My Annie died just before 1 am on Sunday.  I'm sickened and even horrified with regret and guilt.  She's a lab mix and was 15 years old.  She's had problems using her back legs for a couple years now, but just about 3-4 weeks ago she got to where she couldn't walk hardly at all.  She would be able to walk 10 or 15 feet over the course of a day at best.  Given her age, being immobile, soiling herself, etc. I decided it was time to put her down.  I scheduled a time several days out to give the family time with her.  

Just as the day was approaching, she stopped eating and drinking but she was maintaining her pleasant demeanor and happiness.  I've had two dogs in the past who have gotten very old and stopped eating and drinking and both of those dogs died peacefully at home after just a week or so.

At the time, I thought this was perhaps a blessing.  I wouldn't have to take Annie in to put her down, her body knew it was time and it was shutting down.  I decided to closely watch her and spend time with her at home while she passed away naturally.

This went well for over a week.  While she lost more and more energy each day, I closely looked into her eyes and monitored her every movement to detect any pain or sudden change.  She did really well until this past Saturday.  She had already surprised me in that she was even still alive.  Saturday morning I could tell she wasn't as relaxed as she should have been.  Her breathing was quicker and she didn't want to close her eyes and relax.  While I can't know for sure, I felt like at this time she was still doing OK even if she was not quite as comfortable as I'd have liked.  I also thought well this must be the end - I really just thought she'd be passing at any moment.

She stayed in this state until around 6 pm when she began vomiting every 20 minutes or so.  And I felt so bad at this point.  I knew this wasn't going the way my previous dogs had.  Something was wrong and I began hating the fact that I didn't just put her down peacefully in the days/ weeks prior.  Around 11:30 pm she began whining and even barking every 2-3 minutes.  This was agonizing for both me and the dog at this point.  Clearly she was in some horrifying combination of pain, discomfort, disorientation, etc.  Being a Saturday night my options were so limited - I had put both her and myself into this horrible position by failing to plan for this contingency.  I sat there helplessly apologizing to her over and over - trying to maintain some amount of composure for her sake.  She began to have what were clearly her very final moments just before 1 am.  That last minute or two should have been horrifying in their own right, but actually I was feeling so relieved saying "Thank God, Thank God" because I knew her suffering was down to just seconds remaining at that point.

I feel like I cannot even grieve for the loss of my Annie right now because I'm so horrified that my poor decisions led to her painful death.  That's literally all I can think about.  I know that my decisions led to her agony in death, and there's nothing that will ever change that.  I don't know how a person can get past that.
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My heart goes out to you, Anniesdad.  I'm so sorry for your loss.

You clearly loved Annie very much. I hope you will be able to find a way to forgive yourself, because the grief is horrible enough all by itself. 

You couldn't know what you didn't know. You had experiences with two dogs dying "naturally" in ways you felt more comfortable with, and you expected the same kind of thing to happen with Annie. Your heart is broken over the way things turned out instead.  The experience sounds like it devastated you emotionally. But I hope you could maybe try the thought on, that you just didn't know. You would have done things differently if you'd known. But you didn't.

I hope being here will help and that others will write and give comfort to you.  And if you need to share your experience out loud, it might be worth calling a pet-loss hotline. Often compassionate, understanding people volunteer, who might be able to encourage you also.

I wish you much comfort and peace.
-Missing Marissa deeply
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I’m not sure how much this helps-when your body is dehydrated, I doubt she was drinking much, and you said she was vomiting, your mind is not in a coherent state. I don’t think she was aware of what was happening, at all. You body begins to shut down before the heart stops beating. Some people die quietly, quickly, or in their sleep. Others fret for what can be a long agonizing time, but they aren’t truly aware of what’s happening to their body. It’s hardest on the one watching their loved one go through it. You are the one with stabbing pain of bitter regrets, second guessing yourself. The guilt of making that last drive to the Vet is also unbearable for soo many. You loved her and wanted her to die at home, where she felt the most loved and protected and I’m sure that’s the last thing she remembers.
Lynn, Tankie’s mom, forever
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I lost my sweet Apollo 2 weeks ago.  He collapsed at the daycare when I went to pick him up.  He had been there a week.  He was so excited to see me that he either had an Addisonion(condition where they cannot handle stress) crisis or a blood clot came loose and he had a heart attack.  

