Excerpt from Unlocking the Animal Mind, by Franklin D. McMillan

Note from the co-author (Kathryn Lance): I believe that Franklin D. McMillan's book, UNLOCKING THE ANIMAL MIND, can dramatically change your relationship with your pet for the better. I know that working on it has made a huge difference for me and my cats. This was especially true of the last chapter, on euthanasia, which made this always-difficult decision so much easier for me when it came time to say goodbye to Ribby, my cat companion of 14 years.

Throughout the book, Dr. McMillan discusses the Pet Pleasure Principle, which posits that pets (like humans!) act so as to maximize pleasure and minimize discomfort. All compassionate animal care flows from understanding this principle. The following chapter, used with permission of the author, puts euthanasia in this compassionate context, where it belongs.

Chapter Eleven: A Peaceful End
This chapter deals with probably the most emotional issue associated with animal care: euthanasia. In this chapter, I am going to share with you my thoughts on this very sensitive subject. Be aware as you'read that these are my opinions. I do not claim to speak with any special authority, from a scientific, religious, moral, or ethical perspective.

There is room for differing opinions about this issue, and of course you have every right to disagree with what I say. It doesn't matter to me whether you share my opinions; all I care about is that you protect your pets from anything--and especially health problems--that can hurt them. If you have a way to protect your pet that equals the protection euthanasia assures, then by all means that is what you should do.

Gooby's Story
Gooby, my male Balinese cat, had lived a very healthy life. But I noticed when he reached the age of about 15 ;1/2 years that he seemed to look thinner. He acted healthy in all respects and seemed to be eating well. I ran some tests and found that his kidneys were not functioning properly, which is a common disorder in aging cats. I hospitalized him on intravenous fluids for 3 days, then brought him home and began treating him with a number of medications to counteract the ill feelings that kidney disease causes.
Gooby did amazingly well for the next 15 months. Then I noticed that he again looked thinner, and on retesting his blood found that his disease had progressed. From that point, his condition began to decline quickly. His weight dropped rapidly and he became weaker. I could see some unsteady wobbling in his walk. If he shook his head, he lost his balance to the point of almost falling over. He wasn't eating well, and had begun to cry out in the night with a type of cry I had never heard before. Gooby began to stay in my closet almost all the time, coming out only to drink and use the litter box, both of which he did frequently because of his failing kidneys.
In many ways, he was the same old Gooby. He was still affectionate and still loved to go on walks with me, even though he wouldn't walk very far before wanting to lie down and rest. He still loved to bask in the sunshine, and still enjoyed sitting in my lap and purring while I stroked him. But I had to face the fact that he was sick, and this time there was nothing more that I could do to make him feel better.
What was Gooby's life like? Was he suffering? If so, how severely? Since he couldn't tell me, I couldn't know for sure. But it's well known that in terminal kidney failure, the patient feels very sick, including suffering from near-constant nausea. And it was clear from Gooby's attitude and behavior that there were fewer and fewer pleasures in his life now to keep his quality of life scales tipping toward the pleasant side.
On the morning after Gooby had a particularly difficult night and I knew it was time to make a decision, I happened to turn on the TV. Charles Schulz, the famous cartoonist, who had recently announced the retirement of his "Peanuts" comic strip due to his battle with colon cancer, was being interviewed on the Today Show. Mr. Schulz was undergoing chemotherapy for his illness, and although he tried to put on a brave face, it was clear how much emotional and physical pain he was in.
When the interviewer asked Schulz how he was feeling, the cartoonist replied, "Not so good," and punctuated his comment with a quick, but hollow chuckle. It was painful for me to watch. And it made me think long and hard about my beloved cat's illness. When I turned toward Gooby he was looking right into my eyes. I knew right then what he wanted to tell me--"Dad, I don't feel so good."
As we sat there together and looked at each other I thought about his life. He had always been so full of energy and enjoyed so much of what life--and I--had to offer him. But his illness had changed all that. I could see that Gooby had few pleasures left. He still wanted to go out on his walks, even though he wouldn't go far; he liked feeling the sunshine and lying down in it; and he purred when I petted him. This was important. I wanted to know that he had at least some pleasures. I didn't want to wait until his disease had stolen every last pleasure from him--because that would mean that the only feelings he was left with would be his unpleasant feelings.
With Gooby's unpleasant feelings so prominent, unrelievable, and worsening, and with his pleasant feelings still present though diminishing quickly, I had come to the point that so many of my pet owners had faced in my years in medical practice.
My duty as Gooby's guardian was to protect him from all hurts and discomforts, from all distress and suffering. Now he wanted nothing more than to have the sick feelings go away. He didn't have any ability to make this happen on his own. He counted on me for this, and I now had to protect him from the hurts of his illness, knowing that no medicine, no treatment, no medical technique, and not even my love for him could stop the hurts any more.
When he was the tiniest little kitten, I'd promised Gooby that I wouldn't let anything hurt him, that I would be his protector to the very end of his life. And now, almost 17 years later, in what was by far his greatest time of need, I was not going to let him down. But I knew that this would require immense strength on my part. To protect Gooby, I would have to bring our 17-year companionship to a permanent end and say goodbye as I delivered the ultimate protection and the ultimate comfort.
In what was the most painful thing I have ever done in my life, I held Gooby on my lap as I injected the euthanasia solution into his vein. He fell peacefully asleep, never to awaken. I still miss him, but I will always feel good about having done the right thing. I had done what he depended on me to do, what I had vowed to do, at his time of greatest need. And wherever he is right now, I like to think that he is grateful for the choice I'd made.

