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blackmons

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Reply with quote  #1 
I am having an extremely difficult time.  I have a 12-1/2 year old pug, Sophie.  Four years ago she had extensive back surgery.  She had three good years.  Over a year ago she started having recurring UTI's, incontinence, and lost much of the use of her back legs.  She basically sits on a pillow all day and night.  She is able to make it to her food and water bowl with great difficulty, falling over much of the time.  Usually I end up carrying her and holding her up while she eats. She has urine scald from sitting in urine all night and often during the day.  She no longer pees outside, even with all the halters, towels, and even holding her up.  She has one infection after another.  Last year a specialist told me I should draw a line in the sand at some point and decide at what point enough is enough.  She had just gotten over an expensive staph infection, and I decided if she got that particular infection again, that would be the line.   By the way, twice her front legs become paralyzed for some unknown reason and she couldn't move at all, but with anti-inflammatories and a lot of coaching and encouragement, I was able to get her up again.  Having said all that, while it would seem obvious that her quality of life is very low, she is still a happy dog.  While the vet was examining her when she lost use of her front legs, she was wagging her tail!  She shows no sign at all that she's in pain or suffering.  If that were the case, I would feel like I was doing the merciful thing by putting her down.   I have to say that this is all extremely stressful and is affecting my quality of life.
How does one put down a happy dog?  The specialist told me that some dogs just never show that they're suffering, and do I really want her to suffer just so I don't feel guilty?  I have made arrangements to end this several times and have backed out as I just start to panic at the thought.  My kids are grown and gone so it's just me.  I work and am in the process of moving my aging mother so I can't be here for her as much as I would like.  How does someone find the strength to do this?  And how are you certain that the time is right?  And when does money become a factor?   She's had 5 infections that I know of this year.  She just finished antibiotics for one bacteria in July and now has this staph infection just weeks later.
Sigh........
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Memories_of_Marmalade

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Reply with quote  #2 


Dear Blackmons,

I am very sorry to hear about your pups health condition and what she has had to go through. I think it is not just about "quality of life" at this point, but what is left of her dignity. For one thing, Dogs know they are not supposed to relieve themselves indoors, and it can be humiliating and embarrassing for them when they doi, even if they are not punished. They so want to please their pet parents most of the time. This can depress them and cause them anxiety. Just imagine laying in your own waste. It would be dehumanizing and debilitating. 

I spoke with a Biology Professor about dogs and pack mentality and he told me that dogs absolutely, instinctively will hide their pain and suffering, as it is a survival instinct to avoid being ostracized by their pack. So you unfortunately can not assume your dog is happy if it is ill. It may be masking what it is actually feeling.

I chose to put down my little boy (he was around 13) because in part, he was becoming a shadow of his former self, and I could simply not allow him to continue to deteriorate. He could still walk in the end, and I did not want him to experience not being able to do so. I wanted to save him for any more pain and suffering than he had already experienced. It was about his needs, not my own at the end. I had to think on a completely unselfish level to let him go. And I truly needed him in my life, as he was my one and only. But I could simply not allow him to continue to endure great pain and endless suffering on my watch. He had already gone through enough. I prayed for the courage to do what I had to do in the end, and to stay strong, courageous, calm and cool in front of him his final few hours. And God delivered. I hope God does the same for you during this difficult and challenging time.

James
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blackmons

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Reply with quote  #3 
Thank you so much, James.  I am so sorry for your loss.  I have never been so conflicted over anything in my life.   
I can see that it's probably true that Sophie may never give me a sign.  
But here is part of my fear.  I completely and totally love my dog.  But I have to admit I am burning out from constantly dealing with her incontinence.  I am washing towels, rugs, carpeting, and her constantly.   I'm burnt out from constant trips to the vet.  As soon as one infection clears up, she gets another.  I'm burnt out from worrying about her when I'm not home.  I'm burnt out from the anxiety of any time we plan on taking a trip she gets sick right before we leave.  I'm burnt out from the constant roller coaster of indecision.   So part of me is afraid that this desire to end this isn't totally unselfish.  And that's the fear that will probably haunt me forever -- if I ever do get the strength to do this.  And I feel guilty that my husband is not happy about all the money I keep spending to pretty much put off the inevitable.  So if I decide to go ahead and treat this staph infection, guaranteed two weeks after she's off the medication she'll get another one.   I was going to make the staph infection be the line in the sand because it's the most expensive one.  This will be her third one.   Anyway, I know I'm repeating myself.  I really, really appreciate all feedback and support.  Thank you again.
Laurie
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Memories_of_Marmalade

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Reply with quote  #4 


You're suffering from "caregiver fatigue" sweetie. Which is debilitating in it's own right. You truly need and deserve respite. 

