jszlauko

Our much loved dog, Max, who we had for 11 years (he was going to be 12.5 in another month) was put down yesterday.  He was suffering from oral melanoma since May, and given 3 to 6 months to live. 

The cancer had spread upward into his eye socket, causing the eye to bulge, and fluid was building up in the cheek.  We could tell he was experiencing discomfort as at times he would pace, or rub his face into the carpet, and paw at the cancer side of his face.  Many nights he would be agitated, unable to go to sleep as he would pace around the bedroom, again rubbing his face.  Eventually though he would settle down and go to sleep.  When we took him to the vet at the time we noticed the eye bulging, the vet said he probably would not last a month...that was 2 weeks ago.

A couple days ago he actually spat out a tooth, as the cancer had eaten away so much bone and tissue that the tooth popped out. 

Yesterday my wife told me that she felt it was time for him to be put to sleep.  This somewhat surprised me as Max was still eating, and doing his walks...with excitement beforehand.  However, as she spends the entire day with him at home since she works out of the house, she said that Max would just look at her, as if asking her to do something to be put at peace.  This is something I would see also at night after letting him out to go potty, as instead of just going straight to bed as usual, he would instead linger, and approach me as I walked away.  However, he would only follow me so far, stopping midway in the hallway, and just looking at me, as if he wanted something.  It was all very "out of the ordinary".  I would always hug him, and ask "what do you want?".  I suspect now that the look I was getting was the look that my wife was getting from him during the day.

So she makes the appointment yesterday at 4:45 for him to be put down.  When I arrived at home, and went to take him to the car, he assumed that we were going for his usual walk, and did his dance of excitement.  It really broke me down, and I began to cry, and think "oh my god, no Max, we're are not going for a walk", as I knew what the intention was.

When I got to the vet, I again broke down crying as I just didn't think it was time.  The vet was terrific, and said she could talk to my wife, who had stayed home, if I wanted her to.  I said no, and then we talked for about an hour as I tried to come to grips with the whole situation.  I told her how I felt it may not be time as Max still liked to go for his walks, and was still eating, and enjoyed his treats.  However, I could also see the discomfort in Max with all the face rubbing, and agitation at night.  I was also thinking that my wife, who loves Max dearly with all her heart, was seeing this anguish in Max. 

The vet explained that dogs will many times do things to just please their owner, and will temporarily put aside their pain to do so.  So even when they are in pain, or discomfort, they can pull through long enough to do an activity.  This did make sense to me as after the walks, or the potty breaks, he would go back to showing signs of discomfort.  The vet also ended up agreeing with my wife, saying that it was time, especially as the cancer had spread so quickly.  It would only be a matter of a week or so until the cancer would cause so much pain that he'd stop eating. 

So, I decided to go thru with the process of putting him down, and stayed with him to the end.

But now I wonder if I did the right thing...was it too soon?  I know it's useless at this point to wonder about it, as it cannot be undone.  But with all the emotional pain, I just can't shake this question of "was it too soon?". 

I could hardly sleep last night, as I cried and anguished about Max.  It's bad enough to have to deal with the loss, but I just couldn't let go of that one burning question "was it too soon?".

The image of him being excited about going for his walk, only to be led to the vet to be put down is just burned into my mind, and it saddens me beyond belief.  I think Max probably was ready, and I certainly felt it was time during the moments I saw the look of despair many times at night. 

I feel that waiting longer would have made it easier on us, but then it would have been at Max's expense.  But then again, I guess it really wouldn't have been easier on us as looking at him in his despair would be very draining emotionally, with the feeling that we are putting him thru the discomfort because we just couldn't see him go.

I suspect there is no magical answer here.  But during this time of such intense, deep sadness, I feel I am grasping at straws for something to resolve this for me.  I've never felt such a deep emotional pain before, and I'm 57 tears old, so am no stranger to death, having dealt with that years ago when my parents passed away.

I know Max is now at peace, which is the one positive I can hold on to.  But how do I stop beating myself up with the imagery of that last fateful day, with poor Max thinking he's going for a walk, and he ends up...well...you know. 

Love you always Max. 






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Ravensmommy
I am so sorry for you loss. I lost my sweet Raven on Tuesday and I felt the exact same way you are feeling. Tonight, while I was reading another post here, I came across someone who shared what her vet told her: "Better a day too early than a day too late." You wouldn't have wanted your precious friend to suffer any more. You did the right thing. I know how much you hurt, the pain you are feelin, and the doubts you have, but remember...you did the very best, most loving, and most unselfish thing you could do for your Max.

