What to do?
Posted 09 April 2012 - 11:52 AM
Now this is a dog that I did spend a lot of money on between injuries and orthopedic surgeries when she was 7 yrs and 9 yrs of age. She was still very healthy at that time so I did the surgeries. Now may not have if she was older or had other health issues. 9 months ago she was diagnosed with oral melanoma. We chose to remove the tumor but not treat. I wanted a quality of life and not quantity. My biggest fear was that I would wait too long to euthanize. She probably only suffered for 2 days or so since it happened over the weekend and I chose that Monday morning I would take her in. My vets thanked me for thinking about HER and not myself. They knew it was time just by looking at her. The sparkle was gone from eyes. She went so peacefully and so quickly. I truly believe she was ready to say goodbye but also think I waited a day or 2 too long.
My biggest fear of waiting too long is because I did wait too long almost 8 yrs ago with Charlotte. She was diagnosed with GI Tract Lymphoma (very aggressive form) and liver failure. She seemed ok, not great, so we chose not to treat since there was no chance for remission (been to the vets many time for illness and a lot of money - this was the 3rd suspected cancer diagnosis but this time it was). We took her home and said we would make the decision when she refused to eat. You have to understand she was a food whore. Loved food so we thought this was a good thing to use. I was so wrong. I refused to see how sick she was the last month of her life. She could not even go for a walk without getting horribly sick and vomiting blood. The sparkle was gone from her eye but I didn't see it. She basically could only walk enough to get food and drink. She would lay in my lap and just sleep. I just was not ready to really see what was happening. The hardest part was she was only 4.5 yrs old. She was so young. Once morning she turned away from breakfast so I knew it was time since this was what we said would tell us. I made the appt and took her in. The problem was that because of her organ failures the drugs weren't metabolizing properly. The screaming at the top of her lungs from pain (even the vets felt it was the drugs actually burning through her) was horrifying. My husband and I both were in tears, the vets were in tears, the techs, receptionists were all in tears. They ended up closing the clinic for 30 minutes because owners of animals were getting upset. Yeah the whole process for this one euthanization took 45 minutes and about 43 minutes of that involved the dog screaming in pain and a ton of meds trying to find one that would let her sleep. If I would have chosen to euthanize sooner the process would not have been so traumatic to all involved. I still have nightmares about it and that was 8 yrs ago. There were so many signs that she was ready much sooner but I refused to see them. She was my heart dog.
After this I decided I would never let my animals suffer like that again. My selfishness caused her and many others great anguish. I now follow a better life quality monitor: Pick 3 things your animal LOVES to do and when they can no longer do 2 of them then it is most likely time. Foster loved to play, loved to eat and loved to just hang out. Earlier in the week she was playing just slowly which is, she was eating well and normal for her and would sort of hang out but was sleeping more and more each day. By Saturday morning she could hardly walk, could not even stand up easily or lie down without pain, couldn't squat to pee without pain and she could not play, she also ate her food so slowly which was unlike her and add in at this point unless we interacted directly with her all she did was sleep and look miserable. In her case, she lost all 3 things she loved at one time.
For things like orthopedic issues in a healthy dog I am ok with paying the money but for cancers that even with treatment may only give you another 6-12 months on average I won't do it. Yes your dog could be the "rare" one but then again they could be ill/sick for a good portion of that time so how did you do this for them if You are the one making them sick by treatments.
I won't give advice to anyone that asks about when to euthanize but if they want to hear my stories about it I will tell them. Everyone needs to make their own decision about it and no one has right to make anyone feel guilty about it. We all have our stories for and against this stuff and I think for me I am just very sensitive about it because of Charlotte so I would prefer to euthanize early if I have to instead of too late and letting the dog suffer. I may not agree with someone's decision but I respect it is there decision though.
Posted 09 April 2012 - 12:39 PM
I felt like I lied to Tobi because when I found her that morning, I told her everything was going to be alright but do I regret my decision? No, because I know I still did what was best for Tobi. Do I still miss her? Yes. It’s been almost 3 yrs since she’s been gone and the tears still run down my face while I write this. But I know I’ll be seeing her again one day along with my other past pets who I miss dearly when my time comes.