I picked him up and took him to his normal vet.  That vet was over 35 minutes away.  I saw him deteriorate in the car.  He was clearly in pain.  By the time I realized how serious his condition was I was committed to a highway that I could not turn around on.  

There were 2 vets just down the road from his daycare.  Maybe they could have saved him.  At least he would not have suffered for the 40 minutes it took for him to get to his vet.  He was stabilized for a few minutes at the vet but died shortly after.  

He was always in good spirits and had good energy.  Its devastating for them to go from what appears to be good health to passing away.

A vet that I trust very much told me that "Dogs don't feel sorry for themselves.  When they feel pain they don't look for sympathy."  

It's so hard to know what issues they have.  

I regret not getting a blood test done on him on his last vet visit.  I regret that he was at the daycare for a trip I didn't even want to take.  I regret not recognizing how serious his condition was or taking him to the closer vet.

These feelings of guilt are hard to deal with and on a certain level maybe even legitimate. 

Its awful to see them suffer and you are powerless to do anything.  Death is rarely easy or peaceful for man or animals.  

Had you known it would have ended the way it did you would have done anything to change it.  But you can't do what you don't know.  You were doing what you thought was best with the information and experience you had.

I think you have to remember that even if your Annie died poorly in the end, I'll bet she had a great loving life for as long as she was yours.  The good times far outweigh the bad.  She wouldn't blame you or want you to hurt.  A dog's love is the purest most innocent love there is.  

Someone else posted on here that every time you think of how the end was you should think of a happy time too.  What a lucky dog to have someone who loved her.  

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Thank you each so much for your words of comfort.  I feel like today might be just a shade better than yesterday as far as my grief goes, and that's in part to the kind words and understanding I've read here.

Tankie12, thanks for sharing your thoughts that perhaps Annie wasn't fully coherent towards the end.  I had this thought as well, but was afraid that "I'm just telling myself what I want to hear".  There's no doubt she was very dehydrated and of course I gave her every opportunity for food and water which she actively refused those last days.  I think the way she would bark out loud every few minutes that last hour could very well be more related to confusion rather then strictly pain (not that that makes me feel much better - but perhaps just a little).  Her bark wasn't a whimper at those times - it was a pretty strong and forceful bark - the way she would bark at a dog on the other side of a fence.  Considering how lethargic she had been, this bold bark startled and surprised me.  If nothing else, those barks gave me some reassurance that her lungs were working OK and she wasn't having a suffocating type situation.  I don't believe she would have been able to muster up a big bark like that without some strength and air in her lungs.  She also let out what seemed like a large breath/groan in what were truly her very last seconds.  While it was a terrible sound, it also gave me a feeling that she had decent air in her lungs right up until the end.  Perhaps only a small comfort, but its something at least.

