lesliejeanie
Hi All, Thank you for your posts. It's helped me so much to read others' experiences and know I am not alone in this. To know the guilt and regret I feel may be part of the grief? I am trying to retrain my mind to think of the thousand beautiful moments I shared with my boy rather than the last couple weeks we had and the trauma of ending his life over 8 months ago. 

My dog Page was an English Mastiff who died at age 8 in August of 2019. We found him as a small puppy in 2011, just a few weeks old and toddling off the curb into traffic. If we had been driving by a few seconds later he would have been hit by a car on that busy four lane street where people drive 50 miles an hour. We picked him up and took him in. We didn't know he was an English Mastiff until he started growing into the breathtakingly gorgeous 130 pound dog he became. Page and I were soulmates and he was the love of my life. I did everything for him, buying a king sized bed so he could sleep with me and keeping it on the floor so that he could get in and out easily with the hip dysplasia he developed later in life. Getting an SUV and putting a huge orthopedic dog bed in the back so he could ride in comfort on our many road trips together. Hiring wonderful loving dog walkers to visit him when I was at work. I drove to Florida for vacation instead of flying the last year of his life so I could take him with me. Taking him for drives to his favorite places after he couldn't walk far anymore. I stayed single the last year of his life and am so glad I did as it gave us more time together. I am so grateful for doing all of these things even though I didn't know I would lose him shortly.

A few months before his death he started getting picky about his food and wouldn't always eat. By August he had stopped eating almost entirely. I thought it was because he had just had some vaccinations and took him back to the vet a few times. They examined him but did not feel any masses so gave him anti-nausea medication but he still wouldn't eat. He was restless at night, couldn't get comfortable and was panting and panicky. He wasn't eating at all and was clearly miserable, his eyes told me he was sad and in pain. He was always an emotional boy. Finally the vet said we should do an X-ray and discovered a huge mass taking up most of his abdomen and pushing his stomach and other organs to the side. The vet suggested it could possibly be a lipoma but when I took him to a specialist hospital a few days later for an ultrasound it was determined to be a huge tumor, most likely from hemangiosarcoma, that had metastasized to his chest.

This is the part I can't forgive myself for. The day after the ultrasound I took him for his slow short walk, sat in the yard with him while he laid in the sun and put his paw in mine, took him swimming at the lake which he always loved, then took him straight from the lake to the vet for euthanasia. I held him while he died and sang his song to him (the one I sang to him as a puppy). Over the past 8 months I have prayed for time to reverse itself so I could go back and hold off on euthanasia for a couple more days. I was so intent on not letting him suffer any more that I fear I ended his life too soon. That I should have tried to see if there was a way to make him comfortable at home. I know he was dying but I wish I had kept him at home for a couple more days and tried to make him comfortable there and arranged for at-home euthanasia. The week leading up to his euthanasia just keeps replaying in my mind with the most unbearable pain and regret.

I know that most of what I did in his life was right, and so it just feels like this catastrophic mistake that in his last days I failed him. It feels like I let the car hit him as a puppy. If I could somehow know that what I did was right then I think I could move on with cherishing the memories I have of my precious boy. Does anyone have any advice for how to forgive yourself? DSC03379-2.jpg
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stevenkep
Hi Lesliejeanie,

I read your post when I checked into the forum this morning and your caption caught my eye, because that is how I feel and have been feeling for the past twelve weeks now.  I had to read your post several times because I found it so moving the way you described the care that you took with your beautiful boy Page.  I don't think that anyone could have taken better care of their baby than the way you did.  And then I cried when you recount your last full day with your Page.  I am no expert on the subject, I can only speak from the standpoint of another grieving pet parent, and I am not in a position to offer any advice to anyone on any subject, particularly on the emotionally charged topic of forgiveness, especially of oneself.  Speaking from my humble perspective, I can confidently state that I haven't been able to forgive myself for the past, not twelve, but fifteen weeks.  For it was exactly fifteen weeks ago yesterday, Monday, January 20th, on the occasion of the observance of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, that my wife and I took our dog to the vet's for her overdue (by 7 days) rabies shot and long overdue (at least by 4 months) wellness visit.  Ruffles has a birthday coming up, ten days from now, on May 15th, and she we would have celebrated her 16th birthday if she were still with us, so that is painfully in the forefront of my thinking as I compose this.  But to get from the wellness visit to three weeks later, Sunday, February 9th, is a long story, and I have written about it at length on two other threads that I have joined, one started by Joe (Pal RIP) and the other by Julie (Dear Cody).  I have also been posting to Ruffles on the Monday Candle Ceremony Tribute List, and if you care to look, then you can find her picture and tribute on this week's tributes and using the alphabetic index.

