Eleven days ago, I euthanized Lemmy.
Euthansia is a word of Greek origin and literally translates to easy death.
Words are funny that way. We know why we use the term today. But if I’m honest with myself, the act doesn’t match that literal translation, at least, not for the humans involved.
Our brains can process logic very effectively and handle emotions that help keep us alive. But when those two lines of mental function come into conflict, we suffer.
Lemmy’s family knew it was time to ease his suffering. So did I.
But that annoying gnawing feeling in the back of my mind remains. We did everything we could to help him, including letting him go when it was in his best interest. Keeping him around forever would have been my choice. But you can’t always get what you want.
Lemmy’s owners had his body cremated and his ashes have come back to our hospital for the family to pick up. A clay paw print is attached to the metal urn and shows the shape of his foot the day he died.
The family asked about what to do after he was gone, and I recommended this. Once the living animal is gone, only scaffolding remains. It is hair, muscle and bones, but not Lemmy.
They’ll spread his ashes in his favorite field at home. He deserves to stay in that playground forever.
He left behind a family of humans and one old cat. All loved him and had their lives shaped by him.
It hurts to lose him, but I encouraged the family to wait before getting a new puppy. It’s unfair to place expectations on the new pet relative to an awesome old pal. Plus, grief impairs caretaking. I recommend taking some time, then deciding if a new dog is right.
I hope it is. Few humans get to have a dog like Lemmy. Fewer dogs get to have a human family like his.
The family drops off a gift for me: a picture of the day I met Lemmy, not a gray hair between us.
Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.