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Kali

Euthanasia

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Hi,

I have posted previously about a border collie X that we are fostering. We also have a 14 year old CollieX whom I have had since she was one year old. She has been so faithful and loving, and I love her dearly. I cannot imagine not having her with me.

But, lately, her health has begun to deteriorate even more. Over the last few years, she has become more and more arthritic (and is on medicine for that), incontinent (medicine for that helps too), and more recently, she is pooping in the house. She poops just whereever she is, she could be lying down sleeping, and it will happen.

I feel that her quality of life is very poor, she is deaf and quite blind too. I am really considering putting her to sleep. But, at the same time, she does enjoy her food, and rolling in the grass. I have never had to make this decision before, and I am not sure how to do it. I feel like I need to harden myself to it, but I want to stay in touch with my feelings, at the same time. I guess because she is not at deaths door (where euthanasia seems justified to me), I have some second thoughts. I will be taking her to the vet this week for a checkup and I'll discuss it with him as well.

 

This is long, but I just wanted to describe my situation, and see if anyone else had experiences with this. Or, if anyone knows of any good books or websites to go to for wisdom on this.

 

Thank you so much.. I appreciate all your posts so much.

 

Kali

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The only thing I can say, having gone through this three times in six years a couple of years ago, is that when the time is right, you'll know. If she's enjoying life, then it isn't time. When she quits enjoying life, it is time, and it usually pretty easy to tell--a good indication is that they quit wanting to eat.

 

Very, very tough decision. My condolences.

 

MR

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I think you will just know.

I know I agonized during Mirk's last year and wondered when. He let us know when the time came. It's hard to describe but you'll know. Meantime, keep enjoying her.

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Kali,

 

I came across this poem some years ago and found it helpful. For me, it right on target.

 

My Caucasian Mt. Dog, Lena, who died back in March, did well even the night before she died. There were times her back legs gave out and I had to help her up the steps. She had a BM a couple of times while lying down, but she ate, she still had a spark in her eyes so I think she led a quality life for an old girl of her years. The way she died, she saved me making a decision, but I agree with everyone else. It's your dog, you know her best and you'll know when it's time.

 

Good luck.

 

IF IT SHOULD BE

 

If it should be that I grow weak

And pain should keep me from my sleep.

Then you must do what must be done

For this final battle cannot be won.

 

You will be sad, I understand.

Don't let your grief then stay your hand.

For this day more than all the rest

Your love for me must stand the test.

 

We've had so many happy years

What is to come can hold no fears.

You'd not want me to suffer so

The time has come, please let me go.

 

Take me where my need they'll tend

And please stay with me until the end.

Hold me firm and speak to me

Until my eyes no longer can see.

 

I know in time that you will see

The kindness that you did for me.

Although my tail it's last has waved

From pain and suffering I have been saved.

 

Please do not grieve it must be you,

Who had this painful thing to do.

We've been so close, we two these years,

Don't let your heart hold back it's tears.

 

-----Anonymous

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Sea4th - that poem is beautiful, it made me cry. I think I will know too, but I am feeling like it is getting closer. We have decided to have an animal communcicator talk with her - I will let you know how that goes. It should be interesting, at the very least!

 

Thanks for all your thoughts.

Kali

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I can't help you, as my eldest dog is only 4 1/2 years old and in fantastic health. But I know the day will come...and I dread it. But many friends have had to make this decision, and they all say the same thing... You will just know in your heart when the time is right. I am sorry you are having to decide this, my heart goes out to you. You are both in my prayers.

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Kali, I?m so sorry you have reached this stage in your journey with your lovely dog. I?ve had to PTS two sick/old cats and a 15 year sick/old dog in the last three years ? and one dog died naturally of an acute illness. I?m not sure that there is a ?right? time ? we tend to think ? I?ll wait a bit longer. My personal preference is not to wait till the animal has stopped eating ? I think that might be too long. It?s a matter of balancing good things with bad things, and when the bad outweigh the good ? then that is the time. I did see a nice sort of checklist somewhere ? could even have been on these boards ? but unfortunately I can?t remember where. Whenever you do it, it will feel really sad ? and it should, but you will know that you have done the right thing, like Vicki?s poem says.