Iwalt22, thank you for sharing your story.  My heart goes out to you.  I've had one dog and one cat previously that I've had to take to the vet in an emergency situation and have them put down.  In both of those cases, the timing of getting them there was a painful part of my grief.  For my cat, we simply waited too long.  She had been acting strange and withdrawn for a couple days and on the third day we took her into a vet only to realize her medical condition was such that she'd likely been suffering for at least the past two days - she just hid it so well and I blamed myself for not paying closer attention to the signs and not getting her to the vet sooner.  For my dog she started having shortness of breath and looking anxious on a Sunday evening.  I figured we'd see how she was in the morning and then take her to the vet to have her checked out.  When I woke up in the morning, she was even more anxious and her breathing was even more strained and clearly she hadn't slept one bit through the night.  I took her to the vet that morning and learned she was having heart failure with fluid filling her lungs and the vet's words were that she was "slowly drowning".  We put her down immediately and I really had a tough time accepting that I slept all night long while she suffered because I didn't recognize how serious that situation was the previous evening.
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I know it is hard to not blame yourself when you lose a baby so quickly.  I still feel the raw grief since my Boo left three weeks ago and I have blamed myself with the "what ifs" and "maybe I should have" each day.  When Boo died in my car, I had taken him to the park, his favorite place to be, besides home, and he was awake but I don't know if he knew what was going on, poor baby.  Because we were so bonded, I thought of him as a human.  I know, but that's just me.  I have constantly wondered "what was he thinking"  "should I have stayed home and just held him".  I had no idea that he would die minutes after he laid on the grass in the park.  Yes, I wish I had known and maybe I would have done something differently but I didn't know and I know Boo loved me and I hope he was content just knowing I was with him.  But yes, I am still continually thinking of the "what ifs".  
I think coming to this forum helps.  I has helped me.  I hope you and everyone here finds peace of mind knowing that we did our best and more for our babies.  
Boo' s mommy
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Anniesdad-  You are the best kind of pet dad.  Your decisions were based on your experience with previous pets, and they were made with Annie's best interest at heart.  And you stayed with her though the whole ordeal until the end.  I admire you for that.  Unfortunately, death can be difficult and traumatic. (So can birth!)   In our society we have little experience with the realities of death and dying  You have witnessed a very sad but natural event.  I hope that you will be able to accept what has happened, mourn for the loss of your beloved Annie, and stop blaming yourself.   Dachsiemom
Moira - remembering Brandon
"Better lo'ed ye canna be. Will ye no' come back again?"
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You did what you thought was best at the time. We are all only human and we don’t know what the future holds. You had no way of knowing how things would happen on Sunday. She was lucky to have an owner that cared for her and loved her for many years. I know forgiving ourselves is never easy, but I promise that you deserve to forgive yourself. Your sweet Annie is at peace and her love will be with you forever.
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I've had a few days now to process Annie's passing.  I've talked with close family about the experience and shared it here (thanks to each of you for your responses, they have truly helped me cope).  I know the brain can play tricks on us to downplay or even erase trauma, but I'm considering that perhaps so much of the intense pain and grief I've experienced is in large part because the late night situation with Annie just caught me so off guard and just struck me to my core with intense panic and fear.  The panic and fear were driven mainly by not knowing how long this "suffering phase" was going to last, not knowing if it was going to get more intense, and feeling helpless with no good options.

However, I can look back now and remind myself that it didn't go on all night, and for the most part it didn't get worse and worse during that last hour.  Her level of distress, while so difficult to watch, did not increase significantly during that last hour or so.  I also realize that its quite possible that she just simply wasn't mentally there 100% those final hours - of course I can't know that for sure, but I think there is some reason to believe that's a possibility. 

I've been able to realize that rushing her to a 24/7 vet for an emergency euthanasia that final hour would have been a huge mistake - she would have probably just died in the car or on the floor of some waiting room.  Even if I'd had the inclination to take her to a vet to be euthanized that very last Saturday morning when I first got the feeling something wasn't going right - even that could have been a mistake.  She was already so far down the road towards passing (and just up to that point, really doing soooo well too!) that the stress of getting her to a vet and up on that table, etc. and knowing by then she was severely dehydrated that the intravenous drugs would be difficult to administer - even that could have ended with me feeling like that was the wrong decision.

I also take some comfort in knowing that, while I felt helpless, perhaps the best help of all was simply having family there with Annie (including two other dogs near her side) as she passed.  I had actually stepped out of the room and my wife was with her for most of her last 15 minutes.  If I'd have known it was that close I would have stayed, but I was trying to just compose myself.  But one of us was there and that's what counts.

These are the things I'm trying to focus on to bring some sense of peace and sanity.  My wife loved Annie dearly and she was more at peace with the process even as it unfolded, so I think about that as well.  I hope its not just my brain somehow "tricking" me and somehow whitewashing my memory just to ease the pain.

