Love, Guilt & Putting Dogs Down

With apologies for the change in topics, I just have to respond to a comment on my last post, and to the hundreds of comments I’ve heard over the last 20 + years, about the guilt associated with putting a dog down. It is always wrenching, heart-breaking to euthanize a beloved dog, but taking a dog’s life away for a behavioral problem can be especially hard. I can’t take away the pain, no matter what the reason for the death, but here are a few things that I have found that have helped me and some of my clients.

First, for anyone who has had to euthanize a dog, I hope it helps to know that devoted owners are often wracked with guilt, no matter why the dog died. For example, I euthanized Cool Hand Luke after a long battle with kidney failure. By the time he died (he was close to death when we helped him along), I had worked extensively with five veterinarians, including specialists at the UW Vet School. He received the best that money can buy of western medicine, homeopathic medicine and chinese medicine. I cooked him a special diet every day and monitored every thing that went into his mouth. I’d go on, but you get the idea: I moved  heaven and earth for Luke, and still. . . I was wracked with guilt for a good year after his death.

Surely I had missed something? Surely there was just one more thing I could have done? One of my vets told me that Luke had an inflammation somewhere, but she couldn’t say where or what it was. I obsessed over trying to find it, and felt a crush of failure when nothing we did turned around his failing kidneys. I was consumed by the idea that IF I JUST WORK HARD ENOUGH, I could “fix” things and save Luke.

After he died, devastated by his untimely death (he was 12,  his daughter is now 15 3/4), I couldn’t get it out of my mind that somehow I should have done a better job of trying to save him.  In the cold light of day, this was, frankly, absurd. Luke had 5 of some of the best vets in the country and if they couldn’t save him, how in heaven’s name was I supposed to?

But as he always had, Luke left me with a gift. It took awhile, but I slowly began to notice how EVERYONE I talked to who loved their dog, like we all love ours, was guilty about something related to the dog’s death. It didn’t matter how or why they died: hundreds of owners, from prof’l trainers and behaviorists to the dog loving public, found something to feel guilty about. “I should have seen the symptoms sooner,” or “How could I have not known that the lock on the door was faulty and allowed my dog to run out the door?” or “Surely I could somehow have prevented the bite if I just hadn’t……”

Here’s what Luke taught me, along with the wise comments of a psychologist friend: It is easier to believe that we are always responsible (“if only I had done/not done this one thing….”) than it is to accept this painful truth: We are not in control of the world. Stuff happens. Bad stuff. As brilliant and responsible and hard working and control-freaky that we are, sometimes, bad stuff just happens. Good people die when they shouldn’t. Gorgeous dogs brimming with health, except for that tumor or those crappy kidneys, die long before their time. Dogs who are otherwise healthy but are a severe health risk to others end up being put down. It’s not fair, it’s not right, and it hurts like hell. But please please, if you’ve moved heaven and earth to save a dog and haven’t been able to… just remember:  Stuff happens. We can’t control everything. (Difficult words to dog trainers I know. . . Aren’t we all control freaks to some extent?) You didn’t fail. You tried as hard as you could. It’s okay.

To all of us: Try folding up that guilt and pain like a pile of dirty, ripped clothing, and throwing it away. Remember: Much of what we love about dogs is that they live in the present and accept what happens. That’s our job, to accept what happens sometimes, even though it’s the hardest job of all.

Secondly, there’s one more thing I want to remind everyone who has lost a beloved dog, no matter what the reason or whether there was guilt attached or not: Neurobiologist Jaak Panskepp tells us that “social distress,” or what we’d call grieving, is registered in a primitive part of the brain that is also associated with the perception of pain. I learned about this while I was writing For the Love of a Dog, and it blew me away when I discovered it. Ah Ha, I thought; no wonder we talk about the “pain of loss” and “healing” after grieving. And don’t we respond to another’s loss as if they’d been physically hurt? We take people flowers and food when they are grieving just as we do after they have a major operation.  I remember feeling physical pain when Luke died, when Tulip died, when Pippy Tay died, just as I did when my mother died. I told someone it felt like I’d had abdominal surgery. Turns out that’s exactly what my brain thought too.

And so, remember that when you lose a dog, or if you are still grieving for one you lost in the past, your body thinks you’ve been injured. It needs you to take care of yourself. It needs rest and comfort and flowers and sweet soup and gentle kisses and hugs.

As I write this, I think of my Lassie girl. Her 16th birthday party is planned for a few months from now. She’s doing amazingly well, but good grief, she’s old. Really old. It hurts to think of the future… I think tonight I’d better make some chicken soup and put it in the freezer.

Meanwhile, back at the farm: Lassie played tug with Willie this morning, oblivious as she is to calendars or human concerns about the future or the past. Willie got lots of sheep work this weekend, is a bit gimpy on his left shoulder but lordy we had fun. It’s fall in full force here: leaves turning cranberry, frost on the grass in the morning, lots of wild apples falling from the trees. Here are 2 photos from this morning, while feeding apples to some of the sheep.

Here’s Barbie impatiently waiting for me to drop apples into the feeder:

This isn’t the greatest photo in the world, but I wanted to show Martha chomping on an apple. Sheep LOVE apples, and right now Martha, Barbie and the lambs are all eating grass (from the front yard, best grass on the farm, courtesy of Will who can reliably keep them herded away from the road), a corn/oat mix, high quality alfalfa hay and lots of apples. Yum.


  1. Jennifer Hamilton says

    I heard a quote that I will always remember (on a rerun of Law and Order of all places.). A cop was stricken with guilt that he could not overcome after accidentally shooting and killing another undercover cop in a dark alley. He kept going over and over the incident trying to figure out what he could have done different to prevent the death of his fellow officer. After some time of endless and unproductive guilt and soul searching, his partner said, “You can do everything right, and still have a bad outcome.” Guess that’s a timeless law of the universe. We are not in control.

  2. Teri says

    Great post that hits very close to home right now. My older girl is a 13.5 year old yellow lab with liver problems and arthritis. She was diagnosed at age 6 and has done amazingly well but the ticking of the clock grows ever louder these days. We have fought back time as best we can with her chiropractor, IMS therapist, homeopathic and a western vet but I know the day will come to help her to the rainbow bridge. Most months her supplements and treatments exceed our own grocery bills but she is still a happy girl who loves to swim at the beach and smile on our daily slow walk so that and some cuddles make it all worth it.

  3. says

    been there, done that too. I never felt guilt when putting my sick, old dog down but the young and healthy only slightly crazy and not able to be comfortable in her skin dog….yes. Or the dog that I *knew* was not going to be able to live in anything other than a very specialized home…yes. Those dogs came to me after whatever damage was already jelled and set, I know in my brain their faults were not my doing. I know in my brain I did absolutely everything I could to make them as normal as they could be, but I’ve never been able to completely rid myself of the “woulda, shoulda, coulda” feeling. I would admonish anyone else for feeling like this, but of course it’s different when it’s me.

  4. says

    Thank you so much for this post. We put down our beloved Kiwi in april due to behavior reasons, and it still hurts just as bad, as the day we draped over her body and cried. It’s hard, damn hard, daily, and the worse pain comes in waves. It does feel like a post-surgical operation though, and honestly, I’m pretty sure loosing someone so close to us, really is a surgical operation.

    Much love, and many more years with beautiful Lassie.

  5. says

    Strong thoughts — and very hard to accept — that we simply can’t control everything or cover every ramification.
    I do agree with Holly; I don’t usually feel guilt about putting down one of my own older dogs when the time is right. In fact, in some ways I consider providing that peaceful end at the appropriate time part of my responsibility, something I take on when I pick up the other end of that dog’s leash. For all they’ve given me, I feel I owe them that respectful ending, that clear-headedness in an emergency.
    Of course, ask me how I feel when the 14-almost-15y.o. viejo sleeping at the edge of the couch needs me to step up because he’s failing beyond the point where it’s safe or healthy for him to continue…
    I know that I will be sad, I may even take a day off work.
    But I know that I will also be strong enough to look into his clouded eyes, and massage him and hold him as long as it takes if it comes to that.
    And like Holly, where and when I feel guilt is when the dog isn’t old, or failing, but simply a dog I am unable to help or place, so I have to make a difficult decision. That hurts, and is the strongest reminder that no – you really are NOT in control of anything.
    But like the obligation to my older dogs, I also have an obligation to give the otherwise healthy dogs which must be euthanized that responsible end, in loving and comforting arms. If I can’t ensure them a peaceful and healthy life, I can at least give them a comforted death.
    Strong thoughts.

  6. Liz F. says

    Trisha, may the compassion you offer to others come back to you tenfold.
    Thank you for your particularly considerate brain!
    For all, may any pain of loss that resurfaces serve only as a reminder for us to embrace this day, this moment, right now, as our entire lives often change in the blink of an eye.

  7. Anna says

    In January of this year my corgi Henry, who was almost 6, got a pork bone out of the trash I should have removed from the kitchen and within 24 hours while at the vets office he bled out and died… major shock to all. The shock and pain did knock me out for 1 week I did nothing but cry. In March I got a new corgi boy named Rudy and this weekend I am getting a new corgi girl… Henry’s sister had her last litter in August and in the litter is a beautiful little girl just for me. Neither of them will relpace Henry but as Dan Dye said at the end of his book Amazing Gracie: A Dog’s Tale “I look at Claire every day and marvel at how much and how little like Gracie she is.” Each one we let into our lives will take a piece of our hearts with them and despite the pain it is worth the while to invest in their lives.

  8. says

    This is an excellent topic to explore and one that is certainly familiar to almost every pet guardian. I run a dog rescue and have been in the difficult position of having to make the decision to end a dog’s life. Sometimes euthanasia is necessary for health reasons, which is hard enough to come to terms with, but the behavioral and “quality of life” cases have been particularly hard for me to reconcile. In each case I know I did all that I could do, but it remains one of the hardest things to do. Thank you for helping to put things in proper perspective.

  9. Anne says

    I have felt guilt over each dog I have lost, whether they went fast and died naturally, or whether they went slowly and I had to make the decision to end their lives. I will probably never get past it, although I try to repeat words of absolution to myself when the guilty feeling tries to come back. I have come to the conclusion that it is unavoidable when you love someone deeply, just like the feeling of having your heart ripped out that is an almost physical sense of loss.

  10. Denise Frye says

    Very timely topic for me. I love this blog so much, I have it on an RSS feed. I am a shy poster, but this really did hit home. I read this post just after holding my old diabetic cat who is slowly slipping away. I have had to go through lots of grieving over lots of different animals and have certainly experienced the “if only” thoughts.
    I’ve become more realistic, I suppose over the years, but I still have tears as I imagine life without this sick, old, black cat. Thanks for your perspective on this day.

  11. says

    Having a dog share your life changes you forever. The lessons they teach, the unqualified love they share, that bond that is formed…it is a deep association unlike anything else. It is one of the greatest gifts. And losing them does cause a greater pain than one can imagine. But going through life, without ever sharing part of it with such a companion, would be far worse.

    Last December I lost my first rescue dog, Bart, at age 16.5 years. He was my heart dog, a corgi/aussie mix, extremely smart, extremely loving, and extremely opinionated. Also a very wise creature, Bart taught me more than I ever imagined an animal could teach. He inspired me to become a corgi rescuer, work that has now continued for over a decade. You could say that Bart has saved over 500 dogs! I’ll never really get over losing him, but many of the points in this posting helped to give me a new perspective. Thank you.

    ForPaws Corgi Rescue

  12. says

    Thanks, Dr. McConnell. Your compassionate words are very welcome. Our family adopted two dogs from the same litter thirteen years ago. We had to put Juno down last winter; she had hemangiosarcoma. Skippy is doing ok, but she’s definitely old and it makes me sad.

    I think the thing about pets is, they rely on us for everything. There’s such an enhanced sense of responsibility because they can’t really better their own lives.

    And thanks for blogging – I always am happy to see one of your posts in my feed reader.

  13. JJ says

    As others have said, your post came at a good time. I have a co-worker who had to Euthanize her dog yesterday. I sent her this post in the hopes that it will help her. I’m sure it will. I also sent it to my mom. She said it was so valuable that she is saving it. That’s high praise from my mom.

    While perhaps not directly on topic, I also found this post somewhat applicable to me – at least in “guilt” department. My Great Dane partially tore his ACL (that’s a ligament in the knee) in February this year. I went ahead with the TPLO surgery (that’s major stuff for people who don’t know. they cut the dogs lower leg bone in half,…) in March. Six months later another vet told me that Duke had a common complication from the TPLO surgery. This time, it was a torn cartilage in the same knee. He needed yet another surgery.

    At the 4 week check-in, Duke was not doing well at all. They were suppose to have taken out the part that was hurting him. He should be better by then, but he was worse than ever. He hated to put his knee down at all at that point. He had just the tiniest bit of problem before the surgery and on October 1, the vet told me that Duke would be in pain for the rest of his life! and all we could do was try to manage the pain with medication and physical therapy. WHAT!?!!!!

    Everything stopped for me. I’ve never experienced such pain in my life. I couldn’t talk about it for days. Everyone who knows me kept asking what was wrong within 10 seconds of seeing me. Even the waitress at a one of the places I go to said something. I couldn’t say anything. I felt like I was under a wet, suffocating blanket all the time. Every time I tried to make my forever dog better, I did something that made him worse. I’m the medical advocate. I’m the one who has to take responsibility for any decision whether it involves action or inaction. It’s a hard thing when my decision hurts the one I love. There’s definitely some guilt in there, whether “absurd” or not.

    FYI: Duke’s outlook is looking better now. I don’t know what the long term prognosis will be, but the vet’s opinion at the beginning of this month may have been wrong. Duke is now doing an underwater treadmill 3 times a week in a city that is an hour’s drive from here. There goes the vacation time, gas money, etc. :-) The things I do for that dog!

  14. Liza Lundell says

    My beloved Dittany left me in July. She was 15-1/2. She’s the first dog I’ve ever had that told me that it was time to let go. I probably could have kept her alive a few more months, but she clearly didn’t want that. She was tired, and ready to rest.

    Thank you for your thoughtful and compassionate blog.

  15. jessika says

    I appreciate this. We recently had to put our cat to sleep. Tumors all over his lungs and throat. He was only 4 years old.

    I know he was suffering, I know I did the right thing by ending it for him. He was feral by behavior and would have to be sedated for any type of post op treatment…. but the guilt is still there. It’s only been a few weeks, but the guilt is still there.

    Thank you for this.

  16. Trisha says

    To JJ: I can’t think of a better time to re-read what Jennifer wrote in an earlier comment:

  17. says

    JJ: Have you looked at a brace option for Duke? Try OrthoPets (disclosure: I’m a distributor in Arizona). They do amazing things for dogs with joint issues and they are just great people. Check out Harley and I have our paws crossed for you and Duke.

  18. Liz F. says

    Gosh, I need to make a note to self like ‘thou shalt not post comments before work’… I feel like I belittled a sensitive topic by writing too quickly earlier, I’m sorry. Great conversation, and I couldn’t help but respond.

    What I meant earlier, and what has helped me deal with loss of many shapes and sizes, is the saying: This too shall pass. It’s so hard to be even-keeled and to know that bad will eventually change to good and vice versa, but if there’s one thing we can count on, it’s change. Sometimes change can be taking place and we are not aware of it, and there are in-between moments when switching from one place to the next where change is just barely recognizable. I think it starts in the little things.
    For me, I could see change when I began moving from a place where I cried anytime anything reminded me of my Boston Terrier, Sass, to a place where I could start to laugh at her old habits (say repeatedly springing up from the seat of a car if the windshield wipers were on, she really got into the rhythm; we had to work on this together a long time because the image was so funny I couldn’t keep my composure for training an incompatible behavior.) Sometimes bad feelings and memories are a bridge to the good ones.

    I have to try to love all the ups and downs of every moment because I just don’t know when it will be different, better, worse, or *apparently* the same.

  19. Debra says

    My comment spawned this side trip and I am grateful for Dr. McConnell’s blog and everyone’s comments. Just the grief of losing my beautiful dog is overwhelming; however, coupled with the blame, doubt, and guilt of being the agent of a premature dispatch has been soul-crushing. Sometimes a wave rolls through and I feel bowed down so hard and fast that I imagine my chin hitting the floor in front of my feet. I will try to do just as advised and throw away that blame and guilt and just grieve without all that additional baggage. I especially like how the end of the blog moves from the sadness of the topic back to the farm and happy, alive animals…because, after all, life does go on despite the ways in which we find to torture ourselves.

  20. says

    What a really great post Trisha . . . I had to make the decision to put my first Cocker down when he wasn’t even 10 yet. He had malignant melanoma with mets, and he’d started having grand mal seizures as well as losing control of his hind legs. I loved that dog with all my heart, and I wass devastated to lose him. I questioned myself time and time again after that – but it’s been 3 years now, and I finally am at peace with my decision. When I look back at the pictures we took the day before his death, I can see the need to rest in his eyes . . . that dog gave me everything he had, heart and soul. The least I could do was return the favour when he most needed me to give him something.

    You’re so right – it’s bittersweet loving these animals like we do (not just dogs). They give us so much joy, happiness and devotion that letting them go is like living torture. We agonize, shed tears, rip our hair out (figuratively), and yet, we choose to embark on the journey again. Why? Because that pure, devoted, genuine love is worth the pain. We get many more years of the good times than the pain we suffer upon their loss.

    What an awesome blog post. Thanks Trisha.

  21. Trisha says

    Oh Liz, your earlier comment was lovely. Sometimes short and sweet is just perfect. I can’t imagine anyone thinking of your comment as belittling. The fact is, this really IS all we have, this moment, this breath, this
    touch of the fur. Fur?… ummm, sounds good. I think there’s some right under my feet that is calling to the palm of my hand.

  22. Lisa says

    What a wonderful post, thank you.

    When I was struggling with the choice I made to euthanize my dog, Dr. Myrna Milani told me “If you had no doubts at all, you waited too long.” That has always stuck with me and even brought comfort when those feelings of doubt creep in.

  23. Alessandro Rosa says

    My great dog, Darwin, is only 8 1/2 months old; is a beagle which is generally a hearty breed known for their longevity, some lasting upwards of 15 to 20 years; and yet, I already am beginning to dread the day when I will have to say goodbye….

  24. Claire says

    I’m so happy there is a compassionate behaviorist out there sharing their thoughts. When I worked at a shelter, for 4 years, one of the great epiphanies I got was from a trainer who told me that “when someone has come to relinquish or euthanize a dog they have typically agonized over it for 3 months on average”. It helped with my perspective in working with the public. We need the link between species. Thank You!

  25. says

    what a great post. I am glad I am not alone in the guilt. I knew that grieving was normal, and the intense pain was normal, but thought I was more or less a minority when it came to the guilt.

    thanks for a great post.

  26. Kerry L. says

    I had Alice, my first rescue dog, for 11 1/2 years. I was never sure how old she really was. After having her 10 yrs she developed CCD and after 11 yrs was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. I loved her so much, cleaning up after her when she lost her house training was inconvenient, but I loved our slow walks around the block and everyone at the dog park knew her and would lead her back to me when she ‘got lost’ while socializing (she never wanted to be left behind when I took the other dogs to the park). After a particularly difficult and restless night, my partner and I concluded (at the same time) that it was time for her final visit to the vet. I called her vet, who had no hesitations, and we stopped for an ice cream cone on the way. I was doing ok with the decision until a ‘friend’ said “how could you buy her ice cream when you knew you were taking her to be killed?” I still cry when I recall that comment, I was trying so hard to do right by my forever dog, to let her go with dignity. I try to remember that we do do the best we can at a very difficult time. Thanks for the post.

  27. Trisha says

    To Kerry: May your ‘friend’ someday realize the brutality of his/her comments, and come to you for forgiveness. I write this working on forgiveness myself; my first reaction was more along the lines of “May your friend die a long, slow death by drowning in a sea of ice cream . . .”. But then, the better part of me sat on my evil twin, and suggested a better response. Just remember Kerry, that comment had nothing to do with you, your partner or your dog, it only had to do with a friend’s ignorance and lack of understanding. (And, I’ll bet I’m not the only one who wants to know: are you still friends?!)

  28. says

    Ah, Kerry — well, ah — a hugging ah — to all those posting here. Giving one we love a last favorite treat, a last holding is not a deception, but a gentler passage, a respectful farewell for the love these animals have been and are to us.

    Me, I’d thrill to go out after two scoops of Ben & Jerry’s Chubby Hubby.

    So much love in evidence. What a compelling thread this is.

  29. Susan says

    Thank you for this “reminder”, we are not in control of the universe. Just do what we can to keep our charges happy, healthy, safe and let go when the time comes. Its the last gift we are able to give. No matter how many years our beloved pets live it is NEVER long enough.

    Kerry, My beloved border collie is battling colon cancer, his special treat after each vet visit is a stop at the ice cream stand on the way home. If only ice cream could cure ignorance, CHF, cancer, kidney failure and heart ache the world would be a much better place. Hugs!

  30. says

    What a wonderful post. I read it with tears streaming down my face and wanted to thank you for addressing a topic that is very personal to me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  31. lin says

    @ Kerry — you did the most loving thing possible. I hope, when my time comes, somebody will offer me an ice cream or a glass of champagne, so I go out with a last memory of wonderful flavor (hopefully, I’ll still have some tastebuds left)

  32. JJ says

    To Kerry L.: I just finished reading the book “Speaking for Spot, How to Be A Medical Advocate for Your Dog” The whole last chapter is about euthanasia. I cried through the whole thing. But I read it and picked up some important ideas – including one about making your dog’s last moments in life as pleasurable as possible. She even specifically mentions as an example giving the doggie her favorite ice cream. For the life of me, I can’t understand even at an intellectual level what point your “friend” was trying to make. Either way, she/he was not just being mean, she was plain WRONG. I can’t think of a nicer thing to do for your dog.

    To Kate T: I can’t think how a brace would help Duke with his particular situation, but I’ll keep the idea in mind if the physical therapy fails. Thanks for the idea.

  33. Ignacio says

    I know this won’t make things easier when the time comes but, for all of us what have been following your books, you can be sure that Lassie will always live not only in your heart but also in ours who “met” her through your writing since she was a puppy. I wish all dogs would receive at least half of the dedication you put into her care!

    Great post. Lots to think about.

  34. Trisha says

    To Ignacio: Such kindness from people like you will indeed make it easier; thank you so much for your thoughts. (And wish I could ask you all to Lassie’s 16th birthday party on Dec 6th! It’ll be a rip roarer!)

  35. says

    Thanks Trisha. My friend Deb in N.M., years ago once told me when her dog passed on, they she was putting him “up”. That was of such comfort, even in my agnostic way of looking at the universe. So, for a long time now, I remind myself that my animal companions are going “up”. My pets have also taught me, better than anyone, that the length of time that they are here matters less, that the quality of life they have each day, and their amazing ability to “be”, to be in the moment, all the time. If we truly listen to them, they often let us know, indeed I believe it is our duty to use euthanasia as it is meant- a gift to prevent their suffering, and in each case it is so individual and often subtle, but when we are open, and truly awake, we’ll get the message. As we all know, it’s the contract we make with these amazing creatures. How humbling, if we could all live that way too, each and every day.

  36. says

    Your post really touched my heart. I suffered with guilt for so long after my sweet dog died of leukemia at the age of eight. Knowing that guilt is part of the grieving process really helped me to heal. I will pass this post on to all I know who are grieving.

  37. says

    I can’t thank you enough for this post and I think Ignacio had a wonderful point about all of your canine family members–they live on in the books you wrote and the readers who cherish them. I read your books back-to-back and when I got to the part of Luke’s passing, I completely broke down and cried. It took me three days to get through that portion of the book (and I am not an emotional person by nature, but this stuck a cord with me). Part of this is due to your excellent writing ability [I feel (present tense) as though I know him and the kind of dog he was], that my childhood dog had recently passed away but also the fact I see (present tense) so much of my big dog in his character

    The dog I had as a child was an accident by a backyard puppy “mill” and if not for the intervention of a kind neighbor she would have been killed as soon as she was born. The person who knew the mill owner convinced him to let the puppies live, but he refused to keep them longer than 4 weeks. This is how Missy found us. My grandmother worked with the kind-hearted woman who had a short time to find homes for all of the puppies and convinced my parents to take her (I was 12 at the time). My sister stayed up with her as a puppy and since my parents worked from home, she was with them during the day. My dad was not one for “inside” dogs, but she even melted his heart and wormed her way into sleeping in my room.

    I eventually left for college and Missy stayed behind, having grown very attached to my Mom. As the years passed she remained fairly healthy, but as the end neared everything started to fail. She had CHF, breathing problems and finally kidney problems. My family doesn’t have a lot of money, but Mom took that little dog to the vet nearly every week, trying everything and anything to save her.

    Fall came and Missy seemed to be doing better. She loved to go on weekend trips with my parents (who took her everywhere, but hadn’t been traveling because of Missy’s health) and since she seemed almost as spunky as she did as a puppy they went ahead with a planned trip. Things started off well and she was even playing at the camp site, something she hadn’t done in a number of years. A storm rolled in quicker than my parents thought it would and they were stuck at the camp grounds. Missy had always been scared of thunder, but since her health had gotten worse so had her fear. She died during the storm in my mother’s arms. When she stopped breathing my mom screamed that she couldn’t leave her and for a moment Missy gasped again almost as though my mother’s will made her come back to life (my Mom feels it was to tell her she would be okay, not to worry). She looked up at my mom one last time, my mom says she moved closer to her and then let her breath out for the final time.

    I never got to say goodbye and my mother blames herself to this day, even though Missy was well into her golden years and had suffered longer than she probably should have. It has taken me nearly 30 minutes to actually type this between bouts of sobbing spasms at the memory of a lost friend, but also because my big dog is laying next to the couch with his head on my foot and one big black paw draped over his nose. So much of what you say about Luke reminds me of Sirius and I have no doubt that when the day comes that he must leave me forever, all the oxygen will definitely be removed from the room.

  38. Mary Lou says

    What a beautiful post, and what beautiful comments. Whenever I’ve had to euthanize a beloved pet, yes, I know the guilt feeling so well, it is so helpful to realize I’m not the only one who feels that way. And the physical PAIN of loss … and the ignorant ‘friends’ who make comments like ‘it’s only a dog’ …. I only wish we humans could have a loved one give us our last ice cream cone and hold our hand and help us to the other side when the time comes.

  39. Kerry L. says

    Thanks to everyone who read Alice’s story and left loving comments. They have been as much a gift to me as was Alice’s life.

  40. Sandy says

    In July my dog Sophie and I were driving to the beach for an early morning swim and I saw a small orange cat on the road – weaving unsteadily. I stopped to take a look and saw that he was in very bad shape. At first he walked away from me but I waited and he came back and I picked him up. He weighed just about nothing, his eyes were sunken from dehydration, his hair completely matted, and he was full of fleas. He was close to death. I brought him home and the first week he just slept – only woke up to eat and drink. He was very weary – he needed to rest deeply and find some strength. My vet thought he was about 13

  41. Christine says

    Oh Trisha, a knife was stabbing me, when I read your blog! Last year, our Donar, a Bernese running hound, and I left home for our daily two-hours morning trip. He happily ran in front of me through the woods when we met another dog owner with two dogs. They played so cheerfully together. When I turned around I found Donar (only 3 1/2 yoears old) lying on the ground, there was just a loud, last breath. I tried heart massage and mouth to snout breathing, but … too late. I phoned the animal ambulance which took us home to my sick husband who nearly broke down seeing our beloved Donar lifeless lying in the ambulance car. My guilt was immense until our vet who checked Donar a few weaks earlier told me that I couldn’t have done something different. Donar was the healthiest dog he has seen, so it must have been a sudden heart death. I thought of so many people who say good by to their beloved, not knowing that it was the last time!
    We have now a one year old Bruno du Jura and he is the best medicine in the world!!!

  42. Cassie says

    I lost my Grace, the first dog that was really mine and my responsibility in March. She got me through college and vet school and getting married. She was the pup that I learned all the wrong ways to train, and then inspired me to learn all the right ways. She was gentle and fiesty and the best dang puppy raiser ever.

    I thought I had another few years with her at least. She was so tough, I thought she couldn’t die. But i went home for lunch one day and she was not hungry. And Grace was only not hungry one time before- when she had a spontaneous lung collapse! So i knew it was serious. I got her up to the clinic and found a large bleeding splenic tumor. I kept my wits about me until i got in touch with a friend that is also a vet and handed over the information to her. Then I just cried as my husband drove us to her clinic. I had told myself before I’d never put my own dog through surgery for this problem. That even if she survived it would most likely still kill her within a few weeks or months. Grace wasn’t the type to be made weak. She wouldn’t want to be kept that way. But in the moment I couldn’t say no, they took her to surgery. But the tumor was huge, and she’d lost too much blood already, she died on the table.

    I took 3 days to lay on the couch eating only pizza and crying. I felt guilty that I, the vet, didn’t find it sooner. Selfish for doing surgery on her when I knew she’d want to be let go. In retrospect I’m glad i didn’t find it sooner. I would have put her through surgery that I know, if she’d have been human, she would have refused. My profession means that I know far too well that things happen far outside our control. I can be the level headed professional in the white coat, but I know only too well how it feels on the other side. It’s been over 6 months and I will still be caught by suprise and tear up. The first chill just came and that was Grace’s favorite time of year. She was half pyr, and she loved it when the cool weather hit. I cried as I watched the other dogs run the yard.

    I made sympathy cards with Grace on them to use at the clinic. The cards have a short blurb on the back explaining who she is. I feel like this way I am sharing something personal with the clients. I hope it lets them know I understand.

    Do you guys like it when the vet includes a paw print or claw paw impression of your dog with your sympathy card? I do paw prints on colored card stock, but i know a lot of clinics that make clay impressions and paint them. Are these helpful momentos?

  43. Emily says

    Fascinating comments on the neurobiology and ‘pain’ of grief….

    Lots of love to Lassie…maybe she continue on with the heart and soul of a pup for a least a few years more! She certainly sounds like she’s well on her way :-)

  44. says

    My “trial by fire” dog, the dog who taught me SO much about training was an ornery Australian shepherd. He was a challenge, he was a liability. He was a godsend. He lived because we could keep him. He hated kids (we never wanted any), he hated motorcycles, bicycles, and things that moved (we lived in the country on three acres), he hated mean people (we were very kind).

    I always joked that Lucky would live forever because he was doing it to spite me. Because he was just to ornery to die. As he aged, his heart murmur became more of a threat to his life. I remember telling him “Don’t you dare make me make this decision, Lucky. Don’t you dare.” The running joke was “If you make me euthanize you, I’m gonna kill you.” It was easier to joke about it than think seriously about it.

    On the last day of his life, he had a great morning, ate a full breakfast, then went to sleep. I went out all morning for errands and he awoke as I came back in. He was too arthritic to greet me now, but knew I’d always come to him. He looked up expectantly as I knelt to give him a chance to sniff my whereabouts and to rub his fur. A few sniffs later, he had a fatal heart attack.

    I will never be able to thank him for (1) not making me decide and (2) waiting for me to come home to help him cross. I was with him, held him, cried into his fur as he left me.

    Thanks, Old Man, thanks.

  45. Petra Tyers says

    Thank you for this. My girl has lymphoma and was diagnosed almost 3 weeks ago. She is slowing a little and every nite she cuddles up close and sleeps with me. But I know the steroids are amost at the point of not working….and I am trying to work out in my heart and mind when will it be time. Is it today, tomorrow, next week? And how will I know…..all I know it is closer than I want!!! But it will be done when it is time, with her curled in my arms as my beautiful Rhodesian Ridgeback Karma and stay close in my heart always…

  46. Kristy says

    Thank you, thank you so much for this post. I lost several people, a pet rat, and 2 ferrets in the last year. I kind of shut down for a time. My guilt and grief culminated after I lost my heart ferret in March unexpectedly. I was beating myself up for still grieving him and the others when I came to this blog to check in as I have for the last year. It reminded me that grief is not something you can decide is over. It reminded me about all the good things I enjoyed with each of the lost. It reminded me that I hurt because loss of important things in life actually do “hurt” one physically not just emotionally.

    To those still raw from a loss my heart goes out to you. To those in their final years/months/days my heart goes out to you.

    To Trisha-Thank you. I know Lassie’s Party in December will be a blast for you. May she live forever.

    PS-I think the idea of going out with my dog for one last Ice Cream Treat is lovely.

  47. Helen says

    oh how i can identify with all these stores of grief loss and guilt.
    this year has been particularly painful.. my sweet Lucinda, maremma extraordinaire, was released from her long and valiant battle with mast cell cancer.. fittingly on the last day of summer.
    Less than a month later, dear Lucky ( another maremma) was released… he was always an anxious lad and had a terrible first year of life until he came into rescue. After Lucinda passed he became increasingly anxious and unsettled.. i thought it was because lucinda was no longer there.. but it turned out it was his heart.. \xray showed it enlarged and that he was drowing in fluid. I let him go without waking him.. and still weep that the last thing i did was to put him in a pen at the vets.. he was terrified. Then in april maremma sisters Angelina and Margali both died……

    My pack is diminished without them but but life has been immeasurably enriched by their presence

    may all who grieve find peace and rejoice in the memories made on the journey of life


  48. says

    I’ve been scouring the internet trying to find some guidance, direction, commiseration, and I stumbled onto here. Even though the blog and comments are primarily aimed at dog people, I noticed a few cat persons posting, too. And does it really matter whether it’s a dog or a cat, anyway? Aren’t the feelings, fears, guilt and pain the same?

