Selene

Excuse me in advance for the extremely long and detailed text.

Last week I lost my dog who had been in good health for most of her life. We did notice a few weeks ago that she was feeling a bit sick: she was quiet, vomited a few times and peed in our home. We had made an appointment with the vet but cancelled the day before because she was healthy and happy again by then, assuming she must've felt a bit under the weather but was all better now. Two weeks ago we started to notice that she was drinking more than usual and would pee in our home again despite us walking her before bed. I did some research and found that such troubles are usually related to kidney problems. When I noticed her looking at us sadly on top of that and not barking as often as she used to (she has always been quite the yapper) we decided to make another vet appointment, which would take place that next Saturday. On Thursday however, my grandmother (who lives with us) called: she said our dog’s breathing had suddenly started sounding extremely unusual. My mom confirmed that she was indeed breathing loudly and called the vet immediately so she could come over that same day.

I couldn’t go along due to work but soon received the devastating news. According to the ultrasound, our dog had a tumour near her kidneys that had taken up almost ¾ of the space in her tummy. Her heart was enlarged and the vet suspected one of her two kidneys might’ve already failed. He wasn’t sure about that last part since my dog was so frightened that she tried to fight back and bite him, making it impossible to do a full check-up. He didn’t dare to muzzle her since she already had difficulty breathing. He had told us that she probably wouldn’t have made her saturday appointment if we hadn’t come by. Once the diagnosis was made, he insisted multiple times to let him perform euthanasia right away.

While our family has always been for euthanasia when our pets are in pain, we were hesitant to do so in this case. Aside from the drinking and peeing, she had been in pretty much perfect health up until the day before. We had a hard time believing that things were so bad that she had to be put down right then and there. All our other pets were usually given one final attempt at recovery through medication, or were so visibly in pain that we already knew they wouldn’t return if we took them to the vet. Here we hadn’t even considered her having a deadly illness as a possibility. My grandma and mom even said that while her breathing was louder than usual, it didn’t sound like she had that much difficulty with it or that she was in pain. After long moments of doubt, we decided to hold off the euthanasia for now. Even if things were hopeless, our whole family at least wanted to be able to say goodbye to her properly instead of losing her so abruptly. Our dog was also visibly frightened, trying to jump into my mom’s arms constantly to get away from our vet, and we didn’t want her to die both suddenly AND frightened. Our vet, albeit begrudgingly, injected a dose of painkillers that would work until 2 AM. Afterwards we’d have to feed her painkillers he prescribed but he warned us that even with the painkillers she probably wouldn’t live longer than two weeks past this point. He also told us to keep her in a well ventilated room from now on to make it easier for her to breathe.

We did just like that and decided to sleep with her in our big couch in the living room so we could keep an eye on her. She seemed very unresponsive and befuddled during the first hours after she received the painkillers. As hours passed and the medication gradually wore off, she became more like herself but also more restless. She would often walk from one side of the couch to the next, laying down next to each of us for a short period of time. I could start to hear her loud breaths again but unlike what my mom and grandmother had witnessed before, it actually looked like she had a hard time breathing this time. At least it was difficult enough that she clearly couldn’t relax enough to fall asleep. Other than that she showed zero signs of actual pain. But since she was clearly deteriorating, we all silently agreed that we’d call the vet in the morning and ask to have her euthanized that same day. Her condition had visibly worsened after her vet appointment and keeping her alive any longer would’ve been unfair towards her. At least now we knew it was indeed the right thing to do. We’d been given one night to say goodbye and now we could all join her to the vet and be there in her final moments, which would give our family some closure and give her the peaceful death she deserved. Sadly it never came to that.

Around 2:20 AM she kept trying to get off the couch. We didn’t want her to hurt herself by jumping, so we helped her off. We turned away a few for only a second and suddenly she was nowhere to be found: after a bit of searching we found her hiding underneath a table, sitting down. We tried to sit her back down onto the couch but as soon as we did, she walked to the other end of the couch again. Suddenly we heard her whine 3 times and saw a drop of substance leaving her mouth. Alarmed, my mom softly took her in her arms and that’s when it happened. A large stream of blood was leaving her mouth. She wasn’t coughing it up, it just streamed right out. After a few seconds her head suddenly fell limp next to her shoulder, eyes wide open. For a few seconds, we thought she had died then and there. After a few seconds she snapped her head back in place but the blood kept streaming and now there was foam spilling through her nose. Her head fell limp again, than came back again. After she snapped her head back in place a third time, she just laid there with eyes wide open, her heart still beating softly but completely unresponsive. We just held her in our arms and cried as her heartbeat slowly softened until we couldn’t feel it anymore. The whole ordeal took less than 5 minutes and she was gone. She had fought but lost the battle.

