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Knowing when to say goodbye (13 replies)

Gillian
3 months ago
Gillian 3 months ago

I'm sure this gets posted over and over again, but I think most people need confirmation that they're doing the right thing.

So, here's my story. I have a 20 year old chihuahua named Emmie. Yes, she's really 20, so I've done something right along the way. However, in the last year, her health has really declined as you would probably expect. She's now blind and deaf and sleeps about 90% of her days away.

This past week, we noticed that it seems as if she's lost almost complete control of her bowels. Her accidents were getting more and more frequent as the months passed by, but this week has been a huge increase in comparison.

She walks just fine. Even though she can't see me, she smells me and knows I'm there wagging her tail just waiting for my hand to touch her back and give her a little pup massage. She still eats, though not as enthusiastically as she used to, but she's certainly not refusing food by any means. She drinks water normally, too.

However, her overall quality of life seems poor. She doesn't play anymore. She hasn't barked in probably 6 months or more. She'll give a little howl when she wants to go outside, but that's about it. She can't go for walks now because of her lack of vision. She just burrows under a blanket and sleeps most of the time.

The thing that keeps me from calling the vet is the joy she seems to have when I interact with her. I don't think she's really in pain. Her vet told us about a year ago that she was just beginning to show signs of arthritis and when she seems a little stiff, we give her some pain meds. Those occasions are very rare, though.

She was my first dog. She's 20. I don't feel angry or cheated. But I can't help the guilt that flows through me every time I consider picking up the phone to make the appointment I never want to make. Am I prolonging her misery? Am I keeping her going for me or for her? I feel like both options I have are selfish. I don't know what to do. She's been my world for so long, and I'm just beside myself right now. 

Melissa Smith
3 months ago
Melissa Smith 3 months ago

Aw Gillian, just the fact that you are so torn about this shows what a good pet parent you are.

The reality is, there is nobody that can tell you for sure when it is or isn't the right time. You just know, it your heart, that this is what your pup is telling you. Usually when pets are ready to go, they stop eating and stop engaging with their environment. If she still seems to be happy and engaging, it's unlikely to hurt her if you put it off - but prepare for it soon.

A great point of contact is your vet. Usually he or she has been along for at least part of the journey of your pet's life and so they can help you spot differences in behavior that you might be missing. When I had my sheppie, I was in contact with her vet almost every day for the last year of her life. Great vets will be honored to take that trek with you.

Many hugs your way!

Whatsername
3 months ago
Whatsername 3 months ago

I'm so sorry but I agree melissa it wouldn't be so hard if you weren't a good puppy mom. I would definitely talk to your vet and ask them their thoughts. Bring up your own thoughts and feelings as well. You say she can't go on walks but could you carry her on a walk? The stimulation might be good for her. I know how difficult the choice is, I'm going through it myself at the moment and I beat myself up a lot. It sounds like she's not doing horribly you could probably wait but keep a close eye on her. I write on my calendar what kind of day my girl Eevon has had, why it was a good or bad day and anything that happened Worth noting (diarrhea most recently, pain, walking comfortably) when I started doing it I felt really bad but I've noticed now it helps me physically see and be more objective about what's going on. I also worry about keeping her here because it's what I want not what she needs but I also know when it really comes down to it I'll do it for her and I think we both will know that time. For now talk to your vet and just spend the time you can with her and know you're not alone in any of this. Big hugs

Melissa Smith
3 months ago
Melissa Smith 3 months ago

Another solution for going outdoors is a little wagon or carriage! Carrying pups sometimes isn't practical...or at least for me. I carried one of my 18 pounders (hurt leg but I couldn't bear to leave him behind and walk just his sister - he would have thought I was mad at him!) and by the end of the walk it felt like I was toting a bag of bricks LOL

Chaelin Kang
3 months ago
Chaelin Kang 3 months ago

I have had my little Pomeranian for 15 years, then she passed away 3 months ago. I recognized her symptoms, signs and slow movements from about a year ago. She was never in any sort of pain before, and she stopped eating 2 days before she crossed the rainbow bridge. I had so many special memories that I made with her before she passed away, so I will tell you to just be with her as much as you can and as long as you can, because there aren't any much more time left... as long as she doesn't look like she is in such pain, just be by her side more and more! Wish the best for both of you guys.

Melissa Smith
3 months ago
Melissa Smith 3 months ago

Thank you for sharing your memories about your Pom, Chaelin. I know it isn't always easy to think about, even years later. Great advice!!

Kelsey
3 months ago
Kelsey 3 months ago

I'm so sorry about your baby. I just got two beautiful pitbull mutts and I already think about the day they fall asleep and never wake up. It's such a hard topic to discuss because we never really know the pain an animal is in without obvious signs. I always try to put myself into their situation and that's also hard because a dogs life is much simpler than ours. In my opinion,the right time is when they can no longer walk on their own when they are too large to carry. Or if they have an illness that's torturing them to stay alive. This is something no puppy mom or dad wants to talk or think about. When the negative overpowers the positive things in a dogs life, then I think that is when it's time. 

Melissa Smith
3 months ago
Melissa Smith 3 months ago

You're absolutely right Kelsey! It is very tough to think about, and quality of life matters so much.

Elena
2 months ago
Elena 2 months ago

Hi Gillian, I'm so sorry for your little pet. I don't speak English very well because I'm an Italian woman. I love animals, especially dogs. I had a sweet dog named Missy. She was a good and lovely animal, and I loved her so much. When she become sick, her conditions got worse very quickly; in a few days she became blind and she suddenly was not be able to move in her environment.

Perhaps there was a medical operation to do, but they didn't give me any guarantee about her condition after the operation, so I was be forced to pick her up at the vet because her condition was really bad.

I felt a huge emptiness when she died, and I took in another dog, like her sister 🙂

I send to your nice pet a lot of care and a big hug to you.

Elena

Melissa Smith
1 month ago
Melissa Smith 1 month ago

Elena, your English is amazing! Brava!

I am so sorry to hear about the loss of Missy. It's such a hard decision to let our pets go. Sending many hugs your way!

AL MO
1 month ago
AL MO 1 month ago

new member here, but had to chime in. Its sooo hard to let go, and from what i have experience, dogs will hang on and on for us. It is up to us to make the decision. I've had to  soooooooooo many times over the years. IT never gets easier, and I am preparing for the next one. My MilaMonster has slowed way down in the last 6 months. I try to remember as a friend told me,,, When we hold on, we may be prolonging death , not life. It hurts soooo bad. Sorry for the not so eloquent words, this is a topic that touches so many.

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