    My cat has terminal mammary cancer. All chemo has stopped and she has been at home to live out the rest of her life w/whatever quality and all the love and care DH and I can give her. Since we decided to keep her home, we’ve been agonizing over the same painful questions that some others here have shared: When? I’ve had other cats who have “told” me when only because they were so weakened and failing, the decision was obvious. But to take a cat – even one with large cancerous masses on her chest and belly that have already slightly ulcerated – but who still has a healthy appetite, drinks, uses her litter pan, enjoys our company, sleeps with me, loves to be petted & brushed and purrs like crazy, and does all the little things that are indigenous to her particular personality …to take that cat and end her days now because I fear losing her to congestive heart failure or tumors in her lungs impeding her breathing…… do that NOW seems so terribly premature.

    Last night DH and I made the decision to save her from any suffering and say our goodbyes while her quality of life is still just that: quality. Instead of a last-minute frantic rush to the ER hospital, we opted for a house visit from a vet who comes to the home. Sadly, her regular vet doesn’t. Even though I will slightly sedate her beforehand w/pain med and Rescue Remedy Pet

  49. Trisha says

    Oh Linda, my heart goes out to you. There’s only one thing I know for sure about all this: You only have to decide one day at a time. When I’m in your situation (it hurts just thinking about it), it helped me tremendously to remind myself that all I have to do each morning is ask: “Is today the day?” If it’s not, then it’s not, and you can let it go. Then spend the day making it the best day you can for her.

    And one more thing…. if you’re not ready, it’s a valid reason to wait. If it helps, the last 2 times I put dogs down (Tulip and Pippy Tay), we made the decision and then spent 4-7 days giving all of us what we needed. I took lots of time off, spent lots of time with them, did their favorite things as best we could. By the end of the designated time, I was ready, and I hadn’t been beforehand. It was still incredibly hard, (in part because I guarantee you they will get better on at least one of those days), incredibly hard, but it helped me tremendously to have that focused time to help prepare myself.

    Please think of yourself too. You are the one who will be left, lying in bed at night missing her, and you’re the one who would suffer if you did something you weren’t comfortable with.


  50. says

    Bless you, Trisha for commenting on my way-to-long post, The pre-bereavement counselor suggested I automatic write my thoughts each day in he form of a letter to or about Sandy. Well, that counselor doesn’t know that once I’m put on “automatic” I can write till I run out of gas,.

    I’ve done pretty much exactly what you’ve done: “It seems good today? Well, then let’s make the most of it. Let’s dote like hell on her!” And we do. On those bad days I still dote only it comes closer to hovering and I think that tends to make her nervous, so I back off. A bit.

    As of three o’clock this afternoon we made our final decision and lucked into my old vet who used to care for our other two cats. He’s still practicing, although not nearby, But he’s close enough to come and help Sandy over . I am so relieved it won’t be a stranger and one who might not be as experienced in this as I’d like (they send interns to do a great deal of home service calls , I’ve found out). ‘

    Tonight I’m sure we made the right decision and at the right time. One of her wounds has ulcerated even more and she is licking it constantly and moving less. I examined it closely. Ugly, rotten ba$tard thing ruining my poor sweet baby’s little body! It is also bleeding a bit more possibly because she’s licking it. Either way, having him come Friday afternoon can’t be soon enough now. Of course I want to hold her another day,…but not at the risk of this getting even worse and causing pain.

    I never thought I’d say this, but I’m at peace with the decision we made and am comfortable with who will help her along,.

  51. Mary Beth says

    Wonderful comments everyone. Its comforting to know that we all grieve intensely when we lose a special animal. As a County Dog Warden, I say goodbye to the Cujos who want to eat the neighbors children and cry for the ones that should have hard a better start in life, who’s owners should have known more about behavior and dogs. I cry for the ones who couldn’t be fixed up (even now looking at pictures of the Plott hound with a severe spinal cord injury who broke my heart when his immune system crashed). And I worry about all the ones that I want to get into that very special home. The grief is no less for the shelter dogs than it is for my pets at home or for even the wonderful people who have graced my life and passed on. I do think I grieve more intensely for the dogs that I feel were cheated on life. It was easier to say goodbye to my 14 year old coonhound who was retired from SAR work and therapy dog work and who had bone cancer. He never even looked up when the vet pulled in the driveway. He was ready and content and had lived a long life. My once in a lifetime cat who got hit by a car after we moved into a new house that we found out the hard way had a back door that didn’t latch, that was tough. My SAR dog who died from lymphosarcoma at age 8 I think I grieved for 5 years or more until I broke down bawling at a compassion fatigue seminar.
    Shame on someone for belittling the gifts we give our pets in their last moments. I’ve taken shelter dogs for a ride in the truck to McDonalds for a last cheeseburger. I bought my SAR dog fresh bread when the bakery opened before the vet got to the house. He ate the whole loaf. I euthanized him and buried him in his working harness. My hound was buried with two rawhide chewies between his paws. He only ever got them once a year on his birthday and he never chewed them. He simply lorded over all the other dogs for 24 hours till I took them away the next day. Silly hound! He’s buried on top of the hill where he always stopped to look down on his domain and he has those two chewies with him. Interesting is that despite him being gone for more than two years now, not a blade of grass, flower or paw print graces that grave. I tried to plant flowers and they always got kicked out. I blamed squirrels even though squirrels rarely dare to step into our yard. Grass never grows there. And even visiting dogs who never knew the ruling hound don’t ever step on that grave. Odd to see them sidestep at a full run.
    The rituals that give us and our beloved pets peace should be valued with utmost importance. Last week I put my obnoxious hound puppy in a kennel for ten days of doggie daycare (he had fun) just so that Matt could spend ten days alone with his girl, our 13 year old Lab who’s suffering from laryngeal paralysis. I was out of town with the other two dogs and it was the best gift I could give him…ten days to treat his girl like the princess she deserves. She loved every minute of being the center of attention and I know he’ll remember that time for always. I hate to acknowledge that her clock is ticking louder and louder with each labored breath.

  52. Dena Norton says

    The pain (and it is definitely a physical pain) of losing a beloved pet is made so much worse by the guilt of trying to decide when the right time is for euthanasia. And we all decide differently. In some situations, people go through massively heroic efforts to extend a pet’s life. In some, we decide to end their lives on a more positive note, believing that extended life without quality is useless.

    But we all do the best we can for the pets we love.

    We had our Springer, Izzee, euthanized over a year ago, at the far-too-young age of 9-1/2, as she was failing due to a form of pancreatic cancer. Despite the fact that I truly believe we made all the right decisions for her, my husband and I both still suffer bouts of guilt and anger about some of the events of her last week of life.

    My heart goes out to all of us.

  53. Jaleen Hacklander says

    Some words that were shared with me after having to make the decision to put down one of my horses rang loud and clear. “You can not affect the life and death process, but you can affect the quality of life.” This is such a simple and clear thought. It is interesting to substitute the word control for affect as well. I hope this simple message will bring some peace in your heart if you are struggling with the decisions you have had to make. It did to mine.

  54. Rhapsedy says

    I had my 14 year old Lab/Husky Callaway put to sleep 2 months ago and although I feel a little better the pain is still overwhelming. He had been diagnosed with lymphoma and my vet had him on predisolone and antibiotics for the last 6 months of his life. I decided not to put him thru chemo because of his age and he hated going to the vet. I cooked for him every morning and night and took him in the car everywhere that I went. I tried to make him as happy and comfortable as I could. I have incredible guilty feelings that I should have gotten a second opinion, I wonder if I should have had him on predisolone for so long, did I put him to sleep too soon. These emotions are overwhelming and I don’t know how to stop them.

    Thank you for listening.

  55. Ann says

    Wow—I really forgot how hard this was to put down a dog that you KNOW is in pain. My beloved Golden Retriever, Ellie, was a God-send, and endured heart surgery and cancer with me over the last 2 years. She patiently waited and watched, and comforted me. The hemangiosarcoma was a shock, at 7 yrs! She had the tumor removed, but was so advanced that they told me 2-4 months. It is has been over 2 months. I am seeing her less active, and the tumor has regrown. She it showing some signs of stress, and I know that it is time. Thank you for this article. I know that it is time to end the pain for her. Please pray for my children, they are devastated. I did get a puppy this last week to help bridge the gap, and that seems to be helping. Blessings to all of our “best friends without conditions”. I will miss her, but I know now that I owe her the gift of peace.

  56. sarah says

    I have just put my dog to sleep after we’ve spent the last 17 years together. I can’t remember him not being in my life. I feel so guilty. I feel like I murdered him. He was nearly blind and pretty deaf, he was on 9 pills in the morning for his thyroid problem and 1.5 pills at night for his arthritis. He couldnt stand up for any period anymore, he had to lie down to eat, and hadnt been able to go for a walk for two years. He was almost incontinent, and was messing in the house so I couldn’t have him in the lounge anymore. Yet even though it sounds a hell of a list he was still my Fudge one minute and gone the next. No matter how many times people say to me it was the right thing to do, I feel like it wasn’t my choice to make, and I am racked with guilt.

  57. Trisha says

    To Sarah: Oh Sarah, my heart goes out to you. It’s not fair that we have to play God. I know that nothing I can say will take away the loss, but—–it WAS your choice to make, and that’s exactly why this is so hard on you. It’s just so hard having to be the one to make this decision, but who else? You could have done nothing, and let your dog begin to suffer terribly and perhaps die a terrible death, but you did the brave, courageous thing and helped him into another world. I hope it helps to remember what I said in the blog: everyone seems to feel guilty, no matter what the circumstances, perhaps because it is easier to think that maybe, just maybe, there was something else you could have done, rather than accepting that life just happens to us sometimes, and as hard as it is, all we can do is play the hand we are dealt. Cyber hugs to you.

  58. tony says

    i have put my 7 year old border collie to sleep,now it has hit me like a steam train,i wish now i put lucy back in the car.ihave cried all week with guilt,that i have let her down,from 8 weeks old,
    i bought lucy for my daughter,she has bit 23 people in that 7 years,why i don’tknow, mainly customers
    from my pub,who put their hand there,my wife my daughter all bit,yet the dog was so loving
    most of the time,she was happy one minute,then snappy the next,my daughter in the end would not trust lucy,i don’t blame her,we have done our best over the years,and now she has gone
    i miss her so much,did i do the right thing or could i have done something tony

  59. says

    i am at th front door of having to put my 15 yrs an 10 an 1/2 months of age bichon tuffy to sleep .my husband dave was in th nursing home for eight years w/ muscular dystrophy an finally cancer.he passed away last may. me an tuffy made our regular daily trips to th home to visist an spend time w/him til he died . tuffy spent hours on his lap . we were there when he passed… i acttualy saw th grief in tuffys eyes after dave died. my dear dog was feeling th same loss as i was. th nurses and patients at th home all loved tuffy. he is almost tottaly blind now and can barely hear. falls alot and cries more. his dad will be there after he crosses over to be w/ him on th other side. thts a bit of confort but i will miss him so . i cry when somone else loves an loses there darling pets. i thank u for a bit of confort here. god bless u all.

  60. Lori says

    I am so grateful for websites such as this that help immensely with the healing process. Six months ago, I made the heartwrenching decision to end Tater, my 16-year-old dog’s life. He could no longer walk and had accidents in his bed. I know that I made the right decision, as I would not want to have such a poor quality of life myself. Before Tater’s life ended, I rescued an abandoned dog left on our country road for two days sitting in the same spot waiting for her parents to come back to her. I named her Sophie because she was such a pretty girl. Sophie loved to run and run and was such a free spirit. However, part of her running included chasing cars. My husband hooked her up to her rope in the driveway and we both knew that on a couple occasions the clasp would fail when she hit the end of the driveway, breaking away and running. She was only on the rope for two minutes while I prepared breakfast for all of my cats. That all it took for her to dash off and get hit by a car and killed. We’re just devastated, feeling negligent and guilty. I know that it’ll take time to heal, but knowing that we could have prevented her death makes it all so bad. She had gotten loose in the past, but stayed on our private road. If I could only turn the clock back and not make that fatal mistake again.

  61. Sue says

    We just put down our beloved Westie, Scruffy. She seemed to be a little less active (age 7.5) but we thought it was her age….then she abruptly stopped eating. She was found to have hepatic and renal failure. Dx unclear..supportive therapy excellent….creatinine continued to climb to 5.7. What do you do? Refer to referral hospital…she has renal failure…can they alter the course of end organ failure????

    We went to see her…devastated. She was ill, ascites, those eyes said..I am sick….

    She is now in dog heaven we believe….May God bless our Scruffy….she was our friend, our ever faithful companion who amazingly loved us more than we could love her…

  62. David says

    I am going through this right now. Today is Friday, but on Monday we will be putting our dear puppy (11 months) down for behavior problems. We tried everything we, our breeder, and the vet could, but we just couldn’t get his aggression under control. 99% percent of the time he was the best, most loving dog you could ever wish for. He loved to go retrieve bumpers in the yard and play with the kids in the backyard. But every once in a while, for some reason, a dark cloud would come over him. Now, after several bites we have had to make the hard choice. We know it is the right thing to do, but it still hurts sooooooooo much. I have had so many of the “did I do this right” and “I should have done this instead” thoughts. I and my whole family are simply crying till we can’t cry anymore. Thank you for the above post and all the heartfelt responses. You feel like you are the only one that has ever had to go through this…I see that I am not. We will love our Orion forever, just as I know he loved all of us too. We will place him in the backyard so we can visit him. I hope the pain ends for all of us, and we remember only the good times. We look forward to seeing him at the bridge someday. He was a good dog.

  63. says

    On July 16/10, we had to put our lovely Shadow down. She was an 8 yr old black lab. She was going down hill really fast. On monday, she was eating and drinking, but she was vomiting and had poops. Tuesday was more of the same, but she would eat only treats. By wednesday she stopped eating all together, but drinking like no tomorrow only to throw most of it back up. I was scheduled to work thursday, but due to Shadow, I knew that she was headed in a direction that I couldn’t save her from. I took the day off to be with her. She laid down beside me and I rubbed her tummy. She was sooo content, but still not eating and vomiting water.
    Friday came and the vet called us back saying to get Shadow to her office as quickly as possible. Thursday night, was when I knew something else was wrong. No cold. Shadow had blood in her urine. Never a good sign. I picked up my husband from work and we drove to vets, both thinking that she would be coming home.
    The vet gave us grave news. Shadow had hemangiosarcoma (canacer of the blood vessells and arteries). A tumor that was on her spleen had ruptured and started to bleed internally. Due to lack of oxygen, Shadow’s liver started to fail. Her heartrate was up! My poor baby had basically hours to live. 3 hours after diagnoses, after many photos being taken, after hoping, it was time to say goodbye. With my husband standing behind me, I gently took her head into my hands, told her what a wonderful girl she had been for the 9 months that we had her. She was in my heart always and that soon her pain would be over and she would be free. I told her that I was sorry for the decisions that I HAD to make for her sake. I hope that she understood, still no tear shed my eye. Strength from deep within, held the tears in check. As I watched them inject her, time seemed to slow. I could see my beloved friend’s eyes droop and as the vet took Shadow’s now heavy head and laid gently in the tender grass that she earlier basked in the sun’s rays, I saw her warmth, her love one last time and than nothing. I closed her eyes and softly kissed her brow. I pat her for several minutes until the vet checked her heartbeat one last time. “She’s gone.” the vet said softly. With that the barrage of strength left my body and was replaced by waves upon waves of tears. I kissed Shadow one last time. I told her that I was sooo sorry and that I hope she could forgive me. I was crippled by sooooo many emotions all at once. Guilt, shame, horror, grief, hopelessness just to name a few. My head knew that there was no other choice for my decision to euthanise Shadow. The vet gave her merely hours left and those hours would increase in pain and discomfort. She lungs would close up on her and she would literally try to gasp for air. Is that what I wanted to her? Gone are the days were a wagging whip of her tail greeted me as I came home. No more kisses to give. She just didn’t have the energy. I had to show her my greatest act of love for her was letting her go quietly and without more pain.
    A week has gone by. I miss her terribly so. I sleep with her collar wrapped around my wrist at night, just so that I know she is near. Last night, I even cuddled with her favorite ducky toy. Just to be near her. Still have those waves of pain and loss and guilt. Would I take away that decision to let her rest peacefully without a tragic death? Not if my life depended upon it. Tonight, I will still sleep with her collar around me wrist, but knowing that there are others out there that have the same intense love for their dearly departed pet, calms me. I am not alone! Not really. RIP Shadow girl! We love you! <3

  64. says

    On September 11, 2010 we will say farewell to Duke, our 14+year old male westie. Last year in June we had to let his sister go to cancer. He has congestive heart disease and is increasingly becoming more uncomfortable, especially at night. Years ago we lost a 4 year old westie right before our eyes. Is one pain greater than another? The guilt regarding Duke is proving to be the greatest. He can still sprint across the yard if an “invader” is near; he eats well, “poops”, and continues to wag that little tail every time my cat walks by. And yet….his quality….the towels and pillows strewn all over the house and the fans going to keep him cool. Enough we decided….and again, the guilt. But thru it all and with blogs such as this, I can know in my heart, if not in my mind, that Duke will rejoin his family over the rainbow and will always be with me. I chose for him what he could not ask for; I grieve for what I will lose but cheer for all the unconditonal love he has given and for the joy he brought when our 4 year old passed so suddenly. He was that dog’s “spirit”….hopefully another spirit will appear. No matter what, thanks for offering this site….it is indeed needed!!!!

  65. trisha says

    To Linda, and her Duke: No guilt, no guilt, toss it away, truly. Yes he could still wag his tail, but you prevented him from dying a painful death, and greater love hath no person than that. Vets tell me all the time about dogs who were let go too long, who ended up suffering terribly (A good friend of mine who is a vet let one of his dogs go too long, and found her in a horrible state when he returned one day. I’ll skip the details…). I think I let Lassie go too long, wish now I had helped her on her way the night before she died. So no guilt, no guilt. Just love.

    Take care of yourself. You might want to go to the “Six Words” post in January of 2010, in which I and hundreds of others wrote 6 words, a la Hemingway, in honor of our dogs. I’ll look for the ones about Duke. Lucky boy, that Duke.

  66. Christine says

    Thank you so much for this post and the many others who have added their stories. One week ago, we had to put our 3 1/2 year old dog down because of behavior issues. We sought help from many vets and trainers to help him overcome his issues, but unfortunately after an incident involving a child we had to make the decision to put him down. He wouldn’t dare hurt anyone in our family, but with strangers (small or large) he felt the need to protect us. The guilt has been overwhelming as are the almost constant moments of missing him. I have a constant ache in my stomach of guilt and sadness. Everyone else in the family seems to be coping better than I have. I don’t think I have ever been more sad. Knowing that time will heal and that others have experienced what I am going through helps as well. Hopefully, the guilt will subside. I can only hope that our sweet Teddy is running around in Heaven while waiting for the rest of us!

  67. Joyce says

    Thank you for your post. It was very encouraging to me. We had to put our 9-year-old lab down…it was so quick and unexpected — tumors on her spleen. I felt so guilty, like I killed her – causing her cancer some how. She had an infection of the uterus – took her in for that first, then they ran tests. She lost lots of weight in a week – not eating, lethargic. We thought it was the bordeom of her food or a bad tooth. But, then in my motherly gut I knew it was something more. Somehow I knew when my husband took her in – she would not be coming home. Our other dog is so sad. She is about 4 years old. Our girls – 12 and 8 – were heartbroken to hear the news. We said our last goodbye. Now, I am feeling guilty not being with her when she actually received the injection. A friend told me “You don’t want to see it..” guess I should take comfort in that and that I know she knew she was loved by us. I gave her a bath last Sunday – she loved it, forever I will treasure that moment.

  68. ls says

    I know you have tons of emails and comments to read and you may never get to this one, but your writings about the loss of your dogs has touched me deeply and I wanted to share with you my tribute to our 14 year old collie, who I had to say good-bye to yesterday. he was an old dog when we adopted him…. i’m sorry its a bit long

    He came to us in the summer, a wee little collie man, with a scratchy old nose and bumpy old body.

    I remember the first time I gave him a bath and how pathetic he looked, dripping wet and skinny with lumps all over. But I sat with a brush and blow dryer and a little while later he looked magnificent with his silky, shiny collie coat and striking white ruff. He bounced on his front legs and barked, knowing, I think, how beautiful he looked.

    Merlin loved his back yard. He spent many hours laying on the back porch, watching over his world. Even when his old legs ached, he jumped up each time someone passed the yard and ran to the fence with his awkward old gait, his raspy bark warning intruders that it was his area and he would protect it. Then he lumbered back up to the porch, eyes shining, and tail wagging, proud that he had defended his family and warded off danger. Sometimes he chased birds out of the yard. Sometimes he barked at birds that tried to fly through the air space above his yard. He took very seriously his job as guardian of his home.

    He followed me everywhere when I was outside and laid and watched me do yard work. When I wasn

  69. shane says

    I am the proud owner of a 14+ year golden retriever.The things kozmo and i have done.We’ve hunted ducks,sure.But we’ve done so many other things that have made him so special to me.He was the first ducking dog i trained.I made allot of mistakes with him,but the mistakes i made helped me to be a better trainder. He and i learned to hunt fowl together.We’ve slept at my camp on the same old cot my great granfather slept on after a long day of trout fishing.We’ve walked through the woods in pursuit of grouse.We’ve snuggled up together on a cold day on my couch and just loved each other.
    We’ll last year i had to retire him from hunting,he was no longer physically able to perform the tasks at hand./so the last year,he has spent his life as a spoiled house pet.He’s not visibly sick or does not have any health peroblems that i am aware of.I have ownbed him since he was 8 weeks old.
    He’re is my ?After reading all the posts of people watching their dogs decline in health and have to watch this heartbreaking event unfold,i don’t believe i could handle watching him get sick,he mostly just lays around and eats good some days and some days not.Should i send him to the other side b4 he starts to decline or should i wait a few months until he gets visibly ill?I know that if i do this ,i will kick myself for not letting him go with dignity and grace.Please help with some input on my plight and point me in a direction i can live with.

  70. says

    For shane, I putting my 14 year old Lab mix down Wednesday morning. His seizures are becoming more frequent and more voilent. The vet suggest Phenabarb but that will only make him sleep and get fat. Otherwise, he is healthy and active. I AM going to spare him the indignities of incontinence and blindness that are sure to come in the next few months. That is if I don’t loose my mind before Wednesday. Everyone is supportive. And many of my friends say they waited too late.

  71. says

    Thank you for writing this. I’ve read it before but came across it again today. Yesterday I made the decision to put down my 12 y/o Border Collie who had become old and weak before her time due to cancer. In two months time she had gone from always ready to play ball and frisbee to being worn out by a walk around the yard. I truly would have done anything to help her but hemangiosarcoma is cruel and in the end all I could do was spend time with her doing what she loved for as long as she could, then help her ease out when life became increasingly difficult for her. It hurts like crazy, but at least my girl isn’t hurting anymore.

  72. trisha says

    Mara: I’ve lost two dogs to hemangio and oh yes it is so cruel. How good that you could be there one last time for your dear dog. What a blessing you gave her. My heart goes out to you…

  73. Sandy says

    I made the decision to put down a beautiful rescue that had been abused. I worked with his fear aggression and it decreased but it seemed that he was then developing dominance aggression. He had bitten 2-3 times, when I rescued him. Once just snapped when he was startled out of sleep, caught the skin. Once bit the abusers hand, had to see dr but no stitches and clamped down on coowners had when she was trying to move him from kennel. Soon after I got him, he snapped, growled and bit me on reflex when I once startled him. Finally when he was being walked, he had a dangerous object in his mouth and wouldn’t release it. Not thinking the person walking him smacked him on his snout trying to get him to release it. NEVER acceptable ( unless you’re knocking poison or ? out of a dogs mouth) and certainly not with a previously abused dog. Poor dog, he released the object and attacked the person. Understandable…he had been abused and he never should have been touched at all. I then got a trainer in to evaluate him since I have decades of dog but no experience with abuse or aggression. He turned on the trainer, who as far as I could see was not hurting him…but WAS preventing him from moving away from him. The solutions from the experts I couldn’t handle, not any of it. I tried to find someone with experience to take him, and was willing to do what I knew I was capable of doing. I ended up putting him down. This dog was a perfect angel otherwise. I am now certain I did the wrong thing, based my decision on fear and I am tormented by guilt and remorse. The pain is really excruciating, I feel like a murderer. In hindsight I can see all the things/options I failed to recognize. He had bitten 3 times, out of fear, snarled and growled warnings many times, and postured growled defensively a few times. Experts convinced me that he would have bitten again if I hadn’t committed to a training program that was to me unacceptable. I don’t think this guilt remorse and pain will ever end. I now am convinced that they were all wrong and if I hadn’t over reacted to the bites I could have worked with him and gotten through this. This is just awful.

  74. trisha says

    Sandy: Please be as kind and gentle to yourself as you would be if someone else told you this story. What would you say to them? That they tried their hardest, and finally did what they thought was best at the time? That the dog himself would no doubt forgive her? Re-read this blog, and then re-read again the parts in which I say that EVERYONE tends to feel guilty, no matter how extreme the situation, because it often is easier than accepting that we just don’t have as much control of the world as we’d like. And then, re-read the part about taking care of yourself, because you are grieving and your brain is telling you that you have been badly injured. You have, and you need kindness and comfort and nurturing. Right now your job is to take care of yourself, or find someone to help you do it for you. Just keep asking yourself what you’d say to your best friend, and listen well…. Hugs.

  75. Sandy says

    I’m grateful for this site and your response Trish. It’s a lifeline…I really was thinking that my reaction was abnormal. I will surely bring a deeper level of empathy and compassion for others that go through this. Best to you.

  76. Mary Ward says

    We have a different guilt that I haven’t seen yet. We had to put our best friend, Bear down last Tuesday. We had him for eleven years and he was the best dog we had ever had. He went everywhere we went, slept with us, ate with us and was a huge part of our lives. He was a big Black Lab and he had a wonderful sense of humor and loved to play tricks on us. He couldn’t breath that morning so we had to make the decision to put him down. I didn’t want to watch so I drove off to work and left him on the lawn, and that was my last vision of my pet. My husband took him to the vet and said he couldn’t watch so he left. When he got home, he called and said they wanted $300 to cremate him so he just left him there. We were so distraught that we didn’t even think about asking for his body so we could give him a proper burial. Wednesday afternoon, after I got off work, I told my husband I needed to get out of our quiet house, as all we had done was sit around and cry. I talked him in to going to a casino and renting a motel room and having dinner with our kids. When we came home the next day, we decided to try to retrieve his body and it was too late, they had taken it to the county dump the day before. Had we asked for it then, we could have had him. I called the dump and they had already buried him and would not dig him up so we could claim his body and bury him at our house. We are both so filled with grief and guilt for treating our faithful friend that way that it is all consuming. We can’t even talk to each other because we are blaming each other for our decisions. If only I had taken off work and both stood by while he was put down, if only one of us had had the mind-set to ask for our wonderful friend’s body, if only we hadn’t left for the night, and had thought this through before our grief had hit us so hard. We have been crying for two weeks and I don’t know if we can ever heal from our lack of loving decisions.

  77. Karen says

    Thank you so much for these healing words.
    We were the 4th rescue family for a very special dog. Her first owners had let her run and she was hit by a car. She was picked up by a rescue, put back together and put up for adoption, her second owners beat her (I’ll admit she had terrible manners but surely a beating never solves anything) they gave her to someone who lived in the country these people let her fend for herself. Someone turned her into another rescue from which we adopted her from. She was 3yrs old and only weighed 32 lbs (58 lbs is her normal weight now), had demodex and fly strikes on her ears. We nursed her back to health took her for obedience classes and worked very hard to teach her better manners. She jumped the 4 ft. fence so we put in a 6 ft. fence. She was food aggressive so we put up gates in our doorways and fed her separately. She would jump those gates so we put up another set above the other ones. For the first three years we had her things were improving and she was such a happy girl. About a year ago things started getting bad. She started challenging our old boxer girl and would not stop the attack until we physically pulled them apart. We kept them separated at all times since the attacks were starting to yield blood drawing injuries to our poor old girl. The last straw happened a couple evenings ago when she crashed through the gate and grabbed our senior girl by the throat and wouldn’t let go.
    We truly loved this dog but could no longer keep her. We were afraid to put her in rescue again because of her past history and made the gut wrenching decision to put her down. I feel as though we failed her but she will no longer starve, be beaten or be abandoned.

  78. trisha says

    Karen: You did NOT fail your dog. You gave her over 4 wonderful years, moved heaven and earth to try to help her and finally did what you had to do to protect an elderly dog from horrific injury or death. I hope you can focus on all that you did, and remember what I said in the article–that we just can’t fix everything, no matter how hard we try. It doesn’t mean we failed, it means we are sometimes just blowing in winds too strong to counter. What matters is how much grace you can muster to buffer the storm.Most importantly, take care of yourself. Remember that she’s fine now, you’re the ones who are suffering. I hope the pain eases soon, and that those around you are supportive.

  79. Karen says

    Thanks Trisha,
    You’re words are so comforting and so timely.
    I had to take our older dog in to the vet today because her eye swelled shut over the last two days. There is a scratch to the inner lid and eyeball. The vet gave her a shot and some ointment and if it’s not better by tuesday we’ll have to take her to see an eye specialist.
    While I was there someone brought in two dogs that had to be put down. One was torn up to the point you could see her heart. The other one just had a couple of nip marks. The owner said the one that was injured so terribly didn’t deserve to be put down because she didn’t to anything to initiate the attack.
    God works in mysterious ways.
    That could have very easily been me with my old girl.
    Thanks again!

  80. Kristy says

    I am so glad I found this site. I just put my beloved Wynn down on Thursday. I got him from a rescue shelter when he was 2 years old. It was very clear he had been abused. The first few years were great…then, he bit my neighbors son unprovoked and and broke the skin through jeans. It was easy to write it off as a fluke. Then he bit another boy as he was coming down the sidewalk. The police were called and it was easy to rationalize that it was just a scrape….surely he hadn’t meant to bite. Then he nipped at a girl who was trying to put him in my backyard….then, he bit a woman who cleans up my yard…again unprovoked. She had simply put her hand to the fence for him to smell and he got her through the fence. He was becoming more and more possessive and then started going to the bathroom in my house. I have been overcome with guilt and constantly second guess my decision. He was healthy and truly wonderful….but, was I going to wait until he bit again? It could have been a child the next time. I battled with this decision for months and I finally came to terms with the fact I had no other option. I could not, in good faith, re-home him knowing he was a biter. This website has helped bring me some relief hearing others stories and realizing we are not in control. I tried so hard and didn’t want to give up on him. My heart hurts so badly. I just need to know it was the right decision. In my heart of hearts I know it was right….but it doesn’t stop the guilt or second guessing. Today, I am letting go of the guilt and focusing on the fact he is now free from the burdens he carried with him and I am sure he is running happy and free with my other boy Mobie….Thank you so much for this site.

  81. Carrie says


    You and I are in the same exact boat. Your story mimics mine almost exactly. We put down our beautiful St. Bernard on Monday. He was a wonderful family dog, only 4 years old. But his aggression had gotten to the point where I was afraid he would bite one of my children, as he bit me last week. He has probably bitten 20-25 times, mostly nips but occasionally harder than that. So easy to justify and rationalize – they were strangers, we didn’t keep him in, he was just being protective, he is just trying to play, etc. But the truth is that he was ruining our lives. Our kids could not have friends over, in fact no one came over anymore. We couldn’t take him on walks or in public. He was sweet with my kids but we could not control him and it was just a matter of time before he seriously hurt someone. The last straw, other than biting me, was when he attacked a neighbor while her little kids watched. He broke the skin even. Had she not been standing right by the door and been able to get inside, I knew I could not have stopped him from hurting her seriously. I feel SO guilty and feel like we should have trained him better, maybe tried to find someone who could take him. I feel like we failed him. And he was such a good dog otherwise. It just feels like a waste of a beautiful life. And on top of that, I miss him so much! He was a comforting presence in my house nonetheless. I loved that dog.

  82. Janet says

    I had Spot for almost 19 years and had to put her down last week due to failing kidneys. I look at what was learned from this very sad experience.
    1. You can not change the past, just deal with what is at hand and LEARN from it.
    2. To make sure the life of your next pet is the best, have money set aside for the best organic diet possible and don’t over vaccinate.
    3. The dog should get along well with other pets or be alone with you. Spot, my smooth fox terrier did not like other animals and I will always regret putting my cats before my dog. Spot was hurt by that and loved me unconditionally in spite of it. Know your breed before you decide how many pets and kids you may wind up with or they may suffer.
    4. Many pet owners refuse to be in the room while the pet is put down. This is wrong. In the past, I left the room and have always felt bad. I stayed with Spot the entire time and tearfully talked to her while she went to sleep. Remember to bring a soft blanket and pillow to the vet. Insist the pet be placed on them, not the cold steel table alone. The best way to put any pet down is at home, but to some of us, that is too expensive. Most importantly is that you stay with them all the way to their forever home.

