It's hard to know how to sound when calling your dog's veterinarian to talk about quality of life and euthanasia. If you sound too collected and calm, I think you risk sounding callous. On the other hand, sounding indecisive and timid must make the person on the other end of the phone wonder about your motivation. I think I struck just the right balance when I made this phone call.
I guess you don't think about these things until they come up, but I think a measure of a good vet's office is how well they handle this question. My dog's vet's office, as it happens, knew exactly what to say, and how to say it. They very calmly, very assuredly went through the euthanasia process, the appointments that need to be made, the choices afterwards (mass cremation, or individual? If the latter, with an urn or without?), et cetera.
Usually, the vet wants to have a consultation with the animal (optional here, since my animal is absurdly old). At their final appointment, the animal gets a sedative first. Once they're relaxed, or sleepy, or whatever they are, they get a medication intravenously that, apparently, really does make them feel like they are going to sleep. It sounds like 100% of dogs and cats that get euthanized die more peacefully and painlessly than about 100% of humans.
The vet's office, ingeniously, has a special room for these quality of life consultations. The walls are a light pink, the lighting is dim and by floor lamp, there's a relaxation fountain on a table, and photos of cats and dogs napping comfortably on the walls. There's also an excerpt from a Kinky Friedman book (autographed especially for the vet) on the wall about how sad he was when his cat was put to sleep (it left a better impression of him than his gubernatorial campaign, that's for sure). There's a nice rug on the floor. You and the vet sit opposite each other in comfortable chairs.
The talking has to do with how to recognize a terminal decline in quality of life, whether the dog still enjoys eating, whether it's still house trained, and also some biographical stuff about the animal.
Today, at the end of this talk, it was agreed that the animal's quality of life is still okay.