Last Thursday my 12, almost 13, year old mix Dozer was diagnosed with cancerous blood tumors in his spleen.  We were told the cancer had likely already spread so the surgery would not extend his life, but would significantly improve his quality of life for the 4-5 months he was expected to live past diagnosis. We were willing to do whatever we could to make him feel better, and I'm pretty sure I would have spent my last dime if it could have made him not be in pain anymore. The vet said we could do the surgery to remove the spleen, but he was too anemic at the time so we would have to get his blood and platelet count up before we could do so.  So he gave him some IV steroids, and sent us home with prednisone and antibiotics to give him an order to keep him resting.  We did everything by the book and he seemed to be getting a little stronger on Saturday.  

Then, last night he couldn't get up to move around the house and started breathing very heavily even while laying down.  We rushed him to the emergency vet who more or less told us he was shocked he was still alive with the blood count being so low.  He said he could do a blood transfusion along with giving him platelets and then attempt to remove the spleen about 3/4 of the way through the surgery.  But he also told us, if after starting the blood transfusion they discovered he was in the best possible condition for the surgery, there was only a 25% chance he would survive the surgery.  The emergency vet was very concerned, though, that he was still actively bleeding from one of the blood tumors rupturing which would make the blood transfusion basically useless.  And, he would have to keep Dozer there overnight to do the blood transfusion and the surgery.

Dozer has been with me every day for the entire 13 years of his life, and doesn't even like being left at the groomers for a couple of hours to get bathed, so I knew he would be upset and stressed to be left at the hospital that wasn't even our normal vet whom he was familiar with and liked.  While my husband has been with Dozer for the last 4 years too, he was definitely my dog who had been with me from the time I turned 18.  He was there with me in college and through every adventure after, and he went everywhere with me.  Having to make the decision right then, and seeing how miserable and hurting he was, I just couldn't bare to put him through being left at a strange place and those being his last memories.  We decided to let him pass on so he wouldn't have to be in pain anymore, just a couple of weeks short of his 13 birthday.

Now I feel overridden with guilt at not having tried everything possible last night to give him a chance to live.  I knew he wouldn't live forever, but I honestly though I would have 2 or 3 more years with him before we got to this point.  And even though I knew he would likely be sick again in 4-5 months, I would have paid any amount of money to give him that time to experience all the things he loved to do at least one more time. Between the guilt that I didn't try every possible measure, and the loss of my very best friend/baby, I just don't know how to be ok without him here.  Any advice from anyone who has been in this type of situation is greatly appreciated because I feel like I will never be able to move on from this grief.
Katie - Dozer's Mom
Quote 0 0
I'm so sorry for your loss Katie. I had a similar situation with my dog Kasper; he was a 12-year-old Maltese. He had been riddled with health issues for the last three years; the first one being liver shunt. I got him through that and he was doing well; then he started walking with a head tilt and whining and circling. At first they thought it was a brain tumor but it turned out to be scoliosis with multiple disk herniations, also increased fluid on his brain and something called COMS which is a birth defect (caudal occipital malformation syndrome). Like you I was sent home with meds that did little for him but with his liver issue they were concerned about giving him too much and also he only weighed 5 lbs. Surgery wasn't a viable option as they were concerned he might not make it through the surgery and also it would offer little comfort since he had more than one disk herniation. I had to make the decision to let him go Saturday and it just broken my heart.

I too feel guilty that I didn't try more, fight more, etc. However, I have had the same vet for 12 years and I know her well enough to know that if she thought Kasper had a chance to live a normal pain free life even for a short time she would have steered me in that direction. I was surprised when she told me it was time to let him go - I think there are always going to be what ifs, but eventually you will find peace with your decision knowing that you did the right thing and that Dozer is no longer in pain but playing happily and watching over you like your own personal guardian angel. 
Quote 0 0
Hi Katie. First of all, I would like to tell you how very sorry I am for the loss of your sweet Dozer, and my heart so goes out to you. I really do understand the sadness and pain you are experiencing, as I lost my beloved cat Jasper at the young age of seven to a very sudden and unexpected illness. The suspected diagnosis was a neurological problem, possibly a brain tumor, but to this day I still question exactly what took my precious boy away, and it was so shocking to see my beautiful boy go from his strong and healthy self, to barely being able to walk or hold his head up, all in a matter of several days. When every breath he began to take was such a struggle for him, when I saw him hurting so badly and saw that look of pain and confusion in his eyes, I had to make the hardest and most devastating decision of my life, I had to love him enough to let him go.

