My heart feels broken wide open, like it will never be put back together.

There is so much I could write, but all I can share right now without making my pain even more unbearable (with the telling of the whole story) is that I had my beloved dog euthanized for aggression two days ago, and I believe I made a horrible mistake.

He has had a long, ongoing problem with "schizophrenic" behavior toward me and others (approaching often for "love and hugs" - rubbing his head against you and begging for affection, for example - then turning on the human involved ferociously when touched).

He was terribly abused for the first 5-6 years of his life, then I adopted him after he was rescued.

There is so much to say about this dog, who had such a pure and loving soul... but it would tear me apart to share it.

He has bitten an elder family member numerous times, and me, as well (as well as a child and others), but he is very small (11 lbs) and let go right away afterwards, so I just tried to resolve the problem with behaviorists, medications, etc.

Every day was a painful experience (for 2 1/2 years) of this dog who needed so much to receive love and affection but could almost never be touched without snapping, growling, or biting.

The other day, his veterinarian said he would never get better, never be able to trust people, and spoke to me very firmly about the responsibility I owe(d) to Sammie and others to "let him go," especially in light of the fact (he said) that dogs with his problems suffer greatly from their inability to be loving and accept loving caresses from their owners and others - and feel guilty about their behavior. And there were other issues - like the fact that he sleeps (slept) with me, needed to do that for his own happiness, and almost any time I moved in bed or turned after he fell asleep, he would startle awake and growl and snap. I am a nurse and began feeling that the effect of this behavior on my sleep was creating a danger for my patients.

I made the decision to allow him to be euthanized (which I had been struggling with for some time), and as he (Sammie) relaxed into the effects of the tranquilizer preceding the lethal injection, I felt what it would have been like for him to have been able to really relax, be held and loved, accepting the love without striking out. It felt right to allow him to go to sleep forever in my arms, stroking him. I cried and sobbed, but I was sure I was doing the right thing.

NOW, TODAY, after days of grief and remorse (to the point where I actually wondered last night what would happen to me if I took all of the clonazepam I have available), I remembered something that made my grief and remorse even worse.

A few weeks ago, another animal lover mentioned I should try using a muzzle on him. I dismissed it, because I didn't see that as a way for him to live (and felt he would be too vulnerable to attacks from other dogs - he has been attacked by an off-leash dog many times his size before), and I'd never seen it mentioned in rehabilitation literature, etc.

But TONIGHT, remembering what she said, I looked up "muzzling aggressive dogs" and found out that muzzling can be used for REHABILITATION, to help dogs realize their owners will not hurt them EVEN IF THEY, THE DOGS, ARE NOT A THREAT - and realized that I PROBABLY SHOULD HAVE TRIED THIS WITH HIM.

I can't believe I ignored her idea, any idea, without fully researching it. And I can't believe the veterinarian didn't suggest it. Now, my sweet baby is gone, and I can't bring him back. I can't bring him back to try more ways to rehabilitate him.

And even beyond that, I wish I could bring him back (even the way he was, forever) and just made a career change that would allow me to be a safe nurse even given his nighttime fear aggression. I could have become a family practice clinic nurse, rather than a hospital nurse. (Less need to be fully "alert.")

I want to bring him back, and I can't, I can't, I can't... I feel like this pain is branded inside me for the rest of my life, and that I stole his life from him. He had many happy times (you can't convince me otherwise), playing, sitting at my feet, running in the yard, just watching people be people... tail wagging...).

Why didn't I try to the muzzle rehabilitation? Why did I ASSUME the muzzle was just for temporary control (and would be frightening to him and inhumane, etc.)?

How is it possible I didn't see anything about muzzle rehabilitation through hundreds of hours of research on the net - or hear about it from the trainer/behaviorists we worked with???

WHAT HAVE I DONE? I can't take this back. I can't bring my baby back to life. I honestly feel right now that I would give up a body part to have him alive again... even as HE WAS.

I don't know what to do - I'm reaching out to anyone who might have words to help (if that's possible). My family and friends mostly believe he needed to go - or are neutral on the matter and can't understand my anguish. Those who love animals most, and are most likely to understand the pain I'm going through, I haven't told yet, as I'm sure most will disapprove (and the one will ask me about the muzzling... and honestly, talking about Sammie at all feels like torture right now).