  83. calliegal235 says

    I think I’ve worn out all my friends with my emails. Thanks for a place I can be.

    I read about half of these many comments, but nothing like my experience do I see, except, I do feel guilty, but also angry and very sad.

    I’d never had a pet like the rescue Maltese my husband & I welcomed into our home 12/3/11, taking her from another foster home which needed a change, due to some special needs of one of their other two Maltese.

    Lily, 12 years old, began to show very strange, and scary to me, behaviors early Thursday morning, 1/12/12. I got her into the vet about noon. She was dehydrated and anemic. They said they needed her overnight, though she hates being alone, she was so weak, I felt it best to leave her. Vet called that afternoon, xrays, lungs, bones were okay, no problem. Were there any pills she could have gotten into, or anti-freeze? No, she was always with one of us, usually me, and all day with me.

    Friday 1/13/12 the vet phoned Lily was a little more perky. We needed to check with them Sat, about 10 am, to see how she was progressing, and if she could go home.

    I slept a few hours Sat am. A little after 10 am, my husband woke me, saying vet called, Lily was not doing well, they didn’t know how long we wanted to continue…
    We went right away. They brought her to us, & I held her, for a long time. No one came until we asked for a vet. I didn’t understand yet what was wrong with her. Her anemia count had gone from 27 on Thurs. to 13. The vet didn’t think she would live more than 24 to 48 hours. My husband wanted to take her home. I was worried about taking her home.

    The vet “hospital,” was closing at 3 pm, and we would have to leave by then. I would have to decide what to do. The only other thing they said was that she had a bad bacterial infection.
    I wasn’t sure what to do; we were new fosters, and I hadn’t discussed with anyone in the rescue organization this possibility. I didn’t have anyone’s info with me. The staff tried to reach someone through the website, to no avail.
    My husband left for a little bit.
    While he was out, Lily threw up on the yellow fleece fabric I had cradled her in, but the back of her was on me and my coat, where she peed. I cried for help, as I was alone with her.
    Finally a vet came, and soon my husband returned.

    Against my husband’s strong and emotional pleas to take her home, let him nurse her back to health or die at home (he finally said I could do what I wished) I said I’d sign the paper. He left again for a little bit. By the time he returned, the vet had given Lily the sedative. Then she gave Lily the second shot. I sobbed through all of this. I am still having some surreal moments.

    Then I started going back over everything….did the tick they removed from her 12/27/11 cause this? I had not recognized it as a tick, so engorged as it was (it was dead) nor realized with her flea/tick med that a tick would bite her.
    Was this anaplasmosis, I found online? Was this cancer returning after tumor that was removed two years ago? Why hadn’t I remembered to mention I thought her urine rather dark? Was it because the vet checked her blood on 12/27 and said the results were negative, allaying my fears? For the next few days, I sent out various emails, to family, friends, strangers, everyday my mind fixed on something different that caused her to be sick.

    Finally, today I found the medical file I had taken to the vet for her first appt, 12/7/11, which I couldn’t find Thursday. (I had only flipped through, glancing at some things in it before I had left the file with the vet; I’d not gotten back to it to read more thoroughly.)

    I read the fine print about 6 pages into her file; she was diagnosed 5/05/05 with HMD. Advised not to have high-protein diet nor treats, no clinical symptoms present so no treatment at that time, she had lived with it for 5 years, & prognosis was fair to good for her future. If symptoms appeared, chaned diet first, then if more is need, treat with antibiotics and….[there was something else also].
    Check HMD on the internet.

    I had been giving her high protein snacks throughout her time with us, and the day before going in, so weak, when she had not eaten all day, I had let her have some of the canned salmon I had cooked for us. She gobbled several pieces.

    Did I have her euthanized because of symptoms of HMD? Whe didn’t any of the three vets mention this over the last two days?

    She was gone from us 6 weeks to the day we had brought her home.
    I’m just sick over this. Most of all, I want her back.
    I feel like I let her down, and those who cared about her. I feel like someone should have TOLD me about this.

    Her former foster family answered my email, saying they knew of the HMD diagnosis, but last summer their vet, after bloodwork, had said it was borderline, and did not require a special diet. Again, I wonder, what was it?

    I think I slowly poisoned her, and then without a full diagnosis of what was really wrong with her, just the vet saying Lily was suffering and would not live long, had her put to “sleep.”
    When the vet had weakly offered a blood tranfusion would buy a little time….I wish I’d told her to do it, & then taken her home or to a 24 hour emergency care animal hospital.

    Guilt? Heaps, but again, mostly want her back here with me.

  84. Ellen says

    I would like to hear from ppl who have had to put a dog down for extreme behavioral issues… when the dog is physically in perfect health, or a dog only a couple years old. When you try everything short of cruelly kenneling them 24/7, away from any chance of them hurting another animal or person. How does one get over that guilt of feeling that maybe you gave up too soon. Maybe more training… more behavior mgmt…. maybe……

  85. Kristy says

    Thank you so much, reading this has really helped my grieving. My dog has struggled for years with a health condition and I have come to the challenging decision to put him down. I have only a couple days left with him before I’m taking him in, and I’m consumed with guilt. I know I’m doing the most humane thing, he will go in peace instead of suffering, but I feel like I’m leading him to his death. I feel wrong that I’m the one deciding his fate instead of letting nature (or god – if I decide he exists) take its course but I know if I did that he could spend another few months, or even year, suffering daily, and if I wanted to go with natures course that means stopping his meds which means sudden painful death anyway. After reading what you have to say, I’m always going to feel guilty, I’m always going to wonder what I couldve of shouldve wouldve done, because he is my dog and my responsibility to care for as my own. In the end the only peace I can have is knowing I made a decision to protect him from further pain and to keep my promise that I will be there for him till his last day.

  86. says

    Thank you so much for this article. I just put down my 12 year old collie yesterday. I felt so guilty, having given him a bully stick that gave him diarrhea, that I thought aggravated the arthritis in his back. My husband doesn’t think that is what caused him the pain, and to lose the use of his limbs. But I will always wonder. But it is true we cannot control everything, even though we try with our dogs. To keep them safe and healthy as long as we can. Levi was my first agility dog, and yes, trainers can be a bit of control freaks can’t they. I will always miss my Levi, he was my heart dog. Though I believe I can feel him with me again, already.

  87. Clinton says

    We will be putting our Lilly down today at 6pm for behavior reasons. We got her from the pound 10 years ago. Ever since she has only been attached to people she knows. She lunges and goes insane at strangers or other animals. She has bitten people in our family before. Not in a feirce way, but has bitten. I know if we hadnt rescued her 10 years ago that she probably would have already been put down.

    We have tried every training known to man. Years of training, but nothing ever worked. She could never get along with anyone at the trainings and always had to wear a muzzle.

    We had a baby girl a year ago. She is now crawling and walking. We never keep the dog in the same room as the baby unless we are all together. And we are always on guard and in protect mode when doing so. A few weeks ago we noticed that from about 6 feet away Lilly was staring right at the baby and showing teeth when the baby was crawling. You can tell shes jealous and very confused around the baby, even thouh we’ve tried to make her comfortable around the baby. She will look at the baby from the corner of her eye and then turn her head away.

    It really really sucks that we are going to have to do this to our old crazy friend, but we cant risk the dog biting our child and the child having a deformity for the rest of her life. Since she cant defend herself we need to take every precaution in making sure she is safe. We cannot give the dog away since she is condemed an agressive dog in our county.

    One of the worst decisions evwe have ever had to make.

  88. chris says

    I have suffered more from my dog’s passing than from my parents passing–tho I loved them dearly. The love of a dog is supernatural amd getting past it is the biggest callenge I have had in my 60 years. The guilt of having not done enough (altho we did alot) could be tormenting. This has made me “mature” or “grow Up” in a way I have never had to—even tho rasing children, there were many tough times.

    I went according to my instincts with my dog in her care choices. I believed I did what she wanted. At times, I think I am nuts for believeing I could comunicate with my dog.

    My world view has been rocked by all this.

  89. Tori says

    I had my Shih-tzu until she was 17.5 yrs old. She has gone down hill as she aged in the past few years with the last year being the most, of course. She was still eating and drinking and going to the bathroom, but we put her to rest due to the fact we felt she had no quality of life. she was totally deaf and blind, her back was crippled/arched and looked very painful. When she walked she sort of dragged her legs some. Although she didn’t cry out. She hadn’t barked in I’ll bet over a year, can’t remember the last time she wagged her tail even. Can’t remember when she scratched… It was difficult for her to get up from a sleeping position, she would occasionally fall over and end up on her side and could not get back up. She laid down to eat, like she couldn’t stand that long, but sometimes she walked around in circles for quite a while. Her fur was falling out in clumps and had bald spots. Almost all her fur on her feet was gone. But most of all, she would not or could not or didn’t want to interact with people. And that by far was her favorite thing in the entire world to do. So, she did not have an obvious cancer or disease that we know of, although the doc said he felt a growth and her heartbeat was irregular. (the day we took her in) Anyway, we took the best care of her that we could but on May 31, 2012, I got up in the morning and it was like someone told me to put her to sleep. I don’t know if it was God or her, but I had this thought and force in me that just propelled me forward. I never even questioned it and did not waver in my decision. It was almost spooky! But the thought was all about the fact she did not seem to enjoy her favorite things anymore, especially people. And it said to do it asap so we did, that afternoon. Now I feel empty and guilty. Reading your stories has been helpful. I guess I wonder if we should have waited. But it seemed she was only existing, to us. And being deaf and blind and having problems walking it seemed maybe scary for her.
    Thanks for listening…

  90. Patience Misses Duchess says

    Hello.. I Am Patience We Have A Dog Name Duchess Grace Cooke.. She Was Born On August.. And We Had Have Her For 4 Years Now!! She Is Gonna Get Put To Sleep Tomorrow @ 12:30 in the evening… I Am 12 Years Old.. I Will Miss U Baby!<3

    (Cried and Cried For 3 hours)

  91. Cassie says

    Thank you for all of the stories which I have been sitting here reading and crying. My family has a ten year old Doberman, Duchess, who has been up and down for a little while now. She has had thyroid and incontinence problems but while at the vet yesterday was discovered to have a tumor on her diaphragm which is pressing on her lungs as well as her abdominal organs. Also her stomach has partially turned. We know that there is nothing that can be done to cure her but are still having trouble coming to terms with it. My sister and I will be taking her to the vet on Saturday afternoon to be put down. She has been a loving wonderful dog who we have had since she was a puppy. We know that this is a part of life and we have to make the right desision for our beloved pup but that doesn’t make it any easier. She will be going to the beach that she learned to swim at, providing she is up to it, on Saturday morning and will be spoiled in the next few days. I wish that these things weren’t as hard as they are but am greatful for the memories and love that we have gotten over the years.

  92. Amber says

    Loki was 6 yrs old & had been raised with 3 kids his whole life. He was their guardian. No one messed with his kids. I must have hundreds of photos of them all snuggling, kids riding him, pulling on his ears, he loved every moment of it. Then one day he attacked our 13 yr old son. Such a shock. 7 hours in the ER & 43 stitches later, I was standing in front of him as he shook his butt & welcomed me home. I was so angry he wasn’t mean to me when I arrived, because I knew what the outcome would be. The sd & vet think it was a domincance attack. My husband is Military & in & out of the home often, with a recent deployment to Afghanistan, they think Loki was trying to replace alpha male. I spent the 7 days of his in home quarantine calling rescue league after rescue league & no one would touch him. I had no other choice, if it would’ve been our 3 yr old, he would’ve killed him. I took Loki in to the vet & held all 80 lbs of him in my arms as he died. I cried like a baby. Shouldn’t I be angry at him for hurting my child & betraying us all? I want to, but I’m just not. It was like paying to have a family member murdered. I still feel intense guilt. Our son is healing very well physically, emotionally, not so much. He is angry at me for having Loki put down, yet also has a real fear of dogs now. Even small ones. The guilt overwhlems me & I have to hold the tears back when the kids often come to me, hug me & say “I miss Daddy & Loki.”

  93. says

    Many thanks to all of you, it’s a comfort to know so many of us feel the same way.

    We recently had to euthanize our senior Border Collie, Gwen, after 14 years together. Gwen was my heart dog and the older she and I both got, the closer we became. When I had knee surgery and she was learning to navigate the stairs with her worsening arthritis, we literally leaned on each other as we limped/hopped down the stairs. It was a hard decision to let her go but I still had terrible guilt over waiting t0o long with her brother, Bill. Bill was so stoic and I so unwilling to let him go that he died more painfully than he should have. This time, my husband and I agreed that a day too early was better than a day too late. Gwen had stopped eating, was incontinent and hadn’t been able to take even a slow, short walk in over a month. Our vet couldn’t find anything wrong that was curable, she was just struggling along. Our decision not to be a “day too late” caused me horrible guilt of another kind. We chose our new vet who was very kind with her and gentle and she really liked him. We had been communicating about the hard decision and finally decided on a day to bring her in for the last time. He had put a blanket on the floor for her and spoke to her and us very gently but when he injected her with the sedative, she screamed and thrashed in pain. I doubled over with shock until she finally relaxed and we were able to hold and stroke her to say goodbye. The poor vet felt terrible but I felt worse. He said it’s just something that “happens sometimes” but I have since learned that it is easier on the dog to use a catheter. This is something I blame myself for not knowing. Gwen was my best friend and the thought of the pain I allowed her to have before dying will haunt me forever.

  94. Trisha says

    Oh Candace, how my heart went out to you when I read your comment. I am so sorry. My Lassie, my french vanilla ice cream of a dog, also died in distress, and I promised her I wouldn’t let her suffer and I called the vet too late and she did and it still hurts. But not as much, not as much. All you can do is to chant that her suffering was extremely brief, that we simply can’t control the world and its consequences, and that you did the absolute best for her that you could. My guess, if you could talk to her, is that she’d say “What? What are you talking about?” I’m hoping that you might find a ritual in which you express your love and sorrow again, and then toss the guilt away like an aggressive animal attached to your chest. YOU are the one who is suffering now, and have been for how long? Your Gwen would want so much for you not to continue to hurt….. All best, sending oxytocin-y thoughts your way.

  95. Bob says

    i’m in the hospital because my 12 yr old dog biting me. I still love that dog because he has been such a good dog up untill the past few months. everyone tells me to put him down and even though I feel it is time also I JUST AM FEELING TERRIBLE WITH THE THOUGHT OF IT.

    but he is blind and not doing well. I wish their was a medicine or shot something to make him happy and sweet again but i guess that may not be possible.

    what to do ? :-(


  96. says

    So many thanks, Trisha, for reminding me of what I should have known…Gwen forgave me everything and I only had to call her, “my sweet girlie” to get that squinty-eyed melty, lovey look from her. She would have forgotten the pain immediately, in her sturdy little Border Collie way. Remembering this about her has helped more than any of the saccharine loaded rainbow bridge references that have been coming my way.
    From reading your books (over and over) I know how much you’ve grieved for your Luke and Lassie and all your other wonderful dogs. I guess love has a price and the more we love, the more we pay out in pain at the loss of that love. But the joy of having a wonderful dog to love is like nothing else….that oxytocin…so we keep right on loving them, anyway. Thank you, again, you said just the right, comforting thing.

  97. Sara says

    Bob, You have my sympathies. I, too was bit by my 14.5 y/o dog who has been treated for diabetes insipidus for over a year. Diabetes Insipidus is often caused by a brain tumor. He is incontinent at night and would be during the day if I were not available to let him out every 2 hours. Last Sunday morning he had a very disturbed look in his eyes while trying to get up to go out for the first time. He bit me as I moved my hand towards his halter to help him up. I realize I should have just let him be-hindsight is so much better. I ended up having to have surgery to repair my hand. I no longer feel safe having him around others, as I do not want anyone else to go through surgery b/c my dog bit them. My vet seems to think if we just give him pain medicine he will be safe, but how can you be sure? I wish you the best with your decision. I think I have decided to put him down, but I go back and forth in my mind.

  98. ashley says

    On Feb 4, 2012, at roughly 10:20am I received a phone call that would change my life forever. My best friend, the most amazing part of my heart my almost 3 year old chocolate lab Tonia had been losing weight rapidly partly because he didn’t seem interested in eating and partly because most everything he eat just ended up coming back up. I took him to the vet with this all started and she wanted to do all this blood work and x rays that would have cost so much money that I just didn’t have. We decided to test him for Lyme, it came back positive so we started the treatment… he continued to get worse and the vet told me to cook a special diet of bland foods to encourage his belly to heal so I did that. He continued to get smaller (he started at 69lbs and was down to 54lbs) so I took him back to the vets and we did more blood work. This was Friday, Saturday morning I got up, carried him upstairs to my mothers room, tucked him into bed with her and left for my classes. That was the last time I saw him still thinking I had at least the next ten years with him. When the call came from my mom I knew just from her voice that it was over. I called the vet who told me that his kidneys and liver were shutting down and that there was little to no hope of turning it around. We talked about the choices and the possible outcomes, because it was Saturday if I wanted to bring him there I would have had to be there by noon it was already 11a at this point. She got untouched with the pet hospital a few towns over who quoted me in the thousands of dollars for dialisys (sorry for spelling) I called down there to speak with them myself and she was really nice and answered all my questions. Telling me the likelyhood of him surviving was very low, the treatment would be painful for him and I would have to leave him there alone for at least the weekend. I couldn’t wrap my mind around what was going on. Here I was a 25 year old sobbing uncontrollably driving towards a goodbye I was convinced would kill me. I asked my dad to call his vets to see if they could fit in an appointment to put my Sir atonka to rest. It was settled I had a 4:30:appointment. I got home at 11 30a, Tonka met me at the door and I could tell he knew I finally was ready to deal with reality (when he first got sick I told him I wasn’t ready for him to die and he needed to get better, he gave me three more weeks) I sat on the floor in my kitchen under my table and clung to my whole world until it was time to take him on his last ride. My dad gave him all kinds of human food (he wasn’t really allowed any often, besides the jellybeans I couldn’t get my mom to stop giving him, BC he had alleregies) I talked to him, we went for a little walk and I brought him into what I thought would be his last awful vet appointment (he had anxiety and hated going to his vets) I don’t know what it was about this place but he was so calm. He stayed him my arms for the almost hour we had to wait. When the vet came in I again asked if this was right or if she thought there was a chance he could come out of it. She looked at him and at me and told me I was doing the best possible thing for him that she could serving his eyes that he was in pain and from the levels his kidneys and liver had reached I would almost without a doubt only be prolonging his suffering. She was so nice Ans so patient checked him over listened to his heart lungs everything (I’m almost sure she did all of this just to ease my mind. At the end she agreeded it was for the best. My loyal best friend was helped to cross over at a little past five pm that same day surrounded by the four people who loved him the most. I wishpered in his ear the whole time well rubbing his ears. Everyone in the room even the vet who didn’t know my dog was sobbing. Everyone left the room after and I said my final farewell to the body that held my dogs soul. I still miss him and wonder if I could have saved him. The guilt is at times crippling. Sorry this post is so long I’ve never shared this or processed through it completely. I believe he is still here with me.

  99. Brandon says

    Wow, this really hits home. We just made the difficult choice to euthanize our 26 month old male terrier (ABD-Boxer-pit something or other mix) after 2 straight years of treatment for food, environmental and staph allergies. According to the vet dermatologist, this was a “top 10″ case in her 25 year career…she told us that Duncan needed a bubble in which to live comfortably. While his allergies got worse, we couldn’t find a food he could eat withiut breaking out and he had constant staph and yeast infections. Needing two shots per week, two to three baths per week and expensive food ($100 more per month than Blue Buffalo) that he was the least allergic to was difficult. The vet telling us we could expect “significant flare ups” in allergic attacks for the rest of his life was very difficult.

    Piling in cortisone shots to reduce his inflammation after giving up on food trials was tough, especially when they seemed to lose efficacy faster each time. But when he lunged at a three year old twice in one day, our minds had to be made. Two weeks later, it was done and i still cant remove the vision of his dying face from my brain. Now, a week later, i am still wracked with self-doubt emotionally, but rationally, we couldn’t get this dog better after two years of care and seven thousand dollars in vet bills.

    When we would go out of town (for family business, as vacation funds went to vet bills) we always came back to a dog who looked sicker than when we left. We made the decision to do this and it was so hard, but when you are between a rock and a hard place, nothing is easy.

  100. Anne says

    We euthanized our wonderful, 11-year old black Lab two months ago. I still can’t believe she is gone and the pain I feel from her loss is almost physical. My husband is hurting, too, and feels bitter because he kept her in excellent shape and thought she still had some good years left.
    In mid-July she was a (seemingly) healthy dog, hiking and swimming, enjoying life. Then a nasal blockage turned out to be a mast cell tumor in her nasopharynx area. It was removed at a veterinary hospital but the graft over the hole in her mouth didn’t take, probably due to the histamines released by that insidious tumor. Another graft attempt was planned but her mouth wasn’t healing. We took her home, hoping she would heal, with a feeding tube in place. But she was a shadow of herself and the high calorie food she was on didn’t produce the weight gain we hoped and she seemed very lethargic. She wanted to be by herself, this girl who couldn’t bear to not be right next to us.
    I knew in my heart something else was at work. Her left eye wasn’t closing and we noticed her right back leg seemed to have a mind of its own. Finally, neurological tests at the hospital revealed that she had a tumor or tumors in her brain. We had her euthanized the next day because clearly, all the odds were against her – a Lab who couldn’t eat or drink and now wasn’t enjoying life at all. She was so happy to see us that morning – she seemed better than she had in 10 days and must have thought we were taking her home. That still tortures me.
    It was the right decision for her but still I have tons of guilt – why didn’t I have her checked a few months before when she had a reverse sneezing and sneezing episode. Because Benadryl had stopped it and it didn’t recur. Why didn’t I know that the increased thirst she had could be a sign of cancer?
    We spent a small fortune over a month’s time but as you have said, the vets at this very distinguished veterinary hospital couldn’t save her so it just wasn’t meant to be.
    We plan to get another dog in the spring and I think that will help us to heal. My heart goes out to all grieving pet owners who told their stories here. I hope we all eventually find peace.

  101. Dylan K says

    Eight years later and my pain and guilt are like a second skin that will never shed When my perfectly healthy 11 year old Lab took suddenly ill I rushed him to the ER and within a minute of examination the Vet looked at me and asked: “Has he had a vaccination lately?” And of course, he had. Because I was a good, responsible guardian of the most loved dog on earth. He’d been for his annual check-up and they said he was due for a vaccination so I agreed to the shot that would end his life. Take from me the most precious soul that ever drew breath and leave me bereft and teetering on the edge of sanity.
    And life goes on. And you learn to conceal from those that care for you the unspeakable agony that lingers and wonder why they can’t see that you’re dying inside.

  102. Carol says

    This is even painful to write! I have the sweetest 6 yr old miniature dachshund Nattie. I got Nattie as a companion for a puppy that ran out in front of me on the highway. Tanner, the pup, was about a year old when I decided to get him a companion. Nattie was so cute, brown and white like a paint horse, supper short legs and just adorable.

    5 weeks ago she started losing control of her left leg, then both legs. Ran her to the vet, did X-rays which confirmed the worst. Three discs were gone. I lost my job, no way to do surgery without money. All I could do is treat her conservatively. I was instructed to crate her, which both of us hate, they gave her meds for pain and anti-inflamatory along with many laser treatments with no response to date. I know my Nattie’s quality of life has deteriorated, but that does not make the decision any easier. When I lost my job, I was forced to sale my house and move in with family. They do not allow animals in the house, so I have had to keep Nattie in the detached garage, in a crate, with a small light. this situation breaks my heart. It’s bad enough this happened to my little girl, but now she has to be separated from her companion and locked away alone. I have cried so many tears over this, she has no real quality of life, but the guilt I am feeling for how she has to live now and knowing the best thing for my little girl is to say goodby is almost too much for me to take. Just making that call, I haven’t the strength to pick up the phone. I just keep hoping and praying I’m going to check on her and her legs will be working at least a little again! God give me the strength, I feel like I am letting her down….this hurts so bad.

  103. shirley reilly says

    Two weeks ago today I had my betsy put down.She was 12 years old with crf.She had been ok with various treatments but on New years day,she woke up very weak and unsteady.She wouldnt eat anything.The whole day she just laid in her bed.The next morning I took her to her vet and he ran a blood test and said her kidneys were worse,all her levels were bad.He gave her more meds to mix in food.I went to the store and bought every type of food she liked.I tried spoon feeding her and she would just turn her head.She would drink water but threw it up right after.We live on the second floor and I would carry her up to bed at night.She was so weak.And when I got her outside to go to the bathroom she couldnt balance herself.I took her at night to the vet and I couldnt stay with her.I said goodbye and left.I promised her I wouldnt leave her and I did.I loved her more than anything in the world.We were together all the time.I work in a bar my family owns and she was here with me all the time.I miss her so much.I cant sleep.I want her here so much.She wasnt my dog she was my baby.I cant stand this pain.I will never replace her.

  104. Trisha says

    Dear dear Shirley: I am so sorry that you are in so much pain. I won’t pretend that it will help, but maybe, maybe, it will help to remember: A a little bit of you died with Betsy. I absolutely get that, and I am so sorry. But the flip side is also true: a little bit of Betsy will always live on in you. Betsy will always be there with you in some ways. Try talking to her, looking at her photographs, & writing about her. Make a photo collage of her. Create a headstone for her and put it in your front yard. And more importantly, remember what I said in the blog post, that your brain processes grieving like it does physical injury. So take care of yourself hon, eat comfort food and cuddle with best friends, do something special and spend time with the people who give you energy rather than take it away. If none of this helps and you still aren’t sleeping, see a counselor. That’s what they are for, and they can be incredibly helpful during such challenging, difficult times.

  105. Angela says

    I rescued my GSD x collie at 3 years old from a friend’s rescue centre as they were going to put her down as they didn’t think they would be able to re-home her due to major behavioural issues. She’d been terribly abused and locked up by her previous owners. I spent endless hours and money with trainers and behaviourists working through her issues and was rewarded with a super intelligent, loyal, funny, affectionate companion but she still spent a lot of time in conflict between trying to do what was best/she was asked to and being terrified. I cancelled holidays, moved house so I could spend time with her and give her the best quality of life but finally after 3.5 years, she had lost her fragile grip on sanity and sadly spent more time stressed and anxious even with me than she was happy. I finally had to make the heart breaking decision to have a physcially healthy dog put to sleep yesterday as there was nothing else we could do to modify and address her stress. I know I made the best decision for her and I did everything I could to fix her but it doesnt stop the pain or guilt. RIP Maggie you are much missed.

  106. Lesley says

    I had to put down my beautiful, healthy Border Collie at age 9 over 18 months ago and still haven’t come to terms with the guilt. She was so loving, intelligent and fun-loving, but hypersensitive and became noise-phobic to the point where we couldn’t live a normal life and would bite if she felt too threatened. I tried everything helpful and almost had her turned round with clicker training. I could “read” her and difuse situations to keep her stable, but I couldn’t trust her round other people and when she bit my husband for for the third time (badly enough to send us to hospital for treatment) I knew we were at the end of the road. I arranged for a vet to come to the house and we had lovely day with her, got her nice and calm and when the vet was on his way, made a game of putting the muzzle on and kept her calm as I held her. But the vet made a great performance of putting his case down right in front of us and preparing the syringe for the sedative so that she was already fighting and it had no effect, then couldn’t find a vein for the next injection so she was struggling and completely distressed before the end. And that is the part that I’m having such trouble coming to terms with. I feel that I let her down in not being able to change things during her lifetime and then let her down at the end – double failure. The only thing that’s been any comfort – and this is what I’m passing on – a friend said “The dog you have now benefits from what you have learned from all the dogs you’ve had before”

  107. Trisha says

    Oh Lesley, I am so sorry. I had to put down a beloved cat decades ago who seemed to know the vet’s intention and fought as if to the death, which was exactly accurate. We literally ended up chasing him around the office, him yowling and screeching. It was plain and simply awful. Afterward the vet asked me into his office, pulled out a bottle of bourbon and asked if I would like some. I would’ve if I liked bourbon…. Now it seems almost funny, (it’s been over 30 years) but then it was darn near unbearable.

    And so, I am so sorry your last memories of your sweet and crazy BC were so aversive. I don’t know if this will help, but here goes: There is no failure here. This is only a failure if you believe that we humans had god-like powers that truly allow us to control all the world. Last I looked, we don’t. We may want them, but we just don’t have that much power. After all, if you were all powerful, you would have ‘fixed’ her, right? But we simply aren’t able to do all we want, and we have limited control on all the world around us. Your intentions were beautiful and kind, and that’s what matters.

    Additionally, think of it this way: This is not something your dog is going to be fussing over. Either she is dead and therefore completely unaware of anything, or her spirit is somewhere.. and these are not the kind of things that spirits are concerned about, surely. My guess is that if there is some remnant of her consciousness, and you talked to her about it, she’d say “What? Oh yeah, whatever… that was then, this is now and I’m doing really well here.” Whichever scenario you believe, SHE is fine. YOU are the one carrying this burden, and you are the one who can put it down. I suggest you think of it as exactly that: a physical burden to be buried somewhere in the back yard, complete with a ceremony and the recounting of the many wonderful memories you have of her, and for all you did for this lucky, lucky dog.

  108. Lesley says

    Trisha – thankyou so much for taking the time to add your kind words. It was a comfort to write it all down knowing that there were people out there going through much the same. With my head I know what you say is true and right, and I shall try to do as you say.

  109. Lyn says

    I came here for comfort. And I thank you all for all that you have written. I had to put one of my dogs down today. I was feeling so guilty because she was in perfect shape except for a huge fast growing tumor in between her shoulder blades. She was just three weeks shy of her 12th birthday. I made the decision not to have it removed when it first cropped up. It grew so quickly. I gave her supportive care and spoiled the hell out of her. But during the night she fell down and couldn’t get up. She woke me with her whimpering and the look in her eyes was so frightened. I helped her up and lay down on her bed with her until she fell asleep. She picked at her breakfast and then limped out to the yard to do her business. I watched her through the kitchen window. She fell down and was having a hard time getting up. By the time I ran out there though she was already on her feet.
    Watching some of her behavior, incessantly licking the snow when she was outside, limping, picking at her food I thought she was ready to go. The tumor was as big as a basketball. But when I took her to the vet she struggled while the injection was being given. I held her and soothed her but because she fought it I feel so guilty. Maybe I should have just let her stay a few more days. I can accept death but I do not like to be the one who decided that today is the day she died.

    Reading some of the things on this site has helped a little. Thank you all so much.

  110. Pam says

    This blog post and discussion have helped me very much.

    I lost my dog Lloyd about a month ago. He lived longer than most bulldogs (he was 12.5) and was healthy all his life. His illness was brief, and he slipped away peacefully at home.

    Despite all this — I have been wracked with guilt. Why didn’t I notice his symptoms sooner? Why had I left the room just before he died? I would not have treated the cancer at his age; the vet reassured me that bringing him in sooner wouldn’t have mattered at all — but I wish I’d known so I could have coddled him more.

    I know there’s no logic to these thoughts, but they torment me nonetheless, and make it hard to recall the great joy of living with Lloyd.

    Reading here has given me insight: what I’m really wishing for is complete control of the situation. And that simply isn’t possible, however much I wish it were.

    Thanks to everyone who has joined this discussion. My heart is a little less heavy today.

  111. Laura says

    My husband and I put down our beloved Molly of 11yrs yesterday. She was rescued, and we adopted her, the minute we saw her. I am typing through tears. I cannot stop sobbing. Molly was perfect. Everyone who came in contact with her, immediately fell in love with her. She completed us as a family. 2 years ago she started acting funny, acting like she was starving, getting aggressive with our other dog over food, and drinking excessively. She was tested for all kinds of things, put on medicines that didn’t seem to help. We brought her back for that and because we thought she was going blind. Long story, she had cushing disease and she went completely blind in the matter of a couple of months. We cooked for her and did our best to make her comfortable. He body swelled up, which made getting around hard, but she seemed happy and not in pain. We have always taken her everywhere, she loved being on our boat, she loved the beach, we did everything together, we have 2 boys, that were young when we got Molly. My guys meaning my husband and sons who are older now, I know love Molly dearly. But I am the one who can’t get out of bed today, who is on the computer searching for help. In the last year Molly was being moved around with the help of a harness and she had bowel movements on the carpet, which I know upset her because she never had accidents. From the time we got her she always went to the bathroom outside. My husband left for a year to Kabul, Afghanistan during the last 2 years of her life, and I took care of her, we thought she would not make till he came back but she did! So this past year we took her to all her favorite spots, and made her favorite foods. I am all over the place right now I know. I have never ever put my feelings out like this. By the end she barely got up, just to eat and go to the bathroom, she was completely blind, did not even see shadows. She could not get up and down the steps with help, which for me was difficult, because I have had back surgery and I am not allowed to lift. On that note I lifted her anyway, would get up all through the night to check on her to take her out before my husband would wake, because he thought it was time to put her down. She would cry/wimper at times and we were not sure if it was from pain or not. He bowel were barely solid and her back legs kept giving out. We couldn’t take her for a walk, we tried but she would get very few steps and then stand and not move. Yesterday, I made her special food and popcorn her favorite treat. we put her bed in our jeep and I sat with her to the vet. I was in shock, like this isn’t really happening. I had prayed to Jesus to give us a sign that we were doing the right thing and yesterday morning, she couldn’t seem to control her bowels and she was whining bad. I took it as okay maybe it is time. She has no quality of life. But when we got her in the vets office, she was walking around, kinda exploring the office. I wanted to grab her and make a dash for the door, but we didn’t and we went through with it. We both held her, she took a last breath and was gone. I wrapped my body around hers and right away knew I wasn’t ready, I wanted her back, I am mad I didn’t say stop. We both were crying, the good thing was she was in our arms but she couldn’t see us, I kept kissing her face, she looked so peaceful like she was sleeping I wanted to wake her up. Back to now the day after, I feel so much pain, I can’t breathe. I feel guilty, questioning was it her time. I am a mess now. I just had surgery again 2 weeks ago, I am not working at the moment, my husband had to go to work. I am alone in the house, we have 2 other dogs we adopted years ago. Max and Snickers who have not left my side. I refuse to get out of bed, I did try but I can’t. So it is me and the dogs in bed, falling apart. I am glad she did not suffer, but selfishly I wanted her to stay till she absolutely couldn’t move, selfish I know. I feel like I could of did better, I could of handled her disease better, just feel like I could of done more, I plain out feel guilty and sooooo much pain. Sorry this is very raw, only 24hrs since letting go of my baby girl Molly. Reading the posts on here, has help some, thanks for sharing.