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Hello

I am sorry that you have to go thru this difficult descion.. I too have had to put 2 dogs down in the last year.. actually 9 months apart. It is never easy to do.. When the dogs quality of life is gone its time.. you will know in your heart when the time is right. I Prayed that the Lord would take them naturally.. unfortunatly that didnt happen. When you are spoon feeding them to eat its time. When they cant see and hear and cant get out and enjoy life its time.

I can not tell you that it will be easy to do. We lost one at 18 years old and one at 16 years old. They were shih-tzus and lived a very spoiled good life and brought us great joy.

I still have one shih-tzu alive and she is now 17 and blind as well. But she enjoys her dinner and her treats and loves to go out and sit in the sun and check out the smells around the yard. She is still presisant to sleep on the bed with me etc.. her Quality is still good.

 

We also have 2 BC now one is 5 years and one is 5 months. We pray that they too will live long and healthy lives. Like our others.

 

Like i said you will know when its time.. I suggest that you dont ignore it and allow them to suffer more because you cant make up your mind. it will only make it harder on you.

Good luck

Lenore

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Kali, you must be strong and do what is in the best interests of the pet. Only you really know if the pet is in pain and what qiality of life she has. 14 years is a good, long life for a dog. If she is deaf, blind, arthritic and incontinent, you need no justification for doing what you feel is best. Best of luck.

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Kali,

I understand the decision you are facing Emmette is 16 years old arthritic and has kidney problems and other health issues. He keeps me busy with his needs.(Along with 3 cats with kidney issues) He loves to eat still and loves to go outside and lay in the sun and seems to enjoy life even with his difficultys. As mentioned you will know when it's time. The most important thing I have learned over the years is that animals are more accepting of thier infirmitys than we humans are, for we love our pets and never want to see them unhappy. I have had many eldery dogs over the years. I discovered my pain at seeing them not 100 % was usually far greater than what they were actully dealing with. My emotions are so caught up with them, yet I have learned over the years to place their happiness over mine. Enjoy your sweet girl until you "know" when the time has come.

Andrea D.

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This is so heartbreaking. With my old girl Tassy (departed us for the big walk on 26th Jan this year)I had no choice, she couldn't breath. She had been suffering breathing problems for several months and I knew I wouldn't have her much longer, I was always fearful that I wouldn't know when enough was enough but in the end of course I knew. To be able to calmly take her to the vet and hold her and look at her for her final moments was the best I could do for her, I'm so glad I didn't wake up one morning or come home to find her gone, I know this sits better for some but I wanted her to pass with love and comfort and that's what she got. When I looked up from her little face the vet and nurse were both standing there patting her and with tears. The world was not a good place for the next couple of days and I have to say it was all so quick I felt as if someone had pulled my skin off and put it back on inside out, but my girl was somewhere she could breath, see, run and be free from the athritis, that is great comfort and it's what our beloveds deserve. My thoughts are with you, when that day comes I'm sure no matter what, you'll send your best friend on with love and peace.

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My husband refused to give up on his beloved 22yr old cat. She was hit and miss with the litter box for about 3 yrs. She stayed in her room in the basement so the 4 dogs wouldn't stress her but she came upstairs to cuddle on the couch and watch hockey. He cleaned up after her and never complained, just said it wasn't her time yet. She had a stroke this past Xmas morning. She helped me wrap presents Christmas Eve. It was horrible waking up the vet before sunrise on Christmas morning. I'm slowly watching my little Yorkie girl being overtaken by her mammery lumps. I wonder when it is going to be her time. Like the kitty, she will let me know.

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It was really easy for the two we lost last year. One went into massive renal failure and the only thing that held me back was the hope that he'd hang on and let us all say goodbye at the vet who cared for him too. We ended up losing him at the emergency vet - not too bad, I know him too (I think I know half the vets in North Carolina).

 

The second one had several close calls in the next nine months and each time I thought it was time. But ol' Ironsides would bounce back each time. But he did lose just a little ground each time. I used his desire to work as my ultimate gauge. Over the last nine months, if I needed him to go somewhere he'd act like his legs had gone paralyzed. But if I said, "SHEEP!" he was energized instantly. It got to where he'd just walk around the sheep and I had to keep them in the two acre field so they couldn't get away from him, but he still loved it. Three months before the end, he showed how much he still had it to Melanie, who was visiting.