We were heartbroken: we knew she didn’t have much time left but we never would’ve expected her to die that same night. We called the vet and told him what had happened. He suspected that due to the painkiller’s effect ending, she must’ve started moving a lot to get rid of the pain which might’ve caused the tumour to press against her heart and resulted in her having a heart attack. There’s no complete certainty about that since no autopsy has been taken place. The vet nevertheless assured us that there was nothing we could’ve done to save her and said that even he hadn’t expected it to happen so soon, although he had feared that she wouldn’t make it past three days. 

Aside from this gut-wrenching sadness, I also feel extremely guilty about this whole ordeal. I never wanted her to be in pain. She was our little angel and deserved to die feeling no discomfort whatsoever. And now she probably died from a heart attack, which I can only imagine must’ve been an extremely painful ordeal. I feel like our choice to decline euthanasia robbed her from a peaceful death. We had a chance to let her go softly, which the vet said was the last kind thing we could do for her, and we refused. She might’ve died in our arms but she did so suffering. Was it selfish of us? I know that if we had allowed the immediate euthanasia, the whole family likely would’ve been left in utter disbelief and feeling like we had just let the vet kill our dog without understanding that she truly was that sick and without any goodbyes. It still kills me to this day that I couldn’t be present for my previous dogs’ euthanasia so I know I would’ve been devastated if I wasn’t there for hers AND hadn’t been able to say goodbye either. Should we have pushed those feelings aside and fully committed to what the vet was insisting on? What was the better option: suffering a painful death surrounded by her family or receiving a peaceful death after a her terrifying experience with the vet? Both sound like something I didn’t truly want for her. She deserved to go quietly in her sleep, not covered in blood fighting for her life. Did we make the wrong choice?  I truly don’t know……

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Rookiesmama
Shana,
Never apologize for long text....we're all here to listen and cry together. 💜 I am so sorry for your loss. I can't tell you if you made the wrong choice, because the choice you made is such a personal thing, and you decide what you decide in the moment, based on the information you have available to you then. For me though, I've had both experiences: where (in my opinion) I waited too long, and my dog leaving was a lot harder than expected. At the time we decided to let her go on her own, because the previous days she just seemed sleepy, and we thought it would be an easy transition. This time around with my Rookie (11 weeks ago), I had to make the decision to help him. He had sustained a sudden injury and wasn't eating or drinking anymore. I can tell you in both situations I made my decision because of the love for my animals, and even though I sometimes still feel I chose wrong, I know they were loved and I did what I thought was best. I hope this makes sense. Try not to beat yourself up.... your girl knows how much she was/ is loved. May I ask her name? I will keep you both in my prayers. 💜
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Sil
Selene,

I am sorry for your loss of your sweet doggie.  And, just as Rookiesmama said "never apologize for a long text" - we are all here because, we are suffering from a loss of a beloved fur/feather baby.  When, my beloved male doggie, Sol was diagnosed with his medical condition, I knew that "our time together was coming to an end".  I was not sure how long.... but, I knew.  When the "time came" and the vet said, "when you are ready...." - I decided to keep Sol with me and just make him comfortable with medication.... but, on "that day", Sol wanted to be outside and we took him outside along with his blanket ….he was suffering, and I decided to take Sol to the vet.... I came inside the house to get my car keys and take my "own" medication.... came running outside and Sol had said "good bye".  I kept asking Sol, to "forgive me" - I felt so much guilt.  And, the guilt has tortured me …..

So, I do understand your guilt.....but, I know that we both never intended to cause our pets any harm, and at "that" moment, our hearts are experiencing so much pain.  Your sweet girl knows how much she is loved.
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Selene
Thank you both very much for your kind words and for sharing your own experiences. It means a lot to me. Her name is Luna and she was very loved until her last moments. Even now. I hope this guilt will lessen over time. I know at that time, I couldn't bear the thought of losing her so suddenly and neither could any of my other family members. The morning of the appointment she was still jumping and playing around, it seemed so unreal that she really had such an enormous tumour inside of her. So we thought she would've had at least one full day left, maybe more.... 