I find it therapeutic to write, but it doesn't erase or even ease the pain of loss sometimes.  You write articulately and thoughtfully, and I would simply encourage you to keep writing down your thoughts, either privately or in the forum.  The benefit of writing here is that the exercise elicits responses from other like-minded souls who make me realize that I am not alone or unique in what I am experiencing: the daily flashbacks to my Ruffles's last three weeks and especially her last day with us, seemingly crowding out the 15-1/2 God-given years that preceded those three weeks of tragedy.  Some say the grieving dissipates over time, and time has a way of healing wounds, as the adage goes.  I will posit that the grieving process gets different with the passage of time, but the images of the last night of our puppy's life on this earth are indelibly burned into my brain and will never leave me, I am afraid.  Those images are compounded by my feelings of guilt and betrayal, of which I and others have written at length in our posts.  So the grieving never goes away, at least not for me.

It does help me somewhat, Lesliejeanie, by my attending the Monday Night Candle Ceremony, which any of us here can join by simply going to the Candle Lighting Ceremony Room and clicking into the Candle icon before 9:00 pm EDT on Mondays, obviously.  I find the ritual meaningful and it may serve the same purpose for you, as well.

Anyway, I will close by wishing you well and offering to include you and Page in my thoughts and prayers.  Having become a dog lover thanks to my having Ruffles in my life for all those years, I can truly appreciate the exceedingly handsome portrait of Page that you included with your post.  Hopefully he and Ruffles found each other and are friends in Heaven now, waiting for us to join them.

Sincerely,

Steve
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Monroegirl
I'm so sorry for your loss. Such a handsome boy! I do believe that guilt and regret are part of the grieving process. I've noticed on this forum, that no matter how our pets passed, many of us have feelings of guilt. That last day of Page's life, as you described it, sounds like the perfect last day for him! How loving and kind of you to take such great care. He knew how very much that you loved him. I also sang my kitty's special song to her as she died in my arms. We make the best decisions that we can for our beloved pets with with we know and are working with at the time. You did what you knew to be right and loved him very well up until the very end! Take care now.
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lesliejeanie
Dear Steve,
Thank you for your kind response and sharing your experience with guilt and grief on losing your dear one. I am so sorry for the loss of Ruffles and for the pain you are living with as you grieve her. I read some of your posts that you wrote and looked at the tribute on the candlelight page. She was a very beautiful girl and I know she had a wonderful life with you and your family being so very loved. I have had to euthanize two other dogs in the past and though both were difficult they do not compare to the nightmarish horror I still feel at Page's death and I think it's partly because of the speed of the events from diagnosis to death. With my previous babies it was clear that my dogs were quite elderly and ill and I had seen them slowly age and develop more health issues over time. With Page, I just wish I had taken more time but I think both the shock of his diagnosis and my extreme protectiveness of him led me to act to end his suffering without fully processing what was happening which then led to complete panic and horror afterwards. Maybe a slower decline could have helped as it would have given us more time to process the impending loss. But with some diagnoses this is just not something we can be given. I think euthanasia is a very traumatic and shocking event for us and so our minds try to find ways of rewriting it because the pain is too much to bear. Maybe part of the guilt is wanting to believe that we could still somehow change the outcome if we could figure out a way to have done things differently. But while I can say all of this, it still does not ease the nightmare quality of the memories and regret at my actions. While they have receded somewhat over the last 8 months, it's still a very painful spot in my mind that I am becoming afraid to touch. And I agree with you that I don't think it will go away. So I am trying to train myself to remember the happy times and life we had rather than the traumatic last days. When I start thinking about the sad last days I try to force my mind to happy times. Because surely the thousand wonderful memories that they had with us are the times they would be experiencing in heaven, not their final weeks or days when they were suffering or their last moments when they were leaving us.
Leslie 
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lesliejeanie
Dear Monnie's Momma,
Thank you so much for your words of comfort. I am so sorry for the loss of your beautiful Monroe and can sense how much you loved her and what a wonderful life she must have had with you being so loved. Sending you prayers for comfort and peace as you grieve your dear kitty. 
Leslie
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stevenkep
Hi Leslie,