How could I have felt such peace (through wrenching pain) as it was all happening, peace that continued (through deep grief) for a day and a half or so, and then just awakened at 11:00 night before last KNOWING I had done a terrible thing and killed my dog, who was a part of my own body and soul.

I don't know what to do... please help!

Sammie's Mom
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Sammie's Mom...I am so sorry for your deep pain and loss. What is happening to you is what happens to everyone no matter what the circumstances of having to make that difficult decision. Don't second guess have no idea if that would have's all what if's and those are very painful. Your little sammy sounds like he had alot of terrors...and you said it...everyday was a painful experience for this little dog...that's what you have to remember..even though you loved him, he has been badly damaged and he was suffering every single day....I personally think you did what was most loving for him.....might the muzzle have helped..maybe or maybe not, and what a hard way to live..he may have found the muzzling even more doesn't work for all dogs.
For 2 and a half years you gave him your love and still he was not okay...I think you did what was right and you had peace about it..I think that is what you should remember..Sammy is at peace and you were at peace....for him...
When my Maddie passed there were so many things that came up for me, and for many people here also, that we didn't do it right or what if...I think that is just par for the course.....For those 2 nd a half years you gave this little one love...that is what you should remember.
I'm so sorry for your pain and grief and loss. You have not done a terrible thing, you made the decision out of love..It's okay...Judylinn
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I'm so sorry for your loss, I think there are very few circumstances in which we have to make the difficult choice to have a beloved pet euthanized and don't look back with "what if's".  I recently went through an experience with my cat Toby where I wondered if I had done the right thing at the right time, even though the vet and every circumstance said it was the thing to do.  He was in pain and it wasn't going to get better.  At the time, I knew it was right.  Later, I began to question my decision.  Maybe we could've done more tests, I could've taken him to another vet, and on and on and on.

I honestly believe that the most important thing you can do right now is trust yourself.  I can tell from your words that you would never, ever cause any harm to Sammie.  And he was in pain every day too, emotional pain can be as excruciating as physical pain.  It is very likely that you knew this was what Sammie needed and that's why your brain didn't remind you of the muzzle therapy.  The peace you felt when he passed is what you must trust with all your might.

As much as we love them, there is a time to make this horrible decision, and you did the right thing.  As Judylinn said, you made the decision out of love, and that's what makes it right.  You cared for Sammie during his life with love and patience and gave him the best shot he had at getting better.  Please be kind to yourself right now.  You did the right thing.


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Dear Sammies Mom,

I am so sorry for your pain and loss. I do understand. July 3 2013 I made a decision to put my beautiful Lhasa Duncan to sleep. He was 9 and the love of my life. He had many little health issues through the years. We spent thousands just making him comfortable. He had been on Temeril P all his life, it made him aggressive. But I still continued and loved him till the end. I decided to put him to sleep when a cyst the size of a golf ball burst on his back. It did not respond to antibiotics. I had a drain put it, it made him more distressed. I was recovering from rotator cuff surgery, it made it difficult for me to hold him. July 3rd last year I held my little man for the last time, with the help of my Vet  he drifted off to sleep. The next months were a nightmare. I was consumed by guilt, I missed him so much. I felt I had let him down.I do know what you are going through. Please know in time you will see you made the right decision. Sammie is whole again & at peace. He is watching over you, loving you for setting him free.

I am sending you a big Hug, thinking of you,

Duncan's Mom.
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Oh Sammie's mom. What your doing now is playing the "what if" game with yourself.  We all do it. It brings us all so much guilt and does no one any good, but its very normal and I think no matter what happens to our loved ones we always start the "what ifs" and put ourselves thru even more pain and torture. I've worked with and had dogs all my life. From what I've seen I can tell you that it sounds like Sammie's problem was in his head. Could have been no ones fault, but the way you describe it, it sounds like he wasn't going to be happy no matter what you did. The muzzle may have tortured him even more, you just don't know. If only dogs could talk to us. How great would that be. We would know right away what was wrong, but that's just not the case. You did all you could for Sammie. You loved him and thought of him in the end. There is more than physical pain to be relieved sometimes. Don't second guess yourself, you decision was made from love. No one could ask more than that. Your not alone.
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Thank you all so much... after pouring all of that out last night, I find I can barely communicate... I am, however, reading your posts (several times over), and your support and words/perspectives are helping me more than I can say.