My boy also required antibiotics for 3 years, but as you know, eventually they begin to lose their effect. And then things can go even further downhill very quickly.

Would there be a personal benefit to you finally not having to be a caregiver? yes, there would be. But primarily that is not why you would be ending your pups pain & suffering. It would be for her benefit. But as a result of ending her pain and suffering, you would also end some of what you and your Husband have been suffering through. But then you would trade what you are currently experiencing for grief. Which is important to be mindful of. But that might be contributing to your hesitation too. Fear of grief.

There is a saying that goes something like this: 

"By ending their pain & suffering, we then take on their pain & suffering onto ourselves. We transfer their pain & suffering into our minds and bodies and then we process it through our grief. This is the bargain we made, and the price we pay for showing our beloved's mercy in the end. And time is an important part of the grieving process."

James
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JinglesMom

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Reply with quote  #5 
Quote:
Originally Posted by blackmons
I am having an extremely difficult time.  I have a 12-1/2 year old pug, Sophie.  Four years ago she had extensive back surgery.  She had three good years.  Over a year ago she started having recurring UTI's, incontinence, and lost much of the use of her back legs.  She basically sits on a pillow all day and night.  She is able to make it to her food and water bowl with great difficulty, falling over much of the time.  Usually I end up carrying her and holding her up while she eats. She has urine scald from sitting in urine all night and often during the day.  She no longer pees outside, even with all the halters, towels, and even holding her up.  She has one infection after another.  Last year a specialist told me I should draw a line in the sand at some point and decide at what point enough is enough.  She had just gotten over an expensive staph infection, and I decided if she got that particular infection again, that would be the line.   By the way, twice her front legs become paralyzed for some unknown reason and she couldn't move at all, but with anti-inflammatories and a lot of coaching and encouragement, I was able to get her up again.  Having said all that, while it would seem obvious that her quality of life is very low, she is still a happy dog.  While the vet was examining her when she lost use of her front legs, she was wagging her tail!  She shows no sign at all that she's in pain or suffering.  If that were the case, I would feel like I was doing the merciful thing by putting her down.   I have to say that this is all extremely stressful and is affecting my quality of life.
How does one put down a happy dog?  The specialist told me that some dogs just never show that they're suffering, and do I really want her to suffer just so I don't feel guilty?  I have made arrangements to end this several times and have backed out as I just start to panic at the thought.  My kids are grown and gone so it's just me.  I work and am in the process of moving my aging mother so I can't be here for her as much as I would like.  How does someone find the strength to do this?  And how are you certain that the time is right?  And when does money become a factor?   She's had 5 infections that I know of this year.  She just finished antibiotics for one bacteria in July and now has this staph infection just weeks later.
Sigh........


Dear Blackmons,

First of all let me tell you how very sorry I am for all that you are going through, and how hard it must be to watch your sweet little Sophie deal with so many issues. There is nothing more painful than knowing that our dear little ones are hurting, and we are powerless to help them. You are not powerless here, and you ask how to find the strength, you just use every last ounce deep inside of you, and you make the decision if you feel it is time, and sometimes that decision is that we have to love them enough to let them go. It is one of the hardest and most difficult ones we will ever face, and it is one of the bravest also, and it is one that is completely and utterly based on love. 

 I must echo so many of James's words on this very sensitive matter. It is not just about quality of life anymore, but it is about her dignity as he so aptly wrote, and truer words were never spoken. He is also so correct about our pets hiding their pain because of the pack mentality, so that the weak ones will not be left behind. That instinct is still so very strong in our domesticated animals and it is a protective one, one that is so deeply ingrained in them to this day. It seems as though your sweet girl is going from one problem to another with no respite in between, and how do you know when it is time? Maybe it is time, but you are her person, and I know how very much you love her, you are devoted to her in every way, and that is so admirable, and you should be proud of how well you have taken care of her, through such adversity. 

