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#21 Ancarrow

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 02:34 PM

Oh my, all these responses are so meaningful, considerate and straight from the heart. Such good points brought up and to consider. Twice, I have been at the crossroads of this type of situation, and both times, wished I had not gone for the extended treatments and just brought Dixie (my first dog I got at 12 years old, a brittany spaniel bird dog) and my Ol' Sally hound dog (that I had for 16 years) them home and allowed them to die with me at home and not at the vet's office. I did not expect them to die there, it was in the hopes that they could be helped, you know, just stay overnight for observation. Please, Dear Lord, help me next time to stand by that decision and bring them home, especially if they are older. Did I have their best interest at heart? Sure, I did. Was it also partly cause I wasn't ready to let them go yet. Sure, it was. Life's a funny thing and we all just try to work it through the best we can at that point in time.

#22 Liz P

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 02:34 PM

I believe the euthanasia survey results showed that 95% of owners feel they waited too long, 5% said they chose the right time and no one felt they had done it too soon.

Some types of cancer have an absolutely dismal prognosis, others can be managed or even cured. I had a patient with lymphoma of the nasal passages that lived for 18 months. I know of a dog with cutaneous lymphoma who lived 4 years after a single round of chemo. Even though osteosarcoma (bone cancer) has a terrible prognosis, I know of a dog who lived 10 YEARS after an amputation and chemo (he was 2 yrs old at the time of diagnosis). Eventually he relapsed at 12 years old, at which point his owner elected to let him go.

Unfortunately, far more animals did what the text books said and lived only days to months after diagnosis. For their owners, humane euthanasia was a release that saved their pets from suffering a drawn out, painful death.

Aside from a childhood cat that was hit by a car, I have put all my animals to sleep. I've seen too many die a natural death in the course of my profession to want that end for my pets. With both Duncan and Flyboy I do wish I had let them go a few days earlier. In Duncan's case his heart was failing and the drugs couldn't keep him comfortable any longer. It would have been better to let him go at the first sign of failure. In Flyboy's case I was hoping for a few weeks to say goodbye, but the tumor bled. I am grateful I had time for my family to arrive so everyone could be there when I put him to sleep.

#23 Root Beer

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 03:22 PM

With Maddie we had to stop, due to cost and her quickly deteriorating health, before even getting a clear diagnosis. We did everything that we could reasonably afford to do - bloodwork to check her organs, a stomach x-ray, various medications. By the time more in depth diagnosis was being considered, she was starting to starve herself to death. I don't believe, at that point, that there was anything that we could have afforded to do for her, even if we had gotten a diagnosis, and I honestly don't believe that anything could have been done at that point.

I also believe she had cancer. I don't know that for sure, but it makes sense in a lot of ways.

In the end, it didn't matter. I simply could not let her starve herself to death, so when it was clear that she was suffering, and afraid, and that she was just not going to get better, I made that hardest of decisions. I don't regret it because at that point there was no reasonable hope and I didn't want her to go through starving. I'm sorry that I had to - I wish she could still be here. But given the circumstances, I know it was the right thing to do.

And even though I wish I hadn't had to make the decision, I am very, very glad that Maddie didn't die alone. She was laying on her mat, with her head on my legs, just like we always hung out before we went into the ring to run Agility. I don't know if that gave her any measure of comfort, but I know she wasn't alone, and that helps me to some degree.

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#24 mbc1963

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 05:09 PM

I have twice opted to delay a dog's passing - in both cases more for my interests or the interests of loved ones than for the dog, I believe. I have tried to make myself a firm promise not to do this again, and hope I can stand by my decision when the difficult time comes.

I wish, too, that we could set up a culture that allowed me to make a similar decision about my own life.

Mary
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#25 bc friend

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 06:21 PM

I have made the decision both ways - it depends on the circumstances.

Even though Sara was 14, she was in great health and not symptomatic. Her hepaticelluar carcinoma (liver cancer) was discovered on palpation during a routine exam. It was believed that surgery could possibly buy her another 18 months or so and I opted to have 40% of her liver removed. She lived almost another 3 yrs with a very good quality of life and I don't regret the decision to treat her at all. She then developed hemangiosarcoma and was gone in less than 10 days.