 

Then I had my car wreck and he had to go stay somewhere else during the three months we were away from the farm. About a week after we moved back and Greg came back, he had a series of strokes that paralyzed his hindquarters. He recovered and got to where he was alert and could eat, but he remained unable to move his hind legs. We could have kept him going with a little cart or something, but for the first time I saw in Greg's eyes that he had given up.

 

I was grateful for the fact that I was able to take him back alive to his family so they could say goodbye. He perked up a lot when we lifted him out and he realized he was back at the farm, but the light died out of his eyes when he realized he couldn't run off to the sheep fields. But it was okay, the next day they carried him out to the breezy hillside under the pines where he used to sit and watch the young dogs getting trained.

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Kali,

This is such a hard time in our beloved dogs life when they grow old so much sooner than we do.

 

We had a Collie (Kashka) and a Retriever mix(Maile), 2 weeks apart in age and best buddies, and watched as Maile, especially, had a harder and harder time getting around, seeing.... We talked about "we need to start thinking about how to know when", and then she woke up one morning having had a massive stroke, paralyzed on one side. She was 13 1/2, and we had a couple of days with her to say goodbye (it was a weekend) before taking her to the vet and holding her in our arms as she closed her eyes for the last time. this was a year ago in January.

 

Our old Collie Kashka missed her best buddy but seemed to be doing quite well for her age (almost 14). We brought home little Tenaya (our BC) a few months after losing Maile, thinking it would perk her up. Within a few weeks, Kashka suddenly got bloat and we had to again make that decision for her a few days before her 14th birthday, last June. Again, we held her in our arms as she left this life. I cannot imagine, as difficult as it is to go through, leaving my beloved companion alone at that moment. Don't worry about crying--the vets and the techs will understand.

 

As others have said, this is such a hard decision, but one you may need to make for your old friend when her life is no longer worth living. If she still enjoys her food and a roll on the grass, then maybe the time isn't quite yet.

 

However hard it is, don't harden yourself or ignore your feelings about it. You may be able to find a pet-loss grief group near you, to help you in your grief. You owe your sweet Collie your whole heart in helping her out of this life, if it comes to that. Yes, it is utterly heartbreaking, the hardest thing I've ever had to do. Saying goodbye always is.

 

Thinking of you,

Deanna in OR

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Sorry to hear that your fur friend is in ill health. It has to be a very difficult time for you in deciding what to do.

 

I went through that situation just one year ago. My canine companion Pattycake had been with me for over 12 years. I got her from the county animal shelter when she was about 8 months old. She was my first dog, and I was age 49 when I got her. It still brings tears to my eyes to think about her and write this post.

 

Pattycake and I spent many happy hours together. For many years we went out morning and evening, me riding a mountain bike, and her trotting/running alongside. We often took day hikes in the mountains. On one hike she saved me from a certain rattlesnake bite, and she was bitten in the process. I carried her to the truck, got emergency vet care, and she survived.

 

During the years I had her I went through a divorce and a company closing which ended my job. She was always my best friend through those hard times.

 

As she got old, she had arthritis. I used glucosimine condroitin and that helped for a while but finally the arthritis got so bad she couldn't climb the stairs in the house. She always was my shadow, staying with me wherever I went, so it was really hard when she was physically unable to do that.

 

And finally she had a bad stroke. She was trying to climb the stairs and was half way up when she had the stroke. She tumbled down the stairs, landing in a heap at the bottom. After fifteen minutes she came out if it a bit and was trying to get up. She couldn't manage to stand for another fifteen minutes, but finally she got some physical mobility back. But then she acted like she scarely knew me. I was worried that she might attack or bite me.

 

By the next morning she was acting normal again, but I had been doing some serious thinking. Pattycake had been healthy and active for 13 years, but now her health was obviously failing. I decided that after the good life she had led there was no reason to force her to live a few more months in pain with the risk of a bad stroke always present. So I arranged for her to be put down later that day.

 

That gave us about five hours together before it was time to go to the vets. I took a lot of pictures of her, and spent the time talking to her and petting and hugging her. That was the hardest day of my life.

