What a terrible weekend! My son was swimming in the Junior Olympics in NJ.  My husband and I took him while my daughter and our 5 y/o Shih Tzu stayed with my mom in PA (where we're from).  On Friday I got a hysterical call on my cell phone from my daughter saying that she had been playing withToby, our Shih Tzu, and he let out a scream and now he was dragging his leg behind him.  I originally thought he had a stroke but he just got worse every minute.  I wanted to come home but my mom kept telling me no, stay there, we can handle this.  They took him to a vet who said he felt that Toby had a ruptured disc and he wanted him seen by a neuro surgeon on Monday.  He gave them 2 types of pain killers and 1 steroid to give him.  By Saturday afternoon, he was so bad that he had no feeling at all in his hind quarters.  I guess he would feel that he had to go to the bathroom but couldn't control it and would start screaming and trying to run in a circle just dragging his back legs behind him while bitting at his rear end.  Then he would just fall over and lay there.  No one could get the medicine into him because he wouldn't let anyone near him without bitting them.  By Saturday evening, he was so bad that my mom and my sister had to put him in his crate and just leave him there because they were afraid he would hurt himself if he was able to get around the house, he was peeing all over, and he bit my sister so hard he drew blood when she tried to pick him up to take him outside to the bathroom.  We left my son with team mates and my husband brought me to my moms house, dropped me off, and went back to NJ to be with our son.  I was up with Toby all night Saturday night as he just kept crying and spinning around in circles in the crate and falling over.  It was the worse thing I've ever seen.  It just broke my heart.  Sunday morning I called the neuro surgeon that the vet had given me the number for and they actually have an emergency hospital for pets that's open 24/7 and they told me to bring him in right away (which I wish the vet had told them on Saturday, they could have taken him in then).  The vet there told me that she felt that indeed he had ruptured a disc and that the tests that she did showed he had no deep pain sensation at all, so basically he was paralyzed from behind the front legs back.  She said they could do surgery on him but that his chances were 20-50% for only a partial recovery and it had to be done immediately.  She felt he would probably have to use wheels and need diapers and constant care if he survived the surgery.  How do you make a decision like this??  It was the worst decision I've ever had to make.  Do I put him through the surgery in the hopes that he will recover?  If he doesn't recover fully are we able to take care of a dog in diapers who will probably need constant care?  Is it fair to Toby to have him live like that?  He doesn't want anyone cutting his toenails, how will he be with letting me change a diaper?   My daugher feels that it's her fault, do I want her seeing him in diapers for the next __ years and feeling that guilt?  OMG, so many questions, so little time to decide, and my husband not here to help me!  Honestly, it's hard to understand how bad this was if you didn't see Toby.  He was such a pitiful looking soul - it broke my heart.  In the end, I made the final decision to put him to sleep.  The hospital said they would keep him there, under light sedation to keep him as pain free as possible, until we could get the kids in to say their goodbyes.  We took the kids in that night at 9pm and had our final alone time with Toby.  It was gut wrenching.  I asked if I could stay with him when they put him to sleep and they said yes.  I felt I owed it to Toby to not let him be alone with strangers in his final moments.  He went very peacefully.

        Now, I can't stop second guessing myself.  I feel such terrible guilt that maybe I should have tried the surgery.  I know in my head that I did the right thing for Toby but my heart hasn't caught up to that thinking yet.  Coming home that night to an empty house was aweful.  His things were everywhere.  I couldn't go to work this morning and my daughter couldn't go to school.  It's as though my feelings are out of my control as I don't seem to be able to stop crying.  I'm trying to be strong for the kids but then my daughter will say something like, he's not here to cuddle up to me on the couch.  She's a mess too and can't stop crying.  She said, "I feel stupid crying like this over a dog".  I try to comfort her by telling her that a pet is a part of your family and it does hurt terribly to loose them but I feel the same way she does.  I miss him so much!!

