Hello all,

I made the decision to put my dog down about 3 months ago and I am struggling big time. Rhyley was the absolute love of my life. I have never felt as loved by anyone or anything like I felt loved by Rhyley, and I have never felt love for anyone or anything more than her. She was almost 13 when she passed, and she was with me from age 19-31 so we went through a LOT together. She was the most intelligent dog I have ever met; she was really more human like than dog like. I could see the emotion in her eyes and could tell if something was even just SLIGHTLY off with her, picking up on things that no one else would ever have noticed. We had a connection that I'm not sure I will ever experience again. I just loved her with every fiber of my being, and for 12 years my entire life revolved around caring for her and making sure she had the best life possible. We went on vacations together, moved over 10 times including cross country twice, hiked together, ate most meals together, etc. She was a part of everything. I truly felt like our souls were tied together, and now I feel like a piece of my soul is missing.

This paragraph tells the story of her illness; you can skip this paragraph though if you just want to address how I'm feeling currently. Rhyley developed pancreatitis in mid-May and recovered after a week of at home symptomatic treatment. However, she began vomiting again daily in early June. At first her appetite was normal. I had an abdominal ultrasound done on her which just showed pancreatitis again. So again, I managed her symptoms for 2 weeks. Her appetite began to decrease to the point where I would have to majorly coax her to eat. So 2 weeks later, I had another ultrasound done which showed an area of thickening in her stomach. They weren't sure what it was and said it may just be inflammation. They recommended additional symptomatic treatment and to recheck in 2 weeks. So I continued treatment at home but she got to the point where she wouldn't eat at all on her own, so I was syringe feeding her for the last 3 weeks of her life. At her last ultrasound, her entire stomach wall was now thickened and very abnormal. The area of pancreas had some strange cyst like structure associated with it. They tried to obtain a needle biopsy under sedation, but it was non-diagnostic. The doctors were highly suspicious of stomach cancer. They did go ahead and perform a scope of her stomach and obtained some samples that way, but again they were non-diagnostic. They did not recommend exploratory because of the likelihood of complications, and advised against a feeding tube. So basically they made me lose hope at the end because it was either do those things or just put her to sleep. I didn't want to hospitalize her because she always had severe cage anxiety and got stressed around strangers, so I kept treating her at home. In the last week of her life, she began to not want to get out of bed in the mornings and would wake up at night obviously uncomfortable. She would stand there next to me on the bed in the middle of the night making a small wincing/whining noise. I would have to just pet her and tell her it would be okay and eventually she would lay back down to sleep. I think that's when I knew this was not going to end well. She always used to get excited about going to potty in the morning, but in that last week she would just slowly mosey outside and stand in the grass for a while before peeing. She would sometimes vomit her medications or regurgitate her food after being syringe fed. In that last week she just looked so miserable. She didn't want to take her pills and hated being syringe fed. Her eyes lost their spark. She would actually try to hide from me when she saw me in the kitchen making her food. This all broke my heart. I loved her too much to see her miserable. On her last day, I told her "the pain will be gone soon". She wouldn't drink water at all in her last two days, but actually ate a small amount of cheese and rotisserie chicken on her last day. I had lap of love come to my house and she tried to nip at the vet when she grabbed her paw. I was able to calm her down and she did go peacefully.