Tomorrow, they are going to try to get me into his vet so that I can get some feedback on the muzzle issue and at least know the truth - whatever it is.

Sammie was a puppy-mill dog, and it was my dream to help him heal and have as many happy, healthy years as he had pain- and torture- filled years (5-6, we think). It did not happen.

I can't write much more right now... just know I am reading and re-reading your thoughts and I appreciate your responding to my cry for help very much.

I am not in the anguish I was in last night, but the pain is very deep, and I know I have a long journey ahead... thank you.

Sammie's Mom
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Sammie's Mom, I'm so sorry too about the decision you had to make. I read your story this morning but was so overwhelmed with my own grief I couldn't even respond. As Petey Lover said, you can't know if the muzzle would have been the answer. It's true that we all question the decisions we are forced to make and end up feeling guilty about something no matter what. I'm the same way about my Murphy. I had to make the decision to hold, love, caress and gave in his eyes while sending him to the Rainbow Bridge June 18 after 13 days in a specialty hospital trying to make him well again with surgery, feeding tubes, hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments, everything you can think of but it didn't work. He just couldn't win this battle and I'm filled with guilt and questions about whether I allowed them to do too much, and extreme grief over Momma not there with him all the time as he was so frightened by vets and strangers. I write to him here every night and it's helpful. It's the only way I can sleep. Getting our thoughts down at this forum is a wonderful way to connect with all these souls who are going through the same or similar torment. As you said, it's a long journey ahead, but you're not alone.

Murphy's Mom (Kathryn)
"Sometimes there is a dog who is so special, he is able to wrap himself so completely around your heart it is impossible to tell where you begin and he ends."  For My Beloved Murphy, 08/31/2004 - 06/18/2014
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Thank you all so much. I've read all these replies, several times, and it has helped a great deal.

I can't write much - it seems I just can't open up right now - but I do want everyone to know that I feel much better, that I'm seeing that I made the right decision. I went through another terrible night last night, with several sobbing jags, but when it was over, I knew I was grieving for the losses (his life, my dreams for his future), not crying with remorse.

I know I did what had to be done... it will just take time to heal. (And he will always be my "sweet baby.)

I hope to come help others here, soon, when I am able to do it (emotionally).

Love to all, and my heartfelt prayers for your own healing.

Sammie's Mom
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Sammie's Mom-  I completely understand everything you're going through.  I made the decision to put my beautiful, sweet, and aggressive Great Pyrenees to sleep last week.  It was the hardest decision I've ever had to make.  There are some days that I feel ok, like I did the right thing.  And then there are days, like today, when I question it all and can barely breathe.  Reading the comments above, makes me feel better.  I agree with what everyone has said, so I won't repeat it. 

Before I put him to sleep I was terrified to tell my close friends and family what I planned.  Most of my friends are dog lovers and are considered aunts or uncles to my pup.  For days I considered lying, saying I was able to find a rescue or someone good with aggressive dogs to take him.  But I decided I didn't want to lie.  And pretty much everyone was understanding (there was a little bit of resistance but only from one person).  In the end, you do what's right for you and you're friends will support you. And honestly, no one can make you feel wore about it then you already do. 

It's so hard.  I wish I had words of encouragement, saying it will get easier. I assume that, but really I've no idea.  We can only hope. 
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Hi Sammy's mother.  i just read your post, i was trying to fifd others who had to put their dog down ,due to aggression.  when you said it's the hardest thing, because we have to watch them constantly so we become even more attached, i knew exactly what you meant.  I only had Cosette 1 yr, but it has been a year since i put her down and i cannot get over the pain.  i wanted so much to save her  she came from a shelter,  the dog i hadb efore he   hadd been aggressive with me because of a brain tumor at the end of her life,  so to have another dog bite me was tormenting.  she tried to bite a lot of people and i wouldn't let her.    I feel like my brain is broken.  nobody understands.  i am so glad i came to these boards.  i feel for you i am with you.  you are not alone,  hugs misha
Michelle Cory
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