lunalovegood222
I really have to get this off my chest, I hope this isn't too long of a post. The past 5-6 years of my life have been a succession of very hard lessons, and the experience of putting my dog to sleep feels like another hard lesson I have to learn about the consequences of not listening to my intuition. I felt like I gave up on my dog too soon because I didn't pay for him to get an MRI or surgery to help his brain tumor. It would have costed over $4,000, which is basically all I have in my bank account (I am a college student). I feel very selfish for not spending this money on a dog that meant to much to me.

My question is: Is it really selfish that I wanted to let my dog die a natural death at home given his condition? Is it bad that I feel "wrong" for euthanizing him? I felt like I put him to sleep just because it was expected, or it is what everyone else does to their dogs in most cases. But something about putting him to sleep didn't feel quite right to me.

My dog was 15 this summer 2020. He had arthritis, cataracts in both eyes, and mild hearing loss. Other than that, he still had a decent quality of life. During the move out of state, we had to drive over 1,000 miles with a UHAUL on the road. My dog accompanied my family and I on the road trips back and forth between states. During this time, my dog's arthritis got worse. We took him to the vet who gave him some doggy painkillers. A few weeks later, my dog had his first seizure. During these seizures, my dog would fall to the ground and start barking. Then, he would pass out and eliminate (meaning he'd soil himself on the ground). He also started to have more accidents in the house, which he never did in the past, so that was a red flag. We took him to the vet a second time, and the vet administered him some anti seizure medication. Unfortunately, the seizures continued. It was evident that the seizures had a very negative effect on his neurological system because he started to get a bit disoriented. For instance, he would circle a lot before finding a comfortable place to lay down. At night, he would wander the rooms and couldn't find a good spot to be still and lay down, and seemed very anxious and uncomfortable. My dog had rapid, heavy breathing that became a chronic symptom for him, but we didn't know where it was coming from. His arthritis started getting so bad that he could barely walk. I would set him outside to use the bathroom, but he couldn't lift his leg to eliminate. He couldn't squat either. He just stood there, frozen.

One night, my dog was breathing more heavily and rapidly than ever. I was afraid that something bad was going to happen to him that night. I even called an emergency vet and asked them for their opinion, but they said to wait throughout the night and take him to the vet the next morning. We made an appointment with the vet for the next day. I didn't go to the vet appointment the next day because we had some workers at our house, but I told my dad to let me know what the vet said in the morning, because I wanted to be there if they recommended that my dog be put to sleep. (I was logically ready for his death, but internally, I didn't really think the vet would say that it was his time to go yet).

So...my dad took him to the vet the next morning while I stayed at home, occupied with things regarding the move. I was shocked when my dad called me on the phone and said that the vet said my dog had slim to no chance of getting better. I was sincerely expecting for her to give us some sort of new medication or treatment for my dog. The only thing she recommended is that we give him an MRI to see if he had a tumor. She guessed that he had a tumor, but she wasn't sure. My dad said that the vet could not tell us whether or not to put the dog to sleep, but the vet said the dog would continue to get worse.

My initial reaction to this was: 1) I do not think that my dog is doing as bad as the vet says he is doing, and 2) I do not think putting him down should be our first response to this problem. I spoke with my dad about other alternatives, but he said he would not pay money for an MRI because it was several thousand dollars, and there was no guarantee that the MRI would save his life. He could have had an inoperable tumor. My dad did not want to put him through surgery because of his age. My vet left the surgery choice up to us, and didn't necessarily say our dog was too old. She said he might be able to withstand surgery, but it was up to us if we wanted to risk it.

I ended up having an argument with my dad because my dad said that the dog was stressing my mom out by keeping her awake at night. That comment made me upset because 1) my dog is not a burden and 2) we should never put the stress of the move above the health of our dog. We should prioritize our dog's health instead of thinking about how stressed we are. I specifically told my dad "That is the wrong intention to have. We should never put down a dog because they are a burden. My dog is not a burden."  Although my dog wasn't healthy, I somehow felt that he had some life left in him. Also, my dad was in this huge rush. He said the vets were pushing him to make a decision right then. We were all feeling so pressured.

I asked my dad if we could take my dog home instead of putting him to sleep. My dad said: "Yes, we can take him home, but we will have to travel back up north. Then, we will risk the dog dying in the car. You'll have to be prepared for potentially burying him on the side of the road." At that point, I did not want to even think about putting my dog through a road trip with his condition. 