I also recall asking her for forgiveness an hour before she died. When I noticed she couldn't lie down comfortably, I gently let her rest in my arms. While she seemed more at ease, it was clear that her loud breathing wouldn't allow her to sleep. I remember feeling so scared that she might suddenly start choking. It was then I feared that we might've made the wrong decision. The fear of her dying in pain hurt me more than the realization that she'd probably be euthanized the next day. I kept telling her I was sorry about all this, that if only I had known, that I loved her so much....Silently hoping that if she somehow were to die that night, she would just softly drift away. If only it happened that way. 

I suppose we'll have to live with the choices we made, knowing that we did what we thought best at the time. Even if I knew back then what would happen, I think I'd still have a difficult time deciding since she would've felt scared and alone at the vet.... I'll try to remind myself of the good times she still had that day. How she was 'smiling' when she saw me again after the appointment despite feeling hazy from the painkillers. How she was squaking with excitement when we drove home and saw we had brought out her favorite bed and toys for our 'sleepover'. Not that she had the strength to play anymore but she seemed happy about it. How she walked up to each of us during the night, as if she wanted to lay beside each of us one last time before she had to go.... I know she loved us very much and didn't want to leave us either. We'll never forget her and the joy she brought us.
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opus
Selene,

I am sorry for your loss of Luna.

I am currently grieving the loss of my cat Jace 2 weeks ago yesterday but I also had a dog named Sammy that died at home a few years ago under somewhat similar circumstances.

Sammy’s death was not as peaceful as I had hoped it would be and it was not quick. She labored in her breathing for hours and hours. Now, years later I can take comfort in the fact that she at least died naturally, and at home.

Jace I felt I had to have euthanized. And although I know from reading other people’s accounts of what they went through at the vet when having their pet euthanized that it wasn’t that bad of an experience it was traumatic for me, it was traumatic for my poor Jace, and of course it wasn’t natural or at home. Not at all peaceful. Not what I wish had happened. And I couldn’t change it.

You gave Luna time to say goodbye to each member of your family right before she passed in her home with her family nearby. I know she went away from you and hid but she knew you were there. She knows how much you love her.
You know she knows just as you know she loves you.
Jace, I love you greatly and I always will.
Be free from pain and disability and take joy in your new life across the rainbow bridge. May we be united again someday.

In the meantime I hope I can find peace and the support I need to get through this pain.
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Mistysmama
Yes Luna felt pain. But it was a very fast pain and at least she was where she loved and trusted -everything around her and those she was with who she knew were a comfort in her last moments.
On the other hand, to pass "kicking and screaming" in a place she was afraid and unsure of (the vet's) may have been a much worse pain for her.

My feeling is whatever the outcome she probably wanted to be at home.

It is a horrible dilemma. I can see how hard that has been for you.

We want to spare them every bit of pain but nature doesn't always allow that. We humans go through terrible pain also and sometimes the kindest sweetest people have pain beyond bearing. Pain is an awful part of this life it seems. We want to protect them from every tiny bit of it but sometimes that isn't possible.

Sometimes they actually leave their bodies at the end even though they still appear to be conscious. The pain might not have lasted as long as it appeared to do from your point of view. Sometimes they are already out when the body is in the throes. Strange though it may seem.

And now Luna is right out. Free of anything that hurts, and full of love and remembrance of you every second. And the life she has just lived with those who cared for her and loved with all their hearts.
They live on after "death" and their Souls continue to love us. Blessings to Luna.
Hold the love like a little light. It is all you have, or will ever have, to find your way home.

Misty's Blog..a Dogfight with Cancer http://www.mistysblog69.blogspot.co.uk

Misty's life after death: http://www.dog2spirit.com
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Sil
Selene,

What a beautiful name Luna = Moon.  

Like everyone else stated - "We never want our fur babies to experience any pain".  But, life is so unpredictable.  JennyTeddy has a beautiful quote, that expresses our feelings towards our babies....

"If Love Could Have Saved You, You Would Have Lived Forever...."
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