An insightful guide from animal communicator Joanne Yeoh to help you talk to your animal companions about making this painful decision.
Of all the different professions I’ve held, I find my animal communication business to be the most fascinating and rewarding. The enquiries and client requests are so varied such as:
My cat won’t eat, can you tell him he needs to eat, and ask him what food he prefers? Help! My dog is missing and I need him to tell you where he is so I can find him? I’m worried my horse is unwell but all the test results have come back clear. Can you ask him what’s wrong? My two cats are not getting on and I’ve tried everything to help them be friends but they keep fighting. Can you tell them I love them both and there’s no need to be jealous? My senior dog has just been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Has he had enough? Can you ask him if he will give me a sign to let me know? I miss my pet rabbit who passed away last year. Is she okay? And will she come back to me as another rabbit again?
The one that captures my heart is when they ask the question "Is it time? When to put my pet down? Has my pet had enough?"
When Donny, my Bichon, was showing more and more signs of tiredness and struggling with discomfort, I was constantly in search of finding a cure for him. It was a dilemma for me in that Donny hated going to the vet, and his stress levels would rocket sky-high. He was ultra-sensitive about being examined and the times the vets would empty his anal glands were excruciating for him. He’d freak out about getting blood tests and was paranoid about receiving injections. My communications with Donny were daily and as you can imagine, there would be days when I’d be firing questions at him all day long, trying to find the middle ground between what was the right thing to do for him and what he would agree and could tolerate. Was it worth insisting that he had a vet visit when the consequence would be his stress levels drove his adrenals into overdrive? At age 13 his recovery from emotional trauma took longer too. And when he was at home without the fear of having his body poked and prodded, it was obvious how safe he felt being in his bubble, surrounded by his animal companions and knowing he could access me anytime he needed. Safety and comfort became the priority.
What to ask your pet so they can guide you
I found myself constantly asking Donny "Have you had enough? You'll tell me when it's time, won't you?" To which I never received a clear answer. I kept expecting him to say either “Yes, I’ve had enough. I’m ready to go” or to give me a physical sign such as a look in his eyes and "I'd just know". However, I knew too that this was not a simple case of Donny being able to make such a decision. The reality is that what I was asking Donny was "Are you ready to be euthanised?".
Can we expect our animals to make this decision? We know animals have decision-making capacity but would they even know what "euthanasia" is?
Then the day came when I received a terminal diagnosis from the vet. I knew then I had to find a way to communicate with Donny about his end of life care. It was not an easy topic to discuss, hence his answer wasn’t going to be a simple "Yes" or "No". I needed to help Donny to understand my questions better. And in doing so he would be able to better answer them which means I would have the information I needed for me to make that decision FOR him. I wanted to ask him questions that would allow for his answers to come through so both parties could reach a place of peace with the decision made.
- What do you find pleasurable in your life now?
- What do you miss? And how do you feel about the things you miss?
- What do you look forward to each day?
- How does your body feel? With regards to discomfort, do you feel this intermittently, or constantly?
- How would you feel about leaving me and your animal companions when you leave your physical body?
- Are you clear about what options are available to you when it comes to your treatments? What are your thoughts about receiving more tests/treatments?
- What are your thoughts about the diagnosis and prognosis that's been given? Do you understand this or would you like more information?
- How is your mind? Can you focus and interact with your family?
- What advice would you like to share with me and your family with regard to making decisions about your health and life?
- What is important to you right now?
- What is your attitude to life?
You see when we ask "Is it time?" we need to complete the question too, such as:
- Is it time...to accept that there is no cure?
- Is it time...to let go emotionally of one another?
- Is it time...to review whether we can no longer provide the care, or be able to access the treatment needed, to bring comfort to our pet?
And the ultimate question we need to ask ourselves:
- Is it time...to choose either the option of euthanasia or hospice care going forward?
- Is it time...for me to put practicalities in place for the end stages?
These questions opened up our communication channels to the point whereby Donny could express his specific wishes and views to include after death care of his body, what to do with specific items of his belongings and his guidance for me to take forward our experience to help pet parents in my capacity as an animal communicator. This heralded my decision to enrol on the Animal Hospice Group Program as well as sign up as an affiliate to equip me with the necessary knowledge to ensure that my client’s pet's wishes are heard and that conversations about the death and dying process are handled sensitively.
I hold my affiliation with the Animal Hospice Group in high regard and appreciate the chance to play a role in furthering their mission.
Note: At the point of my communications with Donny I was not familiar nor able to access the options for end of life care to include animal hospice or palliative, hence I only knew at the time to discuss euthanasia with him.
Making the decision to let go
Ode To Donny by Joanne Yeoh - 28th September 2009 to 9th November 2022 to INFINITY ∞
You used to pull on the lead
Now it is I who tug you along
You used to bark the house down when someone came to the door
Now it is I who asks you who’s at the door
You used to bother me when I’m eating
Now it is I who persuades you to take food off my plate
You used to tell me when it was time for your walks
Now it is I who coaxes you to step outside
Slowly and kindly you are preparing me
To bring to the present moment all our treasured memories
Let's celebrate what we have achieved together
Your next journey is nigh
It’s time for me to make plans
I will hold your paw every step of the way
No matter if it will be days or weeks
Donny, my boy
We are ready
Donny’s aura image the night before his passing.
Orange represents Joy and Opening up to Spiritual Consciousness, and showing that he is receiving that new information and energy from other planes. Pink which is beautiful and optimistic. Full of Love. Purple which is connected into Higher Realms. Green at the end is a very calm and restorative colour connecting with the Heart Chakra.
[aura reading from Carole Love, Quantum Biofeedback].
Animal communication practise question with your pet
Our minds often hold on to the final memories of our pet’s passing. Where it’s been rushed, unexpected and unplanned, the grief of loss will be compounded by the after-guilt or over-questioning as we go over the scenario of what happened.
It is without a doubt that supporting our pets in their dying stages requires courage, strength and appropriate resources in place. However we can lean into our memories that the end of our pet’s life was lovingly planned, calm, and with everyone’s consent, whether we chose hospice care or euthanisation.
I would like to share an animal communication practice question you can try out with your pet to help you explore what you and your pet would wish for as the final memory shared together.
Click here for the video guidance Animal Communication Practise Question: Is It Time?
This article is also published on the Animal Hospice Group website.