Q&A With Dr Esther
What it’s like working in end of life care and the patients that touched her heart...
How do you find being an end of life care vet? People often say, “I don’t know how you do it!” They are surprised when I tell them I love this work. I feel like I was born to do it, but it’s not all roses. There certainly are things that are difficult. It can be enormously emotional; there are days when it really takes its toll. We don’t want owners to have to say goodbye to their fur babies, but ultimately this is part of our job and it’s rewarding to feel as though you are making a difference in the lives of those experiencing difficulty. Through giving pets a compassionate and empathetic goodbye, we make a tough time much more bearable, and that’s what I love.
What would you say to those who have recently lost a pet? Everything you are feeling is normal and expected. Allow yourself to experience whatever emotions come up and know that your decision was from a place of love. I think our pets somehow understand this and love us for it. I would also say, draw on the support of your loved ones. Take care of each other. Hug each other a lot!
What about to pet owners considering an in home goodbye? To anyone facing the heartbreaking decision of saying goodbye to a pet, I would say doing it at home is an excellent choice. It is an INCREDIBLY difficult process, but deciding to have it at home often means there is so much less stress involved for all concerned. For something so inherently sad, it can be quite a beautiful experience when done well. The main benefits I’ve noticed are less stress for yourself and your pet, time constraints become almost non-existent, other pets and children, where appropriate, can be part of the experience, virtually all of the logistics involved can be taken care of for you. Overall it just seems like a much gentler way to begin the grieving process.
Have you had any standout moments? I’m gifted with standout moments at virtually every appointment. For me, they are the ones where I know I’ve really made a difference. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing improvements in the quality of life of my palliative care clients and in seeing the joy this brings owners. With goodbyes, the gratitude I receive from families, knowing that their beloved pets have been allowed to pass peacefully inside their homes, surrounded by love, is a truly beautiful thing.
Every vet has a pet that touched their hearts, is there a certain patient that comes to mind? I love all of my patients and their humans, but of course, there are some who really stay with you... The beautiful big black greyhound, Larry, was very special. Anzac, a gorgeous palliative care patient with seriously dedicated owners. Sunny, the black Labrador - her family had the best humour I have ever encountered at an in-home goodbye.
I would like to say a warm thank you to each and every animal and person I have come into contact with since I started at Sunset Vets. I have met some of the most incredible owners and their amazingly beautiful pets. It has been such an honour to be welcomed into your homes to become a part of such an important process!