Rectangular photo of a closeup of books on a shelf, spanning titles on dogs and pets. Photo by Beth Miller.

Beth Miller—The Most Painful Choice: A Dog Owner's Story of Behavioral Euthanasia

Cover of the book The Most Painful Choice with title and photograph of German Shepherd dog reclining on leaf-strewn deck

Most Painful Choice


Beth Miller
McFarland Publishing, March 31, 2023
Paperback $29.95, Kindle, $13.49
ISBN: 9781476690193, eISBN: 9781476648781

Miller reports:

Making the decision to proceed with behavioral euthanasia for my rescued German Shepherd dog Champ was extremely difficult. I felt the only people I could talk to about it were his veterinarians and trainer. After I found an online support group with others dealing with this experience, I realized that there were few resources available for those in our situation.

Everyone in the support group was asking similar questions: “Why did this have to happen to my pet?” “What more could I have done to help my pet?” Since I could not find any books on the subject, I decided to write one, both to process my experience and to provide support for others who had to choose behavioral euthanasia for their pet. I also wanted to inform the public about what behavioral euthanasia is.

Portrait photo of Beth Miller

Beth Miller

As a science writer, I went to the literature looking for answers about what might make pets have unmanageable behavior problems. I read hundreds of research papers by veterinary behaviorists and other scientists who have dedicated their careers to animal behavior. I hoped to learn why Champ was so troubled. This book is part memoir, part science as I processed his death.

I spent evenings, weekends, and holidays for about 16 months writing this book before sending out query letters. A NASW seminar on sending query letters and proposals helped guide me. Since I did not have an agent, I targeted publishers that published books about dogs. McFarland Publishing’s Dogs in our World series proved to be a great fit.

My advice for aspiring authors is to write what you need to say and follow your idea. If you believe in it, others will, too.

Contact info:

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April 24, 2023

Advance Copy

The path from idea to book may take myriad routes. The Advance Copy column, started in 2000 by NASW volunteer book editor Lynne Lamberg, features NASW authors telling the stories behind their books. Authors are asked to report how they got their idea, honed it into a proposal, found an agent and a publisher, funded and conducted their research, and organized their writing process. They also are asked to share what they wish they’d known when they started or would do differently next time, and what advice they can offer aspiring authors. Lamberg edits the authors’ answers to produce the Advance Copy reports.

NASW members: Will your book be published soon? Visit for information on submitting your report.

Publication of NASW author reports in Advance Copy does not constitute NASW's endorsement of any publication or the ideas, values, or material contained within or espoused by authors or their books. We hope this column stimulates productive discussions on important topics now and in the future as both science and societies progress. We welcome your discussion in the comments section below.

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