Author Topic: A question for those that have made the hardest choice of all  (Read 22126 times)

Offline shangrila

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For those of you who have had to make the tough choice to send a pet on the rainbow bridge because of a medical condition: I am wondering if you could tell me how/when you made the choice. What was the breaking point for you that you knew your furbaby was in too much pain? Where did you draw the line?

I know that it may be painful to talk about, and I know that it is different for every dog, but I think it would be helpful for me to hear from some other people who have had to make the hardest choice. I have never had to deal with this before, but I know that it is in my future, and we are starting to realize we might be faced with it sooner than we had hoped. Zoey's hips are starting to fail her with increasing frequency, and we are in agony over seeing her in pain. She is still a happy and otherwise healthy dog, but her hips are getting worse every day and it is absolutely terrifying me right now. I think that I need to start preparing myself for the inevitable - no matter how soon or far down the road it may come.  :'(
RIP former BPO

Offline jabear

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Re: A question for those that have made the hardest choice of all
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2006, 10:39:54 pm »
Oh Heather...I'm so sorry. I can't be of any advice as I've never had to put an animal to sleep but I can offer you a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen to you. Keep your chin up and hang in there. As always, we're all here for you and Zoey.
Hugs,
Jaime
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Offline Kermit

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Re: A question for those that have made the hardest choice of all
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2006, 10:45:12 pm »
I'm sorry Zoey's hips are so bad that it is making you think of this difficult topic. :'( I have had a dog put to sleep for aggression but not a health issue, so I can kinda relate to that decision but in a different way. I don't think it is ever an easy decision to make, even once you feel it is the best thing, it is still so hard. :-[

Meanwhile, have you seen this information on Ester-C as a supplement for hip troubles?
http://www.workingdogs.com/doc0039.htm

I wish you and Zoey the best. :-*

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Re: A question for those that have made the hardest choice of all
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2006, 10:49:16 pm »
I've never had to help a dog on the The Bridge but I have our beloved Guinea Pig, "Porkchop"...Don't laugh...To know a piggy is to love one. :) ...Anyway, up until the end she was fiesty & loving but her body gave out on her so we did the most loving thing we could do :'(...I have a friend that had to help one of her cats to The Bridge...She said she knew it was time when "Fred" couldn't get off of the couch to get his favorite treat of chicken...So, in both of out cases the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak...Their bodies wore out before their hearts & souls did...I believe that those of us who truely love our animal friends know when it "is time"...They tell us...Whether it be a gentle sigh at just the right time...the way they look into our eyes & hearts, or when they still want to please us by living but we can tell they are doing it for us...There are so manyways they say , "It would be a relief for me to go on now but I don't want to leave you broken hearted my faithful friend"...When it is time it will be clear to you because you truely love her...God bless you & Zoey.

Offline cuttles/sadieMay

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Re: A question for those that have made the hardest choice of all
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2006, 10:59:32 pm »
Oh Heather im so sorry that you may have to make this horrible choice for Zoey but I know from experience that you will know when the time comes. It is so hard to see them in pain. I had to put my 1 1/2 year old great dane Sadie to sleep after she was in a freak accident, so it was a little bit different but I will tell you it wasnt easy. It was sudden and I couldnt prepare myself at all.
The best comfort I found was right here on BPO after Sadie was gone to the bridge!!! I was totally lost without her and I truly felt like a part of me went with her but thanks to alot of very kind words from people on BPO I found it much easier to accept that I did the right thing for Sadie. I know now that she would never have been happy in pain, she loved to run and play and she needed a hip replacement and she wouldnt have ever been able to do that again.
I hope that Zoey will have lots of good times ahead and you wont have to decide for a while but I think you will know and she will let you know when she really isnt happy and in to much pain.
My thoughts and prayers are with you and Zoey now, during and after that day comes.  :'(
Carole