JJ Jake Josie
Posted 09 April 2012 - 12:41 PM
Nick, Linc, June, Pia, and Ginger
RIP Zippy (Jan 11, 1994 - April 9, 2012)
Crooks and Crazies
Posted 09 April 2012 - 12:51 PM
JJ Jake Josie
Posted 09 April 2012 - 09:19 PM
I know in my heart I need to let Zachary be at peace..but it does not make the decision any easier.
I hope this essay will help others as it helped me.
Dealing with the Guilt.
Guilt. It's a word that can invoke in us the deepest, most terrible feelings of loss, horror, anger, and helplessness. Why did I do what I did? Why couldn't I have done more? Did I kill my beloved pet? Did I not do enough? Did I do too much? Did I put him/her down too soon? Did I wait too long? If only I had closed the gate. If only I had noticed sooner. If only I had waited longer. If only I had more money. If only I had rushed to the vet sooner. If only I had known more at the time. If only I had listened to my gut feelings. If only I had gone to a better vet.
And we beat ourselves up for all these questions and "if-onlys". Why do we do this? Because we loved our pets. Because we wish we could have done more, or wish we had not done what we did.
But we cannot bring them back. We cannot change what we did or did not do.
What we can do is stop hurting ourselves over the guilt. Each of us, in our own way, did what we thought was right at the time, using what we knew and felt. Each of us tried to do the best we could, and did it with the intention of love.
We are human beings, with frailties and faults. We don't know everything. We make mistakes. But we make them with the best of intentions.
To hurt ourselves with the terrible additional pain of guilt is to do disservice to the love we felt for our pets. With very, very few exceptions, we did the best we knew to do at the time. Even if we feel that we didn't do what we should have, or did what we should not have, we have learned, and everyone will benefit from that knowledge now.
Our beloved pets are gone, and out of pain. We still torture ourselves with the pain of guilt and doubt. It's human to do that, too, but are we being fair to ourselves?
We loved, deeply, and that says that we have a deep capacity for love that many do not. We are basically good people. Should we not recognize that goodness, instead of inflicting pain on ourselves for what we could, or should, or should not have done?
We took in a beloved creature, and gave him or her everything we could. We petted, we walked, we fed, we changed litterboxes, we played, we stroked, we sat sleepless on difficult nights. We cared, and did everything we knew to do at the time. And we looked in their eyes, and knew they understood that we loved them. If we didn't know enough, or made an innocent mistake, do we believe that they did not understand, and love and forgive us in spite of it? I believe they did, and that they do.
We need to forgive ourselves. If we can, we can increase our knowledge, reach out to help others, and use our pain to make things better for our pets, for others' pets, and for those animals out there who are alone and lost. We can make a difference. But only if we quit hating ourselves, blaming ourselves, for being human.
Let the guilt go. Know that your furbabies don't blame you; they understand, because they know your heart. Let yourself forgive yourself, and allow all the love you have to be there for another. There are so many who need it.
Learn, and then teach. Keep learning, and don't stop. Every pebble of knowledge and caring you send out will ripple throughout the world, and keep growing. And perhaps in time, every animal will be loved, and well-cared for, and there will be a great golden age for the animals, and for those of us who love them.
September 10, 1999
Dusty, the foundling, being as good as his DNA will allow
Flint, a sparky pup..
Jazz (my handsome boy - April 1999-April 2010)
Zachary, my little ironman (July 1994-April 2012)
Brandy (a good dog - 1983-1999)
He is my other eyes that can see above the clouds; my other ears that hear above the winds
Posted 09 April 2012 - 10:07 PM
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?
Oh, Rushdoggie, you are not the only one. I still see our sweet Della's face, as the vet carried her body into the hospital (we had her put to sleep in my truck) for later cremation. We knew she was done, sick, tired and bereft of joy. But ... we'd already lost two old ones, and to lose her, too, was pure agony.
We did the right thing. But it hurt. And I still ask myself, Could she have comfortably lasted a few more days?
When I have to let 13-year-old Jesse go, it's going to wreck me. It's never easy. Intellectual knowing does not overcome heartfelt pain.
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
Posted 10 April 2012 - 10:01 AM
Respectfully -- I'd suggest this might be a good thread to "pin."
