Veterinarian's Heartbreaking Description of What It's Like to Put Down a Pet Goes Viral

"I have the needle in the same pocket that was always full of treats for him."

We all know that losing a pet is absolutely devastating for the family of the dog, cat, or other furry relative, but a recent Facebook post that's now going viral reveals just how painful it is for the veterinarian as well. Brenda Gough, a vet who lives in Burford, Canada, recently described how it feels to euthanize a dog on her Facebook page, and her words are absolutely heartbreaking.

"So, you bring me this puppy—she kisses my face, devours the cookies I offer, and our friendship starts," Gough begins. "Several visits later, he starts to learn where all the cookie jars are in the clinic, and that lady in the white coat? Well, she's okay…"

Naturally, she writes, vets can't help but fall in love with their pet patients and they enjoy watching them grow up and become a real member of the family. They remember the day that she ate someone's underwear, the day he had a successful surgery, and countless other moments in your pet's life.

"So many adventures, so little time," Gough writes. "And here we are, 15 or so odd years later, having to say goodbye."

Gough goes on to explain how difficult it is to have to tell the family that he's got heart disease or she's got cancer and the medication isn't working anymore, so the most humane thing to do would be to let them cross the Rainbow Bridge with as much love and as little pain as possible.

"I feel like I have failed him and you when I have run out of options to keep them, and you, comfortable and happy," she explains. "So now it's time, and I am supposed to be professional. Objective. I am the doctor. Calm. Cool. Collected. Always under control."

Gough writes that in these moments, she wants to fall apart, but she can't. The technicians put the catheter in. The support staff does the paperwork. "Trust me, they may not show it, but their hearts are breaking for you," she writes.

But, ultimately, Gough notes, the vet is the one who has to administer the shot.

"I have the needle in the pocket of my white coat. The same pocket that was always full of treats for him. I take a deep yoga breath and come into the room."

She goes into the room to find the dog "giving [her] that sweet look she always does, the one that is followed by puppy kisses and a glance at the cookie jar." But her illness and her age has made her weak.

"She is ready," Gough writes. "You are not. I am not." But Gough has to stay strong, not just for the dog but for the family members who are there getting ready to say goodbye to their best friend.

little girl playing with dog, things you should never lie to kids about
Shutterstock/Elena Nasledova

"She would keep going as long as we asked her to. But we can't ask her to anymore. It's not fair to her. I wish our human hearts could be so giving all the time. I wish I could be the person my dog thinks I am," she writes. "I wish I could find a way for them to live forever. But I don't have those magical powers. I am just a vet."

And then comes the worst part.

"Her body relaxes, she is in your arms and you are sobbing. Another family has lost one of its most cherished members. I put my stethoscope to her heart to make sure it has stopped, but she is held so tight to your chest that maybe that is your heart I hear pounding or maybe it's mine and all the blood [is] rushing through my ears as I try so, so, so hard not to turn into a blubbering mess."

After that, Gough writes, she confirms that the pet has passed and the owner lays him gently on the table. She gives the grieving family warm hugs and they leave the room. "The door closes behind you and I don't know if you hear this, but I sob hysterically into your pet's ear," she explains. "And you have to face what I know will be one of the hardest parts of today: entering that house and they are not there to greet you."

Gough ends the post by saying she hopes pet owners know that she wishes they never had to face that and that she's so grateful just to be part of people's journeys with their pets.

Gough's post, which is from September 26th, has received more than 114,000 likes and 126,000 shares in the past week, as well as thousands of comments from sympathetic owners and colleagues who could truly relate to her sentiments.

"As a long time vet tech, I have had these exact emotions," one Facebook user wrote. "It truly is heartbreaking and I've had to walk outside the hospital to cry. But the rewards of saving lives, bringing lives into the world, meeting wonderful pets and their people has made it all worth it!"

And for a poignant story that proves the pain of this loss, read the viral tweet that perfectly captures the pain of losing a pet.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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