Offline horsepoor21

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Re: A question for those that have made the hardest choice of all
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2006, 11:18:13 pm »
I'm so sorry you have to go thru this  :'( On June 22 of 2004 I had my 13 year old miniature schnauzer put to sleep ... It was the hardest decision I've ever had to make in my life but I knew it was the right one . He had problems with his hips too , and also his sight and I just knew his quality of life was diminishing . I felt for a long time that it was coming , and I kept wondering " will I know it's time ? What if I make a mistake ?" but there was just one day when I saw him trying to go potty and he fell over doing that and I thought " That is not how I want my baby to live" so I made the appointment . Please make sure you are there for it , I held my baby and I don't regret that . Right now we have a 23 year old Arabian gelding that broke his leg 5 years ago and has such horrible arthritus in it that we know his time is coming soon that we will have to make the same decision , so I totally know how you feel , I'm there for you !!!!
-Amy
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Offline shangrila

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Re: A question for those that have made the hardest choice of all
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2006, 11:20:15 pm »
Meanwhile, have you seen this information on Ester-C as a supplement for hip troubles?

Yes, we have tried vitamin C. She also take cosequin and missing link to cover all our bases.

Don't get me wrong, zoey still has good days, so we are not ready to give up on her yet. But her had days are coming more frequently and with more intensity. Her left hip seems to be the biggest problem. For instance, yesterday she was limping on it, and today it has slipped out from under her several times, making her fall down. If she is on the wood floors, more often than not, I will have to help her stand up by lifting up her tummy/back legs while she pushes up with her front legs. It doesn't happen much on carpet, so we have carpeted everywhere possible, but it's still really hard to know that if she happens to be off the carpet and we don't happen to be home, she might not be able to stand on her own. She will climb the stairs on her own when we forget to put the baby gate up because she wants to be with us at night, but come morning, we have to hold her stomach and support her back legs, or else she will basically fall down the stairs... Her spirit is still shining but she is clearly struggling physically.

Zoey still has times when she is playing that you can't tell anything is wrong, but they are coming less.
Everytime I watch her fall down or think about her being in pain, I want to (and often do) cry. I knew when I got a saint that they had hip problems, but I had no idea it would be this bad this early in life. I am crossing my fingers, hoping, praying, etc that she holds on and lives many happy healthy years, but I have to admit to myself that no matter how much i want to pretend it wont, I know the hardest day is coming. I am hoping it will not come for a long time, but I am trying to be realistic and admit to myself that it might be sooner than I want because I do not want my baby to suffer.

 :'(
RIP former BPO

Gypsy Jazmine

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Re: A question for those that have made the hardest choice of all
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2006, 11:26:33 pm »
What about hip replacement surgery?...I would be willing to donate $ to help...& I'm sure that other BPOers would too...Zoey is a totally worthy cause! :)

Offline longshadowfarms

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Re: A question for those that have made the hardest choice of all
« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2006, 06:35:02 am »
I've been through this way too many times in the last 3 years.  In 2003 it was our first Pyr who was mentally ill.  That was the very hard because he was only 2, so healthy otherwise but he was so dangerous.  The rescue group here helped me so much to understand that it was the right thing.  He really didn't want to attack any more than we wanted to be attacked.  It was such a relief once it was done though that it was clear that it was the right decision. 

With our next in 2004, she was 14 and happy up until the day before she died.  That day she woke up and struggling for life.  We are pretty sure she had something growing inside her that burst on that day.  She'd been eating one piece of kibble at a time for months.  She was still a happy, silly dog though and didn't seem to mind her old age, arthritis and slow eating.  No question with her.  It was so clear and obvious and I'm so thankful for that.

Next was Thor just this past fall.  That was really hard because I loved him more than any dog I've ever had.  It was hard for me to let go and I probably held on longer than I should have.  He was only 5 or 6 years old which made it so hard knowing he was so young.  His great love in life was going for walks and at the end he didn't want to do that any more.  I had difficulty getting him to eat, he didn't want to be out at night "woo"ing which was another thing he'd always been absolutely compelled to do.  When they can't do what they LOVE to do, it is time.

