The 5 Biggest Mistakes

. . . When an Animal Is Approaching The Final Journey

and How to Avoid Them.

by Paloma Baerschi-Herrera


Surely there are more than 5 mistakes you can make when it comes to terminal care and assisted leaving. I would like to mention 5 of them, though, as I think they are very important. Spot would probably now say that there are no mistakes; only inappropriate behaviour. That is probably the better definition. If you make mistakes you are doing something wrong and that is the last thing you want in this situation. So let's call it "inappropriate behaviour".

Our animals will never blame us if we are a little helpless whilst giving terminal care or assitance. Animals know that humans don't really address the subject of dying in the way that they do and they understand the helplessness that occurs because of it. Animals are a lot more understanding than we are towards ourselves.
Animals are trying, as well as they can, to let us know what to do but as the whole situation is charged with emotions, we are often unable to understand the indications.


1. Extreme worries

Because we love our animal so much, we worry as soon as something happens to it. After all, we don't want anything to happen to it at all. I don't exclude myself from this in any way. But when we talk about an animal being ill or being on its final journey, we mustn't get too absorbed in the whole thing. We mustn't have sleepless nights because of our animal.
The animal feels these worries and will become even more stressed than it already is with its illness.

We have to try to convert the worries into positive energy and to cajole the animal; to give it a boost. At this time we have to be strong to give the animal the needed back-up. Extreme worries have the opposite effect.

Try to meditate to get to your centre and look at the situation from a quiet place. That way you can provide the correct support for your animal.


2. Not letting go

Letting go seems to be one of the hardest things for humans to do. Animals have a very different relationship to it. It's probably based on our upbringing. We have learned that what is around us somehow belongs to us; whether it is a thing, an animal, a friendship or anything else.

If we had been taught that everything is just on loan and that we should enjoy it as long as it is with us, we would probably deal with the subject of letting go very differently.

I remember when my father was in hospital there was another man in the room with him. The man had someone with him around the clock. One day when I was with my father and I heard through the drawn curtain: "Hello friend! Stay here... hello... Ah, I thought you had gone..." and I thought, "Oh dear! Let the man go ..." My father died a few days after this incident and I am nearly certain that the other man was still alive.
As long as we don't let go and can't accept that our animal friend will go, they can't go in peace.

Tell you're animal to go and that it is okay. It is very important, though, that you tell it from the heart and also that you are also convinced.


3. Influence too early

The most common reason for putting down an animal too early is the fear it would suffer. We don't do the animal any favours by doing so. We feel that we redeem the animal from its disease or condition, but the truth is that we redeem ourselves from having to deal with the situation.

The animal has this situation or disease for a certain reason known to it. It probably has to solve or work through something. If we stop this by taking action too early, the animal has to find another body and go through the same again.

I often realized this, when I was talking to young animals which had an illness or an affliction which normally only old older animals have.  There once was a 6 month old Jack Russell puppy where I felt it was an old dog. He had a very strong arthritis.

There was also a young kitten, which suddenly fell ill with FIP and there are lots more cases which clearly argue that the animals had to work through something.

Let's therefore allow our animals to resolve what they have to and help them to get through it as best as we can.


4. You have lost sight of the animal's needs

We do the craziest things to keep the animal with us as for long as possible and we sometimes have endless tests carried out on the animal. Often these measures only mean unnecessary stress for the animal and they don't help much.

I knew my dog Tony had a heart condition shortly after I got him from Spain. My vet told me that he had a heart murmur.  I assisted Tony with homeopathy, phytotherapy and in the end with classical medicine as well as I possibly could, but I never dragged him to any test or cardiograms.  For me it was enough to know that he had a heart condition.  What use would it be to me to know exactly what was wrong with him? I wanted to stress him as little as possible and enjoyed every day with him. I tried to undertake things with him that he enjoyed and reduced those he didn't like to a minimum. It was my greatest pleasure to see his joy of life in his eyes.

Let us have our animals for the time they have left and to pass the time as enjoyably as possible. There is no use in prolonging their lives by a few months or maybe years if it means we have to stress them unnecessarily with visits to the vet and to take tests.

Answer the following question for me: which is worthier; to savour one year full of joy or to have two years filled with tests, periods at the clinic and visits to the vet?

When you do something, ask yourself the question "Why are you doing it?" Is it for the benefit of the animal or because you want to know where you stand? Is it really that important to always know exactly what's going on or is it more important to have a happy animal in the time that it has left?


5. To be oblivious to your own needs

This behaviour is often linked with extreme worrying. We forget ourselves and only think about the animal. Often, we also forget other people or animals in our environment. This behaviour strains those relationships and stresses all parties involved. The animal knows that everything threatens to fall to pieces and it also knows that it is the cause. In the normal case the animal doesn't want that and it may retreat. This in turn, makes us care even more for the animal. But that is what it wants to avoid.

When you accompany an animal on its final journey, take conscious time off for yourself once a day. Even if it is only to have a nice cup of tea and think about something you enjoy.

Go outside and admire the diversity and wonders of nature, which lie outside your front door. Open your heart and come back to your animal with a heart full of life energy. Let your animal feel that you are fine. Only in that way can you be there for your animal in the best way.