  112. Trisha says

    Oh Laura, I am so so sorry. I hope soon that you can come back to this and read what you wrote about how you moved heaven and earth for your beloved Molly for so long, and how she could barely move anymore and whimpered when she was moved. Please please know that it is almost universal that dogs (and people) have brief rallies when they go to new locations and see new people. My own mother, in her late 80s would complain bitterly about how horrible she felt until we took her to the doctor, when she would perk up and flirt with the physician. Then she’d go home and be miserable again.

    It seems clear to me (just my opinion) that is WAS Molly’s time, but that you, very understandably, weren’t ready to lose her yet. And please remember remember remember what I said in the post that almost everyone, no matter what the circumstances, finds a way to feel guilty, perhaps because that is easier than acknowledging how little control we have over the world.

    Take care yourself Lauren. Your body and brain has had the equivalent of two surgeries in less than two weeks, and that sounds like it would overwhelm just about anyone. Know that thousands of readers of the blog do truly understand, having had our hearts broken at the loss of one of our Molly equivalents. I hope soon you will be able to let the memories of her and her love surround you like a warm and loving blanket Know that you are not alone, our hearts are breaking a little bit with you. There will be light and laughter again in your life, but for now, it is okay to let yourself grieve.

  113. says

    Lot’s of comments on here, but it was an interesting read.

    I vividly remember having my first cat put down. He was nigh on 20 despite given 6 months to live when he was 14. Despite spending a fortune on him it came a time when he wasn’t happy anymore. I was with him when he was put down, but it made him vomit before he past away (which is common but heart-braking to see).

    Later that night I sat on the veranda and watched the sun go down over the valley, exactly over the vets where he was put to sleep. It was a more fitting goodbye. Still, he gave us so much joy, and I’ve had 7 (count-em) cats since (and a dog, guinea-pig, and lots of fish).

  114. Emily says

    I can’t thank everyone enough for leaving comment on their dogs with behavioral problems. I have been wrestling with the decision of what to do with my beautiful girl I rescued 4 years ago. She has bitten 5 people, and I have tried everything that my budget and my imagination will allow. Training, more training with different trainers, medications, tick panels, senior panels, a thick headed/thick skinned companion dog, isolation and I am now back where I started, with a beautiful, neurotic girl who still growls and nashes at the ghosts in her head, and compulsively licks herself bald.
    I know that whatever the illness, it is hard to lose a dog. The posts that every owner with a ‘behavioral case’ and especially Clinton, Bob, Amber, and the warden’s post have helped immensely.

  115. Mindy says

    It is Sunday, less than 48 hours after we put our beloved rescue down to sleep for behavior issues. She was only 2, but she has been a huge part of our family for the last year. Contrary to the shining picture painted by the rescue group, she was an anxious dog who had separation anxiety, fear of people, and even fear of dogs. We spent out first three months with her working on her separation anxiety (CC and Prozac), which we thought we had overcome. Every day before work, my husband ran her 2 miles to use up her energy and left slow-release food/treat toys, then we went on another 2 mile walk when I returned home. Recently, my husband and I went for a 5 minute walk without her and could hear her heartbreaking cry from the open windows. Those cries highlighted how fragile our fix to her SA was.

    Her general anxiety also contribute to her fear of people, where she snapped at visitors and even bit a friend in his yard few months ago. Her fear of dogs was manageable unless she had to interact with them, in which case she sometimes became overwhelmed and went on the aggressive. We worked with our vet, as well as a trainer. We read Trisha’s books, as well as other reputable authors, went to seminars, took her to small-group training (she was the star of the class!), and even did agility to “increase her self-confidence”.

    Even with all of our work and management practices, in the end we had a dog who couldn’t be taken to interact in public, yet was extremely uncomfortable being left by herself. The trainers told us we would have to “manage” her for the rest of her life, but we knew that eventually we would fail and she would hurt someone, or her SA would get worse. Recently, her general anxiety had been increasing, so we started talking about re-homing her or putting her down. However, none of the rescues in our area are even remotely equipped to handle a dog with such fragile issues, and we knew that her anxiety was likely to increase further if she was moved from our stable home. The idea of her panicking by being placed in new home was enough to break my heart.

    We agonized for several months over what to do. There were many tears. To make our decision even harder, she was the sweetest dog that ever lived to my husband and myself; we could bathe her, trim her nails, check her teeth, tug her ears, pick her up, take her best toys, put her in clothes, kiss her face, etc. She loved cuddling on the couch and begged for attention by “taking a bow” or “flopping” (rolling onto her back).

    Finally, after months of discussions between ourselves and our vet, we set a date. I subsequently chickened out and cancelled that date. After I heard her crying from inside during our 5 minute walk, I rescheduled. On Friday morning, my sweet little Freckles watched a movie with me on the couch, at her frozen kong on the porch, napped in her favorite sunspot, and ate a whole stick of string cheese. She rode her last car ride with us to her “favorite” vet and tech. She was very anxious in the exam room due to the people and the dogs, but eventually settled down enough for us to go ahead. My baby died as I kissed her face and told her how much I loved her. I somehow managed not to sob until her last few breaths.

    It has been less than 48 hours since we said goodbye. I simply cannot seem to stop crying over the simple things: seeing her morning sunspot in the bedroom, missing her kisses in the morning, her wagging tail and whine of joy when I return, her head peeking over the couch at the sound of the peanut butter jar, her playbows for attention, her goofy energy. Because she was such a high-needs dog, she was firmly integrated in every part of our day from waking to bedtime, so I am constantly reminded of her absence. We feel very very guilty for putting down an animal who was young, physically healthy, and sweet as pie to us. On the other hand, we know that she was uncomfortable with many aspects of daily life due to her anxieties. We simply hope that in the long run we come to peace with our decision, even though it’s very hard for us to see through the pain right now.

  116. Mari says

    I know this is an old post, but I have to leave a comment thanking you for writing it.

    We put down our english pointer less than 36 hours ago, after she bit my step-daughter on the face, and it was the worst decision I’ve ever been part of. I wish I could take it back–I don’t believe she was a lost cause and she didn’t deserve it. It wasn’t a capital crime–it was a mistake and she deserved help, not death. The guilt and pain I’m feeling is almost overwhelming.

    I adopted Keela from a shelter five years ago, when she was 8 weeks old. I was going through a divorce and my young children talked me in to getting her. Although I was reluctant at first, over the last five years, she became my constant companion. Even at that young age, most grown men scared her–something she never grew out of. As a young pup, she’d stand a good ten feet away from men and bark. If they took a step toward her, she’d run away and once she had the space established between them, she’d start barking at them again. That trait actually vetted my now-husband–he was one of the only men she liked instantly. I also believe it literally saved my life, as it once deterred a violent man who was intent on getting into the house until she made it clear she didnt want him in. At that point in her life, had the man actually gotten into the house, she would have run away and barked from a distance, but he didn’t know that. As she grew, she stopped running from new men, but continued to bark and act nervous around them. Although I never would have called her aggressive, I came to know that if anyone ever tried to physically hurt me or any family member, she’d die to protect us. She would have taken a bullet for any of us. Still, I thought if she was ever going to have an aggression problem, it would be directed at a man.

    Three months ago, my 15 year old daughter and 8 year old step daughter (the one she eventually bit) entered her into a community dog show. There, adult male judges manipulated her ears (one of the silly contests they entered her in was the ‘best ears’ category), pet her, and gave her commands. She obediently played along without a single bark or hint of nervousness. She won two awards that day–“best dancer” (it was a kids dog show :)) and, remarkably, “Best of Show”! I swear she knew how happy she made the kids, and she nearly pranced out of the dog show.

    Although everyone loved Keela and she adored everyone in our family, our 8-year-old, Kenna, was Keela’s kid-person…they slept together, played together, and adored each other. The problems started last week, when my 2 1/2 -year-old grandson, Alex, stayed with us. She was instantly very protective of him-she’d leap to her feet and rush to him when he cried. She would follow him up and down the stairs a step behind–as though to catch him if he fell. I missed the first clear sign of problems though: Alex ‘head butted’ Kenna, and Keela sternly yelled “Ouch! Stop that!!” ALex, being 2 1/2, reacted to the verbal reprimand by falling to the floor in sobs. Keela responded by growling at our daughter. As the week progressed, Keela growled any time Kenna made him cry or squeal. If Alex fell down while they were playing, Keela growled at Kenna.

    Just hours before Alex was to return home, Keela reacted to one of those moments by jumping on Kenna as though she were about to lick her face, but instead, she bit. My husband used the word ‘mauled’ but I’m not sure where the line is. It doesn’t matter…the result was bad. Kenna required six stitches–four in a bite just inches from her eye, and two in another bite by her jaw. Kenna felt betrayed, crying “Not my keela!!” repeatedly. That night, we talked about taking her to a behaviorist and trainer. We tried to figure out why she would attack the person she loved the most. We cried.

    The next morning, in addition to the stitches, Kenna’s eye was swollen shut and the entire left side of her face looked awful. She looked like she had fought a bear. My husband said “we won’t ever be able to trust her around the kids again.” I agreed, and read local shelter web pages, learning they wouldn’t take her because she had bitten. Kenna’s mom came over to take photos and vaguely threatened custody.

    So that afternoon, Keela eagerly jumped into the car when I told her she was going for a ride. She trusted me. I told my husband that if I went, I wouldn’t go through with it, which should have clued me in to the fact that no matter who went, deep down, I thought we were making a mistake. So I said goodbye through tears and watched them drive off.

    This dog was a family member, not a pet. She deserved more from me. At minimum, she deserved to have me there as she took her last breath. More realistically, she deserved the same kind of patient love she always gave me. She deserved a second chance. My heart is broken and my grief feels as intense as it did when I lost a newborn son years ago. Except combined with that grief is the added pain of knowing I did this to her.

    I know the grief will ebb over time, although I’m not sure about the guild. At this moment, I’m overcome with missing her and with wishing I could toss her a stick and listen to her bark at the mailman. I’m even disturbed that the trash can I left uncovered in the kitchen hasn’t been spread across the floor and the cereal bowl a kid left, half-full of milk , is still undisturbed on the table. I hear the wind rustle something, and in the half a second I forget, I mistake that sound for Keela trying to sneak cat food out of the cupboard (her amazing magic trick!).

    It hurts. I miss her.

  117. Brandy says

    My dog Bailey was having breathing issues and we took him to the vet thinking it was a heart issue and we would just put him on medication. After blood work, Xrays, and asperating cells they determined he had thyroid cancer. I took Bailey to a surgeon as suggested my my Vet. The surgeon called during the surgery yesterday to say the he was full of throat cancer and had Larynxean paralysis due to the cancer. She said the humane thing would be to put him down. She said he had a month and would possible choke and suffocate. I would have said no but my husband said yes. He didn’t want to see Bailey suffer. I feel so much guilt as I drive him over an hour to the surgeon and he was fine except for his breathing when he was excited or hot. I promised him it would be okay and I would bring him home tomorrow. He was still eating, though not as much and didn’t take snacks as much. It wasn’t time yet, I feel. I feel imensely guilty and wish he was still here.

  118. Delicia says

    I’m so glad that I found this site today. It has been three days since I put my beloved 13 yr old pug Marty down. His sickness came really fast. After not eating for a few days and vomiting and diarhhea, and noticing his back was curved up like a cat I decided to take him in to see what was wrong. He had started to look a little thinner over the last month, but I just figured old age setting in and not eating as much. After an xray, they discovered that his intestines were moving past his diaphragm and there was a large mass by his heart. The vet offered me to do an ultrasound and do surgery to see what was going on, but his gut feeling was that his body was riddled with cancer inside. I was crushed. I had loved Marty since he was 6 weeks old. He was the most kind, gentle, and goofy pug you could’ve ever imagined. He loved to swim in our pool, everyday if you would let him, and his favorite was to float on the pool float as if he was sunbathing! And he always filled my shadow I made the decision to bring him home and love up on him all night. The next morning I made the horrible trek back in to the vet, just Marty and me. I sat in my car holding him not wanting to let go. Once I went inside and he was ready to go to a better place I just held him in my arms and he went so peaceful. Although, I am not looking forward emotionally in a few days to go back and pick up his ashes, I know that I made the right choice and he is in a better place and no longer suffering. And just yesterday I was scouring the house looking for fawn hair balls that used to annoy me, now all I wanted to do was find them. But the craziest thing happened the morning after his passing. I received a package in the mail that I purchased from ebay and it was wrapped in tissue paper and sealed shut with a pug in a tuxedo sticker!! What are the odds?! My heart sank then immediately cried out!! OMG this is a sign that he is o.k. and living it up in doggie heaven. Then about and hour after that my 4 yr old son asked me if Marty was going to live at my Grandma Cel’s house who passed away in November at the ripe old age of 100! I said absolutely and he can have all the treats he wants!! Hope this helps someone who is going through the same thing. Look for signs, they’re out there! Our hearts will heal in time……..

  119. Delicia says

    from a dogs perspective….When I am very old and no longer enjoy good health, hearing, and sight, do not make heroic efforts to keep me with you. I am not having any fun. Please see that my trusting life is taken gently. I shall leave this earth knowing with the last breath that I draw that my fate was always safest in your hands.

  120. Lorna says

    I am dying of guilt and also would love to have my border collie Missy back! on the 6th of June i put her down after she attacked and bit my mothers dog Chanel. She was only 4 years old and was a gorgeous tan and white border collie. She had the weirdest behavior, if you wanted to hug her or love her she would crowl and snap at you. She kept on herding the other dogs and cats to a point were they could not move freely around the house. So many times she would snap at the other dogs were they would just submit but with Chanel she would get into such a fight that i would have to take Chanel to the vet for stiches. I did not have the heart to give her away, I would hve worried wether she was alright constantly. She was such a happy dog always playin on her own and enjoying her garden outside but as soon as someone wanted to give her a soft hug she would snap. having a 4 year old daughter in the same house was becoming a problem and i was so worried that she would end up in between the two dogs fighting. My daughter was never bitten by her but when she touched Missy she would crowl at her. However Missy loved kids but they were just not allowed to be affectionate with her. I now have such terrible doubt and wondering wether I had done the write thing.
    Did I?

  121. Trisha says

    Oh oh Lorna, I am so sorry you are struggling with your decision. Here’s what I think is important: It is not for anyone else to say if you did the right thing. You made the best decision you could make, which included protecting your very own daughter from serious injury. That is a wonderful thing for a mother to do. I am so sorry that it included having to put down a dog that you loved. We can feel regret, but that is different than feeling guilty, or that somehow we have failed. Please know that Missy is not suffering now, you are, and that only you can take away the suffering, by accepting that “shit happens” (sorry) to the best of us, and that all we can do is, well…. all we can do. I do hope you can surround yourself with friends who can be there for you and give you the nurturing you need right now. You are giving that to your daughter, find true friends who can give it to you. All best, and my true and deep sympathy.

  122. pat says

    my loving Chex was a little over 16. he had cushings and developed diabetes. he had gone blind in one eye. for about a month he started getting very weak. all the vet would do is tell me at his age treatment is very expensive and it would only prolong his life by a few months. she insisted I should put him down. she actually rushed me into it putting guilt on me telling me he was just going to waste away. now I am ridden with guilt that I should’ve brought him home and spent some quality final moments with him. he was my sunshine, my friend, my companion. we spent 24/7 together. I am left feeling like I gave up on him too soon. he never let me down and I feel I let him down. I am not sure how I can live with this

  123. linda says

    Today is Friday. I’m still crying…in shock. On April 19th my wwonderful husband died suddenly of a massive heart attack at age 61. I’m 54. We got our beloved yellow lab Bailey when he was about 12 weeks old. Our two daughters are grown…Bailey was our Spoiled rotten goofy smart lovable gentle caring and loving boy. I became disabled in 2004. Bailey and I have been together every day…all day since we got him in Sept.2002. He went to work with me when I worked. Rode with my husband and I whenever we could take him. And in 2004 when my first of five total knee reply surgeries failed…I became sedentary as more health problems emerged. My husband was doing poorly too. But he worked full time up to the moment of his death. Bailey’s stomach literally ripped open and infected almost all other organs in 2010. He took metacam for arthritis in his back right leg. Well after nine days of amazing Drs…operations and transfusions etc…he was the hospitals and our miracle baby! We….7000 poorer…and we didn’t care…..brought him home and he has done beyond great. About a year ago he had a golf ball size lump on his right side of his belly.every month he was checked…and during the second monthly visit…we felt other lumps. So our vet aspirated the big one. We were relieved to find it was a fatty lipoma. It kept getting bigger and bigger…when Doug died…we both were so stressed out…ive been on chemo for over a year…..but knew Bailey was failing with his arthritis in legs and hip. At the time of my husbands death 2 months ago…Bailey’s tumor was approx 17 lbs. He was winded all the time…he would have to go up or down a minimum of 6 stairs at a time…down was ok…but coming up sometimes took him 30 min to an hour to get the courage to come up. Sometimes sliding back down. He would take 20 steps and lay town and rest. I bought a ramp…stairs…anything to help. We tried adequan shots two weeks ago by a. Et that came to our home. Bailey was 120 lbs with the tumour. I went back and forth for about three weeks to put him to sleep.he still had a sharp mind…was aware..ate well..just these. Bad legs and the tumor were taking his life ever so slowly. So…this ties the Vets came to the house. He has been on tramadol past year. Do I want to put him on stronger pain meds? No…the tumor was uncomfortable…he’d whimper at night…..just past week…id sleep whereever he laid down. But…ties…the Vets came…the night before bailey and I cooked hamburgers on the grill…went swimming in his little pool. He laid next to me all night. We laid next to a big pic of his daddy left over from hid memorial funeral service …we ate cheerier…his favorite…and animal crackers….I sat on the floor with my husbands pic beside us…bailey had his fab toys around him…his fab blankie…he put his head on my lap…the only time there was a problem. Was the first shot of valium and morphine must have stung a bit ..more of a dirty look thing….ten minutes went by..he was sleepy but she Gabe him more sedetives…..I kissed him the whole time all this was going on…within 2 minutes he got drowsy and started snoring loudly……good old bailey…snoring in my lap. I will warn you their toungues come out of their mouths..I just tucked it back in. She was now ready to administer the shot to stop his heart. She told me…are you sure? O wanted to scream out..Np!! Get out! Leave us alone…but would only have to go through this again. She administered the shot and within a minute pr two he was gone to be with daddy in heaven.the only thing I could not do was watch them take him out of our home. So I went out back. He was being taken for individual cremation. Today is Friday. By Ties ill have his ashes back to place bailey’s box beside my husbands. It has been an impossibly difficult two months for me. I believe Bailey hung in there for me…sure…I could of kept bailey with me for maybe a few weeks…a month? But at what cost? I owed him his dignity…he was the best boy in the whole world…as soon as they left with him..I cried…screamed out….how could I have killed my baby…please God I need bailey back!!! I made a mistake! Ties…wed….third…I cried until I was too tired to cry anymore…so I would sleep….then clean like crazy…and cry more. Today…still. tying…but no screaming fits today…I think losing Doug and Bailey in two months is too much…the big house is so quiet….I’m so sad…still guilty…but feel I set bailey free and he and his dad are pain free.

    6-17 lbs. He was getting out of breath way too easy…he was still eating ok….pooped and lorries 3 times a day…

  124. linda says

    Today is Friday. I’m still crying…in shock. On April 19th my wwonderful husband died suddenly of a massive heart attack at age 61. I’m 54. We got our beloved yellow lab Bailey when he was about 12 weeks old. Our two daughters are grown…Bailey was our Spoiled rotten goofy smart lovable gentle caring and loving boy. I became disabled in 2004. Bailey and I have been together every day…all day since we got him in Sept.2002. He went to work with me when I worked. Rode with my husband and I whenever we could take him. And in 2004 when my first of five total knee reply surgeries failed…I became sedentary as more health problems emerged. My husband was doing poorly too. But he worked full time up to the moment of his death. Bailey’s stomach literally ripped open and infected almost all other organs in 2010. He took metacam for arthritis in his back right leg. Well after nine days of amazing Drs…operations and transfusions etc…he was the hospitals and our miracle baby! We….7000 poorer…and we didn’t care…..brought him home and he has done beyond great. About a year ago he had a golf ball size lump on his right side of his belly.every month he was checked…and during the second monthly visit…we felt other lumps. So our vet aspirated the big one. We were relieved to find it was a fatty lipoma. It kept getting bigger and bigger…when Doug died…we both were so stressed out…ive been on chemo for over a year…..but knew Bailey was failing with his arthritis in legs and hip. At the time of my husbands death 2 months ago…Bailey’s tumor was approx 17 lbs. He was winded all the time…he would have to go up or down a minimum of 6 stairs at a time…down was ok…but coming up sometimes took him 30 min to an hour to get the courage to come up. Sometimes sliding back down. He would take 20 steps and lay town and rest. I bought a ramp…stairs…anything to help. We tried adequan shots two weeks ago by a. Et that came to our home. Bailey was 120 lbs with the tumour. I went back and forth for about three weeks to put him to sleep.he still had a sharp mind…was aware..ate well..just these. Bad legs and the tumor were taking his life ever so slowly. So…this ties the Vets came to the house. He has been on tramadol past year. Do I want to put him on stronger pain meds? No…the tumor was uncomfortable…he’d whimper at night…..just past week…id sleep whereever he laid down. But…ties…the Vets came…the night before bailey and I cooked hamburgers on the grill…went swimming in his little pool. He laid next to me all night. We laid next to a big pic of his daddy left over from hid memorial funeral service …we ate cheerier…his favorite…and animal crackers….I sat on the floor with my husbands pic beside us…bailey had his fab toys around him…his fab blankie…he put his head on my lap…the only time there was a problem. Was the first shot of valium and morphine must have stung a bit ..more of a dirty look thing….ten minutes went by..he was sleepy but she Gabe him more sedetives…..I kissed him the whole time all this was going on…within 2 minutes he got drowsy and started snoring loudly……good old bailey…snoring in my lap. I will warn you their toungues come out of their mouths..I just tucked it back in. She was now ready to administer the shot to stop his heart. She told me…are you sure? O wanted to scream out..Np!! Get out! Leave us alone…but would only have to go through this again. She administered the shot and within a minute pr two he was gone to be with daddy in heaven.the only thing I could not do was watch them take him out of our home. So I went out back. He was being taken for individual cremation. Today is Friday. By Ties ill have his ashes back to place bailey’s box beside my husbands. It has been an impossibly difficult two months for me. I believe Bailey hung in there for me…sure…I could of kept bailey with me for maybe a few weeks…a month? But at what cost? I owed him his dignity…he was the best boy in the whole world…as soon as they left with him..I cried…screamed out….how could I have killed my baby…please God I need bailey back!!! I made a mistake! Ties…wed….third…I cried until I was too tired to cry anymore…so I would sleep….then clean like crazy…and cry more. Today…still. tying…but no screaming fits today…I think losing Doug and Bailey in two months is too much…the big house is so quiet….I’m so sad…still guilty…but feel I set bailey free and he and his dad are pain free.

    6-17 lbs. He was getting out of breath way too easy…he was still eating ok….pooped and lorries 3 times a day…

  125. Jacques says

    Oh my goodness….how sad and hard this is for me! I had to put down my 2 best friends, companions,beloved shadows yesterday. About 11 months ago, my one duchhund got paralyzed. I rushed him to JHB (400km from Bloemfontein) to have him operated. It cost me about R20 000 + in total for the operation and all the meds. After the op, he had no control of his bladder nor could he walk. He weared dypers for 5 months when he got control over his bladder again. I did everything I could to help, I loved him with all my life. This past weekend (today is Tuesday), his twin brother developed the same problem. I knew if I rushed him to JHB (since he could still walk but wabbled and started loosing control sooner) they could save him and he will be able to walk. But since they were inseperable and this little one being such a very sensitvie boy, I knew that if I seperated them for the week that was necessary for the little one to stay in JHB to recouperate, they would mourn themselves to death. And since the first one developed an ulcer during his operation because of stress, I knew the more sensitive one would not survive the op. Also, since the first one was still not able to walk as till yesterday, 11 months after the op, I had to lock them both up in the kitchen during the day when I went to work, because I could not let the other one play, then they miss each other too much and become depressed. I had to rush home everyday at 10 to take them out in the sun for a few minutes, then again at 12 and then when I got home after work again. I gave the first one physio every day and took him for hydropheray twice a week.

    To put them both down yesterday because I could not bare the suffering of my little one anymore, was the hardest decision in my life thus far. I cry my eyes out out of love and I miss them. This morning was so hard for me to walk into the kitchen and there were no two boys anymore to yawn and greet me and get their cookies, go for a peeps and then get tucked in again. then they would hear the sachet of the cheese paper when I make bread and come get their little cheese bits. I would then physio the one and he will struggle and hit me with the paws, and afterwards shake his ears so proudly for being done. Oh I grief and I miss them!

    But most of all is still the guilt that I did not take the little one for the op when he still had a chance out of fear for his own trauma and the trauma of them boht. And furhtermore, for putting down the other one too, who besides being paralyzed, was healthy, but again out of love for their love of each other. This is so hard on me!

  126. Barney says

    I’m going to put my dog down and I’m having the hardest time ever. He’s 10. He’s a Carolina Dog mix. The things that are the most difficult are the fact that he’s healthy and one of the smartest dogs I’ve ever come across. He’s a gorgeous dog with such amazing facial expressions and ability to understand the human language. The reason we’re putting him down is behavioral issues. His behavior problems aren’t all that bad considering. Over 10 years he’s nipped at a few people and bitten a few. But they always had to do with his “triggers”…, or people on bikes/scooters/etc. The most recent was a pretty bad bite. It’s killing me because he’s the sweetest dog and everyone loves him, he’s just got those weird moments that are rare but they are biting issues when he’s saying “get away from my bones” or “don’t run that razor scooter too close to me”. I would be much more “ok” if he were older and sick. But I have to take his life, and it’s going to kill me. I wish there were options, but there really isn’t any. Too old to adopt, he has biting on his record, and I would be afraid he’d go somewhere where he isn’t loved the way we love him. Anyways…just having the hardest time with this. He is a true blessing and one of God’s coolest creatures. Everyone is just amazed by him. But he has that one, unpredictable issue that may get worse as he gets older. I hope I’m doing the right thing.

  127. Trisha says

    Oh Barney, my heart aches for you. I can’t tell you if you are doing the right thing or not, I don’t know if you’ve worked with a progressive trainer or behaviorist or any other details, but I do sympathize greatly. I would encourage you to reach out to an expert if you haven’t already, but if you’ve done so and you truly feel that you have no options left, remember that if you do have to put your dog down, he won’t be suffering afterward. It’s you who will feel badly; I hope whatever happens that you can find peace with it, and know that you shouldered a heavy burden and made the best decision that you could under the circumstances.

  128. Barney says

    Thanks Trisha. We run a daycare and although we keep him in another room with the door shut and/or in the finished basement with a gate up, we feel like it is simply too risky. We have not seen a behavior specialist, but in discussing with our vet (35 years experience) he feels that even the best trained dogs can’t be completely trusted, especially in our situation, and especially given his age and priors. Ugh…

  129. Beth says

    I put my dog down 2 days ago. He was 14 yr old black pug “Elvis” I miss him so much. I cry myself to sleep. First thing in the morning I wake up and cry. MY whole life is in an uproar and I can’t function. Will someone tell me how to get over this?

  130. Tracy says

    Thank you all for your beautiful pet stories. We just euthanized out two 13 year old dogs, Madison and Archer. They were terribly arthritic and lost bowel control, neither could move up/down stairs, no enjoyment in walks or being with our family. I feel such painful guilt. My heart is forever broken. They were the best dogs. So kind and gentle. Will I forever wonder if I made the right decision for them? Thank you again for the website and your stories. It is helping. I feel better knowing that I am not alone and that my feelings are common amongst sweet animal loving folks like yourselves.

  131. Peter says

    You can give a dog love, you can care for it in the same way he or she cares for you – each in your own way to the best of your different abilities. You can play together, share treats and laughter, and be sleepy next to one and another. You can support each other when one of you aren’t feeling well or are down or are scared. You can do and give and share and love and laugh and cry a lot with your dog. But one thing you can’t give it is immortality. That is beyond your power. At some point, it simple just is time. Sometimes that time comes naturally, and sometimes it doesn’t. But, it still simply just is the right time.

    So, give it all of what you can because that’s all you can do. Then, after that, cry for grief – that’s the right thing, too. But, we all pass through this world – we have a start, a middle of unexpected length, and an end. I hope it was a good run.

    People will tell you that you will get over the loss. That isn’t true. You will never “get over” it. The hurt may be too profound. But, you may get used to the fact that your pet is gone. You may grow to accept the fact that he or she isn’t around. You may grow accustom to something being missing from you daily patterns. Life will happen – new habits and customs and routines will arise. The grief will not be as acute as time passes – it will be easier to handle. But don’t torture yourself by rushing to try “to get over” the death.

    Grief and loss is part of life, and love continues. Its okay to continue to love and to miss them. Just as it’s okay to live without one you loved. I am used to the fact the Chloe, Jasper, Ed, Bodie, Max, and Marion are no longer around. But I still remember them with love – and they still bring a smile to my face and to the faces of my children and grandchildren.

    We’re about to euthanize our seven-year old Golden for uncontrollable behavioral issues. We love him more than we can express. We will miss him daily. But, for him and for us, it was a good run. And, someday, we all will be at the same end point.

  132. Teresa says

    I have a cat who is 17yrs old and been sick for a few months it has taken me 3 days to call the vet because I had to face that he isn;t getting nor will get any better,he still eats like a pig and I feed him more than normal,but he has lost so much weight,and has started to lose control of his bodily functions,I am keeping him as comfortable as can be till Mon at 8am when he goes to be put to sleep,I am at peace with it,even though I have had a very good cry,and will miss him,I gave him a good 17yrs,and I don;t feel guilty,it was beyond my control what ever has made him sick,and I know it is the humane thing to do as my vet has told me,I just had to stop being selfish,because I didn;t want to lose him,and I just don;t want to see him suffer anymore.Anyone can e-mail me at CATA@BLOMAND.NET

  133. Barbara says

    I felt guilty for putting her down and also guilty for making her live as long as she did. I think she was in pain for months, but she was so stoic. My little shih tzu. Finally there was no other choice. Just before they gave her the shot I kept repeating “I’m sorry…I’m so sorry…”

    But it was her time. The loss has never left me.

  134. says

    Oh, bless you for this post, and for reminding me of it again. The first time I saw it on your blog I skimmed to the end with the sheep pictures; after all, my dog was immortal. Well not, as it turns out, immune to spinal issues. Ardala, a corgi/GSD mix as far as we could tell, was a happy, silly, friendly dog who loved meeting canine, human and feline friends on her long walks, enjoyed herding cocker spaniels or malti-poos, never had an accident and wouldn’t even eliminate in her kennel, the shelter told us, and never once tried to jump on the furniture. That should have been a warning to us. A few years ago an innocent question about what we perceived as a minor limp led to a diagnosis of pretty severe spondylosis, which is common in long-backed dogs. It had gotten to the point that she had irreverisble nerve damage down her rear left leg. We immediately felt guilty, certain that her bounding up and down the stairs four times a day didn’t help. Within a month she tore her CCL on the leg without the nerve damage and the recovery was difficult for all of us. Weeks after she was deemed fully recovered we were still walking her on a helper-harness. Then I started noticing her dragging her right foot.

    Within a few weeks of noticing that, she had a minor neurological issue (we think it was an FCE) that we took her to Physical Therapy for. It was the best decision we ever made, but then we began to beat ourselves up over not taking her for her knee. She became stronger, her right leg was working and her left leg had started to advance again. Massage therapy was wonderful, and swim therapy showed her to swim like a labrador. A water hating labrador. We wished we could afford to go more often, but that was not to be. Unfortunately, She stopped improving in February and hit a plateau. We got her a wheelchair, which she loved. She loved taking longer walks again, saying hi to friends. I started a blog for her, optimistic that we would make this work – she could be a Bitch on Wheels, and everything would be fine. But soon the plateau became a downward slope. It seems like everything happened so quickly. She stopped advancing her left leg. Then her right. Then our previously fastidious dog could no longer control her bowels. I learned to express her, which was an affront to her dignity, but it was better than coming home to poop hysterically ground into the carpet by a dog ashamed of her incontinence. Then the dog walker called – Ardala had collapsed on her front. I came up, certain she just needed a change in pain med dosage, or maybe an extra opiate. Within a week she lost urinary continence. A UTI was diagnosed on the same day she stopped using her right front leg, and we knew it was time to say goodbye.