Katie, on the other hand, had advanced lymphosarcoma by the time she showed any symptoms and was diagnosed. My vet did not feel treatment would buy her more than a few weeks, and I opted to keep her comfortable and euth'd as soon as she showed signs that pallative care wasn't enough.

For both dogs, I think I made the right decision for that particular dog but I can't say either was an easy decision to make.

#26 Blackdawgs

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 08:15 PM

Just because we can, it doesn't mean that we should. And that goes for human medicine as well.

I declined diagnosis and treatment for 2 dogs strongly suspected of having cancer. In my opinion, the dogs were not candidates for treatment. The dogs were brought home for a short time and then euthanized. In a different situation and with different dogs, I may have opted to treat.

I work in cancer research and this is currently a very hot topic in human oncology. The newer, targeted anti-cancer drugs are extremely expensive and often have a very modest benefit on survival. Are a couple of additional months of life (potentially, this is all based on survival curves and statistics) worth 6-figures?

#27 alligande

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 09:06 PM

don't think dogs understand getting to live 6 months longer, but they do understand being happy and pain free in the moment.


Like others, this sums up my feelings. I read this article this morning before work and was going to link to the boards later so I am glad Mr McCaig has raised the subject. My husband and I have long talked about this and we have both felt with a younger dog, with a great prognosis that it could be worth the dog being put through uncomfortable procedures, but you can not explain to a dog that they will feel better soon and it will be worth it. Sometimes we have had the budget, sometimes not but I just hate the idea of the dog being miserable and in pain, even though it is supposed to make them better

Our late Bandit was diagnosed with kidney failure, the associate vet told us to feed him the horrid Rx food so we did, and he thought it was horrid, and give him fluids. He was a wimp around needles so we were not sure about the fluids, but most evenings we would sit on the floor with a bag of fluids and the three of us would watch tv, some nights he would not let us put the needle in and we let him be. The owner of the practice and our regular vet agreed that Rx food was horrid, we went for the hospice approach, great food, no more rules, spoiled rotten, when I have told the story of Bandit to people, there have been comments about why did not the vet try this or that, but we all made the decision he was not young and he should die with dignity. He passed in his sleep, in the same place he slept his entire 10 years with us. We woke in the morning and he was curled in a sled dog ball just like normal, just not moving. Both of us feel that we were lucky that we got to spend 2 months saying good bye to a very good friend and are proud that on the day he died he went for a walk in his favorite place and raided bird seed from the next doors lawn.

#28 Donald McCaig

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 05:10 AM

Dear Fellow Mourners,

It is important that you and your loved one(s) agree. Anne and I have seen many animals die and were of one mind about June. Our niece, who loved June and once won a novice/novice trial with her made reservations to fly here to say goodbye. Alas, June couldn't wait.

Donald McCaig

#29 Donald McCaig

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 07:48 AM

Dear Fellow Mourners,

Pricilla Melchoir found this on the internet. Warning: Not casual reading. http://www.english.u...ezABeaumont.pdf

Donald McCaig

#30 Tea

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 08:04 PM

When I was young, about 19, Old Pop and I were training a horse together. His name was Stoat. It was the very last horse we would train together. Old Pop sitting on the fence rail and me going through the beautiful dance that is the good partnership. Stoat was two when we started him. Old Pop died that year. And we lost everything. Stoat was not mine, but a horse we had been training for money. Mom and I scraped up enough money to buy him.

I rode that horse competivety in eventing and he was who started me down that road that teaches. Brave and kind, calm and fast he brought me to where I never would have gone.

I was offered alot of money for him, never sold him. Couldn't...I'd see old Pop sitting on that rail telling me things that live in a horseman's dreams.
When Stoat was 33...yes I had him for 31 years he developed cancer.

And one day I knew...I needed to let him go. Before it got worse. Pete and Mark and I led him down to the start of the trails. And I kissed him, and thanked him my good partner for all thiose years.

Then I went back to the house to wait for the shot that would send my Horse and Old Pop finally to the other side of my youth forever.



And my only comfort, was one day

I will follow him.



#31 juliepoudrier

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 08:34 PM

For over 2 years of his life (~17-19 years old), my cat loved the goat milk he got morning, noon and night. He ate a normal, high-quality cat food (I would not feed him that awful corn-based Rx food the vet wanted to sell me), he had no 'accidents' - although he peed buckets and litter usage tripled, he was normally mobile and slept up on our bed every night.