 

I brought her home and buried her in a grove of trees about 60 feet from our house. I now can take a short walk to her gravesite and remember all the good times we had together. Although the decision to have her put down was very difficult, I know I did the right thing by not making her suffer any more than necessary.

 

I hope you are able to do what is the best for your beloved companion.

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Thank you all for your loving support. It is a very hard decision and all your posts have been very helpful.

 

I know she will not get better, only worse, but she still does like her food, and can make it up the stairs (although she mostly stumbles down). When I think of how she would be if she had a stroke, I see that she does have a little bit of life in her yet. We will keep going with her for a while, and see how things go. Putting her to sleep would be so hard, I think I am going to have to be driven to it.

 

We are fostering another dog right now, and I enjoy her, but I realize that the dog I am looking for is Pizza in her younger days. I am crying as I write this, because she is just so special to me, and I will never have her young again. Dogs just do not live long enough... or maybe they do, and there are hidden reasons for thier short time on earth - we who love them learn so much about loving and letting go, and then still loving again.

 

Thank you all for your support. It helps so mcuh to hear your stories.

Kali

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Hi Kali

The decision to euthanise is one of the most difficult decisions (maybe THE most difficult decision) most people ever have to make. God forbid you should ever have to make such a decision for any family member besides a pet. Everyone is different on this; the decision is unique and individual in each case. My heart goes out to anyone facing this situation. Not surprisingly, I've had to face this a lot of times with various clients over the years, and a few times with my own dogs. Two things I can tell you for sure: One, no animal wants to suffer. Two, I've never once had a client come to me and say, "I'm so sorry I euthanised my dog two days too soon." I've had a LOT of them say "I'm so sorry I euthanised my dog two days too late."

 

It's very hard to make this decision, and the days leading up to it are extremely difficult as well. But my thought is that if good days outnumber bad ones, we've allowed the animal to suffer without purpose. If I can restore good quality in the long run, it might be quite fair to trade a number of miserable days for a greater number of good ones on the other side of that. That suffering has a purpose, because we can get through it to good days. If I CAN'T restore quality in the long run, then the suffering has no purpose. At that point it's time to stop, in my opinion.

 

You are, unfortunately, placed in the position of having to know, without being able to ask, when that time is. This would be extremely difficult even WITHOUT the emotional impact, but it is much more difficult because you love your dog and like most of us probably want her to live forever. No one knows the dog as well as you do, but sometimes it helps you to make the decision if you ask your vet if in their medical opinion the dog is suffering. I've done this a lot of times for my clients, and for the ones who are on the fence about whenther the dog is suffering or not, I hope I've been of some help in clarifying the issue - either I think quality is still good, or I think it's time or will be very soon. But in the end, it is the owner who knows the dog best, and ultimately it is their sad responsibility to make the decision. The fact that you're asking about it means that you're thinking of this in the right way - that it's about what is best for your beloved dog, not about what is best for your ego. I've had two clinets in the last 10 years who would not make that decision, who were sure God would take their pet when it was time. Me telling them that sometimes God sends you to a veterinarian when it's time didn't make any impact on them. Both of them refused euthanasia and left with their suffering animals, to go home for more suffering. It was enough to make me physically ill, seeing what those dogs were going through, while the person who supposedly loved them best in the world stood by and watched it happen while they had it in their power to stop it from happening. I'm very glad you are not going to let that happen to your dog, no matter how difficult it is to make the choice. That takes both mercy and courage, and I commend you for it, as I do all of us who have had to make this choice.

 

Best of luck to you on this, and make the most of the time you have left with your girl. My thoughts are with you.

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I'm sure many have seen this before, but I think it's a beautiful statement about how our dogs count on us.

===============================================

 

A Dog's Plea

Treat me kindly, my beloved friend, for no heart in all the world is more grateful for kindness than the loving heart of me.

 

Do not break my spirit with a stick, for I would lick your hand between blows, your patience and understanding will more quickly teach me the things you would have me learn.

 

Speak to me often for your voice is the world's sweetest music, as you know by the fierce wagging of my tail when your foot steps fall upon my waiting ear.

 

Please take me inside when it's cold and wet, for I am a domesticated animal, no longer accustomed to the bitter elements, I ask no greater glory than the privilege of sitting at your feet beside the hearth.

 

Ensure I am confined in a safe and clean environment to play, run, and rest, so I may avoid the danger of accident or attack.