Right after Rhyley was put to sleep, I did feel a sense of relief that she was no longer suffering. But that first week without her, I couldn't sleep, could barely eat, and was just going over and over and over everything in my head 24/7. I took 3 weeks off of work to recuperate. I just feel like I pulled the trigger too soon and didn't give her enough time. I wonder if the things I did in her last week made her worse than she actually was? She had a heart ultrasound done on Tuesday morning and was fasted Tuesday night for her endoscopy on Wednesday. So she basically went all day Wednesday without eating or drinking much, though she did have some IV fluids. We spent all day Thursday at home and I just evaluated her behavior that day. I did administer some fluids to her and fed her whatever she would eat which was not much. Then Friday is when she was put to sleep. Although she was sleeping the vast majority of the days in her last week, she would still get little adrenaline rushes and bark or show a little energy; she definitely wasn’t herself but I wonder what if she would have gotten better and was here now? Did I do this too soon? Did I cause her to get worse by doing those procedures...I keep wondering - what if I had done the surgery and it turned out to be something treatable (I was afraid of complications and making things worse or her dying on the table)? Why did I not try a week of steroids to see if she responded (again, I was afraid of her getting worse)? Why did I not have fluids given to her (she hated being poked by needles)? Why did I not purchase a can of every food in the pet store to see if she would eat (I was afraid of making her pancreatitis worse)? Did I give up to soon? Did my life circumstances (being let go from my job AND selling my house all while this was happening) influence my decision? I keep thinking of all the time I didn't spend with her. I was pretty much with her 24/7 the last month of her life, but when she was younger why did I not take her to work every day since she was allowed there? Why did I go out with friends instead of spending time with her? Why did I not take her to more fun things? I am not suicidal, but I don't care if I die at this point because 1, I believe I will be reunited with her and 2, I won't have to live with these feelings of guilt anymore. I do plan to see a therapist, but they can't see me for another 2-3 weeks. I'm really scared that I'm going to have to live with this guilt for the rest of my life and I worry that at some point I will become suicidal. How do you live with yourself when you chose to end your beloved pet's life?
Quote 0 0
Dear Rhyley's Mom,

I am so so sorry for the loss of your dear fur one Rhyley...there are no words to describe the emotions, the sense of emptiness, the guilt and the aloneness.  Your bond with your girl is strong - and enduring - above all remember this, hold on to this.  Her story of pancreatitis and then cancer and her symptoms and behaviour are so eerily similar to those of one of my girls lost.    And, your guilt...and the what ifs and maybes...Oh, Rhyley's Mom...truly I understand and empathize with this.  Guilt is because you love her so - because her very being is in your hands...and to make that fateful decision - well, there is no comparison in life's experiences for this.  Yes, there is that glimmer of hope, that perhaps as our special fur ones are so so resilient - perks of their 'old' personalities and perks of that appetite coming back...just maybe...I have been travelling this road myself - maybe she would get better...however Rhyley's Mom - we know within our heads the reality is not so - it is our hearts that grasp onto that last bit of hope and punish ourselves for everything we did, and did not do.  Guilt is, well it is guilt - why didn't I spend more time with her?  why didn't I give her one more chance?  why did I feed her this? and not this?  Why? why? why?  The well-being, the lives of our fur ones are in our hands from that first day - they rely upon us to make decisions and the most important decision we need to make for them is indeed the most difficult for us.  To let go, to let our fur one move onto that next adventure without us - and to be alone.  We are so fortunate, so lucky to meet and live with our 'heart-dog' - our canine soul mate...and then to have to let go of them physically is a pain that is without comparison.  While our fur ones just know it is time, we (with our logic and intellect) refuse to believe there is no more time for us physically together here.  Please, please, please do not let guilt move in and stay well past its time...You know with your mind, because you were guided by your heart each and every day, that you did the absolute best for Rhyley given the time in a day, and the information and knowledge you had.  She loved you completely and purely each of those days as you did her, and it didn't matter to her that it was at home, travelling, in the park or for 10 minutes together or 24 hours together...She knows she is loved, she is cared for and in turn loves her special mom without guilt, without condition and without any blame.  Your bond is forever - and while today it doesn't feel like it - Rhyley is still with you.  She is forever yours -  I believe each dog that comes to our lives has a purpose...and that purpose is us.  You were and are still Rhyley's purpose - she is your 'heart-dog' for a reason, and you remain her purpose although she and you may be physically separated.  I read once a while ago, once bonded, human and canine remain so no matter what may happen...the bond can not be broken by time, distance or physical separation.  The two souls are together - and will always find a time, and a way of reconnecting physically and spiritually.  Crisis, monumental life changes and decisions never come alone,  we seem to be pulled, pushed all at the same time...life - but nothing would influence your decision but your love for Rhyley.  Nothing would interfere in you doing what was the best for her...You did indeed release her with her dignity, her grace and because of love, not because of anything else.  
This 'journey' is just that Rhyley's Mom, a journey...often it feels as if there are two steps forward and then four steps back...it is just a road upon which we tread...Grief and sorrow I have come to believe do not come to an end, because the love doesn't come to an end...Grief and guilt create the stones of that road and each step we take is a step in learning how to live without our special fur one's physical companionship.  It is a process...and I feel time doesn't heal, but merely is the framework within which we learn how to live differently and carry always our sorrow somehow, some way...
Rhyley's Mom,  talk with your girl, write to your girl and lean upon the shoulders of some very very kind people on this forum...who truly understand and are walking that same road as you.  You do not have to travel this road alone...And remember always, your bond with Rhyley is forever and always.  She is now riding upon your shoulders - your guardian fur angel who will never abandon her Mom, never.  She will hear each word, see each tear and listen for each beat of your heart.  She is ready for her next adventure - and will be ready always to check in and on you...and you will be for always her purpose...
Rhyley's Mom - sending you warm thoughts of peace within the storm of grief - please do not hesitate to message or write - our girls' stories are very similar - and from diet to biopsy to steroids to maybe surgery - I have been down the 'rabbit-hole' of grief, guilt drowning in tears too.  
Wishing but a moment in time today, when you just 'know' your girl is with you still...Hearts entwined and encircled with silky golden threads of love ad loyalty.

