The gentle death scene that recently unfolded at Schenning’s house near Catonsville, Md., was part of a growing at-home pet euthanasia movement that is beginning to relocate one of pet ownership’s most painful rituals, the final, one-way trip to the vet’s office.
“It really made a terrible situation much better,” said Wendy Bowlds of Gainesville, Va., who in May had her elderly mutt, Niki, put down in her favorite spot, her dog bed in the kitchen. “There’s nothing so awful as leaving the vet’s office with nothing but the empty leash.”
Like a growing number of vets in the region, Rabinowitz, who is based in Baltimore, decided a few years ago to build her practice on end-of-life house calls for those who want more for their pets’ last moments than a frightened scrabble on a cold steel exam table.
At $200 for a sedative followed by the killing barbiturate, she charges more than twice what most vets do for an office euthanasia. But she has found no shortage of owners willing to pay the premium.
“Going to the vet was always stressful,” Schenning said. “I didn’t want her last day on this Earth to be, ‘Oh, no, we’re going into that white building.’ ”
And if Emma’s last few minutes with her owner would have been traumatic, he knew his own first minutes without her would be just as bad.
“I would not be able to bear walking through the lobby sobbing with my deceased dog in my arms past some mother and child,” said Schenning, 47, an unemployed bank investigator. “I just envisioned, ‘Mommy what’s wrong with that man?’ ”
Back in the day, of course, it was common for family animals to die at home, whether from natural causes, a shot from the family rifle or a needle from the bag of a vet who routinely traveled from house to house and farm to farm. But the rise of clinic-based animal care meant that the most common scene of a pet’s demise shifted to an office setting.
By Steve Hendrix http://www.washingtonpost.com