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Home Euthanasia and End of Life Care 

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Sunset Vets_Lesley and Souri

Everybody has that special animal that stays with them long after they’re gone.

For some, it’s their very first childhood pet, for others, it’s one that gets them through the toughest of times. For Lesley, a Sunshine Coast resident and client of Sunset Vets, it was Souri.

Souri was a beautiful 15-year-old white Samoyed who captured Lesley’s heart and as she puts it, ‘was the best dog she ever owned’.

We sat down with Lesley to chat about her relationship and life with Souri.

Tell us a little bit about Souri and your relationship with her.

Lesley: The arrival of Souri was long-awaited, with my last dog dying prematurely at only four years of age from a genetic blood disorder some 17 years prior. I looked at several breeds and was most well matched to the Samoyed. ‘Sammies’ are known for their beautiful smiles, good looks, cheeky and clownlike behaviour and also their placid nature. From the beginning, Souri captured my heart.

She was a delightful mix between super chilled, go-with-the-flow and highly energetic when out and about. As a utility/sled dog, she loved to run and in her younger years, she was incredibly fast and nimble, beating even border collies on the beach and egging them on to race.

She was so clever, self-possessed, never a needy dog and sometimes stubborn, perhaps due to her lone wolf nature. But she showed her love in gentle quiet ways, coming to sit under my work desk 30 minutes before walkies time, or leaning against me offering support if I was upset. She was protective of me yet due to her confidence she charmed everyone who came across her. She was an unforgettable girl, and I must say, a perfect match for me and the best dog I ever had. 

Do you remember the first day you got Souri and what that was like?

Lesley: I will never forget the day I got her. I was on a one-year waiting list for a Samoyed and I had requested a boy dog. However, about three weeks later I got a call saying a purchase had fallen through and that they had a female eight-week-old girl pup on offer. I said yes and I took a month off work to be able to be fully there for her.

 As soon as the breeder let me in Souri came straight up to me, confident and interested, her little smile taking over her whole face. She was just so perfect, so beautiful! I held her in my lap all the way home and it was so special. She was so happy to just look into my eyes as I held her face.

Souri & Lesley

I just knew she was going to be the best dog. We had an instant bond, trust and love were cemented on the three-hour drive home from the breeder. It was undoubtedly one of the best days of my life- it was like falling in love.


"She was an unforgettable girl, and I must say, a perfect match for me and the best dog I ever had."

Although Souri lived a very full beautiful life with Lesley, unfortunately, her health declined in the final weeks of her life, and Lesley, being the most dedicated of pet owners reached out to Sunset Vets to help her plan for the decisions ahead.

Dr Monika, one of the compassionate Sunset Vets veterinarians visited Souri to assess her and provide whatever care was needed.

“My first visit to Souri was in order to provide a quality-of-life assessment and discuss any concerns or questions, and my second visit was only a few days later and this was to provide an at-home euthanasia,” said Dr Monika.

“A lot of what we do as palliative care vets is to support and help owners come to the right decision. Lesley was struggling to make a decision and come to terms with it, and I was honored to help her through this. Her love for Souri was so evident and her struggle and grief around end-of-life decision-making was a testament to how much Souri meant to her”.

Once the decision was made that it was in Souri’s best interest to say a peaceful farewell at home, Dr Monika encouraged Lesley to spend her final days with beautiful Souri as positively as possible, making sure she knew just how much she meant to her.

How did you spend Souri’s final days?

Lesley: I spent Souri’s final days constantly by her side. My husband took care of everything else so I could concentrate solely on her.

I treasured every moment, feeding her all her favourite treats, cuddling her constantly and talking a lot to her. I thanked her for sharing 15 beautiful years with me and I know she understood. After the consultation with Dr Monika, we had set a date for Souri girl to leave me, and I spent her final night lying down with her.

Although she had full access to the house, she always preferred to sleep outside. I set up a sleeping bag next to her cuddling her and stroking her all night. A lot of tears fell and through them, I repeatedly told her how much I loved her and how much joy she had brought me.

The moon was full that night and it really felt like time stood still. It was a strange, yet powerful magic and I am so glad to have experienced it. 

Was there significance to choosing Souri’s resting place?

Lesley: The significance of Souri’s resting place has been enormous- I feel she is still with me, every day- because she actually is!

On Souri’s last day, I spent a couple of hours digging her grave myself. In it, I placed her collar, lead, and an empty bottle of special champagne for the memories (her pedigree name was Champagne Diva and it’s so perfect as it’s my favourite drink). I lined the base of the grave with beautiful fabric to honour her resting place.

After Dr Monika put Souri to sleep, I wrapped her carefully in a very old soft white sarong, walked her down to the back of my garden and placed her gently in her final resting place.

I could barely see for tears and only when her form was shrouded by dirt did I truly begin to comprehend the loss of my little love. My husband hammered a handmade sign next to the grave and I planted a small lemon Myrtle tree over Souri’s place of rest.

I am so grateful to have made this choice. Sometimes I sit under the tree and just talk to Souri. I love that in this way, she is still with me. 

Did saying goodbye at home make a difference to your grieving process?

Lesley: Saying goodbye at home made a huge difference as it gave me the opportunity to plan a dignified, respectful, private, and beautiful way to honour my dog. A home farewell is more emotionally safe for both the dog and owner and gives the owner a chance to design a meaningful ritual which I believe eases the process of closure. It most certainly didn’t make the subsequent grieving process easier; however, it allowed me to feel no regrets about the decision made to euthanise and allowed me to say goodbye my way.

What was your experience with Sunset Vets like?

Lesley: My experience with Sunset vets was extraordinary. A wonderful service, heartfelt, sensitive, and knowledgeable. I wish more people knew about Sunset Vets!

The privacy of being able to go through a difficult rite of passage at home is of great comfort. I can’t even imagine saying goodbye to a loved and cherished four-legged member of the family in a vet clinic.

Had I known about Sunset Vets earlier I would have consulted them a lot earlier for quality advice before an actual end-of-life care visit. I feel that information and guidance regarding how to care for an older pet could have been of great benefit. Lastly, on a personal note, the beautiful Dr Monika reached out to me after Souri’s death, offering the hand of friendship. I like to think Souri-girl arranged that so I wouldn’t be so lonely.

End-of-life decision-making can be very difficult. What was your experience with this?

Lesley: Making difficult end-of-life decisions regarding our fur babies is gut-wrenching. They can be unwittingly avoided by denial i.e. thinking the pet still has quality of life when they are actually suffering. This is not ignorance on the part of the owner necessarily, it’s just that an owner sees their pet daily and may miss the tiny incremental declining factors. They may also be hoping that things might improve, and this can cause inaction.

We all hope and wish our pets will just drift off peacefully in their sleep, but life can be crueller than that. Something that helped me in deciding to let my beautiful girl go was that I had set myself ‘markers’ to know when it was time. I decided that when she could no longer toilet herself without assistance, and when she didn’t want to go for walks any longer, that it was time to plan a heartfelt and caring exit. Our pets are our babies, and they deserve our utmost sensitivity when it comes to their end-of-life care. 

If I had this time again I would do it the same way. Sunset Vets helped me to do such a hard thing, in a way that gave me great comfort.

We thank Lesley for generously sharing her story and her beautiful photos.

If you would like to share your pets story, please contact Sunset Vets

Sunset Vets Palliative and End of Life Care

Sunset Vets is a dedicated end-of-life and palliative care service for pets. Our veterinarians are available to support families with in-home care 7 days a week by prior appointment. Get in touch for more information about how we can help.