This is a question that people frequently ask me. It is very difficult to assume the responsibility of ending a life, especially the life of a pet that you consider an intrinsic part of your family, a friend, a soul mate. Am I playing God? How can I make that decision? What gives me the right? These are questions a pet owner faced with this painful moment frequently ask themselves.
Here is my personal viewpoint on this very delicate aspect of dealing with a pet's end of life.
When we assume the responsibility and the position of a pet's guardian, caregiver, owner, we care for them, feed them, provide them with shelter and all the comforts of home, nurse them back to health when they are ill, take them to a veterinarian when they are sick, etc...
Without a doubt, we are artificially extending their lives and without our help, they would have died a long time ago due to a mechanism that nature or God set in place that prevents prolonged suffering. We took this mechanism away thousands of years ago, when we started domesticating animals and to an even greater degree in recent years when keeping a pet loved, sheltered and having all the comforts of a cosy home, plenty of food, advanced veterinary care, etc... It is very unlikely that their lives would have been 10 to 20 years in length or even perhaps longer, without our help. In my viewpoint, this also comes with the responsibility to say enough and to take the kindest, most courageous course of action when extending their lives brings them more pain than death would. It IS a decision that takes courage and it is the last act of selfless love we can offer them.
Are we indeed "playing God"? Have we not, starting from thousands of years ago when we first domesticated them? Do we not still, from the moment we welcome them in our hearts, in our homes and we care for them to such a degree that they cannot fend for themselves? I think that to a degree, we do and when we start playing that game, God also gives us the responsibility to carry it through.