lunalovegood222
Hi everyone,

I have already posted on this forum once already, and I am so grateful to everyone that reached out to support me. This is a truly wonderful community. It has now been two months since my dog died at 15 years old, and now I am able to reflect more objectively on my grief and why I am still holding on to such deep sadness.

My dog was experiencing some health issues at the end of his life, such as seizures, incontinence, mild hearing loss, cataracts, arthritis, and disorientation.

When my family and I decided to put him to sleep, my dog was still eating and drinking his dog food and water. He still enjoyed our company and sat next to us when we watched TV. He was having trouble using the bathroom on his own, so we had to carry him outside. He also had trouble walking around the house due to his arthritis causing stiff legs, but he did make a great effort to follow us around the house despite his pain. His breathing was becoming more labored as the weeks went by.

I would guess that my dog still had at least 1-2 months of life left in him the day we put him to sleep. He was definitely approaching the very beginning stages of death, but I would not consider him bad enough to euthanize in that moment.

We decided to put him to sleep given the circumstances, since we were in the middle of a huge move out of state and were concerned that this would affect the dog's health negatively to take him on long road trips. Although I was against euthanizing my dog because I thought it was too early, my family thought that he should be put to sleep before he got worse. It was a very uncomfortable decision, and I felt guilty that we might be prioritizing the move above the dog, which is why I pleaded with my family to keep him alive a little longer. 

We ended up putting him to sleep because arguments began to ensue amongst my family and I due to differences of opinion. I felt the need to give my family what they wanted to restore the peace, which was putting my dog down. I didn't have to do this, but I thought that they had my dog's best interest in mind, and I wanted to do the best thing for my dog. Now, I realize that sometimes people don't have the dog's best interest in mind, and I have to be stronger in standing against injustices. This has caused me deep, deep regret and guilt.

1-2 more months of life for my dog may not seem like a big deal to some, but to me, that is a lot of life. 

Has anyone else dealt with the guilt of euthanizing too soon? Are there any books, techniques, or ways of dealing with deep regret?

Thank you for reading <3
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Orange_Cat


My vet's observation was that people either felt it was too soon, or too late. One or the other. People who see their pets die and feel they waited too long and should have protected them against the pain have their own regrets every bit as intense as what you and i feel . She said very few felt it was the right time. She said it kind of comes with the territory, its part of the grief, part of having taken on the sole responsibility for this other being.  Im trying to remember this as the health of my cat continues to decline,......

My previous cat Kashka was the perfect example of when to euthanize - 22 yr old cat with heart failure and possibly cancer. Had bouts of respiratory distress where it was anticipated she could die a traumatic death unable to breath possibly for many hours. Still I was wracked with guilt because the day the euth dr. came over happened to be at a time when she wasnt in respiratory distress. She was sitting up happy to be listening to us talk about her and how she was to be euthanized. She loved it when people came over. Now if it had been the next day, or a few days previous when she was in actual distress then I dont think I would have felt so much regret.  

I think it was only the passage of time and the circumstances around how my cat died just became part of her whole story and not this single traumatic event  - I think wherever they are, they know whats in our hearts and I think its all good between you and your dog.  It just saddens me if your family is not being understanding and supportive of you in your grief.  Your experience with your dog was different than theirs, your grief is going to be keener and may be more difficult to get through.  If you can try to find people who understand, places to tell your story .... as many times as you need to .....  Is there a pet grief group in your area?
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catman509
I just recently lost my dearly beloved 11 year old tabby kitty. I was trying to manage best I could her quality of life as her quality o f life started going downhill esp. the last week. What was REALLY helpful was a quality of life questionnaire my Vet supplied me with using a point scale. This helped tremendously to know when the time was right, and as I suspected the time, unfortunately, the timing was right. In my heart of hearts I know I did the right thing. Tiger was suffering could hardly eat and the weight was coming off her. I couldn't put her through any more...if you would be interested in the questionnaire at all, it you think it may comfort you some, just let me know. My thoughts are with you!!! Take care, Tom
Tom Harding
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lunalovegood222
@catman509 Thank you so much for this reply! I have looked at the quality of life scale, but it was really hard to determine. My dog fell in the middle of the spectrum. He was eating (not as much, but still eating), he still enjoyed our company, but his breathing was very labored. He had already had 4-5 seizures, and he was getting very restless at night since the seizures may have caused some neurological damage. It was very difficult for him to walk around due to arthritis, but he tried his best to walk nonetheless. He was incontinent and had to be carried outside since he couldn't walk much by himself. Where would you say that my dog falls on the quality of life scale? 
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catman509
from your description and just my opinion not a good quality of life. You mentioned labored breathing, seizures, difficulties walking, potential nuerological damage, and lastly incontinent....again in my opinion that to me, reflects a not good quality of life.
Tom Harding
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Mdmoore
My Vet told me that since our fur babies can’t tell us how they feel they show it and labored breathing is one way.  As much as it hurt, I had to put my baby girl down because she showed all signs of suffering.  I had to think of her and not me.  I miss her every day.  😞 
M Moore
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lunalovegood222
@Orange_Cat

