To me, today, this remains a tough call. Still, I wonder, does Booker still want to be here as much as we still want Booker to be here? And if I wonder this we're probably closer to an answer than I'd like to admit.
We've gone through two recent stretches where we thought we were going to lose him - days that seemed to represent not just funks but permanent deterioration - yet both times it was as if he heard our tearful late-night conversations and buoyed himself back up. We even had what can only be described as a goodbye party for him. That was four months ago. A few days after, I had the initial conversation with our vet during which I cried so much that my eyes swelled up and I had to ice them with a bag of frozen peas - a technique I owe to a particularly sad break-up. (Thanks, twenties!)
The only animals I've ever had to euthanize were in emergent, traumatic distress (internal bleeding, a burst tumor, kidney failure). I've never had to make a choice for them - there was no choice. So I had a lot of questions for Booker's vet, who is wonderful on many levels, but is also one of Booker's biggest fans. (The feeling is mutual.) She started by telling me that for him she would come to our house if that is where we want to do it. That relieved me. But then I thought of Safari, who Booker raised as much as we did - where would he be? Our vet said that usually for the actual procedure other animals are kept out of the room, but afterward it could be important to let them visit the body as a way of finding their own closure. This made sense to me. She said the only thing to consider if she came to our home is that it would be up to us to deal with his body. In other words, if we're planning on having him cremated we will have to get him to the pet crematory ourselves. When you euthanize at the office, she explained, the crematory sends a vehicle at the time of your appointment. It was the one time I laughed that day. I needed it desperately, that ridiculous image of my husband and me, wrecked with grief, trying to get our gigantic dead dog into the back of the car. I'm still not sure how we will do it.