    She got the best week ever – walks in the Radio Flyer wagon we had used for her knee rehab, salmon and chicken and filet mignon for dinner. We brought the spare mattress out to the living room and switched off spending the night with her. In the end, we had a vet come to the house so she fell asleep knowing she was loved. But I still beat myself up every night, blaming myself for lack of money for more diagnostics (what if it was a disc? Maybe if we had gotten a third set of xrays? what if we had just tried harder with the PT homework they gave us?) THIS is what I needed to see right now. Especially the reminder that I cannot control everything. I feel bad for the last few weeks, but this helps me forgive myself for my inability to be god.

  135. Carol Ann Neeley Kilgore says

    It has been 21 years since I had to make the decision to end the life of a beautiful, healthy, young dog who was a puppy mill dog and had severe mental issues. He had already been through three or four other owners and because I was involved with his breed, it was thought maybe I could understand and help him. He had a goofy grin and a playful attitude, but couldn’t remember you if you went into another room and came back. I still grieve for him and for having to make the decision but I also know he was never comfortable or really happy. Perhaps, along with some sense of guilt, part of the pain is the loss. The knowledge that one beautiful life that “could have been” was lost. Each dog or cat that comes into our lives takes a piece of our heart, no matter what problems they may have. When they go, they take that piece of our heart with them and the pain may become negligible, but it never truly leaves.
    Last summer we had to let our cat go at 22 years old. It was long past due, but my husband couldn’t face making the decision. I feel guilty for delaying his release, but I know he understood. Thank you so much for sharing this deeply insightful and loving message.

  136. Sandra says

    We love them like we gave birth to them….they leave us too soon. Been through it seven times….it never gets any easier. I just wish we could do for people what we do for our beloved pets at the end. Thank you for sharing….I know your Heartache.

  137. says

    I think that the lessons we need to learn continue to return to us in one form or another. In my pack, I currently have a dog who will be three in November (Lord willing) and has been hospitalized near death three times already in her life. She has the best care I can possibly give her with the support and love of my husband, my family and some really excellent vets. I get it. The lesson is that each day is a gift. And still I struggle…

  138. Rose C says

    Making the decision to put down a beloved pet never was and never will be easy regardless of the reason and the number of times we have to make such a decision. Each experience with each dog is a new one and in no way easier than the last. The feeling of guilt, and probably a subconscious element of anticipation of the pain, makes the process even more difficult. But we do what we need to do and choose what is best for them.

    We do everything that we can to the best of our ability and knowledge, our understanding, and the resources that we have. There is no guilt in that. And there shouldn’t be guilt in that. If anything, our dog has appreciated all that we have done. But its body is failing and hurting and to continue to go on or for us to delay making the final decision will just prolong his or her suffering. Sometimes it could be that we are afraid to let go, of never seeing or ever touching them again. But we are not the one who is bumping against the furnitures, or the one severely immobilized by debilitating joint pains, or the one relieving ourselves as we walk or as we lay down and not even know it. If our dogs can talk, it probably is saying that it is tired and would like to rest from all these. We are not making a decision to take their life away, their bodies are making that decision. What we do is advocate for them, speak for them because they can’t.

    The pain brought by loss is always real, no matter if a dog is put down or dies unexpectedly. I’m not sure if this would be of help to others but it is to me. I like looking at life and this world that we are moving in and everything in it as temporary. There is another that lies ahead, one that comes after this present one. A dog whose body is in constant pain and discomfort will be released from his earthly bodily suffering and will experience rest and relief on the other side. A dog who dies unexpectedly is going to the same place of everlasting joy and endless running. For those who needed to eventually put their dogs down for unresolved behavioral issues, I hope you find comfort in knowing that they are being freed from the trap that they are in, something that is not of their nor of your own doing, and that they are going to that same place where there’s nothing but harmonious plays and bumping and rolling with other dogs.

    The coming and going of life and of things in life is not under our control. We make the most out of the time that is lent to us and share that partly or wholly with our dogs but when it’s time to let go, hard as it may, we have to let go. Time will heal our pain, or maybe not really. But know that everything in this present life is temporary, including the pain that we experience from the loss. Look further and beyond, and see your dog/s still and as always on the wait for you.

  139. Tommie says

    I am grateful I found this site as I have been very sad. Two weeks ago Saturday I had to put my boy down. (Doberman) In May he had to have life saving surgery as his was bleeding internally. (Spleen)They were able to save him. A week later the pathology report came back and the surgeon said he had a cancer called disseminated hystiocytic sarcoma. The vets and oncologist thought it wise to do a chemo pill. There was a tumor in his lung. When he had his check up the ultra sound showed the tumor shrunk and he was spry and happy. This cancer is very very aggressive. We were able to spend more quality time together. Two months later he started to get weak and his neck started to swell. The cancer went to his lymph nodes. I like many did what ever I possibly could to do whatever was necessary to make him comfortable. He awoke Saturday and did not want to get up, walk , or eat. There was nothing else I could do as I did not want him to suffer. It was time. I miss everything about him as he was my best friend and companion. Yes, I was blessed to have him. He would have been 8 years old in December. I have had many dogs and each time they leave it hurts. Still, it’s better to love than not.

  140. Dee says

    Barney, my heart aches for you (and for everyone who has had to face the decision to euthanize). Last March I had to put down a beautiful, loving, physically healthy 3 year old dog for behaviour issues (d0g and redirected fear aggression). 95% of the time he was amazing…but he was unpredictable, and sometimes even uncontrollable the other 5% – and as he was a very large, strong dog, the consequences could be devastating. I worked tirelessly with trainers and behaviourists, as well as my vet. I enrolled in pack walks, spent endless hours training and conditioning, as well as many thousands of dollars. It was all helpful, but ultimately there was something wrong in my dog’s psyche that no one could repair, and loving him couldn’t erase.

    It has been over a year and I still grieve…I miss him incredibly, and still feel an occasional pang of guilt. Sometimes I even believe I don’t even deserve to have another dog – maybe I didn’t do enough to help my dog overcome his issues. But deep in my heart I know I had to make the choice for the well-being of my dog, family and other dogs and children in our area. I think I would rather live with this guilt than be responsible for injuring or maiming another dog…or possibly a child.

    I wish you well, and I hope you find peace in your decision. If you are having difficulty making “the right” decision, it is probably an indication that you shouldn’t feel guilt – it isn’t a decision you are taking lightly. An irresponsible pet owner likely wouldn’t have the same difficulty.

  141. says

    I am no stranger to guilt. I feel it far too easily. Strangely enough, I feel zero guilt for anything in Wallace’s life. He really, really LIVED. We gave him the best care right up until the end. He, too, had a team caring for him. He had support from people all over the world. But now I find myself feeling guilty about his actual death experience. I had a sinking feeling during the euthanasia that he was experiencing discomfort. He didn’t get a sedative beforehand and now I’m going over and over whether that was the right thing. He went quickly, but his breathing was scary and loud. I can only hope that that was normal and his body was shutting down easily and he wasn’t scared. There’s absolutely nothing I can do about it now, but those final moments will likely haunt me forever.

  142. says

    This Friday past I let my beautiful boy Sheppie go after 14 years of life, 6 years of which had been spent with us. (He was a rescue.) He was my heart dog, my Big Bubba, my Snickerdoodles, Mom’s boy. I made the appointment on last Monday and spent the rest of the week loving him and telling him how much we all adored him. Taking him to the vet this past Friday was the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life (I’m 46) but I knew he needed me and I had to be strong for him. We got him when he was a vigorous 8 years old but in the past year or so, he’d developed arthritis, then CCD ‘doggie dementia’, had become incontinent (not that I cared – I would clean up his poop and anything else because I loved him) and, we suspected, CHF. He was in pain and he wasn’t having fun anymore, but oh God, it broke my heart.

    It’s three days since his death and I am unable to be with people because I know I am grieving. Unless they have been through it, they can’t understand how it flattens you, how it sucks you dry, how it leaves you feeling numb yet at the same time utterly bereft. I can’t stop crying. My other little dog, my Lola, has been a wonderful comfort, yet she wonders where her big brother has gone.

    The point of all this is that until today, when I found this blog post, I hadn’t been able to find any good grief sites. Everything was “These are the four stages of grief” and etc – not what I needed.

    I miss my baby boy. I know I will never see him again. The world has lost all its color and its joy for me.

  143. E J says

    Three days ago we put down our 13 year old Wire Hair Fox Terrier Jessie, and I feel so guilty that we jumped the gun that I am finding it hard to bear. Our story is eerily similar to Delicia’s story about her 13 year old pug. Jessie got sick and would not eat, and began to have diarrhea and vomit. She had been sick in the past from eating things that she shouldn’t have, but always bounced back after she passed whatever made her sick and went on with her merry life. This time was different, she was getting worse so my daughter persuaded me to call the vet on a Saturday night to see if we could take her in and find out what was wrong. The vet agreed and my daughter drove Jessie to the vet. We believed that when I checked in with the vet on Monday they would tell us to give them an hour and they would bathe Jessie and have her ready to take home. Wrong, she was not getting better. The vet checked her blood (it was normal) and we did a barium treatment to determine if something was caught in her stomach or intestines. The xrays did not show any blockage but did show that here stomach and intestines were not in good shape. There were no outward signs of cancer but the vet speculated that it was the culprit. She had several tumors, including one on her stomach that had been growing, but up until then all had been benign. She told us that she could do exploratory surgery but that Jessie was so weak and stressed by that time it was very probable that she wouldn’t survive. We didn’t want Jessie to suffer anymore pain so we decided against the surgery. At that time Jessie was breathing hard – we think she had aspirated some vomit, and was so worn out that she would not move, even when a fly landed on her nose and crawled into her nostril. I shooed the fly away but Jessie just laid there and made no attempt to get rid of the fly. She was an energetic dog (even at 13) and it appeared obvious at that time that we had to make the tough decision. We made the decision to put her to sleep and ease her suffering. We all gave her a hug and told here we loved her and. . .

    Now I am racked with guilt that there had to be something we missed. Now I am not sure that it was the right decision. It happened way too fast. Surely we missed something. Its been three days and today has been the hardest. Did I give up on her??? Should we have done more, what if we had tried this. . .

    Thanks to all that have posted. It is obvious that I and my family are not the only ones that are hurting. I just want someone to tell me that we made the right decision for Jessie. To all of you that are also mourning the loss of your beloved dog, I hope that the knowledge that you are not alone will help you through this hurtful time. God knows that is what I am hoping for myself.

  144. E J says

    Thank you for this blog. It has helped me to share my story and know that many others have gone through the same pain that I have.

    I’m sure that I am not alone when I say, “No, she was not just a dog, she was my friend, my companion, my confidant, my psychologist, my sparring partner, the one that I could count on to give me unconditional love, forget the past and look to the future.”

    Now if I can just think like her and forget the past and move forward. God bless.

  145. Trisha says

    To E J: Re your first comment: Please read again the part where I mention how common it is to feel tremendously guilty about “missing something,” that if only we had done X or Y or found A or B, we could have saved our dogs. My Cool Hand Luke had 7 vets by the time he died, and I STILL felt guilty, like there was something to find that I should have miraculously discovered. But here’s the thing: Crap happens, and sometimes there’s just not a damn thing we can do about it. Your dear dog was 13 and suffering terribly. If you hadn’t put her down, she might have suffered even more. Even if she had lived 2 more days, 2 more weeks, even 2 more months, you had to balance taking the risk she’d recover and not suffer with her suffering more. Take it from me: I put Lassie down at 15 and wish I had done it a few days earlier than I did, because her last minutes were not good ones, not at all. If I hadn’t been so determined to not give up until the end, she could have died a much easier death. But I did my best, and that’s all I could do…. The truth is that we just can’t fix everything. We just can’t. It may be easier in some ways to think “There must have been something I could have done” than accepting that we are just dust in the wind, and crap happens, but that’s the truth of the matter. Your job now is to celebrate her legacy, focus on love and gratitude that you had her, and she had you, and take very, very good care of yourself, because your brain thinks you have been badly injured. I’m sending all the love and care I can to all of us who love our dogs so much, and lose them far, far too early.

  146. CAB says

    I had to put down my beloved just-turned-nine-years-old dog on Saturday at 11:30 AM. I sat up in the middle of the night that night reading everyone’s comments. I don’t know if it made me feel any better or less guilty, but at least I am not alone.
    I got my girl from a rescue when she was about 6 months old. She was a delight from the beginning (minus some shoe chewing!!). When I fell in love with my boyfriend, she fell in love with him too and him with her. We’ve been a pack for the last 6 years.
    The day after her 9th birthday, she was a little off in the morning, but I put it down to the rain. When I came home from work, she had thrown up in three places and her breathing was rapid. I thought she was probably fine, but I had a nagging feeling in my gut, so we took her to see the vet. He said he was worried that these were symptoms of a much bigger issue, but gave her an anti-nausea shot and said to keep an eye on her for the next couple of days. We did and decided to take her in for further tests on Thursday as she was still not quite herself. The vet called my boyfriend that afternoon and said she had metastisized cancer throughout her lungs. We went back in together, without her, that evening, to talk with him more. He was very clear that this was a grave prognosis and that there was nothing we could do for her. When he said “weeks, a month if you’re lucky,” I broke down. I just couldn’t believe it. It was 16 days from when he told us what he found on her Xrays to when we had to take her in. We made those 16 days the best we could – we went hiking, camping, visited family, made her delicious “people” food, let her sleep on our bed and just loved her as much as we could. She’s been her same old self and if we hadn’t gone to the vet, I doubt we would have really even noticed something was happening until that last terrible night. I worried constantly that I wouldn’t know when it was time. However, in true fashion, she made it so easy for us. We had a great night on Friday – she ate pork tenderloin and we took a long family walk during which she chased rabbits and squirrels. Then she started to cough and her breathing was so labored. It lasted all night and it was truly one of the most difficult nights of my life. I just laid with her and petted her and told her how much I loved her. I called the vet on Saturday morning and scheduled her appointment. I went and bought her a juicy porterhouse and she only ate half of it. We took her on two long walks again and she was so happy and running after things and sniffing, that we started to second-guess our decision. However, when we got back to the house, she couldn’t lie down. She was so tired and her eyes were so heavy and she was falling asleep standing up, but every time she tried to lie down, something must have hurt. It broke my heart.
    I chose to stay in the room with her. My boyfriend could not. It was fitting as I was with her from the beginning. She was scared and that is what I am so stuck on. I hate that her last moments were spent pacing around the room (even though it was not just an exam room, it was a comfort room) with a catheter hurting her in her leg. She wouldn’t lie down for the injection, so we held her as she sat and gently laid her down as she died. It was so quick. She made a small noise and I keep hearing it like she was in pain or terrified and I just don’t know how to deal with it. My boyfriend was outside, so I can’t talk to him about it because I know he’d be even more devastated than he already is. I know we did the right thing, I know it – she couldn’t lie down, she could barely breathe but I am feeling traumatized by the actual event. I feel like I killed my best friend. I’m sorry this is so long, I’m just so sad. Even in my sadness, every moment of joy I shared with her (and there were many) is worth this pain now. I miss my best friend.

  147. Anna says

    I put my beautiful 15 year old yellow Lab down on September 3, 2013. I’m consumed with grief that I don’t think I can even go on. My heart has been ripped out of my chest, I’m so depressed, and I’m second guessing my decision. Here is a letter I have written to my vet and will mail tomorrow. I also wrote a poem about my Lady’s life. I want her back and she’s gone. My heart tells me I did right, but my brain is making me nuts. I miss her so much, but I must stay strong for my Katy, Lady’s 10-year old daughter, but I’m losing the battle of strength. There is no doubt that losing a canine friend is as hard as losing a loved human, perhaps not losing a child, but anyone else, it’s about the same. I am so sorry for the grief all of you are feeling, but please know you’re not alone. I pray that time will help me live normally again and I will love the job I drag myself out of bed every day to go to, a job I now despise.

    September 22, 2012

    Dear Doctor …. ,

    I wanted to schedule a paid office visit appointment to see you, but I thought better of it because I felt I could say what I need to say more clearly in writing than through tears and hope it will help to heal my broken heart knowing you will read it and thanking you in advance for taking the time to do so.

    The loss of Lady on September 3 was very difficult for me and I wasn’t properly answering questions, my daughter was saying things that, to me, exhibited confusion, and I feel compelled to fill you in more about my final decision.

    You asked me that day what had been going on and through my grief, all I could think of was the last several days, how she fell, cried out for the first time, couldn’t get up, pivoted in circles using her front legs because the back legs wouldn’t work, could hardly walk without my help when I got her up, and her toes were curling under. Then the day we visited you, I got her up and she stayed up the whole time, walked out the door, walked in your office, and around the examining room. I was stunned at all of this and was having second thoughts because I thought maybe she was getting better. Quickly I came to me senses as my mind reminded me of what had been going on for a long time now, not just a few days. I felt the end of her life was near, perhaps she still had a few days or weeks left, but the last thing I wanted to do was wait too long.

    When you mentioned we could try pain medication and my daughter agreed, I was dumbfounded as when she arrived at the house that day, she said Lady couldn’t get up, was trembling terribly, the look in her poor little eyes was so sad, and Amy mentioned she had noticed quite a decline over the months she visited me from March through September. Then Amy asked you how much the pain medication would cost. Oh my God! That didn’t have any bearing on my decision. Then she said something like this to me, “If you’re doing this today because I’m here now but would rather not do it, I can come down again to help you.” Again, I was dumbfounded at something that had nothing to do with my decision. I think she was heartbroken too and maybe wasn’t even thinking as rationally as I was.

    When you told me in June that I might want to think about Lady’s quality of life and my daughter said the same thing in July, I felt Lady was comfortable even though she was aging. Was I in a sort of denial? I don’t know. I watched her closely and knew I wouldn’t ever let her suffer. I had been giving her joint medicine with a pain reliever (all natural) for a few years now. At the age of 15, I thought she was doing quite well.

    I now know that dogs deal with pain differently than we do with signs such a pacing, panting, anxiety, flinching when touched as well as trembling / shaking uncontrollably. She exhibited all of them as well as deep sighing within her heaving panting and perhaps more that I’m not remembering or didn’t know as pain. I trust I didn’t wait too long and the worst part of her life was, perhaps, maybe just the last several weeks before September 3. She still showed signs of often liking all she’s ever liked but the few weeks before she died, she seemed to not care. I believe I knew by the look in her eyes that she was tired of it all and was telling me she wanted to rest.

    My Lady, a true lady, laid in her feces often, fell and tumbled down two small steps a lot and if she didn’t fall, she used a bunny hop, per se, down the steps to level ground. Her head tremors have been going on for about two years, but they were worsening for months now. She never used to fall with them but for several months before her final day, if one occurred while she was up on all fours, she would just topple over and hit the ground. If she were lying down with her head up and a tremor happened, she would just slam her head down on the floor after the shaking and bobbing of her head subsided.

    Do I doubt myself? Yes, I do. I didn’t that day because I loved her so much and knew she needed to rest peacefully. Now that she’s gone, I’m saying, “what if that, should have, could have” and all the rest that goes along with guilt. Am I angry? Yes, I am some days, but only at myself. Maybe I should have taken care of her until she passed on her own, but that wouldn’t have been fair to her and very selfish on my part. Her life was deteriorating; I knew that. The emptiness I feel since she went away is almost more than I can bear some days. I’m grateful to have my Katy and know she misses Lady too. Together and in time, we’ll both make it.

    My decision was based solely on living with Lady and watching her decline, worrying so about her breaking a bone, being in agony while I was at work, and so many other thoughts that convinced me she was probably ready to go even before September 3. For that, though, I have no qualms, but I can’t help but feel guilty wondering about all the what ifs, should I have taken her home that day just to see what would happen, and all the doubts that creep in one’s mind during sorrowful times. My heart tells me I did right; my mind questions me daily.

    When you diagnosed her stroke a year ago, she snapped out of it quite well. I was amazed. Perhaps she would have gotten better for a while this time, but I’ll never know. I almost took her to a 24-hour vet on Labor Day because she was miserable, but then I thought she was a little better that morning and I couldn’t do it. Then Monday night, she worsened again and when I went to work the morning of September 3 (the dumb first day the students were back) and left her trembling and looking frightened, I knew I must follow through on what was right for Lady. I checked on her at lunch and she was still trembling. Amy arrived shortly thereafter. I’m glad I didn’t have to take her to a vet she didn’t know and once again, I thank you for softly and gently sending her peacefully away and restoring her dignity. It was beautiful and I’ll never forget it.

    Please know I’m not writing this letter for answers. I just want to share “the rest of the story” with you pertaining to my decision to end her life and trust this will help me to heal. I pray to God daily that He will take away the sorrow I feel and the guilt that is consuming me but yet, I know in my heart that I did the right thing. It’s just all so confusing right now because my mind is so mixed up.

    I thank you and your wife so much for saving her from the cancer in 2006 and for caring for her over the years. I am so blessed I was able to spend many years with one of the most precious dogs ever! I wrote a poem in memory of Lady and in it, I mentioned you and your wife. It’s on my own facebook timeline under notes which can be found on the left-hand side after scrolling a bit.
    May God always bless you and your family. Thank you for the caring and compassionate work you do for all the four-legged creatures that so many of us love and adore.

    Warmest regards,

    Anna ( and Lady too)

  148. Felicia says

    Thanks for this. I put my beautiful, goofy, sweet Skookum dog down this weekend. She was only five, and in great health. But she had become a dangerous dog. Beginning in our backyard, she killed opossums, then raccoons. Then she jumped a smaller dog. Then she bit a smaller dog. Then, on Saturday, she trapped a stray cat under a shed, and killed it. This despite being best buddies with our own cat.

    On our block alone, there are two Chihuahua mixes, two Shih Tzus, a little King Charles Cavalier, a pug, a Schiperkee, and two Yorkies. Their owners include a woman in her eighties, and assorted young children. Skookum was a 67-pound, powerful mixed breed, and when her prey drive kicked in, she was beyond our control. I mean, she was a different creature. Sooner or later, someone was going to mess up, and she was going to get out of our fenced yard. There are many personal risks I accept. But no-one was going to see their pet killed by a dog I own, and no-one was going to get hurt trying to protect their pet from my dog. And – no-one was going to beat, shoot or poison Skookum because she hurt or killed their pet.

    We talked to Skookum’s vet and her trainer, who’d known her since she was a pup. The stakes were just too high. I am so sick at heart. My beautiful girl!

  149. carol says

    I made the decision to put down my siezuring rottweiler. she was 14 and not coming out of the seizure. They were able to anesthetize her but told me that she would probably have brain, myscle damage and pneumonia (inhaled saliva to lungs). I thought she would be very uncomfortable if they were ever able to bring her back. I wondered if it was better for her to sleep forever now, or shoud I bringher back in hope she could recover. ?They think it was a brain tumor. I dont know but my horrible decision was to let her go. I wish I had not, and let them see if she did OK. She ws so strong. I feel I made a bad decision. I am sick about it.

  150. Claudia says

    What is worse: losing your dog suddenly without warning, or being able to prepare for the final days and have the power to make “the decision” for her?
    My beloved Ginger, best dog evah, keeled over and died in my arms in less than a couple minutes (CPR, no use) after eating her breakfast last Friday. She was a lab/golden mix. She was 12 and a half – a decent age for a golden, but she was so fit, lean and healthy that everybody who knew her thought she’d live to 15 or 16. She had no signs of illness, just passed a vet exam with flying colors. She was a lifelong athlete and more full of joy and life than anybody I’ve ever met.

    I would have liked to see her to very old age, and I would have liked to help her prepare for death by tending her and taking any pain away when necessary. Maybe that’s a selfish wish? To lose her so suddenly was so cruel. One could argue it was easy for her, but hard on me.

    Which makes me wonder: Are some ways of losing your friend easier than others? Or is it always the same agony?

  151. Claudia says

    I’d like to add; I had Ginger since she’d been 4, a rescue dog. She had been dumped by 5 previous owners for her hyperactivity and extreme dog-reactivity. I worked with her, micromanaged all her dog meetings, trained her to skijor, managed and supervised virtually every moment of her life. She turned into a terrific dog, great friend to many other people and dogs. She was the love of my life. To have the final moments of her life be so utterly outside my control seems so strange; it makes me feel like I couldn’t really be there for her. But I must be grateful that she went suddenly with little or no pain, and that I was there, holding her. I will love her forever, forever.

  152. Chery says

    I had to let my wonderful , wise and true schipperke Shadow go on Tuesday morning.

    He had been diagnosed with peripheral nerve shealth cancer in his left hind leg in September of 2012. He had a full course of radiation and went into remission for a full year. He had a great and pain free year and I spoiled him and took him on trips and many walks and he had much love and hugs and he was never lonely.

    This September his cancer returned and now he could not urinate or defecate by himself but I learned to express him and he did not ever seem to mind. He had cyberknife treatment for the tumor progression and he actually was able to walk again for a couple of weeks. Then last week he stopped being able to use both of his legs quite suddenly and had another MRI to see what happened. They could see some changes in his spinal cord but not tumor specific. On Sunday night he started having spasms in his back that would not stop. Got him to the vet and they gave him a pain patch and upped all the pain meds. No effect. Monday night he was even worse so I took him back to the neurologist and we decided to put him down. He was always hungry but his liver was also starting to fail and he was uncomfortable.

    They gave him som valium before the sedative and he really fought it – paddling with his front feet and seeming scared to me. I told them to give him the propofol and he finally relaxed and I asked God to take him right to heaven and thanked him for being such a good dog and then the vet gave him the shot and he was gone. I kissed him all over and sobbed and hugged him like I had not been able to do for weeks because it bothered him.
    I am just destroyed about his final moments and also just bereft at losing him. I cannot find any peace with this.

    I feel like I let him down – waited too long and then botched it at the ed. I am so sorry my Beloved Shadow. I did everything I could to save you but you are gone. How will I gone on now?

    thanks for listening.

  153. says

    I am SO very thankful to everyone that has shared their stories here and am comforted that we are not alone in our grief.

    Three years ago, we rescued Bubba, in danger of being put down, from a neglectful home. We are not sure of the specific circumstances but we believe Bubba was caged most of his life. He was overweight and never exercised due to his owner’s inability to control him. We already had our “firstborn” Pete and at their first meeting, they wrestled, played, and were just like typical brothers! With little hesitation, we welcomed him into our home with confidence: we were sure by nurturing him, we would change him. My boyfriend biked both dogs daily to get the inital “crazies” out then they were exercised in a field or on a hike. Bubba became fond of bright yellow softballs and would love fetching them for Daddy!

    Yet, in the meantime, Bubba attacked numerous dogs. Savagely. He got Pete only once on a walk after another dog provoked him. His Daddy was the only one strong enough (at 6’4 and 300 lbs) to successfully get him off the other dog and restrain him. No lawsuits or other issues have resulted but all the dogs were friends of Daddy’s or our family. Bubba outwore his welcome in many places but we were still committed to his recovery. Six days ago, while Daddy was at work, I let both dogs out. Without provocation, Bubba saw the Dachshund (Andy) next door and charged. He broke off his run, demolishing his shock collar. I fought with all my strength, WITH my 23-year-old brother, to control Bubba. We wrestled and pinned him as Andy’s owner screamed in sorrow and agony trying to protect him. She eventually shielded him by covering him with her body on the ground. Bubba would not relent. We fought for a half hour until the police and an ambulance were called. Andy died at the vet’s office.

    We feel we failed Bubba. We feel there must be something else we could have done. Please share any thoughts, comments or questions you might have for us or e-mail me at the website listed. . . .

  154. Renee says

    Thank you so much for this blog. Yesterday, my fiancé and I put our Blue Heeler to sleep – she was one month shy of 17 years old. I am wracked with grief and guilt, and am wondering if we made the right choice.

    I had her since I was 13 years old, and she was my constant companion. She was stubborn, feisty, and too smart for her own good, but she was so protective of her family and she had an unrelenting spirit and love for adventure. She was fearless and strong, attributes I always admired in her. She loved being outdoors, and was so athletic. She spent many blissful summers playing frisbee and soccer, and swimming in the river for hours while scouting out the biggest river rock she could find.

    She started to get more sore after playtime when she developed arthritis in her spine and back legs at age 7 – it was mild and controlled with meds for several years, but it had become much more severe over the last few. She had lost so much muscle mass that she looked almost skeletal, and it was difficult for her to walk. Sometimes she would be so unsteady just while standing in place, and would fall as though someone had kicked her legs out from under her. She could no longer climb stairs, and we had to carry her up and down them, or assist her with a harness. Even the ramp we built her off of the deck was difficult for her – she would sometimes fall trying to climb up it.

    Two and a half years ago, she developed Vestibular Disease, which made her dizzy and unable to walk for several weeks. She had a full round of antibiotics but still did not recover. Our vet told us she might not ever regain the ability to walk. It was heartbreaking to watch her soil herself and listen to her bark relentlessly out of frustration – she was always such an independent dog and she seemed to be humiliated by her condition. We knew that we could not let her keep suffering like that. Before making that decision, though, we decided to take her to a different vet, who helped her recover and regain the ability to walk. We were so grateful for the extra time with her, but ever since recovering from that illness, she lost her interest in playing.

    Her health had continued to deteriorate a lot in the last year. A year ago, she started having seizures and the vet told us that they were likely due to a tumor in her brain. They could be controlled with meds for a while, but eventually the tumor would get too large for meds to stop the seizures anymore. The meds did slow the seizures down, and for the last several months, she did not have any that we are aware of.

    In March, we suddenly noticed a sore on the top of her back foot. At first, the vet treated for infection, but after three unsuccessful rounds with two different antibiotics, he performed a biopsy and an x-ray. He discovered that two of her bones in her foot were gone, presumably due to whatever was causing the sore. Other bones in her foot had a kind of mottled appearance. He said that she most likely had bone cancer (the other, less likely possibility was an aggressive, difficult-to-treat infection). He said that our most viable option was amputation of the foot, but that that might not even cure her, and since she was so old, there was a substantial risk that she might not regain the ability to walk, or even survive the surgery. We did not want to put her through a painful recovery, and we opted to not amputate, and to just keep her comfortable in the time she had left. Over the last eight months, the sore on her foot had widened and consumed more tissue, and additional sores started showing up on the foot and leg. They were bloody, oozing, discolored, and had a rotten smell to them. We tried to keep them clean and bandaged, but it felt like we couldn’t keep up. We had to leave her bandage off at least part of the day, otherwise her foot could not dry out and would just be constantly damp, leaving her vulnerable to infection. It was workable in the summer, since she could just spend some time in the yard each day. But now the winter is approaching and she would have to spend some time each day in the garage, which she did not like. It also seemed as though she was willing to put less and less weight on her affected leg, and would often hold it up a little.

    Aside from all these problems, she seemed to be developing dementia. She often seemed confused and had lost that unique, temperamental spark that we all knew so well. She had become so complacent and almost apathetic, which was unusual for her. Although she still enjoyed going on walks with us and our other dog, and she was still eating, there didn’t seem to be much in her life that made her happy anymore. Even walks were difficult and she would tire out shortly. She had stopped barking, and had stopped socializing with us and our other dog. She no longer enjoyed being out in the yard, and seemed the happiest when she could just go lie down on her pillow. Even being pet seemed to make her uneasy.

    We finally made the decision a week ago, after months of contemplating it. We reasoned that all of her problems had to be causing her pain and distress, even though she was no longer able to communicate it. The arthritis and cancer would continue to progress and become more painful. Doing simple things had become difficult for her, although she never complained and always had a fierce determination to do them. We also did not want her to deteriorate to the point that she was in agony and we would have to make the decision under urgent conditions. We knew that we wanted to let her die with dignity, which is something that she, being so independent and stubborn, would want.

    Reading over her laundry list of problems, I know that our decision was logical and was made out of compassion and love. But I am torn up over it, and just keep asking myself so many “what if?” questions. What if we could have done something differently? What if we could have waited a little bit longer? What if she would have rather endured her problems to have a few more walks, a few more treats? I feel sick and heartbroken, and just keep wishing we could take it back, wishing we had stopped it. I keep looking out to her grave under the oak tree in our backyard, telling her that I’m sorry and asking for her forgiveness. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so much grief, and I only hope that in time I can come to terms with our decision and feel at peace with it, knowing that she no longer has to feel confusion, frustration, or pain anymore. I only hope she knows how much we all loved her, and will continue to love her.

  155. Rachelle says

    I too want to thank you all for this Blog. I stumbled across it doing some late-night searching and it has been really helpful for me. My story is that back in April I startedfostering a small lab/pit/bull terrier mix, Jordy. I had been debating getting a 2nd dog for some time because my lab mix is getting older (she’s ~11). Jordy was a 2 year old adorable dog the rescue pulled from a shelter in Alabama. I had decided initially that if she was a good fit I would keep her and that was what I did, adopting her that May.