Thank you for your heartfelt reply. I wish I could have approached the circumstances differently, but I truly thought that my dog wouldn't get better. Maybe he would have gotten better, and that thought saddens me. 

There is one thing I'd like to say regarding your username... As I was typing this reply, I remembered a very strange event that took place very soon after my dog died. I took a walk outside feeling very sad and thinking about my dog when this very gentle ORANGE CAT came up to me. It purred and laid on my shoes and did not want me to continue walking. It was expressing so much love for me! I am beginning to this this is a sign that all is well with my dog. Just thought I'd share! :)
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Memories_of_Marmalade
Dear Luna,

I'm very sorry and saddned to read of your loss. There is so much love in your words for your dog.

You answered your own question sweetheart when you listed what your beloved was going through. The truth is we are far more compassionate with our pets then with our fellow humans at their end. But we still seem to punish ourselves. We pay a penance for our decision to have our beloved's put to sleep. It is just a part of the grieving process.

In the end I chose to let my boy (an orange cat named "Marmalade") go too, before he further detoriated. I could not allow him to become less and less of what he once was. I owned him a peaceful and potentially less painful departure. Dogs love to nap and sleep and to walk and eat. When any one of these areas is impacted it is time to think about putting their needs over our own. 

Yes, a "sign." It has been said that our beloved's who have departed will whisper into the ears of other animals instructing them to do something to try and get our attention. This is what happened with a cat I rescued after my cat departed. A kitten that was in desperate need of a adoption and a home and came out of nowhere. He would cry out to me as I would walk by an abandoned house he was hiding adjacent to whenever I would walk by. His name is "KID."

I send you healing prayers and good wishes for continued healing.

Kind regards and my sincerest condolences,
James
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Bestlittledog
Dear Luna,
I wish I could write as eloquently as others on this forum.   You are not alone.  Your story is so similar to mine.   I too have struggled with feelings of guilt over putting my dog down too soon five months ago.  I have gone from uncontrollable grief bursts many times a day to a few tears a day, although I think I will always have sadness in my heart.

I also was influenced by another person and felt I put my sweet Joey down too soon.  I was encouraged to do so by my dog's pet sitter who had cared for him for 11 of his 14 year who told me it was time.  At the time I thought it was the right decision, but then I started thinking  that he was not that ill.  However, many people told me that often pet owners are too close to the situation and don't see the deterioration.  I have a friend with two dogs who I felt she could have saved her dogs from much pain if she had made the decision sooner, yet she could not see how poorly they were doing.  Perhaps your family members could see more than you could, perhaps just like my pet sitter.

Joey was also having a good day when he was euthanized and he had a peaceful, gentle death.  I remember that when I read on the forum about dogs who have died an anguished death at home or were rushed terrified to the ER vet or spent the night at the vet and died there alone.  We saved our boys from future suffering.  (My heart goes out to those people also, I mean no disrespect to them.  There was nothing they could have done to prevent such things from happening and they suffer also.)  I try to visualize what the future would have been like if I had not made the decision to euthanize Joey when I did, and most of what I visualize is witnessing more sickness and pain mixed in with "a few good days".

I also have been told very few vets will euthanize an animal needlessly and your vet probably thought it was time, just as my vet did.  She told me she would tell me if it was too soon and sent me a note afterwards stating "it really was the kindest thing you could have done for him".  I suspect your vet would tell you the same.

One of the best books I have read is Sacred Gifts of a Short Life:  Uncovering the Wisdom of Our Pets End of Life Journeys by Liz Fernandez. She is a vet who offers end of life counseling for pet people and vets.   It is available on Amazon.  The first and last chapters were especially meaningful to me.