This sounds like my Chili Pepper, who just turned 18. She was diagnosed in renal failure two years ago when I took her for a dentistry. She is the first CRF cat that I did not put on a veterinary diet and who I chose not to do all the "usual things" (fluids, etc.) with. She eats exclusively baby food (the liquid ground first-stage stuff). Nothing but human-quality protein. She loves it, it's easy to warm, and is liquid enough for her to eat easily. I'm probably spending more on baby food than I ever would on an Rx diet, but it's worth it if she eats it and likes it. She still drinks plenty and has a small dish of fresh water next to her at all times. She, too, goes through some kitty litter, and I did have to make a concession to putting the cat pan where she chose to go potty. She's not perfect, but she still walks around, seeks attention, likes to sit in my lap while I work (and interfere with my typing). I expect she'll let me know when it's time, and I fully expect to help her with her passing. I've had one animal die at home, and it was absolutely awful (it was Chili's littermate, and I suspect he died of insulin shock, on New Year's Eve no less). I never, ever want to see another animal go through what he did. Maybe he wasn't conscious or even aware of the seizures, etc., but it was horrible to witness and I felt so helpless, and there was no time to get him to an emergency clinic, there nearest of which was 40 minutes away).

As hard as it is to let them go, I believe what my friend Debbie Crowder told me: We do this for them because we love them that much.

J.

I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream.

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Beloved, and living in memory:
Willow (6/1997-5/2014, run free, my heart), Boy (3/1995-10/2010, RIP), Jill (8/1996-5/2012, RIP), Farleigh (12/1998-7/2014, RIP), Kat (4/2000-6/2015, I miss you, my sweet, funny little clown), Twist (11/2001-11/2016, you were my once-in-a-lifetime dog and forever my BEST girl), and Phoebe (7/2006-8/2017, gone too soon).

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#32 Bluzinnias

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 10:00 PM

I can't imagine and hope to never have to make a decision but at the hospital where I work we have seen some great results with chemo. A good friend brought her working border collie to us that had bone cancer. After amputation, she started chemo therapy and had treatments every other week. About 10 weeks post op and during the course of her treatment, she entered her in a small AHBA trial and won the class and high in trial among 60 or so other runs. People watching her run were misty eyed. While she'll never be the Open dog that she was, she is still working and happy as ever. Her initial chemo treatment was over about 3 months ago and she looks great and is a happy dog. Fingers crossed she has a few more years.

We also do a very unique treatment for cancer at our hospital. Currently, I believe we are the only veterinary facility performing this treatment in the US, but it is very promising. The cancer tumor is surgically removed from the dog and the tumor antigens are isolated. Then we take a blood draw from the pet and isolate the dentritic cells. These cells are loaded with the tumor antigen and are "educated" to attack the cancer. Then we "vaccinate" the pet with these cells. Using the pet's own tumor, blood and dendritic cells, the treatment is totally autogenous to the pet. Not being a scientist, my explanation leaves a lot to be desired. Here's the website with more info if anyone is interested.

http://lifevax.com/

This treatment is in phase 3 clinic trials in humans with various types of cancer. Results are especially impressive with deadly glioblastoma's.

One anecdotal case we have had is with a dog that had reoccuring skin cancer. She would come in to have the tumor removed and then be back within months with another one. She was one of our first cases and after treatment, it's been 3 years and still no more tumors. We are just beginning to treat some lymphoma cases.

While this science is new and might not be the be all, end all answer, I do believe it is where we are headed. It's exciting that it's being done in the hospital where I work and there is a long and funny story how we got this going with the company.

Michelle

#33 Bluzinnias

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 10:01 PM

And I forgot to add, this treatment is much less than 6 figures!

#34 Gloria Atwater

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 12:34 AM

Oh, Donald, I feel your grief in the spaces where lie all the words you do not say.

As Kipling wrote:

"We've sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we've kept 'em, the more do we grieve:
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-term loan is as bad as a long--
So why in--Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear? "

But we do, and we owe it to them to give our hearts fully and without let. My husband and I have met the monster named Lymphoma not once but three times. Three good dogs, only two related, and all died within 36 months' time. Fate was cruelly brisk in taking the old dogs from us and paving the way for new dogs to come.