I'm facing it now again with Piper, who is almost 14.  Piper has lived a long and full life so it is a little easier but not a lot.  She's been my baby for so many years.  She has ALWAYS been playful and lives to go to the barn every day.  This past weekend she didn't even try to go to the barn, seemed to be struggling to breathe, couldn't get comfortable.  I was ready to call the vet Monday but then Monday she was better, ready to go to the barn, breathing better.  For now the good seems to outweigh the bad so I have not called.  I'm watching her closely though to see when it is time.  It truly is hard but each one is different.  Each one you just have to weigh the pros and cons, try to decide when the dog has less good times than bad.  Try to decide if they are trying to live, if they want to continue on, if they are wanting to play, getting enjoyment out of life or if they are tire, worn out in trying, not interested in living.  Try to look into her heart and see what you see in there.  It is SO hard when they are young. 
Daphne

Offline Senghe

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Re: A question for those that have made the hardest choice of all
« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2006, 06:40:01 am »
Poor Zoey. I think the decision even worse and so much harder when they are so young.

I had to put my old girl to sleep just before Christmas. She was nearly 11, but she'd been ill for about 2 weeks and it was obvious from her symptoms that her kidneys and liver were failing. She was going slowly downhill and when she started having more bad days than good, it was time. Her daughter took the decision out of my hands and died suddenly with no warning one night. I found that far harder to deal with that actually having to take any of my previous dogs to be euathanized.

I think you'll know when it's time.

Offline kkmuller

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Re: A question for those that have made the hardest choice of all
« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2006, 08:14:52 am »
Unfortunately, I know the feeling too well. 
My dog was a very big Lab.  He lived a long, full, happy life.  He was about 120 lbs and very tall (for a lab).  His hips got so bad he was falling up the stairs.  The only way he could go outside would be for my parents to carry him with a sling.  My mom felt they should have made the decision 3 months earlier.  he couldn't get up at all.  Then the final decision was made.
You have to weigh the quality of life.  You never want to see them go.  We knew Zak (the Lab) was in a great deal of pain. 
I know this is so difficult for you.  It is like any other family loss.
I hope this helps.  I'll pray for you.

Offline Mom2Sadie

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Re: A question for those that have made the hardest choice of all
« Reply #11 on: March 21, 2006, 08:32:30 am »
Shangrila, I'm so sorry that you and Zoey are going through this. I know how hard it is to see your baby in pain. Even harder when they are so young.

Have you talked to anyone at Tufts Veterinary about Zoey? I know you've mentioned before that hip replacement is not financially doable for you (and I'd be in the same boat) but sometimes those teaching hospitals will work with you. My Golden Retriever Kerry was diagnosed with Stage 5 Canine Lymphoma (basically a death sentence) and the financial side of his illness got to be too much for a college kid even with help from Mom and Dad. Tufts had an experimental program that he took part in when I was out of other options that helped out financially and they were really great about working with me. If I remember correctly there was an initial deposit (I think it was 50% of estimated costs) and then they worked out a payment plan with me. I also had to allow them to examine him after he passed to collect data which I didn't mind doing, especially if it might help someone else in the same boat someday. It gave me 8 months of happy healthy Kerry before I had to let him go. Tufts was absolutely wonderful to me  and I can't say enough about them. Angell Memorial is also worth talking to although I think their policy might be a little more rigid. I know I'd definitely be more than willing to donate to a worthy cause like Zoey and I'm sure others would feel the same. If you haven't already tried, give the Accounting Office at Tufts a call and see what options you may or may not have. Maybe someone else here will have had experience with the Orthopedic department there, I dealt with Oncology but still, give them a call. It's worth a shot.

As far as knowing when it's time to let them go, I think they let you know. Kerry did for sure. He was happy and healthy and then all of a sudden one day he just wasn't. He looked at me and it could have been my imagination but I just knew he was done. I called and brought him in right away and he died in my arms. You know Zoey better than anyone, you'll see the signs and she'll let you know when it gets to be too much. It was the hardest and the easiest decision I ever made at the same time. It was hard to let him go as he'd been my childhood dog, but it was easy because I knew he was in pain and like you, I didn't want him to suffer for a second. For me it was his eyes, something just went out of them. I don't know if I can explain it, I think you just know your dog and so you know when they've had enough.