Hugs,
Melissa (Ravensmommy)
Mommy will always love you and keep you in her heart, my dear sweet Raven.
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LillieNeko
I'm very sorry for your loss.  I was struggling with the decision to euthanise my beloved little girl last week, and when I decided that her quality of life was still okay, she went into respiratory distress.  We rushed her to the animal hospital and they couldn't stabilise her and she was euthanised.  

I was told that it only hurts so much because we loved them so much, and that euthanisia is the greatest gift that we can give them.  Before her respiratory issues, my girl was still eating and loving getting her attention from me.  I too feel that she was taken too soon, but I think that she was ready to go.  It is true, it's better to be too early than too late, and I'm sure that you saved Max from a lot of suffering, and that he's thankful.  Animals tend to hide their pain and discomfort, I'm told, so perhaps there were subtle signs that he was ready?  I find myself looking back over my girl's last weeks and trying to read into them.  

The remorse and guilt is part of the mourning process, I'm told.  I felt it--still feel it--because I euthanised my baby.  But just think--he's no longer in pain, he's whole and young again at the Rainbow Bridge.  You made the right decision, although it was hard.  By euthanising them, we take their pain, so they don't have to feel it.   Keep telling myself that as well.
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Bellamum

Hi Max's Dad,
I am so sorry that you had to say goodbye to your precious little Max.  I know the overwhelming heartache that you are experiencing and I also know the guilt and the constant questions that you are asking yourself.  I think that these doubts are common. As we love our furry companions so much and want to do the absolute best for them, we want to make sure that we got it right.  I suppose that we will never ever really know if we got the timing exactly right.  All we can do is put our dear friends first and concentrate on putting their needs ahead of ours, because as we both know, if it were up to us, we would never, ever say goodbye.

After we made the same decision for our dearly loved beagle, Bella, 7 months ago, I went through exactly the same doubt as you.  After weeks of being inconsolable and feeling so much guilt, thinking that I may have robbed her of some precious time, I wrote our lovely vet a letter outlining my concerns about the timing. I needed reassurance from someone I trusted to be an authority.  He wrote me back a lovely letter that basically said that we can never be guaranteed that we got it exactly right, but "better a day or even a week too soon, than even one day too late."  He said that we owed it to them to be able to let go when it became apparent that they were in discomfort, because the next stage, which can happen quickly, is pain and often it is extreme.  His words put my mind at ease.  I know that I never wanted to knowingly let Bella suffer pain, and I know that even if I cheated her out of a day or even a week, she left this world before the intense pain hit her. She deserved that.  So did you beautiful boy, Max.  

I now think of it as giving Bella the last, most loving gift that I could ever give her. I ignored my desire to keep her by my side and I thought only of her needs and what she deserved.  She deserved to be released from her suffering.  She gave me so much every day of her life and it was my turn to give her one last gift.  It was a hard gift to give, but I am now glad that I was able to bring myself to give it to her.  I know that she would be so thankful.  So would Max.  

I hope that soon you are able to let go of the guilt and the doubts and be proud of yourself for putting Max first.  When you can let go of these feelings, it will make your grieving easier.  The guilt and doubts adds another difficult dimension to something that is hard enough to cope with. We will love and miss Max and Bella for the rest of our life, but we are willing to pay this price for the wonderful gifts they shared with us. They are priceless gifts.  We were so lucky!

I wish you peace and healing.  Know that Max is thankful and I believe that he will be waiting for you when it is your time.

Karen
(Bella, Charli and Buddy's very lucky mum)

My gorgeous girl, Bella  26/07/2004 - 03/04/2014
"You were once by our side, but you will be forever in our hearts. Until we meet again baby girl."
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jszlauko
WOW!  Thank you all so much for the input!  I was thinking before posting here that I was the only person on the planet who felt that I had done the "act" too early.  It seems everything you read and hear says that the dog will stop eating when it's time, or stop doing other things that it normally enjoys, like playing with toys, or going for walks.  That is what got me stuck in my doubt of timing, as Max was still doing all those things.  However, it was said here and by my vet, that dogs will hide their pain and discomfort from us.  This seems to make sense with Max where he would still get up to do the walks, and eat, and take treats, but then would show signs of discomfort as he couldn't sleep, or would stare at me in despair. 