What we have learned of this bitter journey is what Liz said: Dogs don't understand getting to live 6 months longer, but they do understand being happy and pain free in the moment.

My first old girl to go, my wee, woolly, hard-minded, sweet-hearted Rose, we probably let go too long. The vet did not recommend chemo or radiation: she managed my dog's symptoms and helped us maintain her comfort as long as we could. It was so, so hard to let Rose go. I think I was perhaps selfish.

Dolly took sick next. She was our stoic, always, and it was hard to tell how sick she really was, but she dropped weight, lost appetite ... Again, the vet simply helped us manage her quality of life. I think we made the right call of when to let her go.

Then Dolly's sister Della became ill later ... and we braced our hearts to face the demon again. The vet prescribed the same treatments, nothing invasive, just medications to maintain her comfort. One warm spring night, sweet, clingy little Della who wanted nothing more than to be at our feet, at our side, in our hearts ... walked feebly outside and down the stairs to sleep under the juniper tree beside the gate. It was the first time in her entire life she did not sleep beside our bed. It was time to let her go. It felt too soon, too much ... but it was time, for her if not for us.

A month ago, we lost another of our oldsters, Scruffy the corgi-mix. He went from our little rascal who would eat ANYthing - sometimes things we really didn't want to know about - to the funny old man who would only eat certain things, and then only for a while. The vet diagnosed him with a raging bladder infection and he bounced back wonderfully with IV fluids and aggressive antibiotics.

But a month later, he began slipping again, and this time the vet diagnosed him with kidney failure. Again, we didn't go to extremes. We did what we could to keep him comfortable, fed him whatever silly thing he wanted to eat ... but he faded fast. The last day, I took all the dogs out to play around the property, and Scruffy toddled all the way down to the mailbox. Took him about 5 minutes to make the 70 feet back to the house, but he seemed content.

And yet so very, very tired. We let him go the next day.

Now I look at my old Jesse, the last of the old things. He's 13 years old and his rear end is going out, but he feels great. Jesse is still loving life, having fun - heck, yesterday I let the deaf old thing move some sheep around. Made him feel great. But one of these days ... that old body is going to hit the 300,000 mile mark and what then? It's hard to imagine letting him go, when his spirit is still so vibrant and bright. I almost hope that when the time comes, he, like Scruffy, will be clearly ready to let go.

The one cold comfort we may have is that dogs don't fear death the same way we do. They can't anticipate or look for that sudden darkness or lights at the end of a cosmic tunnel. We are their God, and all they know is life with us.

So, I guess the moral of my story is, my dogs' quality of life is everything. If there is a good prognosis for quality of life after some treatment or other, if the vet can tell me, "Yes, s/he will have years of happy, healthy living after we do this," then I would consider a certain financial extravagance. I expect that, at some point, I will again face the prospect of back surgery for my Nick.

But if it is merely my weak heart crying out against the silence to come, that bids me keep a beloved dog beside me ... I hope I will have the conscience and strength to let their suffering cease, if there is no joy remaining in my dog's eyes.

We give our hearts to a dog to tear ... but there is such joy in the giving.

~ Gloria
You ask of my companions. Hills, sir, and the sundown, and a dog as large as myself that my father bought me. They are better than human beings, because they know but do not tell. ~ Emily Dickinson

To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring - it was peace. ~ Milan Kundera

#35 Tea

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 08:02 AM

Gloria, Such wise words!



#36 juliepoudrier

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 08:16 AM

As a sort of aside to this discussion I personally it's important to be supportive of friends who might have to make a decision to let a dog (or other pet go) and not make them second guess their decisions by pointing out additional treatment options (unless they are truly seeking such options), or that thus and such isn't *that* expensive, and so on. I know of people who do this, and it's very distressing. For many of us, making such a decision is agony itself. Being made to feel that we didn't do enough, or were chintzy with the expense is just adding to the pain. So if you know someone contemplating the death of their beloved partner, companion, lifelong pet, consider carefully the advice you offer. (This is not directed at anyone in particular; just an observation I've made over the years when making these decisions myself and watching others have to make them too--and the discussion in the Coffee Break section some months ago about the horse that needed to be PTS and the barn owner who made that decision even more difficult for the horse's owner.)

J.

I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream.

