Today we made that final trip to the vet with my nearly fourteen year old lab, Jasper. He was one of my best and truest friends since we got him as a puppy, and I'm having a tough time with the guilt and doubt following the decision to send him off peacefully.
He'd been on medication for arthritis in his hips for over a year, but over the last few months his condition worsened, and he was having trouble walking and controlling his bowels. Yesterday morning he couldn't stand without help, and large doses of painkillers, so we made the decision that the time had come.
I'd appreciate any perspectives or ideas you guys have. Thanks, Jonny.
Yes. Sorry for your loss.
It's hard to say. In any case, you've already done it. If it was the wrong thing to do, can you forgive yourself? If so, maybe you can live with the not knowing for sure.
I had the same situation with my 14 year-old German shepherd/collie last August. The worst thing, however, was that on that day I brought her in, she was fine. She was walking without much trouble, controlling her bowels. She even had that stupid absent-minded smile with her tongue hanging out while we were walking across the parking lot to the clinic. That killed me.
As much grief and sorrow it brought me to voluntarily end the life of my best friend, I knew it was the right choice. A dog, a human, a bouquet of roses, is nothing but nature. It has a life span. Eventually, all nature reaches its peak, its bloom, its prime, then it declines continually. It can only be slowed by the latest health medications, new dog food formula, or "everlasting flower powder." The end is always inevitable and there's a time where you just have to rip that band-aid off and make a decision before it gets worse and worse.
It taught me to enjoy every day, appreciate every moment I had with my dog, every sight of those bouquets I get my woman. Of course, I wonder of the unknown, what my dog would have been like the next day or next week or next month had I not chosen to do it. She was fine that morning, but I knew she'd be in pain again, worse than before. I don't like death of any kind at my hands. It's against my morals. But there are circumstances such as that that make me feel like I made a correct decision for myself and for her. All in all, time goes on, and so long as I live her memory and spirit are with me just as your Lab's will be with you.
I have had the responsibility to make that same journey with two of our family pets, one a 14yr old lab mix, Shadow and a 13 yr old Sheppard mix Cotton a few years later. Each decision was made for similar reasons as yours. Because they had lived the life no other dog could have wished for they simply out lived their body's. Each was having trouble seeing, rising from a laying position and when the decision was finally made, not eating right. The first time I made that trip was with Shadow it was very hard, the vet allowed me to rest her head in my lap until she was gone and it was over and then she was no longer in any pain. Then I had the terrible job of calling my parents and sister whom she had lived with some of her life, I had gotten her as a late teen and she lasted until I was in my early thirties.
With time the pain goes but the memories remain, and during holidays and special family occasions when we are all together the conversation will turn to her and we will remember the best dog's in the world.
The loss seems without end but soon you will start to feel closure.
I am sorry for your loss, Jasper knows he was loved and the decisions you made were always in his best interest, this one was no different.
You did the right thing.
A year or so after I had to put Cotton down I got Max, a Rottweiler mix, he's no Shadow or Cotton for that matter but he's only 2 and is starting to make his mark on me as well...
We had the same problem with our 14 year-old Husky.. The poor thing was suffering so much, it broke our hearts. Finally, it was time for the old girl to be pain free. We took her to the vet, and held her, comforted her right to the end... That was 8 years ago, and hardly a day goes by that one of us doesn't mention a memory of that loyal, loving old friend.
You have my deepest condolences....
I'm so sorry. I remember that day for my dog as well. He had completely lost his appetite and would not move from wherever we put him. It was difficult to see him like that and it wasn't living at all. I think what you did was absolutely the right decision.
Thanks guys, I appreciate all the support. I agree that second guessing the decision is the worst part for me; intellectually I know that it was the right thing to do, but it's not much of a comfort. We probably could've kept him going for a few more months on painkillers, but it would have been for our benefit, not his. A friend told me today; "if you waited until there was no doubt in your mind, then you waited too long."
We will be doing this with my dog on Friday. He's 11 or 12 and can no longer use his back legs, because the arthritis in his hips is so bad. I've been resisting the idea for a long time: I don't want to put him down just because he's harder to take care of in his old age, and he is otherwise in good health (ears, eyes, nose still work fine). But he can't get up without assistance any more, has a hard time controlling his bowels any more, and is likely in a lot of pain (though he doesn't appear to be, the vet said he could tell it hurt last year, when the symptoms were much lighter). So I have reluctantly accepted that it is time for him to go.
I had a dog for about a year when I was a boy, but Striker is really my first dog (I've had about 10 years with him), and I imagine that makes it harder. He still drags himself over to lie at my feet.
Any suggestions for what to do after he's buried? I like to believe they go to the Happy Hunting Ground, though I know they most likely don't go anywhere. Any poems to read or something like that which has helped others when burying their dog?
Jonny---so sorry to hear about your loss. Let me offer my sincerest condolences. I've lost beloved pets before, and I know how tough this can be. I'd encourage you to be good to yourself for the next few days--this may not have been a spouse, a parent, or a child, but it's still a loss, and it still hurts.
As far as the guilt goes, stop. Don't look back and second guess yourself. Listen: you made the best decision that you knew how to make at the time, and you did what you thought was best for your dog. That's all anybody can do--and you did it unselfishly, only thinking of what was best for him. So you're entitled to grieve and feel sad, but you're not entitled to feel guilty, nor do you deserve that.
When you're ready, find a way to memorialize your dog. You spent a lot of good years together. Take some time to think about that and be happy for it so you can close out this chapter of life remembering it as a good time as a whole, not just a traumatic thing at the end.
Yes you did the right thing for him. The first and only dog I ever loved was 12 when his hips went. He couldn't walk. That's no way for a dog to live. I had him put down the next day. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.
I'm gonna be taking my old boy out back pretty soon, I prefer to do it myself. He's suffering, I just gotta wait to my family is ready, mostly my paw. You did the right thing.