A Courageous and Loving Decision
The one thing about our attachments to animals that seems horribly unfair is that we almost always outlive our pets. The short lifespan of cats and dogs virtually assures that you, the pet's guardian, will almost always face the loss of your beloved companion.

The decision to bring a beloved pet's life to an end is always painful, but we suffer much of that pain for the wrong reasons: worries about "playing God," agonizing over the exact right time and not wanting to do it too early, struggling over whether euthanasia or natural death is better, and many other self-imposed miseries. At the time of euthanasia, I have so often heard loving owners tearfully utter these heartbreaking final words as their loving companion breathes his last: "I'm sorry."

In my opinion, these pet owners should not be apologizing; rather, they should be proud of the caring action they have courageously and compassionately chosen. Losing a cherished pet is anguish enough, but all the other emotions of doubt, second thoughts, and guilt are unfairly self-punishing.

In this chapter, I want to show you a new way to look at euthanasia, one that is based on the Pet Pleasure Principle. I think you will find that this new perspective will offer you immense help in dealing with all the doubts and painful emotions surrounding this most important time in caring for a pet. And if you have been already been through the difficult and sorrowful experience, I believe this perspective will give you a good measure of comfort, solace, and reassurance about the decision you made.

Comfort Is the Only Goal
I wish that I could promise a cure for all of the sick cats and dogs that I see. But one of the facts of life is that we can't always successfully restore or maintain health. Limitations in our understanding of disease processes, financial constraints, and the inevitability of the aging process all can prevent our objective of ensuring everlasting good health for all animals.

In the last chapter, I stressed that when a pet has an illness or injury, the first and foremost goal is to get him back into his Comfort Zone. I'd like to add this: Despite the common perception, when disease can't be cured in a patient, comfort remains the primary goal. Note that in the face of an incurable and terminal condition, it doesn't change and become a fallback role, as assumed in the common comment, "All we can do now is keep him comfortable." In other words, as it has been all along, comfort is the prime objective; it's just that now we are unable to use the elimination of disease to achieve it. Our efforts instead will be focused on identifying discomforts and using all the measures we can to minimize those that remain in our power to control.

When all efforts to relieve discomfort fail to provide a reasonable amount of comfort for a pet, it is time to consider euthanasia. This aspect of pet care--end-of-life care--is, like all others, guided by the Pet Pleasure Principle. Looking at it this way transforms the concept of euthanasia to a meaning very different from how it is usually viewed. In my opinion, and contrary to popular belief, euthanasia is not an act to end a life. That is not its purpose, and that is not the outcome we are striving to achieve. It is, rather, an act to end your pet's discomforts. There is a big difference.

While euthanasia has but one purpose--to end discomfort--it has two outcomes: the desired one of ending the discomfort, and the undesired one of ending life. For many medical and emotional disorders, we simply don't know yet how to separate those outcomes. We lack the ability to achieve the outcome we desire--ending discomfort--without also being forced to accept the outcome we don't want--ending a life.

