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Perspective: A better way to die

David Gunkel

My family and I recently had to euthanize our 12-year-old German Short Haired pointer. If you have ever been here with a dog, cat or other pet, you know the struggle and conflicting emotions this decision entails. That is bad enough. But then there is that last trip the vet’s office for a clinical procedure in a location where neither you nor your pet feel comfortable. And when everything is said and done, you have the ride home, which always seems both too short and too long because of emptiness. I could not do this again. So this time we wanted it to be different for her and for us. And fortunately, it was.

We set aside a weekend to celebrate our beloved companion’s life with everything that made her existence full and complete -- walks in the neighborhood, illegal foods, and visits with her favorite people. We made arrangements for in-home euthanizing -- something that is becoming far more common and accessible. And when the time came on that Monday, we held her in our arms, sitting together on the floor in her favorite place in the house, and said goodbye. It was still difficult and heart wrenching, but it also felt different. It might not seem like much, but I can say, she died peacefully at home, surrounded by her family, and in a place where she felt secure and comfortable.

Nothing about this was easy; it never is. But this was a far better conclusion to a life well lived.

Northern Illinois University professor and author