Posted 10 April 2012 - 03:12 PM
Lilly, Jack, Alex & Will
Posted 10 April 2012 - 05:38 PM
Chin was his name. Not a border collie but a sweet little pug mix that grew up with my kids. My son learned to walk by pulling up on him and Chin patiently never moved so as not to cause him to fall. I don't know where the time went but one day he was 13 yrs. old. He couldn't hear anymore but he was still pretty spry. Then in the course of 2 weeks he deteriorated rather quickly. Stopped eating, trouble walking... I was in shock about it and took him for an overnight to the vet for testing and IV's. I didn't realize he had so many deteriorating discs..he always had such a high pain tolerance, he didn't show it until then. The vet thought there was nothing to do but try to make him comfortable until he couldn't be anymore. It cost about $1,000 that overnight but I never regretted doing it. When he came home, it was like he had a second wind. He ate, and danced, and I thought ok little trooper you have some time left. So that week we went to a wedding breakfast for a friend, thinking Chin would be ok for a few hours home sleeping. When we came home we found that he had passed away. It was heartbreaking to know that I wasn't there for him and I can't help but feel guilty about it to this day. When you put your dog to sleep you get to be there and say good-bye and I didn't get to do that. Although, at times I thank little Chin for sparing me that decision. Still....
Thank you for posting the essay. It's what I've tried to do. Every rescue I've participated in I dedicate to him.
Mr. McCaig, I am sorry for your loss.
"Saving one dog will not change the world...but surely, the world will be changed for that one dog."
Posted 28 April 2012 - 06:19 PM
Our dogs are with us until we let them go or God takes them. I think they accept what we decide, trusting that we need them. For me, it's hard to let go, but I feel like I step out of my body and that middle-aged person in it makes the call, while my heart is screaming like an infant. It's the hardest thing I ever do, deciding when my beloved companion will die. My first euthanasia decision came when my lab mix Carly was found to have lung cancer at 9. I found out in May and cried clear til July when I saw the light go out of her eyes and that other woman drove her to the VEC and told them to let her go. I was with her and it was so peaceful. All of the actual procedures went smoothly, and I have had others die before we could decide, but each time I learned more. Having horses is tougher, with them, the logistics of death take far more planning and practicallity, but that same other woman makes the call. I have to say, she is calm, determined and seems at peace when she speaks to the person who she arranges it with. For the animal, be it horse or dog (or kitty), I join up with her and take a calm, loving attitude, begging them to trust me and to know they are the love of my life, and I pray for them to know it.
As for a "natural" death, I don't know if it is as peaceful. I have seen far too many to know it might not be. I pray for owners who cannot bring themselves (or that strong person they could call on from within) to chose euthanasia. They suffer so much, and those of us who serve them suffer too, but I have to believe their bond is unique to them, and no God would let anyone suffer but so much, not really. I kept the dog after Carly (Calvin, my first Border Collie) alive for an extra year when he was found to have immune mediated hemolytic anemia, and I think I made a mistake that time, and worried over it immensely afterwards. Regrets. The next dog I lost, Luke, I wholely believe God stepped in and took from me, not as punishment, but just because, maybe because we both might have suffered more than we needed too over what might have come, had he not been killed in that accident. I was able to hold him and tell him he was perfect and wonderful, and I still wonder what I would do now, if Simon meets up with an serious illness. He almost died in October, and I cherish every day I have with him, even if it means taking him out of what he loves to do.
Is that fair?
I am struggling now with an aged pony who is possibly faced with a terminal condition, and I have struggled with this same thing for the past few weeks. My oldest dog is 15 and a half, my oldest kitty is older. Each euthansia is hard, each situation difficult. Each one I pray I make the decision in time to lessen the chance they leave life hurting and too sick to want to stay. I never regret it when it's done, but it's with me forever. Worst thing my equine vet said recently hit me hard: "I doubt anyone would view you judgementally for deciding to let him go at his age". Does that mean I have to pass muster with them if I pass on further diagnostics for a 38 year old pony with a respiratory rate of 40-60 resting? Pass a tube down to his lungs to see if he has a neoplasia? Really? He won't know there's going to be no tomorrow, but we will sure know he's gone from ours if I put him down. His pain in living gone, mine for a while longer, I have to have the strength, for them, to take that on.
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