Separating the two outcomes is dependent on technological developments. Whenever medical technology can uncouple the two, we always opt for the one we want: ending discomfort. For example, 30 years ago, dogs suffering from the uncontrollable, debilitating pain of osteoarthritis caused by severe hip dysplasia faced euthanasia. At that point in veterinary medicine, we didn't know how to end the discomfort without also ending the dog's life. The technological development of prosthetic hip implant surgery gave us the ability to separate the two outcomes. Today, dogs with this condition can be returned to full mobility and function. We can now choose to eliminate the discomfort without having to end life itself.

Antibiotics, chemotherapy, insulin, and many other therapeutic advances have made it possible for us to end a pet's discomfort and allow her to go on happily living. But for many conditions, a time comes when our best efforts to alleviate discomfort fail. When that time arrives, I believe we need to lovingly embrace our duty to protect our pet from hurts, and choose to end the discomfort with the only means remaining to us.

When Illness Grows Worse
Euthanasia can be thought of in many ways, but seeing it through the lens of the Pet Pleasure Principle has been the most helpful for my pet-owner clients. Since disease places your pet on the discomfort side of the Pleasure-Discomfort Scale, all forms of treating that disease are intended to move your pet back into his Comfort Zone. If the disease is curable or fully recoverable--meaning that all of the changes and effects of the disease are eliminated from the body--then the cure or recovery itself will move your pet back into his Comfort Zone. If the disease is not curable, then we use other means, such as pain medicine, anti-nausea drugs, and fluid therapy, to move him as close to the Comfort Zone as we can.

Whenever illness progresses, your pet's unpleasant feelings grow in intensity. And as you 
well know, many incurable illnesses left to progress will ultimately lead to death. As a veterinarian, I feel my obligation to maintain comfort takes on extraordinary importance in dying animals.

As the unpleasant feelings increase and the pleasant feelings decrease, there comes a time when the unpleasant feelings--the miseries--far outweigh the pleasurable experiences. Your pet's quality of life diminishes. Ultimately, the pleasant feelings disappear, leaving only unpleasant feelings. On the quality-of-life scales, it's easy to visualize how the growing discomfort causes the scales to tip as further and further toward the unpleasant side. When pleasant feelings are insufficient to offset the growing unpleasant feelings, quality of life is at its lowest possible point. This is a life of misery.


Too Early, Too Late--or the Right Time?
For most pet owners, the most agonizing part of the decision to euthanize a beloved pet is deciding when. From my own experience, with my own pets as well as the countless patients I have treated, I look at it this way. There are only three times when euthanasia can be done: too early, too late, and the exact right time. But there is no exact right time, and even if there were, we could never know when it was. So that option is out, leaving us with only two possible times for euthanasia: too early and too late.

Always keep in mind that your duty to your pet is to do everything possible to protect him from discomfort. This means you must do everything possible to prevent euthanasia from falling into the "too late" time period. Or look at it this way: Knowing that too early or too late are the only two choices you have, which would your pet want you to choose? Which would you yourself choose if the roles were reversed?

My feeling is that the answers to these questions mean that there is only one best time for euthanasia. There is only one time that you, as a caring, compassionate, and loving pet owner can opt for. Sadly, it is the time most people fear the most: too early. Because it is the only compassionate time--the only time that assures you are providing the protection from suffering that your pet is counting on you for--no owner should fear it.

But can there be a too too early? Probably. If I take an x-ray of the spine of a dog with back pain and happen to notice the earliest signs of an incurable but very slowly progressive lung disease that the dog probably won't even know is there for another 2 years, euthanasia would seem for most to be premature. My view, in general, is that if you are acting out of the desire to protect your pet from pain, then there really can't be a "too too early." However, we can once again rely on the Pet Pleasure Principle, and specifically the quality of life scales, to sort this out for us. So while there are certainly some exceptions (such as when the only treatment available must begin immediately but is prohibitively expensive for you), a reasonable way to look at this issue is to say that if the disease has not yet had a meaningful effect on tipping the quality of life scales then it is probably too too early.

When We Meet Again
You've already decided that when the misery of your pet's illness grows too great you will not let him suffer any more, and you will ask your veterinarian to put him into eternal rest. But you find yourself struggling with the common question: When is the right time? Here's a mental exercise that many of my pet-loving clients have found very helpful when making decisions about the timing of euthanasia.
Imagine that there is an afterlife where you will be rejoined with your loved ones, including your pets. (Whether you believe that an afterlife does or doesn't exist isn't important for the purpose of the exercise; for the moment, just pretend that it does.) Knowing that you will be meeting your pet again, you want to make all of your decisions now in a way such that when you are reunited with your pet, he will greet you joyously and thank you for the decisions you made, rather than asking, "What could you possibly have been thinking?"
Making your current decisions with the thought of a reunion in mind, it's very hard to make the wrong choice.

