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D'Elle

As the journey starts nearing the end

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Sometimes it takes a few minutes after they get up to get their muscles moving and to get their footing just right. :)

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Thanks, everyone, for following this thread and adding to it. No one need worry about hijacking it. I don't want anyone else to be going through what I am, yet hearing that others are experiencing and have experienced the same things does make me feel less alone, so I thank you for that.

 

Sometimes he just seems to have a good day, sometimes not. I understand that; I have a couple physical issues myself and the same is true for me. Today he seems to be doing really well.

 

I completely agree that too soon is better than too late. But it is pretty hard to know when the time has come if it is, in fact, sooner than it needs to be.

Everyone keeps telling me that I will know when the time is right, but I know how life goes and to me that sounds a bit like just a platitude to make a person feel a bit better.....not necessarily something that will play out in reality.

But one cliche that is appropriate in this situation is the one day at a time thing.

Doesn't look as if it is going to be today.

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I don't think anyone knows when the time is right in your situation. I've had this discussion in my mind about my 16 year old. Almost put him to sleep back in February, but he bounced back. He has had micro strokes and bounces back in a few hours. When we take him to the vet, he acts like nothing happened to him. He has trouble in the mornings but with his age, it's expected. I look at him and ask how he is and he rolls over for belly rubs. He definitely declined in the past 2 years but still seems to enjoy life. He loves his meals and exploring outside. So I understand where you are coming from. My vet suggested marking the calendar with a smiley face for his good days, a mellow face for iffy days, and a frown for bad days. Then you can see plain in sight how they are doing on a daily basis.

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Both times with my dogs, I knew when. I had agonized over it for weeks while riding the rollercoaster, ups and downs, medication adjustments and vet visits. But when the day came, I knew it. I saw a "I'd try if I could but my body is just done" look about them. And it was time to give them the best way out.

 

I know it won't be clear cut for everyone, but in some cases you do just know.

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Good idea, Laura. It is easy to forget and lose track of how things are really going in a situation like this because one tends to focus so much on the present moment and deal only with that. I will start tracking it.

Again, thanks for the support from everyone.

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But when the day came, I knew it. I saw a "I'd try if I could but my body is just done" look about them. And it was time to give them the best way out.

 

I found this with my last two old friends. They each said to me very clearly "It's been a good run, but I'm ready to go now." Neither had truly awful diseases, at least nothing that the vet could diagnose. They lived well and full until a day or two before. I feel blessed that they were able to tell me. I hope you experience the same peaceful release.

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I do heartily believe that a calm, peaceful, painless passing is the best gift we can give our treasured friends. I also believe that 2 weeks too soon is much better than 2 weeks too late.

 

Amy

I also agree with the "too soon is better than too late" And I think we can all agree that everyone has a different definition of 'too soon' and 'too late'.

 

Everyone keeps telling me that I will know when the time is right, .....

For the two dogs that I had to make THE decision, there was no clear signal. Particularly for my last dog, DH and I repeatedly questioned the quality of life for several months - but then the dog would eat several good meals, or spend 15-30 seconds doing her happy dance around in the yard or lift her head to smell the breeze or get excited to go for a ride when the car door opened (and she tried to jump in - before I could stop her - and fell out which just about broke my heart) - things that I believed said she wasn't ready yet.

 

I really, really wish there had been a look, or a situation when they definitely showed significant pain or something definitive - rather than a gradual and slow decline. In the end, I know I could have stretched it out a few more days or weeks, but at what cost? (for the dog)

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I'm so sorry D'Elle.

 

I, like several others here, was very clearly informed when it was Time for Trooper. There was something in his look that just resonated "I've fought enough." I went through the same ups and downs for months, and was always questioning "Is this the time it happens?" But when the time came, I knew quite well that it was the best thing for him.

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After thinking about it--a lot-there was something on Wednesday morning that I had not seen before. Her mornings were frequently less than wonderful, and I sometimes entertained making The Call, but never did. However, there was something about THAT morning that signaled the end. She did start to rebound and I certainly had the opportunity to cancel, but some part of me knew that this had to stop--and if it didn't stop, there would be a series of false alarms before we wound up in the e-clinic in the middle of the night.

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It seems that we are on the roller-coaster ride at this point.

Yesterday afternoon I asked Jester to go outside, because he will simply pee or poop in the house these days if I do not get him out every four hours or so. He did not move, and would not get up. He kept "telling" me that he could not get up. When I got him up, he collapsed immediately. I went and got the special harness that a friend loaned to me for this purpose. It is beautifully designed and attaches around both the front and back of the dog, with a handle over the shoulders and one over the hips, so that you can very easily pick the dog up onto his feet and keep him there.

 

I had to carry him, dead weight, out the door and when I put him down he collapsed. Got him up. He went down. Repeat three times, whereupon I carried him back into the house since he was clearly not going to potty.

 

By the time I got him in again (carried him all the way) I was pretty upset, although as always trying my best not to show it to Jes. He had fallen off the steps out back in the morning and I was terribly afraid he had damaged something and it was The End. He acted as though he was paralyzed. I had to know. So I did the one thing that is guaranteed to elicit a response from Jester: I got out a squeaky and threw it. Up he got, and went to fetch it just like that.

 

So, we played for a couple of minutes, and he was managing pretty well, although he did stumble a lot.