I hope some of this will help you lay down your burden of guilt and ease your pain as well as allow you to remember and cherish the love and companionship of your sweet boy.  

In sympathy and empathy,
Linda
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LaylaForeverinmyHeart
I am truly sorry for your loss. I too feel the same, constant guilt that I did it too soon. I lost my baby girl 2 months ago and I am constantly thinking about that day and keep regretting my decision. Something was wrong with her lung but because she was almost 15, I couldn’t put her through further testing that required anesthesia so when the steroids stopped working her cough kept getting worse and worse. I couldn’t stand to see her suffer, she stopped sleeping at night. I just didn’t want her to eventually suffocate. I would never forgive myself. She was still eating and drinking and going for walks. She only refused to eat, drink and walk the day I made that horrible decision. It felt like the right thing to do at the time but now it doesn’t. I miss her so much! My heart
is breaking for you and everyone on this forum. Being without your babies is so hard, it’s literally like losing a big piece of your heart. Sending hugs!
Yana 
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cat_person
Hello,
We are hurting too, we put our cat Murka to sleep last week. We have the same issues: was it too soon? had we waited for too long? Maybe. My husband believes that he betrayed her trust by doing that.  He did not. We did what was best for her, our dear little furry girl. We didn't have the power to know how much pain she was in, and we judged by the look of the wound on her tumour, her behaviour as we cleaned the wound, and of course, the vet's opinion. I think we could have waited 1-2 weeks max, and we might have stolen a little of very low quality life from our pet. Or we could have put her to sleep a few weeks earlier, and we would not have had to torture her with rinsing her wound. 
It is never the right time. It is an impossible decision. It breaks the heart again and again to think that I had to kill somebody I love. 
It might have been a little too soon for your pet, but it was about time, and should your pet be kept alive, he would have had a few more weeks of very low quality life. More than that, imagine if your dog had been  with you while you were moving, how much stress, pain and sufferings he would have had... Forgive yourself, forgive your family.
Accept my condolences,

Tatiana
Tatiana
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catman509
well said! I agree with what and how you said it. You said it exactly how it should be said. :-)
Tom Harding
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ClaudiaNY
Replying to Orange_Cat, who wrote:

"My vet's observation was that people either felt it was too soon, or too late. One or the other. People who see their pets die and feel they waited too long and should have protected them against the pain have their own regrets every bit as intense as what you and i feel . She said very few felt it was the right time. She said it kind of comes with the territory, its part of the grief, part of having taken on the sole responsibility for this other being.  Im trying to remember this as the health of my cat continues to decline,......

My previous cat Kashka was the perfect example of when to euthanize - 22 yr old cat with heart failure and possibly cancer. Had bouts of respiratory distress where it was anticipated she could die a traumatic death unable to breath possibly for many hours. Still I was wracked with guilt because the day the euth dr. came over happened to be at a time when she wasnt in respiratory distress. She was sitting up happy to be listening to us talk about her and how she was to be euthanized. She loved it when people came over." [edited]

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This is so, so true. My vet had been gently suggesting "it's time to think about euthanasia" for over a month, but I couldn't bear to do it while my kitty, Lily, was still eating and still enjoying being brushed and petted, and her treats, and curling up by me while I worked from home. She had advanced CRF and I'd been giving her sub-q fluids every day for months (and before that, every 3 days for over a year). I knew that cats typically hide their pain but one day I looked at her and realized she couldn't hide it any more - she just looked sick, barely ate anything, and didn't leave my desk chair all day - except to go to the litter box. I called my vet and fortunately she was able to come over the next night. Lily loved all people. When the vet and vet tech arrived she jumped down from the chair and came right over to greet them (the vet tech lived nearby and sometimes visited to feed/water/pill Lily when I would go away for a night or two, so she knew him well and he really loved her). She always did that whenever I had visitors, and when I was supervising her hallway explorations and a neighbor came up the stairs. After she was gone I felt enormous guilt over my selfishness in prolonging her life until she was in so much pain she could no longer hide it. I feel I should have let her go at least a week before I did or even several weeks. I have tried to forgive myself -- after all, she is no longer suffering and did not die of asphyxiation as my friend's cat did, as you describe above. Lily died in January and I miss her every day. 

Lunalove, I hope you'll forgive yourself, too. There is never a "right" time when it comes to saying goodbye, and you did prevent your lovely pup from suffering the long drive.

(I tried to use the quote feature but it didn't work)
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