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Dear Kathy,
I am so sorry about the loss of your beloved fur baby. I understand how difficult the decision was for you, but you made the right decision. The prognosis you were getting from the Vet was not encouraging. You set your baby free. This was a truly loving act. I know the pain you are feeling and how it crushes us. Please be strong for yourself and for your children. You came here to The Bridge, and this is a good place for you. The next few days/weeks will be difficult but you can get through them. Try and focus on the happy times you had with your companion.
Please know you are in my thought and prayers......
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I am so sorry for your loss of Toby. He was so young. My girl was only 4 and I understand how unfair it feels. The pain in the first weeks is so powerful. I am so sorry you are going through this. Toby was not just a dog he was a family member. Don't feel wrong for grieving his death.The pain will ease though we never just get over it.May you find some peace in this day.                                                  Patty
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Hi Kathy,  I'm sorry that your Toby had to leave In such an terrible way.   Sometimes our fur-babies have an condition that can't be delt with.  The doctors offer you an bunch of If's and maybes.  But from what you have said, Toby was In alot of pain.  Some die young and It's not fair, but It does happen. You did the right thing.  You loved him enough to let him go.  That's the greatest love that you can show an fur-babie Is to know when to let go.   Don't second guess your-self for you did the right thing.  They, the doctors, never said that Toby would be okay with the surgery.  You'll never forget, but you will be able to go on with time.  Maybe In time you'll be able to get another that you can love .-------------Marty 

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I, too, had a Shih Tzu and lost him at 15+ years. He was attacked by another dog in the house and it took out his only eye. The vet gave me the option of doing surgery either trying to save the eye (which meant he would not have much sight) and there was a possibility I would have to come back and have the eye removed. I, too, had a choice I had to make right then and there......do I try to "fix" him or let him go.

I'm not going to tell you that you did the right thing.....because only you can determine that for yourself. You knew Toby, you saw what he was going through and you acted based on that information and your love for him.

After I let Chipper go, I actually didn't sleep or eat for two days. On the 3rd day, I went to his regular vet (as I had put him down at the emergency vet) to discuss the report from the emergency vet and the medical risks associated with my options. In the end, I knew I had done what was best for Chipper, but my heart was so in love with this dog.....it was difficult to accept it.

You will second guess yourself, this is normal. The reminders around the house will be there and the tears will flow. The most important piece of advice I received after Chipper passed was this...."Allow yourself to grieve". Do whatever it is you need to do to "let it out". This is such an important step these first weeks.

There are many of us here that are grieving and grieve with you. We understand the feelings you are experiencing and will experience. We are here for you.

From one Shih Tzu mom to another....I am so sorry and I'm sending you a huge hug!
Chipper's Mom

Momma's Chipper Boy (9/19/95 - 1/30/11) My heart, my love, my buddy! I miss you and love you so, so much! I can't wait to see you at the bridge! Love, Mommy

Lady "Ladybugs" (8/2/03 - 6/5/17) My sweet girl. Thanks for the walks, playtime, sock collection, boo boo kisses and love you gave all of us. We will miss you dearly! Until we meet again...we love you!
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I'm so sorry about Toby. It seems we make descions in the best interest of our little babies, and then we beat ourselves up after. the what ifs can eat us alive. Trust that you made the best descion for your little one, and that he is no longer suffering.
Your loss is of a family member, not just a dog, it was pure an inconditional love. Very hard to handle for us, and for children.
The first while is the absolute worse time, and letting the tears out for all of you is so important. It will get better in time. remember you have support here. I lost Maddie 7 months ago, and my heart still hurts, but the love never diminishes. love and prayers to you and your family. Judy
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Thank you all so much for your kind words and support.  It means a lot to me to have others who understand what we are going through right now.  I will definately keep coming to this site and talking to people here.  It seems like a good way to help in the healing process.

This Saturday would have been Toby's 5th birthday.  I think we may celebrate in his honor.

Chipper's mom - I can't believe how much your baby looks like mine!!
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I thought I was getting better.  I actually made it through yesterday without crying until about 10:00 last night.  Laying in bed and not having Toby between my husband and I, all stretched out like he always was, just broke my heart.  I had to get up and have a little crying session, then I felt better and managed to go to sleep.

The worst parts of the day are when I come downstairs to leave for work thinking I have to take Toby outside and then put him in his crate before I leave.  When I come downstairs, it hits me that Toby isn't there - that heart wrenching feeling.  He used to perch himself on the back of the chair in front of the window and watch people walk by and sleep in the sun (I think he was part cat!).

Another time that is terrible is when I get home from work.  I was so used to his barking when I would open the front door.  My kids used to joke and say he was saying "you are home, I missed you, now let me out of this crate and play with me!!".  Now it is just completely silent, just another punch in the stomach.

I guess this sound morbid but I can't stop thinking that I should have taken his ashes.  They asked me before they put him to sleep what my wishes were but I was so messed up at the time that I couldn't think straight.  Now I just keep thinking that his ashes were put out in the trash with the other animals whose owners didn't take their ashes.  I know that was just his temporary clothing and that he is actually on the Bridge, but it still hurts terribly.

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