I made the decision to euthanize my almost 13 year old Chihuahua, Abra, about a month ago. She had heart problems but was fairly stable for quite some time, but this summer her condition deteriorated pretty quickly. After an extremely stressful week where she was at the vet or pet emergency several times, we got her stabilized on a serious medication regimen. She had about three weeks where she seemed to be in good spirits and was even doing better in some ways than she had before the health crisis. I was anticipating I would have to make a decision about euthanasia and had started talking to the vet about it. I even thought it would happen pretty soon. But when my beloved companion started to go downhill on a Friday morning, I panicked. I was terrified that if she really tanked over the weekend, I would be faced with the choice to watch her suffer until Monday, or take her to the emergency vet in our town--where I could not go into the building with her (due to COVID) for treatment or, worse, if she needed to be euthanized. I made a decision on that Friday to put her down, before things got really, really bad and scary. Maybe they wouldn't have, though. Maybe I made the wrong choice. 
Now, I cannot stop second guessing my decision. Her death was very "peaceful" as the vet said it would be, but I still feel it was wrong somehow, that I killed her, that she knew. I keep replaying her death in my head over and over--it is absolute torture. I am still crying--sobbing--every day, and I still can't believe she is gone. 
I do not believe my dog is in "dog heaven" or has "crossed the rainbow bridge," so that doesn't bring any comfort. I do believe her spirit is still out there somewhere, but that her unique being is completely gone. 
I would appreciate hearing anyone else's experience with guilt and euthanasia, and how you got through the extreme grief. 
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Hi Helen731, my deepest condolences on your little Abra. 💖 It's a pain like no other. I'm a Chi mom of 2 and lost one of my boys in February. I experienced many things you describe, fear of things getting worse, feeling like I spared my boy, then like I killed my boy, then like I acted too soon. You will see it's a common theme (from nearly everyone if it's us making the decision or 'natural' death) that we constantly go back and forth questioning ourselves. Apparently this is normal, but it is also torture as we replay the events that unfolded and the guilt takes over. You're not alone in your thoughts or grief. It's been 203 unbelievable days for me and I literally just had a break down.  I came here as this is where I find solace.  It's tough many times due to all the heartache, but the forum may help you relate to others. 

I've read several books after my baby passed and the one that helped me most with my grief is: Only Gone from Your Sight. Written by a therapist who lost her heart dog and from his narrative. I wasn't sure at first with the style, but it turned out very helpful. (Albeit I still cannot read 'Acceptance') 

I feel the doggy heaven and rainbow bridge are nice ideals to help some of us cope.  I've been in touch with some animal communicators who feel their spirits go on. I too believe this, but had a hard time feeling this at first, but with each day do feel my boy close to me. 

Sending lots of comfort your way in this most difficult time.

added link to book:

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I go back and forth questioning every decision I made that last week with my 17 year old boy.  I can logically think about the decision that we made to end his suffering but still miss him so bad and think often what if.  I have to believe that I did what was best for him at the time with what I knew at the time.  You are not alone in your guilt I believe it is a normal part of grieving.  
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Thank you for your post because I needed to read your story.  It is so similar to mine because my sweet Joey, age 14, was also diagnosed with congestive heart failure.  His symptoms were not near as severe as Abras, but I made the decision to have him euthanized.  I read and researched everything about congestive heart failure, including "better too soon than too late", "Will he get any better, no", "in cases of congestive heart failure where pain is involved better too soon than too late", "there is no cure", "the slide from stage 3 to 4 is sudden", "these dogs can't breathe", " on and on.  His dog sitter of 11 years said it was time and my vet said she would never euthanize a pet if she didn't think it was time.   I too thought about how hard it would be for both of us dealing with suffering and death on my own in the middle of the night or rushing him to the emergency vet.  I made the decision to euthanize him   His death was peaceful, I called it a good death.  

Then a few days later the guilt began and it is 6 months later and I feel even worse than ever.   I felt I did it for selfish reasons because I had to give up so much to become a full time caregiver for him and because of my weakness in not being able to deal with the side effects of medications and coping with his suffering.  

When I read your story it is obvious you made the right decision.  When I read other people's story who go through this I see they made the right decision.  It is just my story where I made the right decision for both me and my boy.

One book that does help is Sacred Gifts of a Short Life: Uncovering the Wisdom of Our Pets End of Life Journeys by Liz Hernandez.  I had a counseling session with her and it also helped.

However, bottom line is I still have no answers to make the pain go away.  I tell my story only to let you know you are not alone.

I wish you and all of us here on this forum peace and only good memories for our departed pet.

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