Euthanasia: Baxter's Story
Baxter was a handsome 15-year-old male Beagle who may well be the bravest dog I have ever known. I have never seen any living creature stand up against such a torrent of hardships, all the while maintaining his pride, dignity, and a never-say-die attitude...until the last few weeks of his life.

As he lay there on the living-room carpet in his home, Baxter was a shell of his former self. He was so thin each rib seemed to stick out an inch. He was so tired he could barely lift his head. And the dark eyes that for years had held a magical sparkle now seemed to say, "I can't fight anymore. I have nothing left." And it was obvious why.

Seven months earlier, Francine--a soft-spoken special education teacher in her late 40s--brought Baxter in to see me. He had a swollen sore on his right hind leg that had been oozing blood and wasn't healing. Baxter was every bit as energetic and playful as I had known him to be throughout his life. He checked out fine except for this swelling on his leg. I told Francine that we should get a piece of the tissue for biopsy, and she quickly agreed.
Five days later, the biopsy report came back. It wasn't good news. Baxter had a malignant tumor called a squamous cell carcinoma, and the only treatment that could save his life would be for Baxter to have his hind leg amputated.

Francine was crushed to hear the news, but arranged for the surgery, and Baxter recovered speedily. In fact, he was ready to go home long before my entire staff--who loved this little guy--wanted to see him leave. Francine phoned me 2 weeks later to say the little Beagle was doing just great and was getting around on three legs better than most dogs get around on four.

Three months passed before I heard from Francine again. She called to say Baxter hadn't been feeling well for the last few days and was looking thinner. When I saw Baxter in my office, I was a bit'shocked. He had lost 7 pounds--over 30 percent of his body weight. I ran some blood tests and found that his kidneys were in an advanced state of degeneration.

I discussed with Francine the limited treatment options, the best of which was hospitalization on IV fluids and medicines to help flush out the toxic products accumulating in his blood. When she told me that she wanted to do "only the best thing for my Baxter," I cautioned her that in light of the severity of Baxter's kidney disease, I couldn't predict how successful the treatment would be, and it was possible that it wouldn't help at all. If that happened, her dog's condition would continue to deteriorate. I told her that she should begin to give thought to what she would want to do if Baxter did not respond to treatment.

Well, Baxter didn't have the reputation of being a fighter for no reason. He showed a fairly quick response to the fluid therapy and was discharged from the hospital 5 days later.
I continued to monitor Baxter's kidney function and body weight, and he was stable on both counts for about 2 months. Then a full month went by without a visit from Francine and Baxter, until one day when I received an urgent page from my front desk. I hurried up to the front of the hospital and saw Francine holding Baxter in her arms. "He can't walk, Dr. McMillan!" she exclaimed through tears. "I found him in the backyard and he can't get up to walk!"

I took Francine and Baxter into the exam room and quickly found the problem. Baxter had torn the ligament in the knee joint of his remaining rear leg. Without this stabilizing ligament, he couldn't support any weight on the leg. Repairing the torn ligament would require orthopedic surgery. But there was worse news to come. His weight had dropped another 5 pounds. "He hasn't had much of an appetite for a couple of weeks," Francine told me tearfully. "Nothing seems to tempt him." I ordered some tests and found that only a tiny fraction of Baxter's kidneys were still functional.

I broke the bad news to Francine. Baxter would need surgery to ever walk again. With his kidneys now just barely functioning, he almost certainly wouldn't survive such a surgery. Even if we fitted him with a cart to hold up his hind end, there was probably less than a 10 percent chance that intravenous fluid therapy could make him feel well enough to eat. Without eating, he would literally waste away, feeling miserably sick the whole time.

I told Francine that Baxter was an amazing dog, but no matter how strong he had been throughout his life, he now was fighting a battle he could not win. And we had nothing left to help him in his battle. "It's horribly unfair," I concluded. "He's been dealt so many terrible blows in such a short time. First the cancer that took his leg, then kidney disease, and now the torn ligament. Baxter has been a strong and proud dog throughout all these hard times. But I'm afraid we have to admit defeat, Francine. He's dying."

