“There are many trials that seem hard to bear at first which prove true blessings later when we see of what false materials they were first composed.” — Stephen Vincent Benet
I distinctly remember the first time that I euthanized a client’s dog. All veterinarians must face this daunting moment in their career, to take the life of an animal we are trained to save from pain and suffering. In my case, I was an associate veterinarian in private practice only months after graduating with my DVM degree. A client’s dog was suffering from a fatal condition and after a prolonged struggle, the owner had decided to end her pet’s pain. She also requested that she hold her beloved pet during the procedure. I froze for an instant upon hearing her wish, adding to my anxiety and guilt. In that moment, the exam room became very small and I felt the ceiling lights intensely across the back of my neck, now moist with sweat. My hands and fingers trembled and seem to betray me as I aspirated the blue-green euthanasia solution into the syringe. The dog calmly watched me with trusting eyes as the owner wrapped her arms around his neck and chest, softly sobbing. Fortunately, the procedure was successful and the dog eased toward death with a final exhale. The memories and images from that moment have followed me throughout my life.