 

Keep my bowl filled with fresh water, for I cannot tell you when I suffer thirst.

 

Feed me clean food that I may stay well, to romp and play and do your bidding, to walk by your side, and stand ready, and able to protect you with my life, should your life be in danger.

 

And, my friend, when I am very old and no longer enjoy good health, do not make heroic efforts to keep me going. I am not having any fun.

 

Please see that my trusting life is taken gently, I shall leave this earth knowing with the last breath I draw, that my fate was always safest in your hands.

 

Anonymous (with additions by Barbara Ferris)

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Deanna, this is lovely.

Kali, remember the romp and play? When it is time you will send your lovely to romp and play, and I don't think you'll need to be pushed, those eyes will tell you.

This post has given us a chance to share not only our opinions but our grief, perhaps the moderators should consider a discusion group devoted to this? We all have loved friends that have passed and I think it is so healing to be able to tell our stories. We haven't just lost our dog, we have lost our best mate, our beloved, our anchor, grief needs to bleed, and from some posts I have read we all have a need to tell our story.

Kali, I think you already grieve, I am so sorry, remember - be worthy of her, this will help you take the hard but necessary road, this is hers not yours and you will have to find strength in the good years you've had.

"we each have a final journey, and each must go alone"

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In my work, I am occasionally put in the position of having to recommend death as the kindest measure when medical efforts have failed to change the outcome. It is not easy to hear yourself do this, as you would have to be completely uncaring not to be affected by the room full of family members sobbing at your recommendation. From doing this a number of times, it seems to me that in the western culture, our acceptance of death as the natural end to life is poor. We are sheltered from death as much as possible and we try to protect our children from it. This leaves us ill-prepared as adults to know what to do and how to feel when someone close to us dies or is approaching death. Perhaps beneath the surface none of us really want to consider our own death. When we do, the image we have of how each of us would like to die is peaceful, tranquil, pain-free, in the beautiful setting of our choosing. Nobody ever imagines their own death as occurring in some ugly hospital, with all kinds of needles in your body and connected to all manner of life-support devices. Sometimes this vision of a peaceful death that most of us have is radically different from what plays out when family members insist on keeping their loved ones alive inappropriately and forcing the use of aggressive interventions that are not medically meaningful. Saving a life and preventing a death are two different things.

 

The suffering of the pet you love is your suffering too. I think you will know when that burden has become too great for both of you, and you will find some relief in bringing a moral end to her life. The hardest part I think is coming to grips with the fact that there is only one possible outcome, the one that we don't want. I have had to see several pets die in my life, one of which I had to put down; it was really, really tough. Of course the grief diminishes in time, leaving a million fantastic memories and warm feelings when you reflect on a full and wonderful life well-lived, that did not end before its natural time.

 

You will both be ok. Mercy and courage.

 

-kevin-

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Thanks for that, Kevin. I have found that doing therapy dog visits in nursing homes, and particularly a palliative care center, has been really valuable to me in working out what is important, and where death fits in the scheme of things. As you say, it?s still not easy (person or dog) but at least we can help our pets in a way we can?t really help our human family members.

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I imagine it must not be easy Army Doc, I know with my vet they made it very clear that if my girl was saved it would only be a palliative measure, I already knew that. When they told me they had given her this and that I asked that she be given a specific drug and they complied, (we all knew it wouldn't work but I had to try) when that failed we all knew even the vet nurse said 'i don't know why she's fighting the oxygen' it was then that I knew the fight was gone, Tassy knew the oxygen wouldn't help and that's why she didn't want it. These people helped and abided by my every wish, down to not placing her in a bag because I didn't want it, they cried with me, they comforted her, and they helped me put her to rest in the way I wished, and everytime I think of Tass I think of them and their love and comfort. It must be a great burden at times but also uncountable comfort to loved pets and owners, thankyou on behalf of all of us.

Sally

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It has only been a month since I had to put Genghas Kahn down. He was only 9 but had allergies so bad and the vets couldn't make him better. It is the hardest decision. It is true that you will know. There just came the day when I looked at him and realized that although he still asked to go to work with me he wasn't enjoying it.

I do not regret it but I sure miss my baby.

I wish the best for you. And your baby!

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