Thank you for acknowledging my post and for your edifying words of support.  Thank you, too, for taking the time to look into my other posts and for visiting the Tributes.  I think that the words you used, "nightmarish", "shocking" and "traumatic", aptly describe how I feel about the e-word (I cannot bring myself to write the word out, that in itself is too painful for me) alternative to a treatment plan for our beloved pets.  Why is it okay, I ask rhetorically, for the e-word to be so quickly resorted to when an ailing pet is a patient at a clinic or an animal hospital, and yet we do everything possible for our human relatives to keep them alive and breathing, even if the prognosis is a terminal condition, in many cases associated with old age?  I kept saying to myself as we drove to the hospital that night, whatever they say, I am not going to agree to terminate her poor little life.  When I met with our dog's veterinarian eight days afterward, he gave me all the time and attention I needed, and he carefully explained to me that Ruffles was like a 100-year-old person at that point and that the treatment that had been proposed at the hospital would have been exactly the same as what he would have done had we brought Ruffles in to see him for follow-up six days earlier, as we should have done.  And the treatment would have been palliative, it may have extended her life by perhaps a few days or weeks, but it would not have restored her to her normal state.  But then I roll the clock back in my mind to three weeks before, following the rabies shot and wellness visit, when the doctor had prescribed the medicine to treat her enlarged heart and the associated coughing, when I return to second-guessing myself and convincing myself that I was the cause of her precipitous decline over the ensuing 19 days after we started her on the medicine.  

Besides the guilt feelings, there is the feeling of betrayal of my best friend.  Through good times and bad, my Ruffles was there to remind me of the safety and sanity of a blessedly ordinary routine, of caring for her, of her interrupting me to let her outside to do her duty (doing her inside-outside as we called it), and of knowing she was there to help me navigate through the crises that invariably come our way.  I still look for her around the house, I am still being careful where I step lest I slip and catch myself from falling over a pool of pee that I didn't notice was there, I still talk to her.  It sounds crazy, doesn't it?  But I can't let go of her, I can't move on like others in my family have been able to do almost from the day after.

So, yes, reading your first post, Leslie, brought all of these thoughts back to me, not in a bad way at all, but in a good way, a cleansing as it were. It seems like you encountered this forum only very recently, and it also seems that you like to write, which I think is a good thing.  And so I look forward to sharing the little experience that I have gained, not only from the past twelve weeks, but also from the almost sixteen years of my precious dog's life.  And in the process, I hope to gain some better understanding of the reason for it all, as I learn more about your magnificent Page and how much he must have meant for you.

Thank you again, Leslie, for your very kind words, especially about my Ruffles, and I look forward to hearing from you again.

Steve
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stevenkep
Hi Monnie's Momma,

I am sorry for your loss of your beautiful kitty, Monroe.  She looks very beautiful in your avatar.  I saw from your post, and Leslie's too, that both of you were able to sing to your babies on their last day.  I wish that I could have sung the special song that I had made up for my Ruffles in happier days, but I was too broken up at the end when we were saying our goodbyes to her.  All I remember about our last hour with her was that I was crying the whole time.  I managed to kiss the top of her poor little head and told her that I loved her, but I don't know if she heard me.  And as I type these words, I feel myself wanting to start crying.  My sincerest hope and prayer is that we are reunited with the loves of our lives, you with Monroe, and Leslie with Page, and I with Ruffles, when the time comes.  That is all that keeps me going, and I am sure that you special pet parents feel the same.

Steve
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Monroegirl
Dear Monnie's Momma,
Thank you so much for your words of comfort. I am so sorry for the loss of your beautiful Monroe and can sense how much you loved her and what a wonderful life she must have had with you being so loved. Sending you prayers for comfort and peace as you grieve your dear kitty. 
Leslie


Thank you so much, Leslie. Yes, she was so very loved. I got she and her sister when I moved away from home for the first time, and have had her for nearly half of my life. Her sister, Jillian, passed five years ago. Monroe was "my girl", and we connected on such a deep level so I feel like a huge chunk of me is missing. Thank you for your condolences. 
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Monroegirl
stevenkep wrote:
Hi Monnie's Momma,

I am sorry for your loss of your beautiful kitty, Monroe.  She looks very beautiful in your avatar.  I saw from your post, and Leslie's too, that both of you were able to sing to your babies on their last day.  I wish that I could have sung the special song that I had made up for my Ruffles in happier days, but I was too broken up at the end when we were saying our goodbyes to her.  All I remember about our last hour with her was that I was crying the whole time.  I managed to kiss the top of her poor little head and told her that I loved her, but I don't know if she heard me.  And as I type these words, I feel myself wanting to start crying.  My sincerest hope and prayer is that we are reunited with the loves of our lives, you with Monroe, and Leslie with Page, and I with Ruffles, when the time comes.  That is all that keeps me going, and I am sure that you special pet parents feel the same.

Steve


Thank you for your kind words, Steve. I also looked at your Tribute for Ruffles; such a sweetie. I hope Monroe could hear me, too, when I talked and sang to her. I miss my girl so very much. I was the closet to her in my family, so it isn't as tough on everyone else in the home. I do feel the same....I pray to be able to see her again when the time comes.
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