    Jordy was just a great dog initially. She barely barked, showed no interest in dogs while walking, played great at the dog park, did well with strangers, etc. Unfortunately my work hours starting to increase though and I found I was not home as much as she required and even with daily runs/walks/dog park trips she was not getting enough. I started noticing she was showing more and more signs of aggression that were not there before, leash aggression with dogs and strangers, very territorially over my condo and small yard (I should add I live in a major metropolitan area so we often run into dogs, neighbors, strangers) and after a few incidents at the dog park (no one injured but she was playing more and more aggressive) I realized I could not keep taking her there and I was having trouble walking her between run-in with dogs, squirrels and strangers.

    I decided after a lot of soul-searching that she would be much happier in a home where someone was home more and perhaps with a large yard (I have a tiny piece of grass) and contacted the rescue to begin looking into rehoming her. The rescue was great and put her back in their system, but after a month I was not able to get her to the adoption events between travel and work and after she showed more aggression the rescue told me to bring her back and they would take her down to their farm in Tennessee.

    So last weekend (a week ago) we had a great time together, plenty of belly rubbing, chewing bones, sitting outside, cuddling etc. and I (along with a friend I convinced to go with me for moral support) took her and dropped her with the rescue at the end of an adoption event at Petco. They were great, told me she loved the farm and would be great. Jordy seemed fine, very calm and barely glanced at me when I left. I spent the week thinking I had done the right thing and she was off playing and having fun.

    It was not until the following Friday when I contacted the rescue to see how she was doing that I learned the horrible news that sometime after I left Sunday, she attacked a 70 year old woman for no reason (the woman had no dog and was just walking by) and turned on the person handling her. She would not calm down after that and they could barely get her in the crate. The rescue made the difficult decision to euthanize her that afternoon. They assured me it was done humanely and someone who knew her from before was with her.

    I apologize for the long story but it helps to write about it and have it somewhere for “forever” on the internet. I still am devastated, I loved Jordy and thought I was doing the right thing for her and now wonder what could I have done, should I have kept her? should I have worked with her more? should I have made sure they put her in a crate when I arrived? I am not sure when I will move past this as I feel so terribly sad and guilty all at the same time. In hindsight she was likely showing aggression from the beginning but I kept her on a very short leash so nothing would have ever happened like this.

    Anyhow I miss her very much and keep thinking of her hopping around my condo and chasing after balls or sleeping on my pillow. I trust time will heal all and I greatly appreciate everyone sharing their stories as it makes this somewhat easier to deal with.

  156. Aja Oishi says

    Thank you so much for your kind and compassionate post. I have come to the heart-rending decision to put my dear dog Watson to sleep because he keeps attacking me while we’re out walking, and he fights with other dogs and bites my friends. I have tried absolutely everything I know. I’ve spent so much time and effort and money on training, and I’ve tried to be consistent and a good dog mom. My family is dog people, and i’ve loved dogs all my life and never feared them. Watson is my first dog, and he is beautiful and usually really great… I just can’t stop him from biting. I can’t control him, and I am scared of him when he bites me. He’s a pit bull, and I was so hoping to be able to prove all the stereotypes wrong by raising him right. Unfortunately, as you pointed out, sometimes things are just beyond our control. I am so upset about it, because in all other ways he is a sweet, loving little guy. Then suddenly he just starts biting out of nowhere and i can’t predict or control it. I’ve begged and pleaded so many rescue agencies and other people to try to help me correct his behavior or place him with someone who can, but to no avail. Today, it comes to the final decision, and I’m just heartbroken. I keep thinking through all of the things I could’ve done differently, but it’s useless. I have a duty to keep myself and other people and animals safe, and i can’t do that if i keep Watson in my home. If anyone has been in this terrible position, my heart goes out to you. Thank you for your words, Trish. I’m going to revisit them in the weeks and months to come.

  157. Fiona says

    On Oct.3, 2013, I made the most painful decision of my life. My big, strong, handsome boy, just a few months short of his 15th birthday, had reached the end of a long road for a large breed dog (Sheppard/Retriever cross). He was amazingly healthy for most of his life and in the end it was just plain old age that took him away from me. He was the most laid-back, mellow and loving creature. We were travellers through life together in every sense.
    I’ve had a really hard time dealing with having him euthanized. I feel his absence every day and find myself wondering when acceptance will kick in. As I go about my daily routine in the neighborhood, I see him everywhere and all the memories are very difficult to deal with.
    I am not a Christian, far from it, but if there is a higher power, I hope and pray that when it is my time to leave this world, I will find him waiting for me, young and healthy forever, to once again, walk in the Spring fields, to chase squirrels, to prance around proudly with a stick, to leap in autumn leaf piles, to roll in the Winter snow.
    To everything there is a season. Maddox 1999-2013

  158. Hilary says

    On June 3, 2013 I made the painful decision to put my strong handsome 8 year old Golden retriever Newman to sleep after he was diagnosed with cancer. I know I made the right decision for him, but not a day goes by that I don’t think, what if? What if I could’ve done something else to save him? I hope and pray I made the right decision for him and he knows I did what I thought was best. But looking in those big brown eyes one last time is something I can’t forget. I feel like he was saying why mom? RIP Newman, I am doing all I can to honor your life and help find a cure for cainine cancer.

  159. Allen B. says

    Thank you very much all of you for all the information and support. I just had to put my old dog down this morning. I got her almost to the day 16 years ago. Saddest thing I could ever think of doing, but when it was all said and done it was the right thing. When she took her last breath it sounded like a sigh of relief and she actually looked happier. She was in pain constantly, and it was showing, arthritis, tumors, and Cushing’s had been eating away at her for the past few years and now had taken its toll. I am at peace with what was done now that I have watched the process. It is not easy by any means though, I still have lost my best friend that was always there happy to see me no matter what…

  160. Rose C says

    A few months ago, I read this blog post as a link from another of your more recent post of a similar theme: how one deals with losing a dog. I didn’t realize that I would be sharing my own experience here this soon.

    I had Ludy since she was 9 weeks old. I had to let her go four days ago, she was only 3 years and 4 months. Ludy was the first dog I ever raised and trained as a puppy. Having her taught me about life, myself, the world and where I stand on it as a human. She opened a lot of doors for me including the start of me yearning to understand dogs, dog behavior, and how I can relate to them better.

    Ludy had developed weakness on her hind legs with limping 7 months ago. She had tested negative for tick-borne diseases on three separate tests (including one comprehensive tick-borne panel). No definite answers were given for her weakness although her presentation was that of Lyme’s Disease (lameness, being withdrawn, and on and off limping were her only symptoms). I gave her Rimadyl on an ‘as needed’ basis, eventually took her for an ortho specialist consult who diagnosed her with Autoimmune Arthropathy. Last week, her urine had turned from yellow to orange, to orange with brown, to orange with red, then just before leaving for the vet clinic, to red with blood clots. Ludy continued urinating red with clots overnight, frequent but in small amounts so I decided to bring her to the ER where they worked her up for possible Immune-mediated Hemolytic Anemia and Immune-mediated Thrombocytopenia (Evan’s Syndrome). The initial blood test revealed close to normal red blood cells but little to no platelets at all. The next 5 days Ludy spent receiving blood transfusions, monitoring her red blood and platelet counts, being on high dose steroid therapy, immunosuppressive medication, and later chemotherapy, hoping they can control the immune-mediated process that was going on in her body. Although Ludy was in good spirits especially each time she just received red blood cell transfusion, the doctors gave her a guarded prognosis. Her bleeding in the urine had lessened but she continued to have blood in her stools and later started throwing up with blood too. I was reading through articles on Evan’s Syndrome and learned how unpromising her prognosis was, considering that everything in her history falls right into the picture of the prevalence of this syndrome: infection, particularly tick-borne disease, certain predisposed breeds, age, gender, and recent immunization within a month. Having all these information and seeing Ludy’s lack of progress, I prepared myself. The hospital called me the morning of Wednesday before Thanksgiving and said Ludy was not doing well. I made the decision to let her rest that day.

    I believe Ludy made everything work out the way they did so that I can have the reassurance that she was calm and relaxed, comfortable, and not in distress in her final days. Ludy was people-shy but she loves to come up to meet people anyway. I love the fact that she was in the hospital in her last days being handled and approached by different people rather than being at home ‘tormented’ by my other dog, Dani, who is immature, easily aroused, and lacks impulse control. On my hospital visits, Ludy would only look at me twice when they take her leash from me but she otherwise trotted away happily with the hospital staff. I love the fact that she waited for me to be able to see her and be with her the day that her condition turned for the worse. I love that in her final moments, I was able to touch her the way that I have always touched her and sing in the same tunes the things that I have always said to her. I love the fact that I had the chance to drive her body myself to the crematory that day, lay her in the backseat of the car where she always sat every time we went for a ride. I love how her nurse wrapped her body with only her face and neck showing, bundled and looking like a peacefully sleeping infant. I love that I was able to make a stop at home for 20 minutes to let Dani sniff her lifeless body. I love that she was able to make a final stop at her home, this time without Dani tormenting her. I love that I was able to arrange for a private cremation for her held 3 days later. I love that I was still able to see and touch her (frozen) body and feel her soft hair, her nose and ears and tail and paw one last time before she was cremated. I love that I was able to be there with her through the whole process.

    Thank you for everything that you taught and brought to my life, Ludy. I will miss you, sweetheart. I love you, Lulu.

  161. Rose C says

    I’d like to add that I rarely, if ever, regret anything that I do or any decision that I make. I have no question with my decision with Ludy and the timing of it. I really believe she herself made it less hard for me to make and to accept. If there is one thing, though, that I could change is that I would never have taken them to the woods where I believe she picked up the tick that caused her to be ill in the first place. Yet whenever I think of how happy they looked, and particularly Ludy in this case, when we went to all the different places and did all the different activities, it makes me feel better and happy knowing that she lived a happy dog life. I will never bring any of my dog, current and future, to those areas ever again. I will be extra careful about anything that could, even at the slightest, potentially cause harm or illness to them and will always live by the words, “Yes, it could happen to them.” A very painful lesson learned.

  162. Tina says

    I put my 14-year-old female staffie Jackie to sleep just yesterday. My heart has a hole in it, we are devastated and today the house is so terribly empty. She probably only had a few good months left but a sudden auto-immune illness, followed by liver failure and the fact that I missed the signs/wrongly medicated her lead to her death yesterday. I have helped her through so many health crises and will never forgive myself for my negligence. She was our girlie, the light of our family. She was a rescue and had a great life with us and lived with us for 8 years in China. I wish I had listened to the vet and made the decision sooner rather than when I did so that she would not have had to experience those last difficult 12 hours. It was selfish of me and although I know she is at peace now, I am overwhelmed by the guilt of not having done the best for her.

  163. Diane Kennedy says

    I am still hurting and dealing w/ guilt after making the decision to put down my mentally ill/ aggressive dog. He was my baby & loved him despite his issues. He was 7 1/2 yrs. old when I made the decision after a long time of my husband encouraging me since he was becoming a liability. Bozley started out as a sweet puppy, then he slowly became aggressive, he bit me through my pants, ripping my pants and leaving me w/ a wound and huge bruise which is now a scar (he was 2) He increasingly became weird about certain ways I would hug or pet him, he would just sometimes lash out and bite me( even when I was trying to help him) I learned to tread lightly w/ him, and it was mainly me that he bit. Until one eve. our friend was over which he was very familiar w/ and liked, she went to pet him goodbye & he went nuts biting her on the hand & barking, he left her hand bleeding and sore. Thank God she loved us & him so it was not an issue of calling the police (he was 5) I then was referred to a trainer who I felt was not helping at all…you can’t fix the wiring in a dog’s head. I just kept treading lightly & would tell others to be careful around Bozley cause he was unpredictable. Two yrs. ago he went after 1 of our friends’ children @ our summer picnic, she was petting him & he must have gotten annoyed & snapped @ her hand. We then became increasingly weary of others around him. We would always warn people who came into our home of his behavior….sometimes he would be fine, then other times he would lash out. We tried to contain him or tell people not to bother w/ him, as long as you didn’t bother him he was ok. long story short, he went on to try to bite 4 more people this past yr. ( 2, this past Christmas and then finally me, again.) My husband said it was time since we could no longer trust him w/ others…or myself for quite awhile. We felt it was just a matter of time before he really did some damage & I couldn’t live w/ that risk any longer. I made the decision and the next day my husband took him to the vet….I consulted w/ my friend that he bit & my father before fully making the decision, both told me it was time ( I should point out that he went after my dad once, too). Why do I have such regret & guilt over putting him down? He was my baby & I truly loved him, but I just got tired of the stress of having an unpredictable dog…the vet even deemed him aggressive. It does not take away the sadness and guilt even when your head knows what is right….my heart thinks otherwise. Thank you for all who shared their stories on here, it did help comfort me a little to know I am not alone w/ the feelings I am dealing with….God bless you all!

  164. Fiona says

    Diane, I feel your pain but I think it would be helpful if you told us what breed or cross breed your dog was and under what circumstances and age he came to you. There is much said about an elephant’s memory but a dog’s memories implant at a very early age and we can love them to the ends of the earth but in some cases, those early experiences can never be erased. Don’t beat yourself up, you did the right thing and in time you will find acceptance in that knowledge.

  165. Matthew Knapp says

    I had to put my sweet boy T.J. down less than 48 hours ago.
    he had a brain tumor at age 12. He was an ambassador
    for pitbulls everywhere . He flew in a plane; watched out
    for us in the aftermath of Katrina in new Orleans and rode
    across country when I got a new job. He met very few people
    or animals he did not like.
    Yesterday Ijust laid across his body as he
    slipped away keening with grief and sadness .
    hurt so damn much.

  166. carmenza reese says

    Matthew Knapp: I am sorry for your lost and understand your pain. take care of yourself and thank you for sharing.

  167. Alannah says

    I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the time you have spent in sharing your story. I myself have experience with a very anxious/unpredictable dog. My beloved pet and good friend Buddy a lab, although he consists of other breeds, is 8 and a half years old. My mum purchased him when he was around eight weeks old and he was a very lively loveable pup. However my mum passed away when I was 15 and Buddy was just 1. As buddy’s gotten older there have been many concerning behaviours that developed like stealing possessions of mine and my siblings and ‘guarding’ them by bearing his teeth and growling and barking when you try to get the item back. He also can be people aggressive in situations where I am to leave him(Buddy cannot be left with others without being separated into a room by himself. He also will not walk with or go out into the garden for a pee with ANYONE but myself!) In these situations he has bitten people in one case quite severely although there has been around 5 incidents not including the one time he has bitten myself. He is also very temperamental around children; one minute he enjoys their company and will willing play and be petted the next he’ll growl and bark when they pet him or enter the room. I’ve tried to help and accommodate Buddy by doing things like taking him to my sister’s house before going to work to prevent him going for my boyfriend of six years. However he became anxious and slightly aggressive there. She moved and I was no longer able to do that. After buddy quite severely attacked my father’s partner eighteen months ago I seriously had to think about perhaps euthanising him. After a lot of contemplation I couldn’t go through with it. I organised a blood test with my vet. Although this is made almost impossible as he has to be severely sedated to even attempt a blood test and now I cannot even get close to the vet so Buddy got bloods taken wearing his muzzle on the pavement outside the car park. They came back clear….I then organised a visit from an animal behaviourist who determined Buddy had severe anxiety issues. He suggested Fluoxetine 60mg daily. He had been on these for eighteen months and a couple of weeks before Christmas I noticed Buddy going off his food which was very unusual for him. Another blood test determined that he had liver disease however they were unsure how severe it was and I was recommended to reduce his fluoxetine(medication to help his anxiety) from 60 mg to 40mg a day and now within weeks I notice his bad behaviour returning and his anxiety heightening ie crying when left at home and outside shops. I have now decided that I am only realistically faced with one option….to get him euthanised. My dog is not a bad dog to me but I recently gave birth to my son 6 weeks ago and like you mentioned in your story I feel as though I’m walking on egg shells with him and I can no longer accommodate his behavioural needs and desires, I think if I was to persevere with buddy and his issues I would only be putting others safety in jeopardy. If anyone feels that they would like to comment on ‘my story’ please do so.

    I wrote this in reply to another article written online,I made an appointment a week or so after writing it to get Buddy euthanized,and that morning I phoned my vet and discussed what I’d like to happen to his body afterwards…….half an hour before the vet was due to come to my home I cancelled it,I cannot physically bring myself to do it,I’ve read dozens of articles on the issue,I’ve read dozens of other peoples similar stories,the vet and the animal behaviourist,my family,close friends agree it’s the right thing to do he has medical and mental issues that I can no longer help with.But for some reason I find myself spending all my free time trolling the internet to help me make a decision which ultimately has only one outcome,can anyone help me ?!

  168. Trisha says

    Oh Alannah, I wish I knew that I could help. This is such a personal journey that all any of us can do is tell our stories and provide a supportive ear sometimes. I can say that from what you write it sounds like putting Buddy down is a reasonable and loving thing to do. I know that sounds contradictory (putting a dog down is ‘loving?’) but if things are as you describe, there is a tremendous amount of suffering going on. I’m not saying that I think you should go ahead and do it, not by any means, that is your decision. I am saying that one has to think about quality of life… yours, your child’s and Buddy’s himself. I don’t just mean Buddy’s liver disease, but also his psychological suffering. If his behavior improved on Fluoxetine, then his aggression is at least in large part due to anxiety and fear. That said, how much? Again, no one else can tell you what is right. All I can say is that this is the worst time, when you simply don’t know what to do. This daily angst is exhausting and dehibilitating, so do all you can to move out of it, either by euthanizing Buddy, or deciding that you absolutely are not going to, and figuring out how to manage it so that everyone is safe, and still Buddy has a good life. All my best, and all my best wishes.

  169. Alannah says

    Trisha,thank you very much for your quick reply.when I return to work after my maternity leave ends in a month when I return buddy has to be seperated in to my back bedroom(my sons bedroom) to prevent him trying to attack my boyfriend or son or visitors,he’ll be left in that room after an hours walk from 6.40 am until 5.30pm (three days a week)until I return, he has water and food etc has been walked and there’s a comfortable bed for him to lay on,although he’s started crying when I’m out because his anxious behaviour returning and he’s being left in that room even for three hours and he no longer drinks while he’s there either when I come home he’s my first priority he’s let out immediately when I’m home he is excited to see me then runs to get a drink and we go for a walk I can imagine to others that that sounds a strange if not a cruel ‘set-up’ but it’s been that way for a long time and all that time Its only ever been my best intention to keep him what I thought to be happy and others safe.When you think about my situation with buddy he’s extremely happy to see me and walk with me but does that hour of happieness outweigh the ten hours he’s been pining for me ? Or when he crys because he needs the toilet but won’t leave the room for fear someone will try to take him and he’ll never see me again!
    I don’t need really to be told what to do…I genuinely know what to do…he’s been the main constant in my life for years it’s been just us two he’s not a dog to me not anymore he hasn’t been for a long time…and when the time comes Ill be devastated completely and with my previous loss’s in the family it’s him I’ve turned to but it’s a selfish thought to even consider how I will feel when you think how he alone and confused he feels alot of the time/his life :(

    I apologise for the rambling the dramatics and the lack of punctuation,your story’s all help your reply has helped I just wish the decision was out with my hands although I’d never leave him especially when the time comes.
    Thank you for your supportive ear :)

  170. Heather says

    Our sweet Shih-tzu, “Abigail” died more than a year ago at the age of 13. I still jolt out of a sound sleep with memories and nightmares of that day. I’ve been sobbing over her loss for two days now and I can’t get her out of my mind. I’ts so hard for me to even say her name or see a photo of her or I begin sobbing with guilt and remorse all over again.

    I can’t even say that “I had to put my dog down”, because instead I chose to put my sweet friend “Abby” down. It’s not what I wanted to do… I wanted her to feel better but she was 13 years old and I know she was in pain from arthritis. For her last weeks of life, she would lay motionless on the living room rug and pant. She also had Cushings disease and that was affecting her in many ways. She got to the point where she could not make it down one step, it physically hurt her for me to pick her up to carry her down the two steps out of our apartment building. It became difficult for her to go #2 and she didn’t want to walk anymore. In the house, she started to loose control of her bowels and would let loose and pee in the apartment (something that she never did before). She had a couple of bad seizures and was loosing her hearing and some sight. I knew her natural time was nearing but she was still as mentally alert as she was when she was young. She still loved to eat her dinner and like I read in past comments, she would have a fleeting moment of feeling like her normal self again. I miss her so much and I feel devastated.

    The worst part about what happened was how it was handled at the vet. My 19 year old son and I took her to the vet and said we wanted to be present. We were both sobbing when we walked in and the first thing the vet’s tech did was to take her from my arms. (I thought they were going to weigh her or do a little check-up before proceeding.) Minutes later, the vet tech told my son and I to follow her to a back room where the Dr. stood next to Abby laying still on a metal table. A large tube had been inserted into her right arm vein and another was inserted into her anus. I wanted to yank the tubes out and grab her and go, but before I could even object to how they were performing this, the doctor pushed down on a huge syringe and the yellow poison had already hit her veins. I had asked him if it was painful and he told me “no”. That was not true. Abby struggled so much the nurse had to hold her down. It took probably 5 seconds before Abby’s body relaxed and she started to die. IT WAS HORRIBLE. I did not expect for it to happen like that. That vision keeps playing in my mind and I am haunted by what happened.

    I have put a very sick dog down before (my old friend “Ranger”), but it was a simple shot and his passing was very calm and peaceful. I was devastated at losing him but he was begging to go and I know I did the right thing. In Abby’s case, they told me on the phone while making the appointment that it would be done with a “shot”, so I thought it was the same process. I had never been to that vet before as my son and I had just moved to NYC and didn’t know anybody.

    I just don’t know how to get over this grief, guilt and remorse that has not gone away nor gotten any easier (even after more than a year). I can’t talk to anybody about it because I feel so guilty for allowing someone to handle Abby that way. I should have yelled for him to STOP and I didn’t. Now it is too late. I try to talk to Abby’s spirit and I tell her how sorry I am…. I want her to forgive me for this but it’s too late and I don’t know how to move on.

    I’m devastated…

  171. michele says

    I lost my nelly today. He was a wonderful boston terrier mix and i cant shake this gUilt he was only 14 weeks old and dependent on me to keep him safe it seems like just a flash he darted into the road the man who Hit him didn’t even know he was killed instantly

  172. John says

    Your post still gets comments and still resonates because it is wonderful. Thank you! On Sunday (March 16), we made the hard decision to put our wonderful dog Edward to sleep. He was 13½ years old. Those half-years matter so much when measuring the life of a dog, because every day counts. Edward was an old man, but up until the night before he left us, he still got excited when he saw the leash, still wanted to go out on walks, still barked at the window and made sure no one — but NO ONE — came near our house without incurring his wrath … that is, until we opened the door, then he just licked them and (in his best days) jumped all over them before settling back down in a matter of minutes. The jumping-all-over-them part was no small thing, because in his prime Edward weighed nearly 120 pounds.

    Last June, Edward experienced vestibular disease, which left him shaky. In November, on a random day when the sun was shining and his morning was going well, his cruciate ligament tore — an excruciating pain, but one that subsided. Edward could not get surgery because he was old and because there were financial considerations: His adopted sister Lucy had herself been terribly wounded last summer when she was bitten by a snake and nearly died.

    Edward was a constant presence in our lives. He was much like a lion: His job was to look out the window, keep us safe, and generally keep his distance from everyone and everything … except for a few times a day, when he wanted attention, wanted us to know he was there, and perhaps vice-versa.

    The final day with Edward was difficult, because he went from being generally all right to being generally NOT all right within a matter of hours. When the vet arrived, she said Edward had begun experiencing some sort of internal blood or fluid loss, for what could be any number of reasons. He had been drinking lots of water all day, but he was badly dehydrated. Edward would not get better, no matter what we did.

    I nonetheless have terrible guilt over the decision. Did our recent move to a different house confuse him and leave him without a “job” because he no longer had a picture window where he could keep us safe and protected? Had we been pushing him too hard to go on walks and keep things “normal” for our sake? Should we have done that surgery and dealt with the crushing financial blow in order to have Edward around a little longer? I don’t know the answers. I do know that in better days, my partner and I made a list of things that would be sure signs that euthanasia was the only option: If Edward didn’t eat his favorite foods; if Edward could not get himself up to walk; if Edward pooped inside the house; if Edward could not move without clear pain; if Edward didn’t bark at things outside the window; if a vet told us Edward could not get better. All of those things happened — and all at once, unfortunately.

    We were with Edward until he breathed his final breath. Once the vet administered the sedative, I was overcome with enormous grief. I thought I had considered all the aspects of this decision, I thought I knew what to expect. What I didn’t expect was the sheer enormity of the emotion that came with the injection that would put him to sleep. I did something I have never done in my life: I quite literally wailed with pain. I could not bear what was happening. But, with Lucy by our side, I also knew I would never want the last sounds Edward heard to be those of sadness and grief. I spent 10 minutes with him, as the sedative began to work, reassuring him, saying goodbye, and thanking him for everything he brought to my life.

    Now, Lucy is here with us, and it is hard to say this without seeming to diminish her beauty and wonderfulness, but the house feels empty. Edward is not where he should be. I hear no loud sighs of rest, no padding of his big feet or sloppy lapping of his enormous tongue when he drinks. His food “station” (it’s not just a dish) is still where it was, and everywhere he normally lay feels empty — possibly because Edward’s favorite places to rest were wherever we needed to be: in doorways, in the kitchen, at the entrance of the bedroom. He was always “in the way,” and we loved that about him. I miss him more than I ever imagined was possible. I have experienced death before, too many times, but none like this. Edward is gone. I need him here … but he is where he needs to be.

  173. Dee says

    My heart goes out to you all. Yesterday I had to put my baby girl down. My heart is completely shattered. I had Trixie who was a Yorkie for 8 beautiful years. She was the best and first dog I ever had. So smart, so loveable, just a great dog. She loved everyone….they say that These dogs are very Yappy..not my Trix. The only time she ever made a sound was when the door bell would ring. She would run out the door to greet every person and she would walk them in…..such a beautiful dog I’m so upset.
    She had been suffering from a pancreas problem plus she had an intestine issue for almost 2 years. I moved out of my house and she stayed with my parents because it was her home where i new she was comfortable. Trixie was my girl. I had such a huge connection with her from the moment I went and picked her up. The best part is, I didn’t even know what she looked like before I bought her. I drove 3 hours knowing only one puppy was left. I thank god every day that I took that chance because I ended up with the love of my life. She was very precious to me and I will never forget her. It stings so bad not having her here anymore. She was only 8 years old….she still had a long life ahead of her.
    My mother called me this past Wednesday to tell me that trix wasn’t doing to well. I immediately went to pick her up to find her little body laying on the couch almost lifeless. I took her home with me. For some reason I felt- or hoped that I could magically fix her…get her well and back to herself…her beautiful self. I brought her to emergency and they did some blood work and took a urine sample. She was extremely dehydrated. Thursday she was doing great…well, not 100% but better then what she’s been feeling. She barely ate…but I gave her some food through a syringe just so she could have something in her stomach along with some water. She was nothing but skin and bones. Friday mornin she was playing…she LOVED her kong. She was tugging at it but the strength she normally had was not there. Friday night around 7pm her attack happened. Trixie was pooping bloody diarreah and throwing up. Everything I fed her came right up. I panicked and called emergency to tell them and to find out her blood work results, they told me her white blood cell count was through the roof. And I had to bring her back to keep her there etc. they told me it would be over 2 grand to keep her there and that if I don’t help her this will kill her…she had a bad infection inside of her. I’m not working right now and I was devastated knowing hat will not be able to help her. She went from eating everything to eating nothing. Come Friday night around 11pm I knew my baby girl was suffering really bad. I held her all night just crying and rocking her and telling her that I’m SO sorry..i tried everything to help her….I told her how much I love her and how my heart will always belong to her. That was he worst feelin in my life knowing that tomorrow she would not be here. I’m so sad and devastated over this. I made the choice to go in and be with her while she was getting put down, HORRIBLE experience, traumatic for me. She died with her little eyes open….I couldn’t leave her…I was wishing that it was just a horrible dream!!!! She will always have a special place in my heart.
    My Trixie…….mommy loves you and will always love you.Please come back me.xoxoxoxoxoxoxooxoxox

  174. Anne says

    My little friend, Weenie a ten year old Pug is still living. He has been in the hospital for severe vomiting for two days, but is not getting better. His vet doesn’t even know what is wrong with him, other than that he has an extremely high white blood count and has some sort of irregular findings in his stomache ultrasounds. The vet recommends a second opinion. This morning I will pick Weenie up and take him to another local vet. But, I can see the writing on the wall and really my hope for Weenie’s recovery is gone. I am in emotional agony. I have never had to euthanize a pet.
    He was supposed to be my daughters dog, but I am a homebody and Weenie has been my constant companion for ten years. He has had health problems all his life. He developed SARDS last year which rendered him blind. It also seemed to effect his hearing and his cognative abilities. I have to cut this short now, because I have to go and get him to visit the second opinion vet. Last night, I couldn’t sleep,and I found this blog. I read every post from the beginning. It helped so much to learn that my feelings of extreme guilt, numbing pain and overwhelming anxiety are normal. I expect today to bring him home for one last night with me. Tomorrow, I leave for a two week college search trip with my daughter. Between now and then, I will somehow/someway have to say goodby to my friend and to make the final decision to extinguish his life. I am having a really hard time.

  175. Anne says

    It is I again, Weenie’s mom. He is gone. It is over. The second opinion vet did ultra sound which revealed that some of his intestinal fluids had leaked into the abdominal cavity. His stomach was grossly enlarged with fluid. There appeared to be a blockage of the intestine, which she thought was most likely cancer. Because of his age, and his already diminished quality of life, I decided not to try and do surgery to find out for sure whether or not he had cancer.
    My two teenage daughters and I met my husband at the vets. We spent some quality time with Weenie. He clearly wanted to get off the table and go home. I held him in my arms where he feel asleep with his head on my arm. The vet administered the sedative while I held him. He went fast asleep and his little leg relaxed and fell to the side. I put him back on the table. My older daughter and I left the room before the vet gave him the final injection. My younger daughter wanted to stay with him until the end. My husband stayed with her. In a few brief moments they both came out of the room with red noses and tear streamed faces. They were very upset. And, glad that they kept him company until it was really over.
    I wish I had taken Weenie for more walks. I wish I had taken him to the dog park more often. I wish I hadn’t always been so busy to do these things he loved. This is the form of guilt I am having. But, mainly I miss him more than I can possibly describe. I want him back with me right now to cuddle with on the sofa. He was a sweet and gentle soul. He was wise, tolerant and fun loving. And, he loved me so! And, I love him so, so , so much. Goodby Weenie! Goodby! I will love you and miss you forever!