Anyway, I drove to the vet's clinic in a rush because I told my dad I wanted to be there for my dog when they put him to sleep. I did not want to betray my dog. I didn't want my dog to experience a horrible death in the car. I was afraid. I didn't think about the alternative options clearly...I could have easily stayed him alone while my parents drove up north. We could have postponed the trip up north for a few days. We could have done SO MANY THINGS. I don't want to type too much about the moment he passed. But the vet gave him the shot to stop his heart and he died in my arms. Basically, I put him down because I agreed to it the previous day, and wanted to follow through on my decision. Even my dad seemed unsure about the decision, and I could see the pain in his eyes when my dog was being put to sleep. 

Weeks before, my dad kept telling me "you better be ready for your dog to die," but I didn't fully believe it would happen this quickly. During this entire experience of my dog's deterioration during the move, I was completely occupied with the move and with studying for a summer course, so I didn't get to spend ANY quality time with him before he died. I really thought he would get better so I didn't prioritize quality time with him. I was in denial. Even today, my inner self says "it was too soon." and my ear rings. and I have dreams of him, still alive, but buried. I don't know how I will ever be the same again. One day, I saw a sign that said "True love doesn't give up" after I prayed to God to show me a sign about whether I did the right thing or not. All of these "signs" are really making me think I did the wrong thing.
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twodogmom
Dear Lunalovegood,

Wow. Your story is really sad, and I want to express my condolences for the loss of your precious dog. It is obvious that he was a very loved member of the family. 

You are experiencing grief in a way that many of us here are also experiencing. The experience of loss is a very hard one to endure, and many life lessons come with it. The emotions that accompany grief are varied but questioning oneself and past actions taken are definitely some that many of us experience. Whether we choose euthanasia, or experience the natural death of our fur-babies, the "what-ifs" can be endless, and it is not a bit unusual to later feel you should have acted differently.

Although you stated that there was nothing wrong with your dog besides arthritis and tumors, you also told about seizures, restlessness, inability to walk or go to the bathroom, and difficulty breathing.  And then on top of those things, your dog was in unfamiliar surroundings while moving to a new location with your family.

From your description of the events, I believe you did the right thing for your dog. You say you think he still had life left in him, but from the sound of things, he was suffering toward the end.  Maybe your dad's anxiety over his perception of the dog's suffering was the reason he seemed to pressure you. I have felt that anxiety, fearing that death could come at any time and it might not be easy for my baby. I know that with both of my dogs that were euthanized, the fear of seeing them die a painful death in front of me drove my decision for their controlled deaths, and both were peaceful. Yet I also questioned my decisions later.

You have the support and sympathy of many others who come to this site to understand their feelings and to be understood by others. I hope you will continue to post and read other posts and know that you aren't alone.

Jan

 
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lunalovegood222
Dear Jan,

Thank you so much for your kind and heartfelt words. I never thought the day would come when I would have to let go of my dog, but it came, and I truly empathize with everyone who has experienced loss. The grief process is very difficult. I especially feel guilty that I did not try harder to cure my dog by paying for his MRI and/or surgery. One of the best ways to eliminate guilt is to do everything you can to save the life of a loved one, but some hold the belief that saving an older dog isn't worth the money because they won't live much longer anyway. I would do anything to get my dog back, even if it means spending thousands of dollars. 
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P_Mom
Dear lunalovegood222, you are a compassionate young person full of love for your baby.  I'm so sorry for what you've gone through and the loss of your sweet boy.  I understand your pain and relate.  I too was going through a move with my 15 yr old boy with many of the same symptoms as yours.  

You see, I was looking for a new house on one floor to make it easier for him with arthritis and heart condition. The search started when he was 13, but due to crazy real estate market took us 1.5 years to finally win a bid and land something. Meanwhile, my boy was aging under my nose.  Then comes the insane move to the next town (I can't imagine stress out of state).  I too have tremendous guilt feeling preoccupied and stressed during this time.  Shortly after we moved, he went into kidney failure. It's been horrendous. Now I'm in a strange house without my boy. I've cried everyday since I lost him February 12.  

I truly relate and you must know it sounds like your boy was ill.  It sounds like you knew it deep down.  We all second guess and none of us are ever ready and want our beloveds here as long as possible.  Your Dad wanting him not to suffer is a good thing as you already know.  It's so utterly devastating to let them go.  Especially when life is so unusually crazy with no routine - you feel like you lost precious time with your baby you can't ever get back or make right - I know.  But the truth is, even if you weren't moving, he very likely could've been going through the same symptoms.  Was it arthritis or something more causing the restlessness and labored breathing?  Arthritis alone can be debilitating and painful, but he also may have had congestive heart failure and with more urination, beginning kidney failure.  Depending on his size, he was likely in his 70's or 80's in human age.  

Try to be gentle with yourself. Clearly you loved your boy and sadly most of us have to go through making these decisions quickly.  But it sounds like you felt immense peace for your baby and that is truly the utmost important thing.  It's amazing how in tune you are and the spiritual experience you had.

