When it’s time…

by: Jennifer Oldfield

As I watch a close friend struggle with the decision to let her dearest companion go, I am reminded once again at how hard this decision is.  We all wonder, is there more that I can do? We all agonize over the coming loss, our hearts break, tears fall and we wish they could be with us longer.   Nothing prepares you for this day, whether you knew it was coming soon or it arrived suddenly.  Nothing makes your heart ache less, nothing makes the decision simple.

Pets aren’t just pets, they are family.  Our pets provide us with such joy and laughter.  They provide us with comfort, they help heal our hearts.  They give us their all because we are their everything.

On this day I am reminded of my girl I lost 5 years ago.  With the birth of my first son, came the death of my first dog.  I say my first dog, because she was the first dog I got when I moved away from home, the first dog I purchased myself.  Shreddie was very special, she was with me through every major event in my life.  My first marriage, my divorce, my convocation from University, my second marriage.  When I became pregnant, somehow in my heart I knew Shreddie would not be around to see my child grow up.

Shreddie on her 13th birthday

Shreddie on her 13th birthday

Shreddie passed 3 months shy of her 14th birthday.  She stopped eating while I was in the hospital.  She held on until we got home and was with me for one more milestone in my life – I got the joy of introducing my son to her.  The next day I had to let her go.  It broke my heart and created a sadness in me I had never experienced before.

Shreddie gave me so much; she introduced me to some of my closest friends, she gave me the love for the dog sport I continue to play, she comforted me when I was sad and sat by me when I was sick.  All her life she spent making me smile, easing my pain.  Now it was my turn to end her’s.  Although we did an xray, just to be sure, I knew in my heart it was time.  I couldn’t ask anything else from my sweet girl, it was my turn to give back.  To give the one gift we are able to give them, the gift to end their pain and allow them to run free once again.

It took 3 years before I could look in the drawer where the pictures of her lay, without bursting into tears.  Although there is still a Malamute shaped hole in my heart, it holds the most precious thing of all – memories.  Memories of her that now make me smile, warm my heart and ease the sadness that never completely goes away.  Now I can remember her fuzzy ears, her giant grin, her vocal “woo” and know that I am blessed.  Blessed to have gotten 13+ years to build all those happy moments.  Although her body is gone, her spirit is always with me.


The loss of our dearest companions isn’t easy and no words will ever make it so.  How do you decide then when it is time?  Consider their quality of life.  For more information on making the decision, the euthanasia process and grief resources visit our website at www.albertnorthvetclinic.ca  If we can do anything to help you through this process, please let us know.



Heartworm Awareness

Spring has sprung and that means the mosquitos are not far behind… Mosquito Swarm

thus bringing us to the time of year when heartworm disease becomes a concern here in Canada and the northern States.  Heartworm disease is caused by a type of parasitic worm that lives in the heart and surrounding vessels of domestic dogs and rarely cats.  Infection with this parasite can lead to coughing, weight loss, heart failure, and death.  Certainly something to be avoided!

The disease is passed from an infected dog to another through mosquitos.  The mosquito will pick up “baby” worms when it bites an infected dog and transfer them to another dog.  The worms take up to one year to mature.  An infected dog may have 50 or more worms.  Treatment is both lengthy, often taking several months, and costly.

Heartworm is common in many areas of North America including the interior B.C., Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, parts of the Maritimes and most of the United States.  It is rare in Saskatchewan, Alberta and areas north of us.

Fortunately, heartworm is a preventable disease.  We are recommending that anyone who is traveling outside of Saskatchewan or Alberta during mosquito season, have preventative medicine for their pets.  This may be a topical product (Revolution) placed on the back of the pet’s neck or pills (Heartguard) given orally.  Depending on the type of medication prescribed and the travel history of the pet, a heartworm test may be advised.  This is because if your pet is already infected with heartworm, giving a preventative medication may make them very ill.  In addition, if a pet has treatment early, it results in the best outcome.  Heartworm testing involves taking a small blood sample and we generally have the results within a few days.  For pets who frequently travel to heartworm areas, annual heartworm testing is advised.  This is to ensure the preventative medication is working and to be able to treat a potential infection before it is too late.

If you have any questions regarding heartworm and your pet, please contact your veterinarian.Heartworm life cycle