Saying goodbye to a pet is never easy. In fact, it can be downright gut wrenching ... painful enough to bring even the strongest person to tears. I write from experience.

In recent weeks, I've shared in the sorrow of several friends, including my little sister, Georgia, as they were forced to "put down" a pet they'd had for years. I gave them as much support as I could, but primarily just listened as they let their sadness come forth with story after story about a wonderful animal that had blessed their home for over a decade in most cases.

For my sister, it was her beloved beagle Zoey. A whirlwind of boundless energy when they got her, Zoey quickly learned the rules that must be obeyed in a pet/people relationship, and slowly but surely evolved into the kind of dog that comes along once in a lifetime ... if you're lucky.

The exuberant ball of energy lived a long, happy life, but after she turned the ripe old age of 15 (105 in dog years) it became apparent her days were numbered. Unable to stand or move without pain, she became incontinent and it was obvious something needed to be done.

With a quivering voice, Georgia asked me what I thought about the situation, and without hesitating I told her the time for Zoey to depart the mortal world had come. They should arrange to have their veterinarian take the appropriate course of action.

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