How do you know? You can see it in their eyes sometimes that they are just so tired, and they just don't want to do this anymore.You are doing such a wonderful and amazing job in caring for your dear Sophie, but sometimes we are just so close that we can not objectively look from a distance and see what is happening. She may seem happy and oblivious to the different infections and such that are affecting her quality of life, but very often that is just their instinct kicking in, plus she loves you so much. I know how much she wants to be with you, I know how much you want her to stay with you, but sometimes we have to just look at it from a different perspective, and hopefully do the right thing, whatever that may be, because you are her person. You more than anyone else know her and if this is her best life.


My sweet little cat named Pootie Tang was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer about a year and a half ago. We were dealing with a tumor on her stomach, and she was losing weight, and I watched in sorrow as that horrific cancer slowly took her away from me. I would take her to her doctor's appointments every two weeks for an antibiotic injection to keep the tumor in check, and she was still eating and drinking. I would always ask the doctor with fear in my eyes, is it time? The doctor would always tell me no, she was still eating and drinking, but she was becoming a shadow of her former self. She still had her indomitable spirit though, but if I had only knew then what I know now.

One day I woke up in the middle of the night, and found her looking at me, just staring right into my eyes. She was telling me how much she hurt, but I did not recognize that then, but I do now. If I had it all to do over again, I would have taken her into the vets that very day, and as hard and devastating as it would have been, I would have let her go peacefully. She was trying to tell me how bad she felt, how sick she was, and how she just did not want to do this anymore. What happened next was that same morning when I was out running errands, she slipped out the door without me noticing, and she was strictly an indoor only cat mind you. Well when I returned home I could not find her anywhere, and I was distraught as I thought she had passed somewhere in my home. I searched frantically without finding her, where in the world was she?

Three days after she left I was on my computer conversing with my daughter how I had posted on so many lost and found pages with no sightings of her. It was around midnight, and I heard a scratching at the door, scratch, scratch, scratch, and every time I went to open the door, no one was there. So the third time I stood and waited right in back of the door, and there it went again, scratch, scratch, scratch, and I opened the door so quickly, and lo and behold there was my sweet little girl! I was almost overcome with joy and relief. I reached down to pick her up, and she ran off into the darkness of the night, never to be seen again. She knew that her time was at hand, so she went out into the elements, into the cold, into the rain, into the wind. She did not want me to find her passed away in our home, and her doctor said that this is not a rare occurrence, but she had never heard of one coming back. She did not want to be found, and she came back to say one final goodbye, and my little miracle had suddenly turned to heartbreak.

I have lost two other beloved kitties, my beautiful boy Jasper lost his battle with a brain tumor a little over five years ago, and he was only 7 years of age. This awful tumor took my strong, healthy, vibrant boy away from me in just a matter of days. When it came down to him struggling for every single breath, I knew it was time. The doctor gave him a sedative first, and then the final injection, and my boy was finally at peace, It was so hard for me, but his transition was quiet, calm, and so peaceful. The doctor was so gentle and I know that he felt me holding him, because his eyes were so glazed over, but in those last few moments, he looked right up at me with recognition, he felt me holding him and loving him, until our very last goodbye.

 My darling boy Jingles crossed over the last day of January of this year, and he was 17 years old. I do believe that time is what took him away from me. He died in my arms and it was very traumatic, and if only I had known he was so close to the end, I would not have hesitated to bring him in to the doctors. I had no inkling that anything was wrong. He woke up at 2am in the morning and let out a cry I had never heard before. He had been sleeping beside me in the bed, as usual with no problems or issues, and he jumped off of the bed and seemed disoriented. I was getting ready to take him to the animal emergency hospital, but then he started having trouble breathing. He struggled for each breath in his last moments, and although it was not long, it felt like an eternity to me. I saw the panicked look in his eyes, and there was nothing I could do but hold him and tell him it was okay to go to the light. It was not even five minutes, and my precious boy was gone. and I held him for the longest time afterwards. It was a horrific night, and one I will never forget, but I try to focus on our bright and shiny days together, so filled with joy, and filled with a love that knows no bounds.