We want so badly to keep them here with us, we want so badly for one more day, for even one more moment, but at what cost, and how can we possibly make them go through such pain, if we have the strength and the ultimate love to release them from that, and allow them to cross over into that light where they are restored once again to their vibrant self. I lost my sweet boy over a year ago, and although the sadness and dull ache in my heart is still so very much with me, I do try not to let the guilt and the what ifs consume me as it did at the beginning of this hard and long journey. When we love deep, we grieve deep, and I only wish I had the words that would help ease some of your sadness, but just always remember that you did what was best for your beautiful Dozer, and you put all of your wants and needs aside, and your precious Dozer can still feel your love for him even now, of this I have no doubt. Write to and about your sweet baby, talk to him, keep his sweet spirit alive and that special connection you shared strong, and he will never leave your heart. My thoughts are with you for peace, comfort, and hope in the days ahead, and I so understand how much it hurts, take care and know that you are not alone, and that your dear little one is always and forever watching over you.
Pamela Lynne Crawford
Quote 0 0
Yesterday, my 203 day old kitten called Bailey got hit by a car. He was killed instantly when his head hit the front of the car. He was so young and adventerous and loved to snuggle up with uus. We helped him through an allergic reaction to flea powder resulting on a rash on his neck. We were all devastated but possibly the saddest of us was his twin Toto. Today, he has been looking everywhere for him and desperately meowing for him.
We buried Bailey at the end of the garden so he could be near Toto and lit a candle whilst talking about all the good things about him.

RIP Bailey 31st August 2014 - 22nd March 2015
Bailey and Toto's best friend, James
PS sorry for all the other losses on this page. My old cat was very ill so we put her to sleep.
Quote 0 0
I am so sorry for all of your losses and can only tell you that you aren't alone in your hurting right now as I, too, am devastated. My beautiful 11-year old dog Sweet Pea died suddenly and unexpectedly in front of me last week. She was healthy; just ate a good dinner, had me throw her ball for her a few times, completely normal. And then she jumped off the couch looking like she didn't feel good, made her way to the bathroom, sprawled on the floor, convulsed a few times and died. By the time we got to the ER vet, she was totally gone. I have no idea what happened, why it happened, was it something I did or didn't do, etc. etc. I am plagued with the constant thought of why I wasn't more fast-acting and tried to save her. It's like by the time I realized what was happening, she was gone. I truly feel blind-sided. It was the most traumatic experience of my life because it was just so fast and I felt so helpless. I didn't even really get to say goodbye to her. She has a little sister dog, Daisy, who has only ever known life with her big sister around and now Daisy just looks so depressed and won't do much. Daisy is actually my dog with health problems, so I always expected she would go first and I am now white-knuckling my hope that Daisy doesn't go soon, too. I already feel like there's no way I can go on living without Sweet Pea, but if I lost Daisy, too, I really think my purpose in life would be over. I so identify with being their mom and it's my most favorite and important role in my life. The hardest part is that nobody else really seems to understand. They say to just get another dog or act like it's not that big of a deal, but I am having a harder time losing my dog than I did when my mom died. It's a love that no human love can begin to compare to for me-the love of a dog. The love of my Sweet Pea. <3

Quote 0 0
Tears are streaming down my face reading these posts. This sounds like what happened to Scooter my 12 year old dachshund. On February 5th, Scooter wouldn't eat, had trouble walking and was breathing hard. The vet said he was bleeding internally and won't make it through the day. An x-ray showed a tumor ruptured his spleen. He was great the day before. I hate to say I know how you feel but I truly do. My heart goes out to you. The heartache is terrible and the what if's are constant.

I am so sorry for your loss, this forum helps.

Jonancy...Scooters mama
Quote 0 0
Dozer's Mom,

I'm so sorry for the loss of your precious boy. The feelings you have, doubts, questions and guilt plague just about everyone here, even if under different circumstances.

