Heartbreaking footage of an unwell dog’s final day with his owners before being put down has left animal lovers in tears.
Losing a beloved pet is a painful and emotional experience that impacts each person in different ways, whether it’s physical or psychological.
In 2017, the New England Journal of Medicine, for instance, detailed the case of a woman experiencing “broken heart syndrome” after her dog died.
Ellie Buckler and her dog Baxter. Ellie spent much of her final day with Baxter cuddling the beloved pet pooch. Ellie BucklerA direct response to the grief she experienced, doctors found that the condition mimicked many of the symptoms associated with a heart attack.
For her, the sudden loss of a cherished companion was almost too much for her heart to take. Perhaps that’s why dog owner Ellie Buckler was so determined to make the most of her final day with her beloved Shar Pei, Baxter.
Buckler told Newsweek that she and her family had already experienced the trauma of losing a dog suddenly. Baxter was one of seven pups born to their previous pet pooch, Rolo. Like Baxter, she was a cherished member of the family.
When she gave birth to a litter of seven gorgeous young dogs in 2010, the family decided to keep Baxter to live alongside his mom.
@elliebuckler Running in the big fields in the sky ❤️ love yoor forever baby boy 🌈 12 years wasnt long enough 😢 #dogslastday #fyp #bestfriend ♬ Stuff We Did (From “Up”) – Mark Northam
However, in May 2018, Rolo suddenly fell ill with what they discovered was gastric dilation volvulus (GDV), a rapidly progressive life-threatening condition that causes the stomach to dilate. Within a few hours of being diagnosed, Rolo died, leaving Baxter, who was 7, behind. She was 9.
Thankfully, with the love and care of Buckler and her family, Baxter grew to the ripe old dog age of 12. At that point, however, his own health began to deteriorate rapidly. He suffered from bad arthritis, needed painkillers and struggled with his breathing.
Then, during a trip to the veterinarian, they were told the news they had all feared: Baxter did not have long left. Increasingly lethargic, off his food and still struggling to breathe, the family made the difficult decision to book him in to be put down.
“As heartbreaking as it was, we had to do what was right, it wouldn’t have been fair to allow him to carry on the way he was,” Buckler said. “It really was so hard, he literally was my best friend.”
Once a date and time was set for his final trip to the vets, Buckler focused on making sure he enjoyed a send-off fit for a dog who had brought so much joy to his family.
“I wanted to make the last day the most special,” she said. It began with a night under the stars, courtesy of Buckler’s stepdad, who slept outside with Baxter, who was increasingly spending his time out in his bed in the garden.
The next morning, Buckler arrived with a breakfast treat: a McDonald’s McMuffin just for Baxter. Explaining the choice, Buckler said: “I’ve let him have a tiny bit of mine in the past and he would always drool so much if I had one and he wasn’t allowed it so I knew he loved them. That’s why I got him one and let him have the whole thing.”
She said much of their day was then spent “lying outside with him cuddling him” with Baxter often very sleepy and struggling to move.
Later, they went on a short walk to a nearby grocery store to buy him another treat: some ham.
“That was one of the little things we would always do,” Buckler explained. “When I used to come in I’d go to the fridge and eat the odd slice of ham straight out the packet but I would always give Baxter a piece too, so it got to the point where he was so used to it he would literally wait at the fridge for me.”
She said Baxter spent the rest of the day being spoiled by Buckler and her brothers. “We all grew up with him so he was very special to all of us,” she said. Finally, he was given one last treat – a taste of chocolate, with Buckler recalling seeing a sign at her vet’s that said “no dog should pass without trying chocolate.”
Baxter the dog trying chocolate. Ellie was keen for her pet pooch to try a taste of the forbidden treat before he passed away. Ellie Buckler
Then, at around 6 p.m., they took Baxter on his final journey to be put to sleep. Buckler said: “He passed away in my arms. It was very peaceful and it was a relief to see him out of pain but at the same time it has left me broken.”
An avid dog lover, Buckler decided to share video footage from Baxter’s last day to TikTok, concluding the clip with a powerful shot of a rainbow that appeared after his passing.
The video struck a chord with many, racking up over 10 million views.
“I’m sobbing,” one viewer wrote. “It’s horrible when you lose your dog,” another said. “I hope you’re alright.” A third said: “this broke my heart. “I lost one of my pugs a week ago and am still struggling now.”
Despite the somber nature of the post, some offered consolation that at least Baxter enjoyed a happy final day with the people he loved most in the whole world.
“He looked like he was loved,” one viewer said with another agreeing: “he had an amazing last day with his favorite person, rest easy Baxter.”
Reflecting on the experience, Buckler acknowledged that while she has been left heartbroken, she is happy at being able to give Baxter the kind of goodbye he so richly deserved.
“It doesn’t feel the same anymore coming into the house and not hearing him plodding around and grunting,” she said. “But I know it was the best decision we could have made for him.”
Baxter the dog enjoying his last day. Ellie Buckler was determined to make it a day to remember. Ellie BucklerCorrection: 07/27/2022 03:57 ET – An earlier version of this story stated Baxter was 2 when his mom died. He was 7.