I know how much you love Zoey, it was SO obvious the day I met you all. I know you will do the right thing for her even if it is the hard thing. We'll all be here for you either way. Feel free to PM me if you need to talk. I'm thinking of you.
-Shawna
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Just for today, let me be the kind of person my dog thinks I am.

Shawna
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Lady the Boxer waiting at the bridge

Offline brandon

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Re: A question for those that have made the hardest choice of all
« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2006, 08:46:37 am »
I'm really sorry Zoey's not doing so great.  I don't know the costs , but many dogs are able to live fairly pain free with horrible hips from adequan injections.  I have heard some people buy the equine formula and use it as it is a bit less expensive to buy it that way, but I have no idea if that is a good idea or bad idea.

Hugs to zoey from Bava.
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Re: A question for those that have made the hardest choice of all
« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2006, 08:56:55 am »
I am so sorry that you are faced with this decision, it is not one I would wish on my worst enemy. I have made the choice twice, once with my beloved Bandit, because his arthritic hips were so bad that he could no longer function, and nothing the vet could give me was controlling his pain. The pain was so bad that his sweet and loving disposition was changing, and I could no longer trust him with my children. To make matters worse, he was my son's best friend and companion for 12 years. We went together to the vet, and stayed until Bannie was gone, and I will never forget holding my 16 year old as he sobbed out his grief and his heart broke.
The second time was Rocky, a 10 month old doberman puppy. He ran in the door and dropped dead at my feet at 8 months old. Dale performed CPR and got him breathing again, and we rushed him to the vet. They were unable to give me any diagnosis at the time, and we began a nightmare of vet's visits with barrages of fruitless diagnostic tests as his health declined and he stopped eating, and lost wieght. He came home from his third stay at the vet's office, this time with a diagnosis of pnuemonia, and was dragging himself to the door to greet me when I came home from work, and I looked at him...really looked at him. His stub of a tail wagging 250, his mouth open in a doggy smile as he staggered his skelital self across the kitchen to love on me. He looked at me with that look, and I knew it was time.That evening we sent him to the bridge, and some measure of peace. Years later our vet was finally able to give us a definitive diagnosis of coppertoxicosi s,a genetic disorder that was relatively unknown and incurable at the time. Sadly, despite being notified of this disorder within her lines, and the availability of testing for her breeding stock, the breeder denies it's presence in her dogs and continues to breed, prducing carriers and affected dogs.
Although I feel for your famly and Zoey, I think sometimes you just have no choice left, and you do the last thing that you can to care for your beloved baby. You let them go.
Stella                                                       

Offline chaos270

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Re: A question for those that have made the hardest choice of all
« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2006, 09:30:09 am »
It's a hard decision to make and unfortunately one we've had to make a few times.  Once with our aussie a long time ago.  When she became paralized and lost bladder control we decided we had to let her go because that was no way for such an active dog to go.  With our Setter Sammy I wish we had made the decision to end it earlier but none of us were prepared and the decision was too hard of one to make but she died in my mom's arms with all of us around her but it was from a stroke and I think she suffered in the end and wish we'd made the decision to end it sooner.  Mackey we had to struggle with the decision twice...she got really sick and we had to decide between exploratory surgery at 13 with a weak heart or euthanasia...w e decided to give her the chance and she pulled through even with all the odds stacked against her.  She let us know when the cancer was too much for her last October.  She was having a hard time breathing and she let us know.

When she starts not to be able to do the things she loves or is suffering too much that's generally the indictation... and she'll let you know when it's time.  You should make a list of everything she enjoys doing and what you think it'd be intolerable for her to go without...and when the list has shown she's lost all she enjoys...then you guys should make the decision.  I know that it's a hard one to make.  Remember we're all here for you anytime you need advice.  Your smart to be preparing for it now so it's easier to make the decision when you need to.
Erin and the critters
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Lacey ~ the aussie 
Gabby ~ Holsteiner mare
Fire ~ Appendix Quarter Horse/Belgian gelding
Lilah and Hannah ~ Kali's kitties