Syringomyelia Awareness: Courage to End the Suffering

I received an email from Colin and Cathy Moon this morning asking that I include the following during this event. It is not something they have had the courage to say out loud until now and it is a powerful message. This message should be considered not only by Rescues but by the owners of dogs who suffer from this disease and any disease that causes so much pain. The quality of life of the animal (dog, cat, horse, rabbit) needs to be taken into consideration when making medical decisions.

By Cathy and Colin Moon

I had stated in Charlie’s SM blog that I would never let one of my beloved cavaliers get to the point Charlie was at. I need to say that I would respect and even support a rescue’s decision to euthanize a dog like Charlie. After knowing what his days were like, I believe that any rescue caring for a dog like Charlie has a responsibility to relieve him of daily chronic pain for which there is no cure as in a progressive disease like SM. Yes, Charlie was a young dog, and he did at times have a spark of puppy-like behavior, but when I saw the constant, pained look around his eyes and what his day to day life was like, I have to say that I did wonder why it had not occurred to the rescue to give him his wings. That would have been the kindest thing to do, looking back on Charlie’s life and the decisions that were made for him. Hindsight is 20/20, and if there is something to be learned from Charlie, it may be simply this: that euthanasia is a valid option to relieve suffering.

People in rescues cannot save every dog; in fact they should not try to save every dog, when so many Cavaliers are suffering with SM, a progressive disease. Making these decisions isn’t easy, and it shouldn’t be. Nothing is clear cut, but we need to take an honest look at what is most right for each dog, and have the strength to do the right thing. The months of grief, remorse, and even guilt that I felt after Charlie’s death had more to do with the way we all failed Charlie as his caretakers, than with the decision to set him free of all pain.

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  1. So so difficult to read. It brought all of those original feelings of empathy for what Cathy and Colin went through and their feeling of hopelessness and second guessing. Charlie is just one of those dogs that I will never ever forget. Bless you two for doing the right thing for this poor boy. He just wasn't meant for this world.

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