~Vincent van Gogh

mydogs_small2.jpg
Julie Poudrier
New Kent, VA

Beloved, and living in memory:
Willow (6/1997-5/2014, run free, my heart), Boy (3/1995-10/2010, RIP), Jill (8/1996-5/2012, RIP), Farleigh (12/1998-7/2014, RIP), Kat (4/2000-6/2015, I miss you, my sweet, funny little clown), Twist (11/2001-11/2016, you were my once-in-a-lifetime dog and forever my BEST girl), and Phoebe (7/2006-8/2017, gone too soon).

The current pack:
Lark, Pipit (Pip), Birdie, Kiskadee (Kiss), Rue, Corbie, Kite, Cooper, and little Lonesome Dove!

Willow's Rest, Tunis, Tunis mules, Leicester Longwool, Teeswater, Border Leicester, Karakul, and Gulf Coast Native sheep


Visit me on Facebook at Poudrier and Crowder, Set Out Specialists (P&C, SOS)

#37 KrisK

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 09:51 AM

Such a timely discussion...as I struggle with my Zachary's life. Although the vet indicated he was in renal failure and had limited time left, once again my little ironman has surprised me. But, is he happy? I wish I could tell for sure. He stands outside in the sunlight and seems happy. He sleeps quietly for a lot of the day and night and I do all I can to make sure he's comfortable. He eats his food with gusto and stands at my feet to make sure I put him beside me on the couch in the evening.

It's Easter and 2 years ago, I lost my Jazz to hemangiosacroma. He wasn't quite 11 and was the picture of health. It hurts even now. Perhaps that is why I'm struggling right now. I don't want to lose my Zachary at the same time. Maybe Zachary knows this....and has decided to give me a little more of his time.

I hope that the decisions I make when it comes to my dogs will be the right one for them, and ultimately for me as well.

In Zachary's case, even if offered by my vet, I would only do what is necessary to keep him comfortable. what I would do with a much younger dog, I can't say for sure. So much would be dependent on THAT dog, at that time.

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Dusty, the foundling, being as good as his DNA will allow
Flint, BC,  a sparky pup

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Zachary, my little ironman (July 1994-April 2012)
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#38 rushdoggie

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 11:14 AM

I guess I am the only one who still struggles so much. I posted how my little heart dog died after some kind event...I let him be PTS because he was disoriented and then struggling so hard to breathe, but then second guessed my choice because what if he had a seizure and was post ictal and if given a few hours could have improved?

I don't like having that choice weigh on me. How am I to decide what makes life worth living for my dog?

"one dog shy of a crazy dog lady..."

c933f85e-d7ab-4b06-a588-a46b423e82d1_zps


#39 juliepoudrier

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 11:22 AM

I guess I am the only one who still struggles so much.

Seriously? You really believe the rest of us don't struggle with our decisons? Life is full of what ifs. Your dog can't tell you what he's feeling. So yes, you have to make such a decision not really knowing if it's *really* the time. But that's the covenant you make with that pet when you first bring him home. No pet is going to blame you for letting him go too early. And we all make that final decision based on the best information we have in front of us.

J.

I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream.

~Vincent van Gogh

mydogs_small2.jpg
Julie Poudrier
New Kent, VA

Beloved, and living in memory:
Willow (6/1997-5/2014, run free, my heart), Boy (3/1995-10/2010, RIP), Jill (8/1996-5/2012, RIP), Farleigh (12/1998-7/2014, RIP), Kat (4/2000-6/2015, I miss you, my sweet, funny little clown), Twist (11/2001-11/2016, you were my once-in-a-lifetime dog and forever my BEST girl), and Phoebe (7/2006-8/2017, gone too soon).

The current pack:
Lark, Pipit (Pip), Birdie, Kiskadee (Kiss), Rue, Corbie, Kite, Cooper, and little Lonesome Dove!

Willow's Rest, Tunis, Tunis mules, Leicester Longwool, Teeswater, Border Leicester, Karakul, and Gulf Coast Native sheep


Visit me on Facebook at Poudrier and Crowder, Set Out Specialists (P&C, SOS)

#40 Donald McCaig

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 11:39 AM

Dear Fellow Mourners,

Ms Rushdoggie wonders, "How am I to decide what makes life worth living for my dog?"

He will tell you.

Donald McCaig


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