Animals have feelings and emotions, and they suffer from pain, disabilities and diseases just as humans do. But unlike my father, who could clearly communicate his wishes through a system of blinking his eyes, animals can't tell us (at least not in human language) that they don't feel well, are in terrible pain or even want to die. They depend on us to notice when something is wrong and to be brave enough to make the heartbreaking-but-humane decision to end their suffering when the time comes.
The Liverpool Care Pathway, a protocol normally used for the "dying patient", came under extensive scrutiny by the media recently.
Our beloved 14 year old cocker spaniel Sammy who has lived for the past six months with senile dementia, blindness, a lack of bowel control and use of his legs, was put to sleep yesterday. With our dog we were allowed to choose when to end his life so that he could die with dignity and achieve a 'good death'. We were not allowed that option with my father.
I knew that Tony's was the first right-to-die hearing of its kind. Whereas previous cases have clarified the law on the assisted suicide, Tony's case goes further - it represents a fundamental challenge to the law on murder. "The court", says Mr Justice Charles, who allowed Tony's case to proceed, "is being invited to cross the Rubicon."
'We're fighting for the right for Dad to die. Everything that we want we want to be regulated and to be strict, it shouldn't be easy. It should be really difficult to make sure that people aren't being coerced, that people are of sound mind and that it is what people want to do, but it should be possible.'
Tony Nicklinson was a "very active and outgoing man" before tragedy struck when he suffered a stroke while on a business trip to Athens in 2005. It...