It’s a Dog’s Life | How to Know When it is Time to Put Your Dog Down

Today was the last day I would kiss my dog, pet my dog, sleep with my dog…just be with my dog, forever. I was strong…up until the final hour of euthanasia.

When I made the appointment, the day before, I knew to schedule it early lest I change my mind. As I hand fed Scout Henry his last breakfast of roast beef from the deli, I began to cry. He looked just fine. Sure, he was mostly deaf and partially blind but that wasn’t the problem. It was his mind that was failing.

Dementia had begun a few months back. At first his personality began to change and then the, not so well-known, dog dementia symptom of staring into the corner of a wall. When his doggie dementia expanded to doggie Alzheimer, things dangerously worsened.

In Scout’s confusion, he became frantic and anxious to escape at all costs, even harming himself in the process. He would run away, although he didn’t know where he was going. A doggie Silver Alert would spread among my kind neighbors. Twice he had been found trucking down the busy street of Kavanaugh, going nowhere. I feared him getting so lost he would be unable to find his way home, leaving him to eventually die hungry and alone. Or getting run over by a car or even getting picked up by a stranger who wouldn’t love and care for him, as I would.

He and I went to the vet for advice. She gave him Ativan, a drug for anxieties, to see if that would calm his tremors and franticness. Things did not improve.

After yet another outrageous, more defiant and almost successful attempt at running off, a decision had to be made.

Throughout the past six months, I found the parallels leading up to my mother’s passing in February of this year and Scout Henry’s situation eerily similar. Though he couldn’t speak to me, my mother could. I knew how she felt–miserable. Her dying was a slow burn. She often said we are kinder to our pets than to our old people.

At my ‘girl’s night out’ supper club, I lamented my dog dilemma to the group. Many of us in the group had cared or were caring for an aging parent. My girlfriends were quick to remind me of the confusion and anxieties that come from a failing mind. They were adamant I not torture my dog any more. One even told me of her beloved pet with dementia who wandered off one day never to be found again and of the regret she still feels.

I made the appointment the next day.

That night my husband, Grady, and I medicated Scout Henry heavily, allowing him to lay still in bed with us, like he used to. We petted him lovingly, reminisced and held each other strong.

At breakfast we medicated him again and awaited his 8 am appointment. This is when I began to realize I would never get his back door, home coming, tail wagging, so happy to see you, greeting again. All the “this is the last times” began to overwhelm me.

At the vet they inserted the IV into his leg so they could administer the drug, when I was ready. I held him in my arms as the lethal dose of Propofol anesthesia seeped into his blood stream. He went limp. It was so fast, I didn’t even know it had happened. We checked his heart. He was gone, so peacefully.

I held his warm body a long time. I smelled the top of his head for the last time. I lay him, my pseudo child, on the baby blanket they provided and petted him. Not for him, but for me.

For the last time, I kissed my dog, my companion of 15 years, who was always happy to see me and prayed for his safe journey and happy reunion with all my family, who had gone ahead of him.

Scout Henry and Kerry McCoy
Scout Henry and Kerry McCoy

6 Comments

  1. Oh, Kerry, my heart breaks for you!! As I sit here crying, reminiscing about our agonizing decision to euthanize our 17-year old Schnauzer in 2013, I can relate to every single thing you describe in this blog. I, too, remember smelling our Taffey for the last time and holding her as the lethal chemical was injected. As she quickly passed on, and we immediately saw that she no longer suffered in her aged body, we knew we had made the right decision. You and Grady also made the right decision, and I hope you can draw some comfort in knowing that Scout Henry is whole again (I do believe our beloved pets go to heaven!). However, as you are now left with the void that Scout Henry leaves, I will be thinking of and praying for y’all in the days and months to come. Love is so bittersweet.

  2. I’m standing here with tears in my eyes. Your beautiful farewell to Scout is helpful to many and mostly to you. It so hard to let go.

  3. Kerry, I’m so sorry for your loss. I said goodbye to my good boy, Arlo on July 3rd. He was 15.5 years old. I got him when I was 21 and in college in Fayetteville.
    It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever ever ever gone throug. I want to make you a charm with his name on it. I’ll tell you the story of why I want to make this gift for you when I see you in person. Been meaning to tell the story on my blog but haven’t had the energy to do so. I’ll stop by Flag and Banner soon. Sending lots of love your way.

    1. Hey Brandy, it was cathartic to write the story and according to all the comments, it was helpful to others too. Maybe you too should blog about your experience. looking forward to seeing you.

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