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pet loss tribute

Making the big decision - Author Gary Kurz

Title of Article:  "Making the BIG Decision"
By Gary Kurz

As an author of several books and articles dealing with the loss of pets, I often receive letters and e-mails from readers who have additional questions or who are just looking for someone to listen.  While it is regrettable that our meeting is prompted by a very sad and often tragic event in their lives, it is a pleasure to spend whatever time necessary researching, to objectively answer their questions and concerns.   It gives me great satisfaction to provide answers that people can depend on, answers that have a solid scriptural basis.

Unfortunately, the question most overwhelmingly asked of me ("Do you think I did the right thing by putting my best friend down"?) is one that cannot be researched, but requires rather my personal opinion.  I feel very uncomfortable giving my opinion when I cannot site an applicable scripture.  At best my thoughts are subjective, based only upon what limited information I am provided by the reader and my own thought process. 

As you might imagine, each question is accompanied by a heart-wrenching story replete with a completely unique scenario and set of circumstances from others who contact me.  As a consequence, there is no "cookie-cutter" answer that I can offer.  Even though the question is the same, each calls for a customized response.

Nevertheless, I have found that there is one common denominator present with all who contact me, and therefore, one part of my response that I do not have to customize.  I offer that thought now to any who have had to put their best friend down and who are feeling guilty about it.

Without fail, people who love their pets, who consider them members of the family, have an unselfish love and devotion to their pet.  It is clear that people who possess such love would have done anything within their power to have extended the life of their best friend.  Indeed, I can attest that some have spent literally tens of thousands of dollars on healthcare, traveled great distances to meet with specialists, or sat up night after night all night long trying to provide comfort and to find hope.

Sadly, often, despite all the selfless effort and expense, success was not realized and their best friend continued to deteriorate, often in great pain.  They were forced to make one of the hardest decisions an animal lover must make, whether or not to let their best friend go.  It is after that decision has been made and performed, that guilt comes, and not long thereafter that people begin to question themselves (and me):

  • "Did I do the right thing"?
  • "I have waited longer"?
  • "Why am I feeling all this guilt"?

As stated above, my response does not address the uniqueness of the individual inquiry, but rather the commonality that all who contact me share, the love for their pets.   I cannot presumptuously tell them that putting their best friend down was the right thing to do.  Neither can I suggest that it was the wrong thing to do.  I just do not know.  Similarly, I do not know if the decision was made too soon, too late or whether it should have been made at all.  Again, at best, my thoughts in those areas would be nothing more than a subjective guess, based upon my own values and level of sensitivity.  It would be unfair to hold everyone to my own standard and to respond to them based upon that alone.

What I do feel free to address, however, is the cause of the feelings of guilt they are feeling and to help people properly frame this traumatic episode in their life so that they can rid themselves of that senseless guilt.  My advice to all is to simply “trust the moment” when you had to make the decision.  By that I mean, that you should not second-guess now, the decision that you made then.

Second-guessing will only lead to a feeling of insecurity, which will eventually manifest itself as guilt.  It is imperative to trust that at that moment, when you were forced to make that undesirable, big decision, you did so from a standpoint of love.  You didn't want to do it.  It horrified you to have to decide.  Nevertheless, you stepped up to the plate and selflesslydecided at that moment that your bestfriend was suffering, that there was nothing you or anyone else could do about it, and that the suffering would continue and probably worsen if you did not intervene. 

Now, long after the fact, divorced from the emotionand pressure of that moment, you are allowing yourself to dissect every thought and circumstance.  You are starting to think differently and question yourself, playing the "what if" game.  Now, it isn't so clear.  Now, you don't know if you did the right thing. cold noses It is human nature to doubt.  We are all very good at it and very adept at self-criticism, Monday morning quarterbacking and hindsight.   But that does not make it right to pull a load of guilt upon ourselves, and that does not change the reality of the moment when you had to make the big decision.

Don't let your feelings of grief give birth to guilt.  Remember the moment.  Remember that at that moment you wanted nothing more but to help the one you so dearly loved.  You would have done anything, paid any amount, performed any feat to prolong their life, but it was just not to be.  The doctor’s prognosis was grim.  There would be much suffering and pain.  The recommendation was to bring them relief, to help them pass on.  Under extreme duress and emotional strain, through tears of love, you weighed all the facts, reached down deep inside yourself, put aside your own selfish desire to have your pet hang on, and did what you thought best for them at that moment. 

At that moment, your love made the selfless decision that rationale and logic now argue with.  There was not selfishness, but rather a somber consideration of the facts, and a decision to do something that you really did not want to do.  But you did it, because someone needed for you to be strong for them.  You put self aside and found strength you did not know you had.  Don't let go of that moment!  Trust it.  Trust that you were right and that you did what was needed.  Trust that your love ruled over your emotion and know that where your love prevailed, there is no room for guilt.

A special thank you to Gary Kurz for granting reprint rights. Please visit his website at:

Other Articles by Gary Kurz can be found on his website :


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