 So you see, I really do understand and I can so relate to what you are going through. I just wanted to let you know that I will be keeping you and your beautiful Sophie in my thoughts and prayers for peace and comfort. Again I am so sorry for your sadness and for your conflict over what to do. The most important thing of all when they cross that bridge is that they know they are loved, and I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that your girl knows just how much she is loved. The bond cannot be broken, the love never ends, it just keeps getting stronger. My three sweet little ones have never left my heart, they are as close to me now as when they were physically here. This is so not my call, and you are her person, look deep her into her eyes, and I am sure you will find your answer. Think back to the time when she was healthy and vibrant, and I am sure you will find your answer. You are her person, and that makes you so very special to her, she trusts you to do the right thing. I am so sorry for what you are having to face, and you are so not alone in this struggle, and my heart truly goes out to you at this sad and difficult time. Hugs to you and your beautiful girl, Pamela...Mom to Jingles, Jasper, and Pootie Tang



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Pamela Lynne Crawford
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blackmons

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Reply with quote  #6 
Thank you, James, for putting that in perspective.  My brain is tired.  I'm going to sleep on it.
Laurie
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huckleberry1918

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Reply with quote  #7 
I can't give any advice but I can tell you one of my stories. One of our cats, Pedro, had kidney problems and he started losing alot of weight. On halloween, in 2016, he waan't eating and was just lying down and was very lethargic. We brought him to the vet and they said his kidneys are bad, but they aren't that bad, and they don't know why he won't eat and why he's acting like that. They gave him an IV to pump him up with fluids and he got a little better. He started eating again, but the vet said that we should give him the IV at home, once a week.

Three months later, he had the same thing and the vet told us we should think about putting him to sleep. We said we didn't want to yet, and she told us to start giving him the IV two times a week. It happened again about two months later. At this point, the vet said she thinks its time for us to put him to sleep. We panicked and we said we wanted to bring him home for a few days and see how he does. During this time, we were hoping he would either get better or die naturally in his sleep. Every couple of hours, I would would check on him, and he would just lie down on the couch. My wife and I thought that we had nothing to lose, so we started giving him the IV every day. He was still doing bad, and we thought it was time, so we brought him to the vet thinking we were going to put him to sleep. A different vet was there, and she did blood work and petted him alot and she said his kidneys were really bad, but not bad enough for us to put him to sleep. She gave him a prescription for antacids, and some special food and she told us if he doesn't eat tonight, then bring him back tomorrow. I remember just watching him, praying that he would eat, and he did. He started eating again, but not that much. At this point, my wife and I decided to give him the IV 1-2 times a day. Finally after three weeks, we went to a winery, and when we got back, he was on the couch, but he couldn't lift his head up. When we got him, he came over to us, to say "hi" and he couldn't lift his head. We felt so bad. We decided to wait over night to see if he got better, and we checked on him constantly, and barely slept. At 6:00AM, we said, "this is it". We brought him to the after hours emergency vet, and I pleaded with the vet to check him and if there was anything she could do, then do it. She told me that when a cat can't lift their head up, there's nothing they can do. We don't know if we waited too long, but we do not that we spoiled Pedro and he had a long and happy life.
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Jan_H

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Reply with quote  #8 
Laurie,
If possible I would suggest that you spend a day or two or more with Sophie. Then decide if she has quality of life. My Jagger was a fighter. He was always sweet even when he was suffering. I finally realized it was selfish to keep him around longer. I was lucky that I was able to be with him 24-7 for his last days.
But every situation is unique. You need to do what is best for Sophie and you.

Jan
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blackmons

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Reply with quote  #9 
Oh, my gosh, Pamela.  What a story.  Brought tears to my eyes.  I have heard other stories where cats will go away to die, but coming back to say goodbye....so powerful.  It's as if she was worried about you and wanted you to know that everything would be all right.  These animals are just so amazing.   

I do agree that sometimes it's hard to "see the forest from the trees."  I have seen it reflected though in friends' faces when they see Sophie.  It's so obvious to them that it's time, but not to me.   The problem is, I really don't see it in her eyes.  A plumber was here a while ago, and Sophie launched herself off her pillow and hobbled over as best she could, tripping and falling, to say hello.  Tail wagging, so happy to see this total stranger.  She just loves people so much.  