Quote 0 0

Dear Hillary,

I am very sorry for your heartbreaking loss of your beloved "Rhyley." It is so evident in all of your words how much you completely loved and adored your girl.

Unfortunately so many of us here on the forum are also heartbroken as you are, but the good news is we have been able to help one another through the grief process by sharing our feelings, experiences, and information here. This forum has been a true Godsend for me. I'm not sure if I would still be alive if I had not come across it, as so many others here have also admitted. Please know that you are not alone Hillary. There are people from all over the world here who are caring, compassionate, understanding, wise, insightful and warm and loving individuals. 

When it comes to Rhyley, by what you wrote please know that you did absolutely everything that you could to try and save her. The endless 2nd guessing we have learned is just a part of the grieving process. It is a trick of the mind. Our brains are desperately endeavoring to reanalyze everything that occured to try and circumvent what happened. But as we know, that is impossible. Eventually the 2nd guessing will subside.

As you may know, an average dog's lifespan (in the wild, if they are a mid-sized dog) is only around 10 years. We automatically can extend their lifetimes and quite often cheat death, by providing them with regular food & water, protection from the weather / elements and natural predators by giving them shelter, occasional trips to the Vets for treatment and medication, and love and affection (which contributes to their wellbeing.) But the truth is dogs are only really biologically designed and engineered to live 10 years. So your Rhyley lived well past the average lifespan of a dog. As short as that time seems. (Note: the average lifespan of a cat on the street or wild is only 2 to 5 years.)

With my own final choice to put my boy down (an orange and white Tabby cat named "Marmalade"), what contributed was him moaning one night, all night long, as we slept. He was near completely deaf so did not know that he was making that sound and that I could hear him. He too could not eat or sleep. I DID go to the pet store and bought him all kinds of different types of foods and brands, but it made no difference. He shrieked when he heard me opening a can of catfood twice (which he had never done before.) He was becoming a shadow of his former self. He was deteriorating on my watch, and I could simply not allow that to happen, even if I was going to be all alone and devastated beyond words. I had to remain strong and courageous for my boy the way that you were for your girl. 

They say "You will know when the time has come" and I am sure that you and I knew it was time for our beloved's to be released from their pain & suffering. My lad did not like going to the Vets / Animal Hospital and being poked / prodded, injected, man-handled, sedated, operated on, wearing bandages or cones etc. He hated it. And in the end I felt he had a right to say "Enough!" I owed him that. I owed him his dignity.

I was so distraught I had to go to a 24 hour psychiatric hospital and obtain a prescription for antidepressants. I am still brokenhearted and overwhelmed with grief, remorse, regret and guilt, but I am taking it one moment, one hour, one day, one night, one week and one month at a time. That is all any of us can do. Continue to travel through time and allow our built-in healing mechanism (which is each of our birthright)  to do its job. 

They say by our being willing to end our beloved's pain & suffering, we than must absorb their pain & suffering onto ourselves. And process it through our grief. That is the bargain that we make. That is what many of us are experiencing. 

My sincerest condolences,
Quote 0 0