I've shared two pictures of my Annie.  The one by herself is the last photo I took of her on Thursday morning.  You can see how happy she looks.  The other one isn't the greatest picture of Annie because I was trying to help her hold her head up and take the photo at the same time, but its a great picture of her little buddies who spent a lot of time with her that last week.

annie.jpg  friends.jpg 
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I'm so sorry, Annie's dad.  For not only your loss, but for your feelings of guilt as well.  I think we all have them in some measure, but where we each have to get (I am STILL coming to grips with my own situation) is that we have to be satisfied that we did the best we could with the information we had at the time and the reminder that we're all human and are not perfect. 

I am feeling so guilty over my own furbaby's death last Saturday.  Partly because I don't feel like she was ready to go, and instead of putting my foot down and saying "No", I wound up going through with it to avoid strife over the rest of the weekend and what would have been a hugely unpleasant situation on Monday; but also partly because I feel like I could've done more to push some of the changes we'd initially said we were going to try with Stormy, and I'm not sure they were ever carried out (I wouldn't have known everything that was needed, and I was never asked to help get anything, so I naively trusted that it was being done and I just didn't know it.  And I've been wracked with guilt ever since.

I'm glad that you can take comfort in some of the things you mentioned in your latest post, and I hope that those things will continue to bring comfort to you as you heal from your loss.  Our furbabies' biggest need is for us to never abandon them when they need us, and I think you followed through on meeting that need.  Annie was able to be at home, surrounded by loved ones, instead of agonizing through a final trip to the vet's office.

You have nothing to hang your head about, from what I've read of your story.

Annie's a very pretty girl, by the way... 😉

Daddy to beloved fur baby Stormy
08/2003 - 05/19/18
Stormy’s Residency
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Thank you David for your kind words.  I took time to read the story of your beautiful Stormy, and let me assure you that she lived a full and blessed life.  Stormy was one of the lucky ones because she had a dad who "gets it"... who loved and connected to her in a rare and special way.  That rare and special bond is why the loss is so hard for us, but that rare and special bond is also why their life was lived to the fullest.  And you gave Stormy such a full life - that is obvious to me.  I like to think I did the same for Annie.

Much of your agony is your grief over the timing of Stormy's passing (feeling she was let go too soon).  Much of my agony is grief over the timing of Annie's passing (feeling I should have "done something" and put her down before that difficult Saturday).  We are examples of two sides of the same coin - too soon? Or too late?.  What if... what if... what if???  It will eat us up inside, gut punch us down to our knees, and keep us there if we let it.  One thing I've learned and observed in the few days I've spent on this forum is that being totally at peace with the timing and manner of a pets passing is rare.  It does happen for sure, but its the exception not the rule, especially for "parents" like us.  No matter what you had done, inevitably, the pain was going to be a gut punch you weren't ready for.  That doesn't mean it's your fault.  It doesn't mean it's anyone's fault.  It's simply the high price we pay for being given the privilege of such beautiful companionship in this life.  It's a high price, but remind yourself that it's worth it. No pain, no regret, no sadness is powerful enough to even come close to being a counter-weight to the love, companionship, and bond we shared with our pets on this earth.  The darkness of final minutes and hours cannot block out 15 years of beautiful light and life (your Stormy and my Annie were about the same age and died near the same time).

I pray that you - and everyone here - finds peace.  I'm still trying to hold onto it as it comes and goes.


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I wholeheartedly agree.  No matter if Stormy had passed on that Saturday, or if I'd had to put her down the next week, or in 2-3 months, or if she'd passed at home naturally, it definitely would've wracked me with grief.  That I can hold on to and remind myself that ultimately NOTHING would've made things much easier - I would still be dealing with the same loss.  And the same would be true with your Annie, if you'd helped her along sooner.

I know what you mean about how the peace comes and goes.

I saw you responded on Stormy's thread, so I'll go reply over there in a bit.


Daddy to beloved fur baby Stormy
08/2003 - 05/19/18
Stormy’s Residency
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