You may have already heard 'a week too early is better than a day too late'; it's a gamble sometimes waiting or probing that could cause more suffering.  Look back at what his body was dealing with - barely walking, siezures, disorientation, restlessness, labored breathing, frequent urination.  I think deep down you spared him, but miss him so much it's hard to see that now which is a natural part of grief from your deep love. ❤️

Sending you hugs and much comfort your way. 
Jennifer
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LaylaForeverinmyHeart
Dear lunalovegood222,
I am so sorry for your loss. I also lost my baby girl who was going be 15 tomorrow. I personally don’t think you could have done anything different. Putting a 15 year old dog under anesthesia is not really that safe and it wouldn’t have helped much to be honest. I think you did the right thing, you didn’t want your dog to suffer which is very understandable and compassionate of you. I too have feelings of regret for putting my Layla to sleep but I had no other choice. She had a really bad cough and after doing an x-ray, the doctor said there was something wrong with her left lung. I too didn’t want to do a cat scan to find out what it was because I didn’t want to torture her and put her under anesthesia just to find out what is was. I wouldn’t have the heart to put her through surgeries or treatments that would make her suffer even more. So when the antibiotics and the steroids stopped working, I couldn’t stand to see her suffer. She stopped sleeping at night, was so restless and anxious and would cry and bark non stop. It got real bad. I had this fear that she would eventually suffocate and I couldn’t let that happen. Trust me if I could have done something to save her, I would give up anything and everything to do it as I am sure you would also. Making that decision is the hardest thing in the world and honestly the more I read, the more I see that everyone has quilt and regrets just like me and you. Again I am sorry for your loss and I pray that God gives us strength during this difficult time and keeps our babies safe up there!

Take care,
Yana 
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P_Mom
Please try not feel guilty about the MRI.  That test alone could be very stressful to your dog in the state he was in and then if there was a tumor, surgery at that age is really rough and risky.  Anesthesia alone is dangerous plus think of the recovery period. I'm surprised the Vet even recommended it quite honestly (some vets know no bounds in my opinion, others lay out the realities).  Think of a surgery/recovery likely with complications on top of a move.  Too much for your boy.  It's not about the money, true we want to do all we can for our fur babies, but all the money in the world does not mean it will save them and sometimes can do more harm than good.  Often the outcome is the same and then guilt of putting them through all of that.  

As others have said, we all want to save and do what we can for our babies.  Sometimes the greatest (albeit hardest) gift we can give them for their love and devotion is to spare them further suffering and let them go peacefully.  It's pure agony for us, we so understand what you're going through.  James (Marmalade's) Dad taught me when we make this decision we stop their pain and take it on to ourselves.  Your boy is running, romping, and playing free of pain with the rest of ours.  ❤️❤️❤️❤️
Jennifer
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lunalovegood222
@P_Mom Thank you for being so understanding. I really did try my hardest to make the best decision. I am the type of person that wants to hold on until the very end, but the situation made it difficult to do so. I am relieved that he is out of pain now, but I miss him so much that my heart aches every day.
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lunalovegood222
@LaylaForeverinmyHeart I really appreciate your kind words. Thank you for sharing your story with me as well. It is really hard to make a decision for animals since they cannot tell us how they are feeling and what they want. We have to make that choice for them, and usually it comes with a lot of guilt. However, that doesn't necessarily mean we made the wrong choice; death is just a very painful thing, especially if your pet is very sick. I am so sorry for what you went through, but know that your pet was clearly in quite a bit of pain and would likely not have lasted much longer had you kept her alive. 
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miasara
I  am terribly sorry for your loss. I can feel the strong love you have for dog. My situation is somewhat similar. My 3 year old pup have multiple severe debilitating illnesses and a possible cancer diagnosis. A colonoscopy was strongly recommended due to a rectal tumor. But I was told surgery was not an option due to the way the tumor grew. I was told only treatment was chemo which wouldn’t cure her but only extend her life by a few months. She rapidly declined until she became only a shell of herself. I denied and denied that she was dying. Everyone told me it was time but I said no. It was only when she started crying out in pain, unable to sit or go to the bathroom and sleeping 22 hours of the day that I knew it was time. I know how hard this is. I truly feel you made the right decision. Your sweet pup is at peace now. It’s 5 months for me now without my beloved pup and it’s still difficult at times. But I like to think of her as swimming, chasing squirrels, and catching her tennis ball (all her favorite things/but things she didn’t want to do during her last few weeks)
mia sara
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Bichonz
I am so sorry for your loss. Like the rest of us here, I also think you made the right decision. It sounds like he was suffering physically and emotionally, and you eased the suffering of your dog, and like the rest of us, have taken their suffering on ourselves.  I lost my Mickey almost 3 weeks ago, and I still feel the pain of seeing him decline from the cancer.
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