 

I do know that Jester in recent years has become less and less willing to do anything he did not want to do, to the point of physically refusing. I think that he really did not want to go out into the heat, for which I do not blame him, and was faking paralysis. Not that he doesn't have big problems with mobility these days; clearly he does, and it is hard for him to get up after sleeping for a few hours. But it was not nearly as bad as he was making out.

 

This morning, in the relative cool of 5 AM he was enthusiastically chasing the toy across the yard, running as far as 20 feet.

 

I am going to get him up and moving with the squeaky three or four times a day rather than just morning and evening. That may help keep him more mobile. My vet has also referred me to a woman who is a specialist in getting elder dogs more mobility with rehab exercises. It may be too late for that, but I am going to talk to her Monday.

 

The wonderful harness is called a "Help Me Up" and the brand is Blue Dog. My friend said it is expensive. I am lucky to borrow it, as it is a serious body-saver for me. I have just left it on him. It is designed so that he can wear it comfortably all the time; it doesn't interfere with peeing or pooping at all, and he doesn't seem to mind it.

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Certainly possible that a leg is falling asleep.

It is another one of those times when I would give just about anything to be able to get inside an animal's mind and know how they are feeling.

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For the first time in his life, this morning he did not finish his breakfast. I have been having to coax him to eat the last few bites for several days.

I have an appointment in a week -earliest I could get - with a specialist at a rehab center. Talked to her at length on the phone and she feels that she may be able to get him more mobility. So far, lack of mobility seems to be his main problem, since he doesn't appear to be ill in any way. But might be getting depressed.

 

I forgot to give him the Rimadyl one morning and he just seemed to be more "Here" without it, so have backed off on that. But....without it he may be in more pain. Don't know what is best.

 

So now, I want to fix food for him that will pack in the nutrition in fewer bites.

I think of: scrambled eggs, cooked chicken, cooked beef.....

 

Anyone have any other suggestions? What have you fed in a situation like this?

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There are various drugs that one can give to improve appetite. Talk to your vet.

 

At this point, you feed whatever they will eat, but you obviously don't want to give them something very fatty that could cause pancreatitis.

 

My now deceased dog had been seeing a rehab vet for years. At the end, she was simply too weak (and painful?) to do the exercises. However, the associated massage/ myofascial release went a long way towards improving her comfort.

 

 

Best wishes to you. It is a very difficult time.

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Food ideas besides what you mentioned, cream of wheat, yogurt, cottage cheese, pasta, toast, different varieties of canned dog food, rice with stock, that's all I can think of. My 16 year old goes through phases and we switch up what he eats. His favorite are high quality canned food that has gravy in it. That helped a lot.

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I am making him "chicken dog soup". This is any kind of chicken meat cooked up with peas, broccoli, kale, carrots, sweet potato, with some chicken or beef organ meat as well, and thickened with some manioc flour. All the dogs love it. Make a pot and freeze it in tupperware containers. I mix it about half and half with the kibble for Jes and now he is eating it all. I am giving him a bit less than normal; figure with his decreased activity he doesn't need as much. He just needs some help with the last few bites because his teeth are worn down and it makes it harder for him to get a mouthful, so I keep spooning it up into the center of the bowl for him.

 

He's not doing too badly. Cannot get up some of the time without help, but once he is up and moving he's doing OK, although stumbles a lot. His rear end is just completely out of whack. Still chasing and fetching the toy 2 to 3 times a day, though. I sure admire that dog a lot.

 

Kit is more demanding of my affection than usual. She knows something is not right with Jes.

 

I have to tell you that the harness is just about literally a lifesaver. Without it I doubt I could manage to help him without hurting him and/or my back. With the harness getting him up or helping him with the steps is a piece of cake. the friend who loaned it to me said it was expensive, but I think it would be well worth the cost if one had to buy it.

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When Fergie was doing badly, she loved pumpkin and yogurt. Which, of course, Maggie Da Cat tried to steal. We let Ferg have as much as she wanted when she wanted it.

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Never thought of pumpkin and yogurt. I will put that on the shopping list.

He's doing OK, I guess. I stay home a lot with him now. My life has gotten to where it revolves around him. Get him up and walking around several times a day, which seems to help. But he is losing his hind end. Sometimes he goes more sideways than forward. It is hard to see but I am usually handling it all OK, until he starts whining a lot. Usually it means he has to go out (good dog) or needs water or something else, but when all that has been offered and he's had a pain pill and he still whines, it is hard on me.

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Just wanted to let you folks know how Jester is.



I had him in to see a neurologist today, and he is certain that Jester is suffering from serious spinal cord dysfunction, probably a herniated disc. He did not feel that this came as the result of a specific injury, but is simply a case of discs wearing out with age. I had hoped that some physical therapy would be able to restore some of his functioning, but the neurologist was very doubtful that that would help. There is no point in putting him through it if it will not help.



Although I hate steroids, I agreed to put him on Prednisone for a week to see if he receives enough relief from that to be able to get around more easily. But the truth is, there is really no possibility of reversing the damage that exists. I do not want him to have to live if he cannot do the things that bring him joy. As of today he is still able to run a little a couple of times a day and fetch the toy I throw, and that makes him happy. But, I do not necessarily want to wait until he can no longer do that at all. I am very sad. I am hoping that I know when the time is right to let him go.


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It's such a hard thing to be going through, D'Elle. My heart goes out to you and to Jester as you negotiate this difficult time.

 

I think you'll know when it's time. You're tuned in to Jes and are a caring and compassionate person. I'm sure you'll hear it when he tells you.

 

Very best wishes.

 

roxanne

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