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When a Vet Loses a Pet

Written by Dr. Devon Horne, DVM

Losing a pet-It’s something that as a veterinarian, we deal with on an all too regular basis. We council clients on the matter, we console families when they need to make the decision to euthanize, and we grieve with them after their pet is gone. It becomes a different story, however, when the owners we are consoling are our own family, or the pet we are working on is our own four-legged family member.

After 4 years of daily delight, we recently lost our rescued French bulldog, Ollie (“Oliver Franklinton” to be exact). Ollie came to us shortly after the loss of another bulldog. While we weren’t specifically looking for a new dog, our hearts (and our Mastiff, Lola) were missing something. From the minute I met Ollie, my heart melted. He had the personality of a 120-pound dog tucked into a tiny, adorable 20-pound frame. He fit into our family almost immediately and somehow became my favorite little snuggle buddy. Several weeks ago, Ollie became acutely ill and we had to make the sad decision to say goodbye. We were fortunate that the decision was quite apparent, as I have watched others struggle to know when it’s time to make that difficult choice. While I regret having to make the choice, I do not regret the decision itself and feel blessed that in the veterinary world we have the opportunity to prevent unnecessary suffering.

The loss of a pet is something that members of the veterinary profession must deal with more often than someone not in the veterinary medical field, and regardless of whose pet it is, it is something that never gets easy. While we’re “not you,” have never had “your pet” or have never been through “exactly what you’re going through,” most of us have been in similar situations with our own pets. It comes down to the fact that there are no ifs, and, or buts about - losing a pet SUCKS! But I leave you with a silver lining thought that has helped me over the past few weeks:

If we are sad enough to miss them, then we were lucky enough to have loved them!