One evening, I was called to a client's home to euthanize their dog. This dog was named Renny, 14 years old, and his health had been sinking steadily for the last few months to the point where he could not longer eat or get up. The clients led me into the kitchen where Renny was stretched out on a beautiful quilt. We all chatted for a bit about what was about to happen. There were many tears. BeeBop, a cat, circled the fringes of the group. I assembled my equipment: needle and syringe, tourniquet, and euthanasia solution. As I knelt on the floor, I noted to the clients how BeeBop was "right there", watching my every move. The clients said the dog and cat had grown up together, having arrived in the household at aproximately the same time and age, almost 14 years ago. So I began my preparations, BeeBop watching with the intensity of a student, trying to make sure he understood every move. Watching me attach needle to syringe. Watching me draw up the pink euthanasia solution into the syringe. Watching me attach the tourniquet at the elbow so the vein in the foreleg would "pop up". Watching me insert needle into the vein, draw back a bit of blood, then release the tourniquet and slowly inject the solution that would end Renny's life. BeeBop watched it all with the caring of a friend, then as Renny gave his last little sigh, BeeBop immediately turned and disappeared into the basement. Perhaps to mourn the death of his friend? It was so crystal clear that he knew what was happening.
A month or so later, I visited the same client to vaccinate the cats. As I drove up, I wondered if BeeBop would be angry with me. But as I climbed the porch stairs, he jumped out of his secret hiding place and rubbed up against my leg, asking to be petted. We understood.