I don't know if you've read any of my Golden Retriever Murphy's thread, but he suddenly started showing signs that something wasn't right in late May. He was 9-1/2. He started to fuss about and not finish his food, and a few days later completely stopped eating. He lost 6 pounds in 4 days. To make a very long and tragic story a little shorter, our wonderful local vet insisted he be hospitalized in a specialty hospital. When Murphy trotted into that hospital June 6 at 84 pounds, the specialists anticipated perhaps a 3-5 day stay. They began all sorts of tests, and the labs along with 4 ultrasounds and a CT couldn't determine the source of the problem. His lab tests were off the charts and didn't even make sense. They were baffled. On June 12 Murph underwent a huge exploratory surgery, biopsying just about everything inside him, insertion of 2 feeding tubes, etc. They discovered massive pancreatitis of, to this day, unknown cause. He had hyperbaric oxygen tank treatments multiple times a day, 5 IVs running at all times, multiple medications, high doses of pain medicine, etc. They planned to finally let him come home on June 19 as he'd improved a fair amount and they felt it would speed his recovery as he'd been away from home so long. Instead, the afternoon of June 18 his head vet called me in a panic, said Murphy's organs were all suddenly shutting down and I needed to get there immediately. They had no idea why it was happening. I rushed to the hospital which is about 40 minutes away, and they wheeled my beautiful golden boy into the Quiet Room on a cart as he could not longer stand or even lift his head, but was conscious though sedated and heavily medicated for pain. He wagged his tail at me a few times, acknowledging he knew I was there and was so happy to see me, for which I'm eternally thankful. I begged to take him home and have my local vet come to the house and put him to sleep, but Dr. Runde said there's no way he would survive the trip. I spent about 1/2 hour with him, held, stroked, kissed him, told him over and over how incredibly much I love him and how much he means to me. Then Dr. Runde sent Murphy to the Rainbow Bridge as I gazed into his eyes until he was gone. I stayed with him another 1/2 hour. He passed away on his 13th day in the hospital at 67 pounds.

When the specialists initially told me he needed the surgery right away to determine what was wrong and treat it or he'd die, I was absolutely petrified he wouldn't survive the operation. I couldn't reconcile myself with agreeing or disagreeing. By the time they wanted to do surgery Murph was in bad shape. I had demanded from day one that should something unforeseen and terrible happen, under no circumstances was he to die in that cold and sterile hospital where he was afraid and scared, surrounded by strangers doing painful things to him. He was to be home to pass away where he always felt safe and secure. They promised me he'd get back home no matter what. I'd only been allowed to visit him once on June 16 as the vets were afraid Murph would think I was there to take him home and relapse further when I had to leave without him. The vets were visibly upset over losing him, not only for my sake and because they had felt so sure he'd make it, but also because they became very attached to him. He's always been the ultimate compliant patient, never a growl or snarl or dirty look, just letting every vet do what needed to be done. Such a good and kind boy.

Each and every decision I was forced to make will haunt me for the rest of my life. Did I miss anything before the eating issue began? Did I do enough? Did I allow them to do too much? Did he think I abandoned him? Will he ever forgive me for not being able to save him and then get him back home to make his final journey like I had promised him? Does he understand he wouldn't have survived the trip home, and I had to let him go as excruciating pain that couldn't be relieved by medicine was about to set it? He was and will always be the love of my life, the best thing that ever happened to me or ever possibly could. No expense or treatment was spared, and yet he still couldn't be saved even after all he went through, the terrible pain, and how hard he fought to stay with me. His beautiful body had just worn out and couldn't fight anymore. It was time. I'll never get over what happened, I'll never understand why, and I'll never get over what I had to do. The grief is as bad today as it was June 18.

No matter how much it has devastated me and was the most difficult thing I've ever done, the only merciful thing was to let him go and relieve his agony. You did for Dozer what you felt was best for him, you did not prolong his suffering for selfish reasons. As Jasper's mom said, "We want so badly to keep them here with us, we want so badly for one more day, for even one more moment, but at what cost, and how can we possibly make them go through such pain, if we have the strength and the ultimate love to release them from that, and allow them to cross over into that light where they are restored once again to their vibrant self." Those words are so true. I think if Dozer could speak to you right now, he'd say you did the right thing. When their quality of life is gone and they can no longer do the things they love, and have only pain and suffering as their constant companions, releasing them to restored health, happiness and the company of all the precious furangels who have gone before and are waiting for them is the wisest and kindest decision no matter how much it hurts. We owe them that much after the unconditional love they've given us. But the reality is for us it's a no-win situation. This heartbreaking grief is a tremendously difficult process to work through, but please know you're not alone and everyone here understands how you feel and supports you.

Murphy's Mom (Kathryn)
"Sometimes there is a dog who is so special, he is able to wrap himself so completely around your heart it is impossible to tell where you begin and he ends."  For My Beloved Murphy, 08/31/2004 - 06/18/2014
Quote 0 0