I waited for Francine's response. After several minutes, during which she broke down in tears and then composed herself three or four times, she softly spoke, "Everything you've said is true. He's not going to beat this thing." Then she added, "I'm going to take him home where he can pass away peacefully. He should die where he is most comfortable."

Knowing that the dying process for Baxter would involve some of the most unpleasant sickly feelings and would probably take weeks, during which he would not be able to get up and walk, I felt compelled to open a discussion. "Francine," I began, "Baxter should die at home. And I can assure you he will. But we need to talk about your role in Baxter's life."
She looked at me, saying nothing. I went on: "Whether you ever thought about it or not, you've had one job the whole time Baxter's been in your care: to protect him from things in life that could hurt him. He has always counted on you for that. And he's never been hurt more than with what's happening to him right now." Francine's eyes opened wide. "We can stop this from hurting him," I went on. "That's the wonderful thing about euthanasia. Do you think that Baxter is still hoping you will protect him?"

Francine glanced down at Baxter, who feebly wagged his tail. "I'd never looked at it like that," she said. "Can I think about this?"

"Of course," I answered. "But for Baxter's sake, please don't take too long." Francine gently picked Baxter up off the floor and said goodbye to me. I hoped to hear from her soon.

And I did. Francine called me the first thing the next morning. "Can you come over today, Dr. McMillan? Baxter is counting on me. I can't let him go on feeling this way." I told her I'd be over in about an hour, and hung up the phone.

An hour later, I was sitting in Francine's and Baxter's house, where this story began. Baxter lay on a blanket on the sofa while Francine and I sat on chairs nearby, Francine's fingers gently stroking her dog's flank. Francine told me what a loving dog Baxter had been, recounting some of the pranks he'd been up to through the years. I told her how much he had brightened the spirits of everyone at our hospital, and how saddened we all were to know that he had been so ill.

"I've had him ever since he was a little puppy," Francine said, her voice breaking. "I've never had a dog that I loved so much."

When she had finished speaking, Francine and I knelt down next to Baxter. Minutes later, Baxter went peacefully to his eternal resting place--a place where no disease, or anything else, could ever hurt him again.

The Hardest Part of the Job?...
Through my 23 years of practice I long ago lost count of the number of pet owners who, around the time of their own struggle with the decision over euthanasia, say to me something like, "Boy, I don't know how you do this. Putting animals to sleep must be the hardest part of your job."
My response always goes something like this: "Yes, it sure is. But it's also the most deeply gratifying. I've been given the greatest privilege imaginable--the ability to totally protect Monroe from what his illness is doing to him. We're going to lay a protective blanket over him and put him in a place where nothing can hurt him. I know, as a pet owner as well as a doctor, that the pain of saying goodbye seems unbearable. But over time, that sadness gradually transforms into the deepest form of gratification you will ever know. And deep down, you know that that's true."

The Special Significance of Death
For many people, the special significance of death provides a basis for the belief that natural death is preferable to euthanasia. There appears to be a spiritual impulse to allow nature to "take its course" with one's pet. For many people, a natural death seems to make the pet once again a part of nature. But it's important to keep in mind that a "natural is best" philosophy would not, in almost any other instance, be acceptable for your pet.

In the wild, when nature takes its course, the results can be cruel. Consider the likely outcome for a deer that falls through the ice of a partially frozen pond, a bobcat that develops a severe lung infection that is fatal if not treated, a rabbit that is attacked by a coyote, and a baby bird that has fallen out of its nest. If, in these very natural situations, it were our pet that was the victim, we would never allow nature to take its course. Instead, we'd intervene for the sole purpose of preventing nature from taking its course. When natural processes create suffering in our pets that we can relieve, allowing that suffering to continue simply because it is natural seems exceptionally hard to justify.

There are many human beliefs and belief systems that guide peoples' decisions about euthanasia. Certainly, religious beliefs weigh strongly for many. For example, one frequently expressed belief is that we do not have the right to "play God." But my own opinion is that we should carefully consider whether these human beliefs--which animals know nothing of, and presumably do not care about--outweigh our primary duty to protect our pets from harm. We must also decide whether this duty is for any reason less strong for the dying animal.