  176. Denise says

    Good-bye Our Beautiful Sierra Snow Angel Snowy 5/5/2014

    Thank you for this site. I am not doing so well. I miss my baby so much it hurts.. I keep waking up and looking for my snowy and than remember she is gone. The house is so.. empty it is weird. Our Snowy was with us for almost 18 years this June. 2014 After a very long night and day crying non stop since the 5th, I knew I was not wired for doing.. the responsible thing for our Snowy. If anyone has done this you second third on and on your decision. Did I do this too soon why did I do this I should of waited. The thing for me she was so beautiful for her little last walk in front of the house before the vet. I decided that Morning she had enough, her big booboo was infected. She had been squeaking more and more. When and if she was able to get up she would just pace and her endless circling or bumping into walls and getting stuck for the past 2 years. It just had become apparent she was getting weaker and going down hill fast. So I made the arrangement as I did 30 times in the past year. But for this one thing I knew it was time, she had enough. Waking up with pee on her and she didn’t allow bathing she would seizer or would go into a semi-seizer. So mini baths… with panic barking.. and she doesn’t bark any longer. Than the thought should I have taken her for a longer walk. We went for a good walk the night before we spent the day in a few outings in the back yard. She was so sweet to the end. With all the second guessing and crying.. it will never be ok.. ever for me… BUT Snowy was living a live Death. Snow was not happy not as herself. It broke our hearts because she could not do the things she use to.. due to her total blindness. No playing with her ball or chicky, no wanting to be petted, nothing.. And for me I think being with her every minute worrying about her it is a process of getting use to a life that you or we think is good, but it is not. The Challenge for her the only happiness she received was her little walks but even that followed by anxiousness for hours. I will never stop hurting I miss her and would take her anyway I could have her, but it was not fair to her. I will never know if she wanted to go, animals I was told do not know death… somehow I believe that I do know they grieve and can be sad but wild animals run for their lives so.. I don’t know. She was the sweetest puppy and a lil stinker in her day our grandchildren called her the monster dog, than later they would sit and watch her like they were at the zoo too cute.. but so.. sweet to the end. I guess that is what is making this so difficult.. I don’t want to think about anything else or do anything. But she was living a live death and I have come to the conclusion I could not do that to her one more moment. Would I take her back right now, yes in a flat second. But than I would be right back where we were. She would be in pain, infected booboos, blind and not happy. It does not make it any easier. And I can remember all the good times I just want her here now… but than that is being selfish. I don’t know and I will never know I do know I could not see her like this any longer. Her bouncing feisty barking running up and down the stairs sitting at my feet every where I ended up but she was not like that any longer. No she just was in a little room comfortable kissed hugged eating lil walks and miserable. Not a life for lil snowy. It just not easy no matter how we grieve no matter how we justify no matter if it was a living death.. one kiss from our baby’s make it all ok for US, so I will never be kissed again by my bb Snowy. But I believe in Jesus and My Lord I have to believe he would not give us something so special for them not to run in the clouds with him, waiting for us when we go over to the Lord. If not I am going to be a very upset lil Angel… when I get there. No one wants an upset Angel… I have to believe.. Thank you To my Daughter Christina for coming by today with her lil Gandalf.. No one really understands until we have to go through this. I only lost once my mom and it hurt so deeply I thought I would never see the other side of the pain. I thought I could never feel that pain for anything again. There is NO preparation. Nothing can prepare you for what your heart feels or doesn’t feel. No… I know I have to do this for my bb but than the pain.. No… after, I did this for my bb than the pain. All the blogs and stories are the same.. but different and all feel the guilt after. It is the love and the loss. It is the commitment to do something we are just not wired for. If we do love and feel even though it was done for our bb’s, we just are not wired to take a life even for the good. What if I did this, why didn’t I do that. Or the should of, would of, could of. No one can prepare you for the guilt we feel or grief or hurt or the emptiness. Because the bottom line they are gone and No one can bring them back. I loved the Avatar movie because the implant membrane between the animal and the owner.. brought them together as one thought. I wish one day we can have something similar. We can hear or feel our loved pets thoughts and feelings, knowing they are happy, sad or in pain. Two Lives together that love~ One Death, becomes One Pain, One Heart, One Life that must go on~ The vet said she would not survive the operations to remove her large growth. she has been such a sweet trooper hanging on. The last few days I have been getting kisses on my ankles like she use to do every day but has not for awhile now but the kisses were incorporated with a couple nips.. not sure.. why but know she was trying to tell me something. We had a couple nice days with her lying on the grass sniffing all the flowers. . I held my Snowy to the end. I wish I could of walked her to the prep room I could tell she was so scared. But with in a minute the vet bought me to her room. I almost just took her and ran. She jump in my arms the minute I held her. She always did that at the vets she hated it. But than she had a pain injection to relax her, she jump back in my arms, I took her to sit on the floor she did her circling I out her blanket down and started kissing her she lied down with her paws straight in front of her. I thought I would have more time with her, but she fell asleep in my arms. I kissed her ears I kissed her paws I kissed her nose a 100 times and told her we loved her so much thank you for being the most amazing sweet baby. No more booboo’s no more blind no more pain no worrying about peeing or pooping in your sleep. Than the last injections I kissed her 100 more times hugged her and ask Jesus to take care of our sweet lil Puppy until we join her in Heaven. I took a mirror and put it to her nose 10 times. I don’t know why I just wanted to make sure she would not wake up later without me and be afraid. I never let anyone touch her or left her alone since she became totally blind unless she was sleeping. Now I had to give her to someone else and leave her. I know I did this for her because if it were for me she would still be here and that is just not right to make a sweet bb like her suffer. It doesn’t make it any easier. I have never felt so much pain in my life since I was a child. I will miss our lil Sierra Snowy Angel for the rest of my life. Our lil Angel has her White Wings now~ Fly in Paradise our lil bb Snowy~ I will be with you soon~ Go find the Frogy’s… Lil Snowy Angel~ Thank you for letting me post this I know it is long but how can almost 18 years be totaled in a small note. <3 Thank you I hope this helps anyone else going through this a lot of your stories are helping me.

  177. Kirra and Reece says

    I just want to say thank you so much for this article. It has really helped. We have just had to put our 3 year old pup to sleep this past Friday. We have had so many of the ” could we of secured the yard better” ” could we have done more for him” and ” did we do the right thing” thoughts running through our heads the last few days.
    Our story is, like many others, a story about one gone too soon. We have been away on holidays and had a pet sitter watching our animals. The Saturday before last ore dogs got out of our yard in to the neighbors yard our pup got caught up in the springs of an old mattress and tore his mouth and eye up. We bought him home from the vet when we got back the next day. He was happy and waging his tail. He didnt look pretty or smell pretty but we were glad to have hime home. We didn’t know it at the time but he had severed a major nerve in his face. His face was dying. At check up on Friday our vet determined that he would have to have his eye removed. When they were performing the surgery they found the nerve. They couldn’t fix it and half his face was starting to rot. At least he could feel any pain because of it. That was the worst phone all ever from our vet. We went in to say good bye and be there to pat him while he made the journey. Luckily our daughter is too young to know whatwas going on and to miss him. It was just so sudden and unexpected, we thought he would be home that day. I know we did the right thing for him but we feel so guilty. So many “if only”s. i just hope he had a happy life with us. I wish i had of given home More treats, more walks and more of everything. I go out in the yard expecting to hear his silly puffing and get my toes licked. Our other dogs are missing him too. They really do feel mourn as much as we humans do. As they owners of many pets we know there is much heart ache to come. It’s just so hard when it comes in the form of misadventure not old age. So thank you for helping us realize that being guilty just makes us loving owners and thank you everyone who commented for your stories good to know, we are not the only ones who feel it.
    RIP Riley, we will forever miss your sweet face and big heart.

  178. Lisa says

    I know this is an old post but I wanted to comment and say how helpful this has been. Especially all the comments from owners who have put their dogs down due to behavior issues. I have a 5 1/2 year old Aussie that I’ve had since he was a puppy. About 1 1/2 years ago his personality changed. Up to that point he was sweet and loved all dogs and people even if he was a bouncy spastic dog. When his personality started changing I took him to classes, had a trainer come to my house to work with us one-on-one for an entire year but it didn’t make a difference. 6 months ago he bit a family member. I had a full medical evaluation done on him, started him on Prozac, and did my best to manage situations but his behavior has only gotten worse. I made the decision yesterday to put him down and I can barely function now. Looking back his issues started about the time he had his first (very long) seizure and I wonder if they weren’t secondary to that. But I am still wracked with guilt. To me he is the sweetest, happiest dog I’ve ever had but to any other person he is bizarre. He wants to be petted by people but then will just bite out of the blue. I can’t stop thinking that there is something else I can do. That I failed the dog in some way. And questioning if I even deserve to have another dog.

  179. Mercy says

    Dee, your experience especially reached right in and took hold of my heart. It’s going to be most difficult to get through this post, as I grieve now for you and your loss, as well as my own, feeling, suffering, the same helplessness, perhaps.

    I don’t know what happened to my little girl, a 6 lb Yorkie I’d mothered for close to 10 years. Last Sunday was such a glorious day for her as the grand kids were here, playing in the pool, splashing water in her direction. She so loved to chase it and bite at the droplets. It was a happy day. Sunday night passed as usual. She took her place next to me and we both went to sleep, all snuggled up together. Monday morning came and it was a morning like all others. She ate. She went outside. She came back in and stuck to me like she always does – white on rice; but by mid afternoon something was wrong. Terribly wrong, as she approached me slowly with what appeared to be a grimace on her little face. Her back was all arched up and I couldn’t imagine why. I didn’t associate that with pain after having gone over her entire little body with both hands in search of an injury. Not once did she yelp. Not once did she resist or draw back from my groping.

    Once seated with her, she just sprawled out in my lap, belly down, head resting on her front paws comfortably, it seemed. Comfortably enough. I thought then that perhaps it was the new food I had given her. She’d never had it before. Real turkey with a vegetable centered pate. I fully expected her to throw up, but she didn’t. Throughout the evening I spoon fed her small amounts of water, fearing dehydration. I know how fast that can set in. At one point she seemed to be getting better as she turned over onto her side, stretched, and settled back down, without so much as a whimper. I knew by morning she would be better. I prayed she’s be better, but she wasn’t. She didn’t move off the pillow I’d laid her upon, right next to my head. Asking if she wanted to go outside got no response. She just laid there looking at me with those big brown eyes that were still so shiny, but her nose was warm and dry, so I went for the spoon and the water, but her teeth were clenched so tightly that I had to use an eye dropper to get water into her, between her lips and her teeth.

    It was early. Well before 6:00 and her vet’s office doesn’t open before 9:00. There is the urgent care vet center not too far from here but it’s very expensive, and they expect to be paid up front so that was out. We’d had our experience with them. I was just hoping she would make it until 9:00, but by 7:00 it was all too obvious that she was in a great deal of pain as any movement I made to her by that time caused her to whimper. She hadn’t the strength to yelp.

    For more than 6 months I’d been saving my pennies so one of our son’s could see a specialist at the University of Miami. Insurance doesn’t cover him as his malady is considered a preexisting condition. He lost a testicle back when he wasn’t but a month old (he’s now 23) and the remaining one is giving him trouble – attempting to tort – so I’ve been saving so he could see this highly acclaimed and accredited urologist. His appointment was on Wednesday – just yesterday – but on Monday I was torn between vet bills that I knew would be expensive for Dakota and our son who’s been suffering for months now, and with something that has the potential to affect his whole life. So that’s what it came down to, in the end, my beloved baby girl who was the “bestest” friend I ever had, and my child whose whole life lay ahead of him that includes his desire to marry and have children. I couldn’t do both with what little money I had, and so had Dakota put down. I don’t think I’ll ever stop crying.

    I cut a long golden lock of her hair that I tied all up in ribbon before she left me. I cling to that now. We’ve been through so much together. She was always there for me, so no matter what, and so hated to see me cry. From the first moment our eyes met we knew we belonged together. I because I’d recently lost my Golden girl, after 16 years, and got Dakota to fill the void. I needed her and she needed me to rescue her from a puppy mill breeder who had her little being (at but 2 lbs) housed in a filthy environment with dozens upon dozens of much larger dogs that trampled all over her and kept her from eating. There was nothing left for her, on the floor, where the food was thrown, by the time all of the other dogs, all purebreds, got their fill. It was one of the saddest of all things I’d ever seen. Thank God this particular breeder has long since been shut down.

    Dakota was so happy (she wasn’t but 4 months old at the time) to be out of there that she just kept looking at me with her tiny tail wagging and her eyes all sparkly as if to say thank you so over and over again! And like glue she’s stuck to me since. She’d wait for me, in the window, when I had to leave her, and she was always at the door to greet me. Mine was the first face she saw every morning and the last face she saw when she snuggled close and closed her eyes for the night.

    I keep thinking I could have worked it out, somehow. I keep thinking maybe she would have gotten better if I’d have waited just a little while longer. Maybe her vet could have worked something out with me, allowing her to be treated. He’d worked it out with me when Dakota ended up with an inguinal hernia. He did the surgery for next to nothing. He’s just the best there is, but I thought, how could I ever impose upon him again, expecting so much for so little?

    The two surgeries she had – having always had medical issues due to, I’ve been told, to inbreeding, ran up into the thousands, and I supposed another surgery was in order as I associated the pain she was experiencing and her inability to eat, drink, move, to the herniation she’d suffered before. There was no pain associated with the first herniation, really, it was just there, and it came to be massive for such a little dog, and I wasn’t able to reduce it as I had been taught to, after a while, so surgery was the only option, and the vet worked with me. That was about a year ago, now. About a week or so ago I noticed a small herniation on the opposite side of her abdomen – no bigger than the top portion of my pinky, and easily reduced. It could wait until our son was through his medical, I thought. Not so, perhaps. No so, at all. So of course I blame myself, if not kick myself, for not holding on, and out, and trying to get both Dakota and my son the help they needed, but I didn’t. I feel like I failed her, when she’s never failed me and I don’t know how to get beyond that.

  180. Fiona says

    I feel sorry for Americans, who don’t have a national health insurance, where you have to choose between a family member and your beloved pet, also a family member. Veterinarian costs are not cheap, especially emergency clinics but having said that, it irks me the number of pet owners, who do not recognize, when their dogs are in acute distress and need immediate, emergency treatment. A classic sign of horrible pain in dogs is grimacing and arching of the back. No dog should ever be left to suffer like this. There are humane societies and animal welfare organizations that will mercifully euthanize the animal of an owner that can not pay for treatment. It is better to choose this option than leave the animal to suffer. The companionship of a dog is a lifelong commitment that requires you to educate yourself to the signs and symptoms of health issues and make many sacrifices for the well being of that animal. God Bless every animal on this planet.

  181. mercy says


    “No dog should ever be left to suffer like this. There are humane societies and animal welfare organizations that will mercifully euthanize the animal of an owner that can not pay for treatment.”

    I picked Dakota’s ashes up today. From the Humane Society, where it was she was taken, near at the crack of dawn, to end her suffering. The Humane Society opens two hours earlier than her vet.

    Just so you know, I didn’t leave her to suffer all night. Within an hour or so of realizing she was in pain, I called a vet tech (going to college to be a vet, and who has worked as a the vet’s assistant for a number of years now) to see if her vet might be able to work something out with me. Not at that hour, she said, but suggested I give Dakota (she knew Dakota) a quarter of a baby aspirin to relieve the pain. It was after administering the baby aspirin that Dakota turned over onto her side, stretched out, and slept, seemingly relieved. The aspirin did help her make it through the night, it seems, but because it’s a blood thinner I dared not give her anymore. She couldn’t have had any more, anyway, as 12 hours had not passed.

    The decision to put her to sleep came near immediately upon awakening, when I found she wouldn’t take the water I tried to spoon into her, and whimpered when I moved her even slightly, indicating to me that the aspirin was no longer working and her condition was worse than it had been the night before. I could have held out another two hours, until her vet opened, and tried to work something out with him, but for the fact that she was suffering, and I didn’t want that to go on for one moment longer.

    Taking her to the Humane Society was the only option, it seemed, at the time. In hindsight I suppose I could have taken her to the emergency care center and relinquished ownership of her to them, or just abandoned her there, in exchange for medical services. I could have done that, and she might have lived, and they might have found her a new family who loved her as much as we did; but I didn’t do that.

    I look at her little box now (extra small, it was labelled) and wonder if that’s not what I should have done, if so that she might still be alive and not in a box upon which I’ve placed a lock of her hair all tied up in pretty ribbon. What’s done is done.

    Those who knew her, to include the vet tech, try to comfort me by telling me that she could never have lived without me. Everything I did, she did. Everything I ate, she ate, that was good for her. Everywhere I went that she could, she came, and if she couldn’t, she waited. And waited. Neither eating nor sleeping if food wasn’t brought to the window she would wait in, watching, and merely napping. For nine long years it was like that. I never took a bath without her. I never visited friends, without her. Never went to the beach or the park or the drive through, without her. When I slept, she slept, right next to me, and while napping during the daytime, it was never far from me, if not in my lap or at my feet.

    On those rare occasions when I would leave her overnight, I’ve been told, she would pace between the window and the door, barely eat and never fully sleep until I was back home. When I did return home, no one was happier than she was to see me, and I’d have to scoop her up before greeting anyone else! She wouldn’t have it any other way. But I do suppose I could have given her up, by whatever means possible, so that she may have lived, and perhaps she’d have gone on to be just as happy without me as she was with me. As it is, though, I’ll not ever know, and I’ll always regret that I didn’t give her that chance – no matter that it was because I just couldn’t bear her suffering.

    The heartache continues. Unabated. The tears fall like rain. I don’t like the quiet, in her wake, nor the emptiness I feel. Having been in and out of the Humane Society so often I’ve friends there who are trying to coax me into adopting another. I don’t want another. I want her! And so I hold the box her remains are in, close, and tell myself it’s better now because she’s home. But it’s not better.

    I attend to feral cats in the TNR program and work very hard at taming and finding homes for those I am able to. I capture their kittens, once weaned, to get them out of the dirt for a chance to be loved. This is my main involvement with the Humane Society, other than to have adopted from them, from time to time. The vet techs there tell me that because of her age, and previous medical history, it was best just to put her down and that very few vets would have tried to save her. Her vet has suggested trouble with the past herniation and strangulation, but says he would have had to see her to make a determination. He knew her and that she would have done her best to live for me.

    I loved her. Love her. She knew that. And that has to be enough for me, now.

  182. Mercy says

    My apologies for posting, once again, but so much has been left unsaid.

    “T”, our 14 year old Silkie, is adjusting to Dakota’s absence. Both were “fixed”, and were never bred, though “T” most certainly considered Dakota his ever beloved, doggie wife. He’d get quite upset when she paid even a moment’s notice to any other dog, and there are lots of dogs in our family. Near everyone has at least one. Most were adopted, even as “T” was, from the Humane Society, when he was but a year and a half old and didn’t weigh but 9 whole lbs. He’s weighs more like 14 lbs, now. Dakota didn’t make 6. They were quite a pair.

    He’s always been reasonably healthy, and good natured, though God only knows where it was that he came from. Who his breeders were. He’s always been able to do tricks, like roll over, sit, offer his paw and give a “high five” when offered a treat, or even just to show off and to please. He’s great with kids, cats and other dogs that don’t look twice at Dakota, that is. He’d rather bust than to do his “business” in the house. I can’t say that Dakota was ever fully trained. With her it was hit or miss.

    She’s always had medical problems that were attributed to inbreeding/genetics. Over the years she’s cost us more in medical care than any of our kids did. Over the course of the past year alone, her medical bills were greater than $3800, which includes the inguinal surgery. I recommend pet health insurance, highly. We never had it, and once we needed it, we couldn’t get it, due to her many preexisting conditions. Please do, so you’re never found floundering in a position of having to choose.

    From the absolute depths of my heart I thank the Humane Society for taking such good care of her. Putting her to sleep, was immediate, and they packaged her so beautifully, in a pretty, well made box that I intend to keep her in. She would have liked it.

    I have no regrets about purchasing her from a “backyard” breeder, if you will. Always feeling as though I’d rescued her from the depths of Hades, considering the environment, and she was such a good dog. For all of her health issues, though, I would recommend that buyers beware of backyard breeders and doggies that come from pet stores supplied by puppy mills. Oftentimes they are not so healthy and experience unnecessary suffering, which is no less than heartbreaking and expensive.

    Working so closely with the Humane Society, over the years, has taught me well that with so many dogs in need of good homes, and even purebreds, there’s little need for puppy mills and pet stores that concern themselves not so much with a dog’s health and well being, but their own ability to make a quick profit.

    Don’t be fooled by a dog’s AKC credentials. Dakota was AKC, and it didn’t spare her the maladies of inbreeding and genetics which included Patellar Luxation and Tracheal collapse. Nor did the fact that she came from a private breeder, rather than a pet store supplied by a puppy farm.

    Know the pedigree! Know the breeder. Seek to know the health issues three generations back. Don’t put your dog, or yourself, through needless anxiety. Better still, consider adopting a dog (or cat) that has been gone over with fine toothed comb by people who are in the business of truly caring rather than making a profit. As I said, most of the dogs in our family (and cats, too) have been adopted. From purebreds to mixed, and they’ve all been healthy, happy, assets to our family that have lived a long, long time. Dakota was a joy, but she was not so healthy and died a few years too early.

  183. Brandy says

    I am so thankful for this blog, thankful to read others’ experiences to know that I am not alone in the overwhelming grief I feel. I know that much of what I’m about to write echoes much of what has already been said, but if this can help just one person find answers, or some sort of solace, then it is worth it.

    Tomorrow I am putting down my Lucy, my beautiful companion of 8 years who I love so very much because of behavioral issues. She sits next to me as I write this, looking at me, wagging her tail, and it is breaking my heart. Lucy was a homeless rescue dog that I adopted at 6 months; she has always had an aggressive undercurrent to her personality. In the first five years I had her, she attacked my mom’s dog twice and killed my brother-in-law’s cat. It was easy for me to rationalize Lucy’s behavior because in all three instances I felt she had been provoked. Last year, after a divorce, I relocated with Lucy to a new home. We moved in with my boyfriend and his dog. Pretty quickly Lucy’s behavior began to change quite significantly. She began to become quite destructive, damaging my home extensively. She started snapping at strangers in public. Over Christmas, she attacked my mom’s other dog; he had to be hospitalized. Earlier this month, less than six months later, she attacked my boyfriend’s dog Mea over food. Although she was placed in a bad situation that caused the fight, I felt that it was time to really acknowledge the realities of my dog’s personality. I put her on doggie Prozac and enrolled her in behavioral modifications courses. But three weeks later, she attacked Mea again this time nearly severing an artery in her leg, which would have likely killed her. My Lucy is starting to become a very serious liability for me and I now see that putting her down is the only truly responsible decision.

    I am struck by the narratives in this blog, the “should have, could have” self-dialogue. Maybe Lucy is just “adjusting” to her new life. Should I just isolate her from here on out? But I can only isolate her so much – she has a history of figuring out how to escape from the yard. What happens if she gets out and attacks a dog or a person? It’s not like when Lucy fights the result is a few scratches; she is a violent fighter and therefore very dangerous potentially. How could I emotionally, financially, and legally cope with that? Should I spend thousands more dollars on pills and training, when the guarantee that she will never harm another creature will never be 100%? This aggression is something that is ingrained within her psyche. Am I truly being a responsible pet owner to overlook or trivialize this?

    I am praying every second that I am making the right decision, for both Lucy and myself. I will miss my beautiful girl so much but to keep her is simply becoming too risky. And I wonder how this anxiety she feels is affecting her own quality of life. In the end, all I can tell myself is that I gave this otherwise perfectly wonderful dog eight happy years as an alternative to living on the streets. She lived a good life and she was loved very much.

  184. mercy says

    Brandy, my thoughts are with you on this day. Please keep us posted as to what your final decision was, and rest assured that the patience, born of love, that you have shown her, through so many years, is no less than commendable. Many more would have given up, whereas you stuck it out, so no matter what, and for so very long.

    You’ve given her so much more than most would, considering the circumstances. Aside from your love, your patience, your attempts at understanding that led to intervention, you gave her the opportunity to know what it was to be loved and cared for. Without you, she may never have come to know that. Because of you, she did, and for how long in dog years? 50 something? That’s a long time to be so loved and so well cared about and for. I say to you then, job well done.

  185. Brandy says

    Mercy, thank you so very much for your kind, beautiful words. Just hours ago I laid beside my beautiful companion who I love so much and said good-bye to her. It was the most difficult heartbreaking experiences of my life that I wish on no one. I can’t stop thinking about my last moments with her. To read what you have written to me makes me feel so much better, less guilty, like I could have and should have done something more. I truly am struck by the kindness that exists out there, for someone who doesn’t know me to take the time to reach out and offer me solace in a true time of need. Thank you again for your kindness. You have no idea what the words that you have written mean to me.

  186. Mercy says


    With each passing day, it will get better, and the happier moments will be what you will choose to remember.

    I’m Still Here

    Friend, please don’t mourn for me,

    I’m still here, though you don’t see.

    I’m right by your side each night and day,

    And within your heart I long to stay.

    My body is gone but I’m always near,

    I’m everything you feel, see or hear.

    My spirit is free, but I’ll never depart,

    As long as you keep me alive in your heart.

    I’ll never wander out of your sight.

    I’m the brightest star on a summer night.

    I’ll never be beyond your reach.

    I’m the warm moist sand when you’re at the beach.

    I’m the colorful leaves when fall comes around,

    And the pure white snow that blankets the ground.

    I’m the beautiful flowers of which you’re so fond,

    The clear cool water in a quiet pond.

    I’m the first bright blossom you’ll see in the spring,

    The first warm raindrop that April will bring.

    I’m the first ray of light when the sun starts to shine,

    And you’ll see that the face in the moon is mine.

    When you start thinking there’s no one to love you,

    You can talk to me through the Lord above you.

    I’ll whisper my answer through the leaves on the trees,

    And you’ll feel my presence in the soft summer breeze.

    I’m the hot salty tears that flow when you weep,

    And the beautiful dreams that come while you sleep.

    I’m the smile you see on a baby’s face.

    Just look for me, friend, I’m everyplace!

    Author Unknown

  187. Andrea says

    ” If I can’t ensure them a peaceful and healthy life, I can at least give them a comforted death.”

    Pat, thank you for this (5 years later!). These are the only words that have helped in my situation. Can I share my story?

    I found a stray that I entered into our local shelter’s foster program, and then took her home to foster. This poor dog went through SO much. First she went into heat, and was then spayed. After her spay, I immediately noticed a change. She was squatting to urinate much more than normal, with nothing coming out. I immediately brought this to the attention of the shelter and was told to wait 10 days for an appt. On the 10th day, I brought her in and she was diagnosed with a possible UTI and seroma. She was given antibiotics….no improvement. I thought perhaps it was a behavioral change, as it was only outside and in the same spots. Marking, perhaps?

    2 weeks after her appointment, her “seroma” had not improved and she was now having bloody discharge. I immediately begged and pleaded for an appointment with the “real” vet (not shelter vet). After finally getting a visit, she was diagnosed with a stump pyometra. Part of her uterus was not removed and was now infected.

    At this point, I had had her for 6 weeks. For the most part she was a happy, loving, young dog. However, she was developing problems with my own dog. I was constantly splitting my time between the two, showing her love and compassion and walks without neglecting my own dog. It was tough, time-consuming, and stressful. But she was SO wonderful, I knew I could get her through that and find her a home. I knew my dog would be ok once she found a new home.

    So I got the call that she had a stump pyometra and could be operated on the next day. They offered to keep her overnight. Due to the long distance to and from the vet, and their nonchalance at offering this, I allowed it, thinking “It’s just one night, she’ll be home tomorrow and I can fuss over her”. While she was in surgery, I got the worst phone call of my life to date. Her uterus had fused to her bladder and could not be removed. My options were: drain the infection, put her on antibiotics, and hope like heck it worked/infection did not return/uterus did not burst in her future. The vet gave her a 50% chance of the infection clearing at all, not to mention it was highly unlikely she would be adopted with such health concerns. Or…..let her go.

    All I could think was: if she isn’t adopted, she would stay with me (which, if she had been the only dog, I would have bundled her home as my own instantly). But in my current situation, her coming home would mean too much of her life in a crate/tense house due to behavior problems with my dog. Not to mention I couldn’t promise her she wouldn’t die, painfully and alone, at any moment. So I made the call to let her go. I rushed to the vet, where she was still heavily sedated. I hope she could hear me tell her how wonderful she was and how much I loved her

    I’m overwhelmed with guilt and sadness. Guilt that I didn’t have the right situation for her to bring her home. Guilt that I didn’t freaking bring her home for one last night. Guilt that I couldn’t give her what I would have given my own dog…..a chance to come home. But come home to what? A crate? Tension? I had to make this decision in 5 minutes, and that was all I could think of. I had to let a beautiful, loving, wonderful dog go, and I wonder if I did the right thing. She was only 2 years old. I know I gave her a happy home and a loving family in the last few weeks of her life. But could I have done more?

    I have a few moments of peace, knowing that I took her from a sad and lonely situation and gave her love and a family. But mostly…..I’m just so sad.

  188. says

    I have been comforted by the thoughts expressed in this site although I cannot read too many entries without breaking down. Dogs show us so much unconditional love and trust and we take for granted how fragile and fleeting life can be. My situation is heart-wrenching and totally unfair as well as painfully unjustified. I hope somebody avoids despair after hearing my tale and then reacts in the safest way for both dog and dogowner. I lost my 15 year old Lab in Jan. 2014. She passed while sleeping next to me in bed as was our routine. I slowly began to visit adoption shelters hoping to meet a soulmate and I knew I would sense the right match. I do not work anymore so separation issues may be less likely and outdoor visits would be frequent and spontaneous and our time could be spent together. With great luck and my gratitude I found my 10 month old male terrier mix at a North Shore A.L offsite event in N.Y.C. last Saturday June 7, 2014. As soon as I saw him in his little crate in a truck, I Knew. No words were necessary and I loved him and his way. He had just come from Kentucky and in one week he had been neutered, fitted with chip and vaccinated. He was so sweet and kind and at home he was relaxed and needed sleep. He woke up early Sunday ready for life. While licking and kissing me, he explored his home and just wanted to be held. All day I told him I was lucky for meeting him and as it rained we hung out all day. Why not ,we would be friends for the next 20 years as someone said. We had plenty more sunny days for walks, swims, playing and all that. He found his little bed on the floor but stuck by me wherever I was and jumped up on the bed with ease as if flying. He was healthy, confident and only deserved the best I hoped to provide. Then, Monday morning, I took him out early (7:00 AM) to start a routine and I would feed him dry food mixed with a little wet from a can later. Benny wanted to go outside or stay home- either way he had a pleasant personality and there was no fear as got used to elevators, hallway carpeting and apartment living. I carried him over to park benches and he put his little head on my chest and his paws on my arms. Now comes the part where I want to switch places with him. While meeting a new human friend, he trusted me to protect him while he ran out toward the park bench and was hit by a speeding car (did not even stop) and thrown over to the curb. MY fault? accident? I felt my life change forever before my eyes. He spent the next 4 days in the vets office with IV pain meds and rest. I frequently visited throughout the day and when he saw me he wagged his tail and I lay by him. All I could say was, I know, this will work out. From Monday to Thursday, there was no change,good or bad. X rays showed a broken back, broken leg and possible liver damage. This beautiful, effortless, innocent soul did not deserve any of this. He faced never walking, never going to bathroom on his own, muscle rehab and pain. He still had a zest for all he faced. He played with me as the doctor eased his passing and then his little pink tongue drooped from his mouth. I now am one of the many on this forum who tear up with memories and guilt. I knew Benny less than a week but I have really known him my whole life and we will meet again. I forget what happened and I see him out of the corner of my eye lying on the bed next to me. Sorry, the point is, don’t take chances- always use a harness or leash double wrapped around your wrist. I can tell you that you are now where I wish to be. You are still able to protect your dog from danger with a tight grip on your leash and all I can do is grimace and sigh. Thank you for listening.

  189. mercy says

    I am so sorry, Alan. My heart breaks for you – for all of you, while at the same time, I find much comfort here.

  190. Msoar says

    Alan I am so sorry for your loss. I too, only had my dog a very short time before he passed and I am absolutely heartbroken and devastated. Here is our story

    My dogs name was Piri. A crazy, fun loving, two year old Chihuahua we adopted about six weeks ago. We’re mostly a cat family (4 cats) and I hadn’t had a dog since my childhood dog Blondie passed away. After Blondie died I just didn’t have the heart to form that connection with another dog….until my boyfriend brought Piri home.

    Piri was found by a co-worker of his. He was making a delivery to a residence and struck up a conversation with the owners. They said they were moving and couldn’t keep Piri (formerly P.J.) and were taking him back to the shelter. His coworker, also an animal lover, said no way and took the dog with the intention of re-homing him. My boyfriend came home talking about this dog his co-worker found and saying he wanted to bring him home for a “trial” to see how he got along with the cats. Ok I said….and well, that was that. He came home on May 5th, 2014 and we fell in love with him instantly.

    I had completely forgotten the joys of having a dog. We were having so much fun taking Piri for walks and going to the dog park. Meeting other dogs, buying him squeaky toys and laughing when he tried to play with the cats (who eventually succumbed to Piri’s charms as well) but then something happened. On the night of the May 23rd he had some type of episode and we heard a thud. He had fallen out of our bed. I picked him up and he seemed ok. I called the Vet the next morning and they said to watch him for 24 hours. We watched him and all seemed well, at least until May 28th. During my afternoon lunch we played as usual but after work something was different. Piri could not walk straight or stand. He was wobbly and would fall over. Leaning his head down would cause his back legs to raise and he would fall face first. I was so scared because I didn’t know if him falling off the bed caused this to happen.

    I made an appointment with our vet for the next day May 29th. After a thorough examination including Blood and Stool tests, all came back fine. She could not definitively diagnose him other than to say he may have a possible Brain or Spine Lesion but prescribed Meloxican for inflammation and lots of bed rest. She also suggested getting an MRI with a Veterinary Neurologist if possible. We went the wait and see route. He had good and bad days but after about a week and a half with not much improvement we decided to get a second opinion. We visited doctor number two on June 7th. He also examined Piri and went over the blood results from the previous doctor but also could not diagnose him. He also suggested a visit to the Neurologist so right then we called and made the soonest appointment we could and on the morning of June 10th my boyfriend took the day off from work and drove the 1.5 hour drive to see the Neurologist.

    We knew a neurologist would not be cheap but as soon as my boyfriend found out an MRI alone would be $2,500, let alone the cost of whatever treatment he would need, we both were incredibly dis-heartened. The Neurologist gave varying ideas as to what his issue could be (immflamatory Brain Disease, Brain Tumor) but said his symptoms don’t show one particular thing one way or the other. We decided to bring him home and love him as much as possible for however long he had. We would have to carry Piri everywhere and hold him while he walked or went to the bathroom, hold his face to his water bowl and feed him by hand. We even got a doggie stroller so we could still take him on walks. We would get up several times a night to hold him while he went to the bathroom outside. I kept saying as long as he tried to eat and go to the bathroom then we wouldn’t put him down. Also, due to my complete stubbornness I didn’t want to give up on the MRI so I found another neurologist who’s MRI was about half the price of the other place. Piri had an appointment for the June 21st but he sadly wasn’t able to make it.