I cannot tell you how helpful this forum is for me.   This truly is driving me insane.  I love animals so much, but I don't think I can ever go through this hell again.  I am praying for wisdom.
Thank you so much for your time and understanding.
Laurie
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blackmons

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Reply with quote  #10 
Thanks, Huckleberry and Jan.  I'm so sorry for your losses and so appreciate your generous response.  As it turns out, I wimped out again.  I just can't get past the feeling that I am murdering my dog, mainly because she's too damn happy.  Maybe it's just not time yet.   So back on antibiotics again and hoping that someday she will let me know.
I'm sure I'll be back here again soon.
All the best,
Laurie
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redgirlraven

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Reply with quote  #11 
I am so sorry for how you are suffering with this decision.  I completely understand.  Ther4e is another website that also has a 24/7 hotline called daybydaypetsupport.com. they assist caregivers with end of life decisions and I wish I had known about them when I was making decisions for my Roary.  the phone number is 484-453-8210. if they do not answer leave a message and they will call you back.  Best of luck.
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blackmons

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Reply with quote  #12 
Perfect! That is just what I need. Thank you so much for this excellent, much needed resource.
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Rosanne777

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Reply with quote  #13 
It has not been easy for any of us here
as to let go of our beloved pets.


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twodogmom

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Reply with quote  #14 
Dear Blackmons, 

Your situation sounds very stressful and painful. None of us ever want to let our furbabies go, and no matter what anyone else tells us, we question our decisions, both before and after making them, as though we have the ability to see into the future and know for certain what the outcome would be either way. But we don't have that. All we have to go on is our love for our babies, our gut instincts, and advice from professionals. Each situation is different and I think we can never be 100% sure of what we decide to do. The situation becomes unbearable, either way, and we feel guilt and questioning, regardless of our choices.

I had my baby Lucy put down in late June. She was a poodle about 13, the vets said. She was a puppy mill momma that someone else had discarded, but to me, she was my devoted best friend. We had been fighting cancer for over a year, and then diabetes. We spent lots of money and time in the process. I had a lot of hope for her to get better and survive, even though I know how insidious cancer is. Lucy never minded her treatments, she took it all in stride. 

For me, the decision was swift when I found out there was no hope of long term healing. She'd had breathing problems for several months, but it reached a stage where everyone who saw her was anxious for her. She had also had a diabetic spell in which we thought she was dying. She urinated on my bed, on the floor, and didn't move away or seem to notice. Up until the end, she was eating and drinking, looking and acting happy.  However, I was frantic just watching her, afraid that any minute she would die and I could do nothing. After having her to the vet for the second time in a week, my vet told me her chest was filling up with fluids that contained cancer cells that were putting pressure on her heart and lungs. To have the fluid drained from her heart area, my vet suggested taking her to someone more specialized. In my mind, I knew this would cost well over $1000 and the problem would return in another two to three days. I felt we had all been through enough so I took her home and my husband and I spent some time with her, then we returned to the vet later the same day to have her put down.

Just before the final injection, I asked if I was doing the right thing. Both the vet and her helper said "yes" at the same time. "Yes, for Lucy, this is the best," my vet told me. I didn't want my baby to die in pain or to experience the panic that would come with the inability to breathe.

Since then, I have continued to question whether or not it was right. Even though all the facts point to "yes", my heart didn't want to let go. I feel guilt, even though I know I did all I could. It is hard to separate feeling from fact, and knowing that our babies trust us to take care of them, we want to do the right thing for them. 

I pray that you find the right answer for you and Sophie, but I also want you to know that a measure of doubt will probably always remain. For me, Lucy's departure gave me some relief in knowing it was easy and painless for her, but I will always wonder how much time I could have still had with her if I had not taken that step.

Jan




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blackmons

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Reply with quote  #15 
Thanks for sharing that, Jan.  I really appreciate it, and it really helps to know that others share this kind of uncertainty and guilt.  It's funny what can seem so obvious to an outsider, we can't see ourselves.  To me, it seems completely reasonable and merciful that you let your Lucy go.   Maybe it also makes things harder when the vet keeps offering more and more expensive long-shot solutions.   I took Sophie to a specialist once whose father had just passed away.  He actually had tears  when he said he wished he could have done for his father what we have the option of doing for our pets.   I wish I was stronger.....
Thanks,
Laurie
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