How to Tell When Your Pet's Life Is Approaching the End
It is not always clear when a sick or aging pet is approaching the end of life, but the following factors can help you determine when his unpleasant feelings are becoming greater than the pleasant feelings in his life.
  • Poor appetite. A poor appetite tells you that your pet is feeling bad.
  • Weight loss. Unintentional loss of weight is always a sign that something is amiss.
  • Lack of interest. Loss of interest in formerly enjoyable activities such as play and going for walks is another sign that something has changed.
  • Change in socialization patterns. Less desire to interact socially with the people or other animals in the house.
  • Lethargy or excessive sleeping. This, too, is a sign that your pet isn't well.
When you notice any of these signs in your pet, or a combination of them, pay attention. Your pet is letting you know how he feels, in the only ways he can. This is a good time to retake the Quality of Life Questionnaire (presented in Chapter7). I designed the Questionnaire to clearly compare the "weight" of pleasant feelings with that of unpleasant feelings on the quality-of-life scales. As your pet's life approaches its end, the scales progressively tip toward the unpleasant side. When the unpleasant feelings strongly outweigh the pleasant, euthanasia is an appropriate course of action.

Is She in Pain?
One of the most frequent questions I hear from owners trying to decide whether or not to euthanize their pet is, "Is she in pain?"
Surprisingly, pain is a component of only a minority of terminal illnesses. My answer to this question, then, is almost always: "No, but pain is only one of the many unpleasant feelings that can cause distress and suffering. You must consider all of your pet's unpleasant feelings. By far the most important one is difficulty breathing. Others include nausea; toxic feelings (from the buildup of toxins in the blood due to the impaired ability of diseased kidneys or liver to remove them from the body); nonspecific feelings of sickness (think of how you feel with a bad bout of the flu); upset equilibrium and balance; intense fear; and depression. Every one hurts him."

A Journey on Two Paths
All through your life together, your pet's interests and yours are essentially the same: to enjoy and maintain each other's companionship. But as a terminal illness progressively takes its toll, for the very first time your interests start to diverge. Your own interest remains the same: You want to maintain the relationship you've always had with your pet. But your pet's interests are increasingly focused on the growing discomforts of his disease.

Your pet still wants your companionship, but as the intensity of his unpleasant feelings increases with the advancing disease, his primary interest focuses more and more on getting relief from his discomfort. Ultimately, his main--and sometimes sole--interest in life is being rid of the bad feelings.
I
n order to help your pet at this time, I feel your most caring option is to subordinate your own interests to his. You have to make his interests yours, and that's hard, because by doing so, you are making his comfort (which you promised you would do your best to give him) more important than the relationship itself. This change brings you the painful realization that you are letting go because you must: Protecting your pet from the unpleasant feelings comes first, absolutely, and unquestionably. This will cause you emotional pain, but as a loving and caring companion, you must come second. The key to accepting this sacrifice is to realize that your pet's needs really are your needs--that her desire to be free from discomfort is exactly what you want for her.

A Vow to Make to Your Pet on the Day of Adoption
"I will be your loyal companion from this day forward. Even more important, I will be your protector. You have my solemn promise that I will, to the absolute utmost that my strength and resources permit, protect you against all the hurts that life can hold, whether they be physical or emotional. You can depend on me for this. I will never let you down.
"And when any hurts become such that all of my efforts cannot effectively alleviate them, I will place your needs above mine, your suffering over my own, and use the only means left to protect you from those hurts. I will deliver you comfort by bringing your pains to an end, not because I will be ready to let go, but because, to protect you, I will have to say goodbye. I know you will count on me at that difficult time to protect you, and I will be there for you, right by your side.
"Should my passing come first, you need not worry, because I will have made all the provisions for your care, safekeeping, and happiness.
"Fear not, because when death ends our physical togetherness, our emotional bond will never end. You will be a part of my heart forever. I promise."
The minute you learn that your pet has an illness that will progress either to death or unrelievable discomfort, please repeat this vow to him or her. It is truly remarkable how good it will make you feel to know that your relationship with your beloved pet is cemented by such a loving pact.

The Final Protection
I know that this is a very hard topic for pet owners to even read about, much less face. So let me summarize what I've said in this chapter for you here.

As with everything else in life that matters to your pet, euthanasia is all about feelings. When all other efforts fail to adequately protect your pet from a life dominated by persistent unpleasant feelings, we still have a tool that assures him full protection. We have the ability to provide this complete protection in a temporary way, which we call general anesthesia. When such complete protection is needed permanently, we call it euthanasia. It is the ultimate protection, and, when done for the right reasons, it is the kindest, most caring and loving gift that a person can bestow on his or her pet.


Copyright 2004 by Franklin D. McMillan

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