The "better a day too early than a day too late" is just what I needed to hear...Thank you so much for that!  It's just like I was thinking in that we could have held out longer, but then it would have been more days of Max being in discomfort...and only getting worse every day.  My wife's intent was to prevent Max from feeling any more discomfort than he already was in, and I eventually accepted that, as tough as it was.  I too couldn't stand to see Max suffer, and knowing it would only get worse was the thing that, at the time, got me to do the "ultimate gift".  So hard though, as we all know, but I like to think he is at peace, and feeling fortunate to have had such loving, caring owners.  Amazing how special these furry friends are! 

I'll keep reading replies, here and elsewhere, but so far this has been a great help!  Thank you all again for your input! 
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Katel
Yes you did the right thing, please don't doubt that.  I pts my little Danny 3 weeks ago.  He had been also
living with bone cancer in the skull that caused the eye bulge and I saw the bone rot right down the
side of his face on the X Ray.  He did outlive the prognosis and ate well and loved his walks, but I vowed to him I wouldn't let it progress too far to cause pain.  When it happened it happened
suddenly   On the Tuesday he was still eating, and had a good walk though threw up in the
evening.    On Wednesday morning he could not stand up.  I knew it was time so I bundled him up and took him on his last journey.  The vet said he could put him on fluids and maybe give him a couple more weeks but I had to spare Danny that.
For all i know Danny was in pain earlier, since I've read that dogs hide their pain.  I don't know. I think you had your sign when your Max lost his tooth.  He would have begun to feel the pain then.
Please accept my sympathies for your loss, i understand your pain, and I pray you will find some peace in the knowledge that you did what had to be done out of love for Max and he will be thanking
you for it.
Kate   
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jszlauko
An earlier photo of a healthy Max:
Max.jpg 

I'm so glad this forum exists.  It's already provided some comfort and reassurance.  Sill get overwhelmed by emotions at times, like when viewing an old photo, or stumbling across one of Max's tennis balls (the guy could never have enough tennis balls!).  In talking more with my wife, I'm thinking that Max may have been more ready to go than I thought.  Along with his look of despair and the agitation as he tried so hard to rub the cancerous side of his face, it turns out, according to my wife, that Max was no longer getting up off his bed during the day when she presented a treat to him. 

Even when she was opening the bag of cheese, which he absolutely loved to eat, he would just lie there on his bed, barely even lifting his head.  He would also hardly move when she went over to pet him.  Normally he would raise up and get a bit perky, but the last few days he wouldn't even lift his head.  Then, on the morning of the fateful day, she said that he refused to touch his breakfast, and at first even turned down a piece of chicken...another one of his favorites.  He finally did eat his breakfast once I got up, but he left behind quite a few of the kibbles, which was not normal. 

So, perhaps it was indeed, beyond a doubt, his time to go.  Still saddens me, of course, but all of you have been so great with your support.  Thank you!  I think Max thanks you all too...I'm sure it must sadden him to see me hurt.  He was always such a sensitive dog.
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SK1944
I'm very sorry for your loss. You DEFINITELY did the right thing. In my own case with Pepper, my dog, I didn't wait that long. She too could eat. No longer take walks or even hardly walk. But from what you say, your baby very much had come to the time to be let go with dignity. As your vet says, dogs pretend a lot. They will act like they think you want them to act. But if you'll look into their eyes and watch their body language, you'll see what's really going on inside that wonderful thing.

Don't second guess yourself. I think all of us do that no matter how we deal with end of life issues for our pets. But it would have been so wrong to let it go on another minute. Please know that you provided the greatest love to your pet by letting it go peacefully into painlessness. You and your wife made the right decision. I'm so sorry and hope you heal and know you did right.
Pet Parent to a wonderful diabetic cat, Buddy. He's all I have left and spoiled rotten. I've had a chain of pet losses the last few years and it doesn't get easier.
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Bellamum
What a beautiful boy your Max was, and still is.  I love the great big "smile".  He would be smiling down on you now and saying thank you as he runs and plays with not a care in the world.  Thank you for the wonderful life and endless love that you gave me and thank you for knowing when to let go.  Letting go is one of the hardest things we ever have to do, but we do it to be fair to our sweet friends. It is that final act of deep, deep love.
I wish you peace and healing.  I hope that you can soon remember Max with more smiles than tears...although the tears will still come down the track, and often catch you by surprise.  That is the price of true love.  A price that we willingly pay for the pure joy and love that we shared. We were blessed beyond our wildest imagination.
Karen
(Bella, Charli and Buddy's very lucky mum)

My gorgeous girl, Bella  26/07/2004 - 03/04/2014
"You were once by our side, but you will be forever in our hearts. Until we meet again baby girl."
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