    On the morning of June 12th I hadn’t crated him (he was only crated so he wouldn’t hurt himself trying to walk around while we were at work) because I was feeling bad about doing it but when I got home for lunch he must’ve tried walking around and I found him laying on his side in the bedroom bleeding from his knees, his footpads, and he banged his gums on the hardwood floor. There was blood everywhere I was totally hysterical. I cleaned him up and took care of him and thought he would be ok because it was clearly my fault for not crating him but by the next day he wouldn’t eat all day and was throwing up. I suddenly had this moment looking at him and thought “I’m torturing him by keeping him here” so we sent him to heaven on Friday the 13th. I have been a total wreck since. I have never cried so hard in my life. He was such a fun loving bundle of joy I cant believe it all happened so fast. I know I shouldn’t think of all the what-ifs but I cant stop.

    I don’t want to lose the first dog I’ve loved in almost 20 years so soon after getting him. I’m looking for help to cover the cost of the MRI and will be trying to sell things on Ebay in the mean time in an attempt to raise money. I am also looking into getting a loan from my 401K but if/when that comes through it wont be for several weeks and definitely not enough to cover and MRI as well as treatment. Any help would be appreciated.

  191. Natalie says

    I have found what I needed. Thank you. For over a month, I have felt very alone in grieving for putting my dog down to due to aggression toward people. Not old age, not poor health or an emergency- aggression. Reading these posts has been very healing for me.
    My dog was only 4 1/2 years and his main mission in life was to protect me. I have guilt for not protecting him from his tendencies and not being successful with training, both on my own and with professionals.
    I am full of doubt and insecurity in my decision. I wonder what my dog would say to me now if he could speak. The grief is tremendous, because I do not have the comfort in saying that I put my dog out of his misery. I am in so much pain, but it is comforting to know that others have gone through this.
    Rest in peace, you good boy.

  192. Helen says

    It seems ironic to say how grateful I am to have found this site and all your heartbreaking posts, as I’ve spent an hour crying over them as I sit vigil with my 13 1/2 year old Golden Lab. Please forgive me for adding my own. I’m trying desperately to make sense of the decision I’ve had to make, knowing I still have time to change my mind, and knowing that I shouldn’t.

    Edison is a rescue, adopted in October 2008, and has been the light of my life ever since. He’s a big guy, going up from 34kgs at rescue to nearly 42kgs when fully healthy – we call him the Labradane. He’s full of character, strength, vulnerability and there isn’t an ounce of malice in him. He loves me without condition, and I adore him.

    Last December he was diagnosed with Epitheliotropic Lymphoma, although in hindsight he’d been showing very minor symptoms of it for 12 months ish, so it was obvious that what is usually a very swift killer was slow moving in him. Due to this, and his age, the vet and I ruled out Chemo and opted for palliative care only. He reacted pretty badly to the prednisone, becoming so incontinent he was constantly dripping almost pure water, so we stopped it, but the skin plaques it was supposed to control started to break into open wounds. We got those back under control with topical steriod cream and antibiotics, and then found a balancing act on a minimal dose of pred where he drank 3 times as much as normal and had occasional incontinence when we missed one of the much more frequent signals, but the plaques weren’t an issue even though they continued to spread slowly under his coat.

    He stayed pretty stable for a few months after that, gradually losing condition, chunks of fur so he looked a bit moth-eaten in places, but being fed double and then triple rations just to keep his energy levels a few steps ahead of the cancer. People would ask how Ed was – everyone loves him the instant they meet him – and I always replied, “He thinks he’s fine – has no idea he’s so poorly!” He’s known as the ‘Rock Dog’ by one group of friends as he’s their band mascot, goes along to all the gigs I roadie for, and gets spoiled by all the venue owners.

    He’s now at a stage where he lost most of his muscle tone, gained a pot belly and pants almost constantly. The last couple of weeks of warm weather has been especially hard as he’s never dealt well with heat, and the pred makes that worse. Ironically, tonight he’s resting easier because its rained and is cooler. A tumour on his lower lid has gradually got bigger until it’s now starting to cause constant irritation to his eye. Tumours along the length of his outer lips dry up and break open on a 3 to 4 day cycle as they get itchy as soon as they start to heal, and he is like any big kid and can’t help picking at them. The big issue is the tumours in his mouth, on his gums. The big one on his upper canine is pitted with ulcers that are starting to run together. He’s recently started to get a little unsteady on his back end, and drags his toes a lot when he walks, although he’s never actually fallen. Together, we’ve worked out a 2 step lifting method to get him into the car, as he can no longer jump or even hoist himself in

    Despite all this, up until today, he has had good quality of life. He’s very stoic. I’ve known he’s had a background level of discomfort for a while, but he’s always been up for a walk, even if they are now little more than an amble round the rec ground, and he loves his food – God, does he love food. He has separation anxiety, so lives with my parents during the week when I’m working, but at weekends, on leave, work from home days and quiet days in the office when I can swing it with the Boss, he’s all mine. The last night at my place, he managed to climb the stairs to come to bed, OK so it was a step at a time with lots of panting in between, but I left it as his choice, and he played his usual stubbornness card to rise past his illness. Last weekend was a good weekend, one of the best for a long time. He actually ran the length of the garden to get to me when I collected him on Friday night. All weekend, he wanted to play, to walk, to snuggle on the sofa (our guilty pleasure). He scoffed the major part of my toast every morning. He barked at the passers-by with his nose shoved through the cat flap. We spent Sunday afternoon at a friend’s, and they couldn’t believe how strong he was as he tried to barge past them into the lounge where the cakes were.

    Tonight Mum rang me, he’d been sick after breakfast and listless afterwards. He’d been panting all day, and moving around from one sleeping place after another. He was also not interested in drinking, and hadn’t pee’d. He then refused his dinner (we’ve been mixing it with water for the last few weeks to make it softer). I came home and he perked up – he is totally my boy. Eventually he went out for a pee, drank a bowl of water, happily ate when I fed him pieces by hand, but as soon as his bowl was put on the floor to feed himself, his face would drop and he looked away from it. He’s not a game player, so he wasn’t playing his face to get me to feed him by hand again. When I was feeding by hand, he was obviously chewing very carefully. Tomorrow I’m calling the vet and I’m going to have to tell her it’s time. Dad thinks I should have done this sooner. Mum is hoping he picks back up and is bouncy again in the morning, and that he has longer. Both of them are disabled, Mum is herself terminal and already past the sell by date the Dr’s have given her. They’re very frail and they love Ed so much, it’s very hard on them to watch him deteriorate. So I’m sitting vigil alone in my parents kitchen at 2:30am, listening to him breathe, spending one last night with my boy, and praying that I’ve not let him suffer, praying that I won’t be taking a life he could still enjoy. I keep telling myself that this could be a blip, a virus, just old age, but I can’t change the fact the damn tumours in his mouth are hurting him enough to make him – a labrador – my walking dustbin – scared to eat. He is my world, my darling boy. Life without him will be so very grey.

  193. mercy says

    Because the grief continues, I return. Waiting for the “stages” of grieving to either kick in, or resume, for as torn as I am by emotions that can be so mixed. One day sad, beyond all reason, and the next so angry – especially at myself, as the question remains, should I have waited? Should I have tried harder?

    There’s no where to be found, deep within myself, that tells me that which everyone involved tells me, it was time. For the sake of Dakota, there was nothing left to be done. It doesn’t make it any easier. It is no consolation to know they are right.

    Helen, your story is welcome. You need not ask forgiveness for it. I am continually grateful that this site has not been shut down, for the years-long gaps there have been between comments, and I treasure every one, and share in your turmoil, even as I will your grief.

  194. Trisha says

    To Mercy and Alan and Helen and every, every, every one. Although I have to keep up with more recent blogs and don’t comment much myself, I read your own comments every time they come in. And every time, my heart aches for each of you… and for each of us that loves a dog so very much, and has to play god whether we want to or not. As the years go on I am more and more sure that there is no perfect time, that feeling sure that it is the “right time” is rare indeed. What is not rare is agonizing over it, struggling so hard with the decision we made rather than accepting the inevitable, as we know our dogs would if they could talk to us from over the bridge. I want to tell everyone to throw out the guilt and focus on healing from the great loss that they have experienced, but I know that is far too easy to write, and very hard to do. I guess all I can say is that I am gratified that this post is there for anyone who needs to tell their story, and might take some comfort in the story of others. You are not alone.

  195. mercy says

    Thank you, Trisha. So very much for providing this for us. You’re a very special lady, and we are blessed to have found you.

  196. Emma says

    When I brought Birdie home 2 years ago it was the beginning of the most wonderful part of my life. I could not believe such a precious special dog was my companion. I wanted her to never know boredom or loneliness so I devoted myself to making life great for her: paddling pools, train rides to the beach, playing with other puppies. Her behaviour has always been impeccable. She is just totally biddable and totally playful and beautiful. Everywhere I go people ask to pet her. She is like my daemon; the best part of me. She sleeps on a bed next to mine and I stroke her velvety snout. Then she got injured playing with one of her favourite friends. To cut a long story short the orthopaedic surgeon advises it is inoperable and she be put down. Her spine is very damaged. She has had acupuncture, chiropractic, herbs, perfect diet, canine massage, hydrotherapy, nutricicals – nothing helps. She is now on strong pain relief. I take one day at a time. Her days are numbered but I have decided to ensure she is pain free and let her play and swim and be happy even though that will hasten her end. For 7 months I have felt such a terrible pain and guilt. How could I let the creature I adore so much get hurt? I wear sunglasses to hide my tears and sleep badly. I feel sick and tormented. She should be swimming lakes and running up mountains with her dog friends. She is only 2 years old. This blog is the most helpful place I have found. I wish you all peace with your sadnesses. Just to say you are all here because you did your absolute best and just wished you could have done more. What we learn from the love of a dog ..

  197. Jessica says

    Until the moment I found this blog I have felt alone. Trying to bury my feelings or suck it up and just get over my heartache. I have read most of the stories and cried and cried and cried. Partly because I feel you pain and the other is because finally I have found people who understand.

    My story begins with at the age of 17 I was diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease called Stargardt’s. At 21 my drivers license we’re taken when I failed my eye exam that’s when I learned I am legally blind. I’m sharing this not for pity but just to tell my story. My disease has enabled me to be a stay home mom, but they aren’t little anymore. So it was like now what? I’m home constantly, most of the time alone. Which leads me to the part of me finally convincing my husband to get a dog. I am a animal lover, but my husband isn’t. He isn’t mean to them that is just the way he is. With that being said he will do anything to make me happy even if it isn’t what he wants. We are high school sweethearts so he has been with me through all of my ups and downs with my eyesight. So for my 30th birthday present I started looking for a perfect four legged companion. I looked and looked. Met puppy after puppy and then I met with a friend of a friend at her horse barn who had just picked out a puppy from a litter of which her male fathered. I opened the car door and there she was…love at first sight. sweet little Belle. This perfect little 1.5 pound white fur ball maltpoo, floppy ears and all. It was an instant bond. From that moment we where inseparable. She was wearing a cat collar with a bell on it. I went straight to the store and bought her a baby blanket to keep her mothers scent on it. Every evening she sucked on that blanket and cuddled with it. I could go on about her corks and all the cute things she did but I will cut it short. She loved to please me and went out of her way to please my husband. I always said she had a crush on him. She won him over slowly but he fell in love with her too. Fast forward through all the wonderful memories sweet Belle gave me.
    At the age of 5 she was put on thyroid medication no big deal. Age 6 she had bladder stones. They was removed with surgery, some being the size a half dollar. She recovered fine. At age 7 she slowly started going down hill. Something just wasn’t right. Then one weekend things turned for the worst. She loved her traveling crate and would sleep in it with the door opened at times. She was in her crate and wouldn’t come out, she stopped eating and drinking. She wasn’t using the bathroom just lying in her crate. I was at the vet that Monday morning waiting for them to open. They seen me right away. After X-rats the vet thought maybe a back injury but I didn’t really agree. I explained that she wasn’t in this much discomfort with bladder stones so it has to be something else. So the blood work revealed cancer. The only thing they could do was a blood transfusion and that would only prolong her life for a week at the most. So on November 11, 2013 I had no choice but to put the sweetest most precious friend to sleep. I didn’t want her to suffer and be in pain. I felt like my heart was ripped from my chest. When I got home I screamed in agony and anger. My husband buried her the whole time crying. He said the sweetest thing “not only was Belle the best dog I ever had, she was the best dog I have ever met”. My Bellezee girl was gone. My constant companion. The unconditional love gone. I would wake up a for a split second forget that she was gone and relived it all over again. Constantly seeing her out of the corner of my eye. When I would walk out of a room I would hold the door open for her forgetting she was gone.
    Everyone suggested a new puppy and I was so against it. I felt guilty fot even considering the idea. Because Belle is irreplaceable. The holidays went by and I grieved my Belle. I pondered on a puppy so I started looking. I wanted to do it different this time. I went to a breeder saw the litter, met the parents. Spent time with the parents and I picked a puppy a broewn and white maltpoo with black eyelashes that framed the cutest eyes ever. At only 2 weeks old there was no instant bond I just pick her because she was so dang cute. I held her crying thinking of Belle but at the same time healing. I allowed myself to get excited about a new baby in the house. My husband would drive me an hour away every Monday to see her until she got to come home at 8 weeks old. He took me shopping for her I bought everything new. I named her Daisy. I searched endlessly to find a pink blanket with daisy’s on it. And I would take it when I visited her to get the scent. On March 11, 2014 I finally brought her home. Everyone loved her the kids fell in love with her my 17 yr old daughter more than anyone other than me of course. My 15 yr old son was more attached to Belle than Daisy. She was absolutely what I needed. Full of life and honestly the cutest puppy in the world. Weighing 1.5 pounds just like Belle but she was such a picky eater and defiantly had a mind of her own. She showed signs of low blood sugar so I called the vet they told me what to do and what to watch for so I treated her at home and all was good. She would get wobbly on occasion and they I would do what the vet said and she would be fine. It would come and go. She played like a normal puppy but then one Thursday at 5 months old she vomitted I didn’t really think nothing of it just kept an eye on her. The next morning she seemed ok just weak I thought maybe she eat a bug or something. That evening she vomitted again and very weak. I called my vet Saturday and they couldn’t fit her in so I called until I found a vet to see her that day. She checked her for parasites and took her temp. At this time she was very unstable dragging her back legs and failing and couldn’t get comfortable. The vet told me that she thinks it was neurological. With her not being my vet I wanted my vet to see her before I made any major decisions. So I took her home. That night she started having seizures and I was panic freaking out I didn’t know what to do. I held her all night and took her to a emergency vet hospital on Sunday. They said she had a very upset stomach gave her meds and sents us home he said if there is no improvement by morning bring her in. She got worse pacing, walking in circles, smacking her lips constantly. I took her back and she was admitted in the hospital. They took an X-ray that showed her liver was extremely small. I was told she had a portal systemic shunt which requires surgery. They kept her over night to stabilize her. I picked my little itty bitty teeny tiny baby Daisy (I told her that her nick name is bigger than her and it was)up on Tuesday. I met with the vet first and he told me that the surgery was going to be $3000 minimum. I immediately broke down because I knew I didn’t have $3000. I had already spent over $1000 already. I received my perfect puppy in her pink Daisy blanket with her licking my tears away. We went home and she fell asleep on the couch snuggled in her blanket in a perfect little ball all 4.4 pounds of her at rest. I was inconsolably my mom held me up as I collapsed in agony. I tried everything I could possibly do. I sold my grandmothers necklace and a charm braclet that my mom gave to me as a teen and it wasn’t enough. Soon after returning home on Tuesday Daisy woke up and was in such pain she couldn’t sleep, nothing worked the meds didn’t ease the pain she wouldn’t eat or drink. Constantly pacing walking in circles the entire night. I stayed up with her trying to console her in some way. The next day Wednesday I called my vet to get a second opinion he seen us and told me with her synptoms with such a sudden onset and how severe they are that didn’t recommend surgery. He said I feel that it isn’t treatable. So on June 18,2014 I had to make a delicious to put a beautiful 4.4 pound little puppy to sleep. She still had all her sharp little puppy teeth, pink paws. This has been devastating. I can’t understand what I have done wrong to deserve this. My heart is broken. I don’t think I can ever be a pet parent again. We buried Daisy beside Belle I always thought Belle would make a good mother so I know Daisy is being well cared for by sweet Belle. I made a garden at the grave site which gives me some peace. Belle’s headstone reads “my sweet Belle my friend and constant companion” and Daisy’s reads “Daisy Mae if love could have saved you , you would have lived forever”.
    I’m apologize for being so drawn out but I needed to release it. I have been told to be thankful it wasn’t my children and I am but it doesn’t ease the pain. I love my children and husband beyond words cam explain my little angels were an extention of that love. My heart goes out to others who have loved and lost a pet. The unconditional love that a pet gives us is undeserving but so worth all the heartache. I am very blessed to have been apart of Belle and Daisy’s life.

  198. Kim says

    I am glad there are others out here who feel as I do. This site has given me some perspective and a bit of comfort. My beloved furbaby, Ellie, is around 18 years old. She has deteriorated much in the last year. I know her quality of life is pretty awful now. I have done everything I can to make her comfortable, and help her life quality. But now she can’t walk. Can’t sit up on her own to eat or drink (I hold her up), is incontinent, senile, and mostly blind and deaf. She does seem to find some comfort when I hold her in my arms. I am struggling very hard with playing God. I know there is no chance at her getting better. I keep praying she will go peacefully in her sleep, but she keeps hanging on. Why?? Torture. For her AND me. I need to find strength to make that final decision for her. I know there will be guilt. I feel terrible. I cry all the time. I don’t want her to suffer. I don’t want to lose my best friend. :-(

  199. Jessica says


    I feel you pain. It hurts so deeply to lose your best friend.
    My advice would be to put yourself in her position. Would you want to live like that? I don’t know what else to tell you. Putting my sweet Belle and baby Daisy down was 2 of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make. You know your Ellie better than anyone and I know that she trust in you to make the best decision for her. You don’t want her to suffer and she doesn’t want you to suffer either. I hope you find peace with whatever you decide.She loves you unconditionally, no matter what. You are in my thoughts. When the time comes for Ellie to go remember her at her best.

  200. Kim R says

    My dog Bobby had been ill for about two or three weeks and was slowly becoming unable to walk. He had a heart problem and the vet said he had fluid build up in his belly and legs. The vet gave me three different types of pills which a lot of the time it was hard to get them down him. He soldiered on but his walk got less and ;les. The last few days of his life he was unable to walk and he lay quietly on a rug. He wouldn’t eat and drank very little water. I tried to keep him stable. I thought I had ran out of pills and made an appointment to get more tablets. I took him to the vet and the vet wanted to put him to sleep. I am against euthanasia and didn’t want to do it but somehow the vet manipulated the situation and made me feel like it was the right thing to do. It’s been a week now and I feel so awful and guilty. I can’t sleep, I wake up in a sweat, it really had made me feel like a betrayed my dear Bobby. I don’t know what to do and I don’t know why I went along with the vet. I didn’t have any idea how I would feel afterwards. Why didn’t I take him home and comfort him at home? he may have either improved or deteriorated, either way he would have died in his own time. I feel so empty now.

  201. mercy says

    After reading the more recent postings, I couldn’t help but to gather “T”, Dakota’s sweetheart, up into my arms and cry for the two of us, he does so miss her, and for all of you.

    It doesn’t seem possible that two months have gone by since Dakota’s passing. It so often feels as though it was just yesterday, and I still tend to forget, every now and then; and so does “T” who yet sits by their breakfast bowl waiting for her to come eat. He always waited for her, always let her eat first. When she doesn’t come he looks up at me with those great big, forlorn, brown eyes and sometimes resigns himself to eating alone, and sometimes he just doesn’t eat at all lest I coax him or mix his food with fresh boiled, shredded, chicken. He’s lost a little bit of weight since her passing, and his tracheal collapse has worsened. He’s too old for surgery so I know it’s a mere matter of time, and not a long time, before I will have yet another tough decision to make.

    I pray this time it will be easier; but I know it won’t be.

    Reading again, through all of the stories and feeling again all of the heartache, I have come to conclude that under circumstances such as ours, all of ours, there was nothing that any of us could have done, but that which we did. We did the best there was to be done at the time, in so caring for our most well beloved ones. Their suffering is over. Their trials have ended. They are at peace now, and I like to believe in pet heaven where the rivers run clear and cool, the grasses tall and soft, and where butterflies are plentiful and teasing in their longing to be chased.

    Dakota so loved to chase butterflies and lizards, and through the eyes of my mind I can see her casting a delighted backwards glance upon me in the fleeting moments before she darts off through a wildflower speckled meadow of lush green grass, forever trying and never succeeding in catching hold of an all too elusive butterfly.

  202. mercy says

    Kim, it’s hard. It’s so very hard, and hurts so badly but try, with all of your might try to remember that the vet probably knew what was best. I am against euthanasia too. A real “life” advocate, I, but you know for as smart and wise as our pets are they have no real understanding of such things as heart problems or cancer, or whatever it is that such horrific illnesses are doing to their bodies, that would help them to cope. They understand only, and perhaps Tricia would agree, perhaps not, that something’s wrong, terribly wrong, and I would bet that their only desire is to continue on in their suffering for the sake of “us”; but should we allow them to continue to suffer for our sake when it would be far better for them not to suffer at all? We can give them that. We can’t help them to understand what and why things are happening to them, but we can give them rest, and we can give them peace, and forever our love.

  203. Devon says

    Thank you, everyone for this space. I have read and re-read each entry. I searched for a place online where I could find others who have lost their angels and are grieving. I think I was also hoping to alleviate my guilt over putting my beloved Marla down 11 days ago. I have poured over each story looking for similarities to my situation and, in the process, have learned so much about bereavement and the love we all hold for our dogs.

    I wasn’t ready to write until now. But, each night I have come to this site for comfort. It is a special time of day where I found a connection and where I could remember my Marla, and grieve.

    Most of the time, I just cannot really believe that she is gone and then other times I am hit with such profound sadness. I loved that little angel with all of my heart and I, too, have struggled with overwhelming guilt over agreeing to put her down. I still feel in shock. She had kidney disease and had not shown symptoms for about 2 years. Then, in the last two months she just declined so fast. While I tried everything and thought I was ‘managing’ her symptoms she just continued to get worse. The last day she would not get up or walk. The vet offered my her opinion and I took it – that I should let her go. Oh, how my heart broke that day. I knew there was little to do medically while giving her a quality of life and I can rationalize my decision this way. Yet emotionally, I’m torn up inside.

    I know time will heal and the sadness will lift. I look forward to when I can remember the good times we had without feeling like I’ve been kicked in the gut. As I learned, grief makes us feel physically hurt – so true.

    Thank you all again for sharing your stories and thoughts and wisdom. It has helped tremendously. Like many of you, friends and family may not understand the depth of our love we have for our fur babies so that makes this space even more special, and important.

  204. Kelley says

    It’s almost exactly 24 hours since I had to let my Remy go. I am no stranger to the pain of losing a beloved animal. Despite a lifetime (I am a middle aged mom of 3) of caring for, loving and losing pets over the years, this one- my Remy, he was different. I don’t know if there are many who will ever come across the story I feel so compelled to type, but I am so desperate to ease this million pound weight on my chest and maybe there will be someone who has had an experience like ours: Remy came into our family last November when he was just about 9 weeks old. He was a “Rez” dog, having been born on the Navajo Reservation in AZ, and was rescued (along with his littermates and mama) by a close friend who was their doing a community service project. When my friend saw this starving (and obviously lactating) mama, Rosie, she knew their were pups nearby. Rather than leave them to their fate, which involved a .22, she brought the lot of them to her home- where she and her family already had 4 dogs. The pups were about 2 weeks at that point and for the next 7 my friend nursed everyone to health. She did everything possible to love and care for all of them until such a time as they could be adopted out. When I first saw the pics of these pups there was this one, who just tugged at me. With these adorable little black “smudges” of fur under his eyes and the “X marks the spot” patch of fur on an otherwise blue merle coat, he was a stunner. As he grew, I spoke with my friend more and more about how I’d like to have him even though my husband was not in favor and we already have an amazing dog, Sofie. But, I kept after my husband about this puppy- how good it would be for Sofie to have a companion as she is so incredibly attached to me and anything else I could think of. So… it was decided- Remy, named for a favorite X-Man character of both my son’s, was flown to us by a good Samaritan who upon hearing Remy’s origin story & the fact that I had just (hopefully) had the last of my cancer related surgeries offered to bring him from AZ to the East Coast. Surely it was fate that all these wonderful things kept happening to this adorable pup! All through the fall and into the winter, Remy kept us hoppin’. He was so incredibly affectionate with us, his people (me, my husband and our two youngest who are still at home). He did show signs of anxiety with new things: the mail truck, people he didn’t know, but despite the awful winter we just had we got him out whenever we could. Before long spring was upon us an our once 14 lb pup was a strapping 46 lb (and growing), 6 month old bundle of energy. He always required constant supervision as he would eat anything he could lay paws on- socks, mulch, sticks, leaves, snow, napkins/paper towels (definite delicacies in his mind). Over spring break in April we took the kids to the beach, Sofie stayed with my mom, but Remy couldn’t. She already has 2 small dogs and a large 6 month old pup would be too much for her. I’ve never in all the years that I’ve (as an adult) had pets, boarded them. If family or a trusted friend couldn’t pet sit, we didn’t go. But, this time… I read, I researched. I entrusted Remy to an in-home boarding company. They are nationwide, they are widely known, they screen their “hosts,” they offer 25,000 in doggy medical coverage- it was perfect. If only I’d known. Just a couple of days into our trip, he was sick, but we didn’t know why. The “host” went from he’s fine, to asking that Remy be transferred elsewhere. Somehow while there, I came to discover too late, Remy ate something he shouldn’t have. By the time we came home with Remy he was sick, so, so sick. He was vomiting and had blood in his stool. Thus began an almost 4 month odyssey of health and illness. He went from seeing the regular vet, to seeing the emergency vet, to seeing the internist. At one point he was on 6 different medications daily, special “novel protein” prescription diet canned kibble (at $100 for a case that lasted 1 week). In the end over $10,000 dollars was spent on his medical issues only to come to the realization that there was no good reason why a seemingly healthy pup developed Irritable Bowel Disease that wouldn’t respond to treatment. After the last hospital stay (he had 6 stays over a 6 week period, ranging in length from overnight to a full week with the last one) he came home stable, on meds & special food. That was toward the end of May. But, he was different. Almost immediately we noticed that his behavior was changed. Although always fearful (or maybe anxious is a better word) of things, once he realized nothing was going to actually “get him” he was good- we’d even spent the two weeks before that spring break trip going daily to the dog park where he came across lots of new dogs, people etc. and loved it. Now, after all that it took to stabilize his health, if it wasn’t us he was aggressive. His big, deep bark was scary- to adults, the children in our neighborhood. What could we do to help him? If he was at home with his fur sister and the rest of our family, he was not aggressive- just typical pesky jeuvenile pup. Yes, he had nuisance behaviors we were working on with him, but we did not feel any threat coming from him. I hired a Certified Professional Dog Trainer so we could learn how to manage his behaviors because we could no longer let anyone else in the house if he was outside his crate (where he slept at night or if we left the house). No 16th birthday party for my son, no more sleepovers for my daughter- we got used to life revolving around who was watching Remy so he didn’t eat something he shouldn’t, it was scheduled, it was consistent- we did everything we could for him that we knew to do. After the first session the trainer said that she couldn’t help us because he was too aggressive, but a colleague’s specialty was fear aggressive dogs. So, in comes the second trainer. She spent weeks working with me, first in person, then on the phone, trying to help us teach Remy that the world wasn’t a scary place. I’d begun to joke that Remy was “going to try and eat you before you could eat him” in a lame attempt to bring levity to this crazy situation because the change in him from 6 months pre-illness to 7 plus months post illness was shocking. I spent hours upon hours reading online, watching positive behavior training videos, talking to various dog savvy people all in an attempt to teach myself how to teach Remy. I thought it worked. I thought that despite his health concerns that his behavior was going to come back to what it needed to be. Last week we had a check up with the veterinary internist- her recommendation was that Remy stay on metronidazole indefinitely and that (at our insistence) he could slowly taper off the prednisone he was on- we knew it can cause aggression in some dogs. But, he would most likely need the special diet, biannual check-ups w/ scans and blood work. None of the specialty vets could tell us why my baby got and stayed so sick. At 10 months he weighed 41 lbs (at least 10 lbs less than he should) and exactly what he weighed at the start of his first full hospital stay more than 2 months ago. Thursday, while playing in the yard (he was off leash even because his recall, for me, had been so great and we live in a really spread out, quiet neighborhood) a woman walked her yorkie near our house, but across the street. Remy went after her and her dog. Luckily, he was not able to bite because my husband got their so quickly. But, I was told later, it was a terrifying experience for all. My husband said he really doesn’t know whether Remy would or would not have bitten. I thought it was a fluke. I wasn’t there and I am the one who does the training sessions, taught him tricks, got him to jump- literally- through hoops) surely, if I was there he wouldn’t have done that. Next day, while on leash and training with me, he tried to go after a woman taking a walk down the street. Monday night when my son came home from a trip with friends, as the door to the house opened and Remy saw my son and the other boys, he went after them with everything he had- barking, snarling, ears pinned, teeth bared… Yet, that same evening when it was just us he was his “normal” self. Except he wasn’t. I could tell he didn’t feel good. Normal is him so excited to eat that he can barely sit/stay until released to eat, but he just lay there sad eyed watching me measure out his kibble. My baby had to be put down not because he had a serious illness and not because he had developed fear aggressive issues. We made the decision to put Remy down because he had both a chronic disease and behavioral issues. My son went with us yesterday. He wanted to be the last thing Remy saw before closing his eyes, the last loving touch to stroke that precious fur, and he was. My heart is so full of sadness, hurt and an aching doubt. I could go on and on in more detail about the lengths we went to in our quest to save Remy’s life. But, what is the point? I will always question if I did the right thing. I know that the various vets, the trainer, certain friends have said we made the right call because the “next time” he could have hurt someone, maybe even us. Even today my vet called to remind me that we did the right thing by Remy- he’d started nipping my family, even me in the last couple of weeks- even a couple of times as I was rubbing him, he’d bite- no blood, but as I look at my arms there are definite bruises from him. But, I miss my boy. He was my little man, my “Rem-Rem”, “Reminator,” our “Mister,” the “Monster,” my sweet, sweet Remy. I believe I failed him in some way either because I sent him to someone that I didn’t personally know (even if they did come with great reviews from others) or maybe I didn’t socialize the right way, maybe it was because I took him from the desert to the East Coast… Did I do enough, did I do it right, did I do everything? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter what others have told me, it’s about how I feel right now. I feel that I let him down- I see him nestled on my son’s lap while we all rub him. I kneel down to kiss him and whisper softly to him, begging his forgiveness, crying as I try to tell him how sorry I am that we are here in this place and this is what it’s come to. I know how incredibly long this story is and like so many others I am grateful to have stumbled upon this site- I needed to be able to share this story and if there is anyone who actually made it all the way to the end, I thank you for allowing me the chance to tell you about Remy. He made my life better. He made me better. I will ache for him and every thing he didn’t have as much as I will try, try, try to remember that we did everything we could for him. I just wasn’t able to save him.- Remy (Sept 8, 2013-July 30, 2014)

  205. Trisha says

    Oh Kelley, Oh Oh, I am so sorry. I did get to the end and I did read every word and my heart breaks for you and Remy both. And I want to say this: Wait a few weeks and read what you wrote again. What is clear from your story is that you moved heaven and earth for this dog, and no one could have done more. How many vets tried? How many professional trainers and behaviorists? How is that you were supposed to solve this mystery that no one else could, even with their combined decades of training? I never met Remy, but I can tell you just by reading your story that I am sure you are right that his behavioral problems were linked to his physical ones (and also that beh’ists like me have innumerable clients whose dogs have terrible guts and fear-related aggression issues, they seem to go together). I hope you can squelch the guilt that his death was your ‘fault’ somehow because you left him alone and maybe, just maybe, he ate something he shouldn’t have. Ask yourself this: How many dogs eat something they shouldn’t once in their lifetime? Every one, right? If Remy’s gut was so fragile that ingesting one substance destroyed his health, then his health was already mostly destroyed to begin with. You gave Remy a wonderful home, family and life and took better care of him than most parents in the world can their children. Please, please remember what I wrote in the blog; At some level, it is easier to carry around guilt thinking “If only I’d…” rather than accepting that S*^* happens. Even to wonderful dogs like Remy, and to wonderful people like you. It’s not your fault Kelley, you are a wonderful dog owner and couldn’t have tried harder. I hope you can gather your family and village and let them support you in your grief. Remember to take care of yourself as if you’ve had surgery, because to your brain, you have. Remy would ask you to do that, don’t you think?

  206. Stacy says

    I’ve been reading these posts, crying along with everyone else….wondering if I’m making the right decision.

    In less than three hours, a mobile vet will be coming to my home to put down my 13 year old Pit Bull, Jezebel. We’ve had her since she was six weeks old and she has been my CONSTANT companion. Best dog we have ever had….super easy to train…always listened…and ALWAYS there for me thru the hardest times of my life.

    I noticed a few weeks ago, she’d quit eating….and this is a dog that LOVES to eat ANYTHING. She also began drinking lots of water….LOTS of water. I thought…”Well, she’s getting older…I’m sure it’s a sign of old age”. A week later, when she would ONLY eat boiled chicken, I knew something was up. Took her to the vet and he said she was pushing stage four kidney failure. Said “You’ll probably be back in a few weeks and have me put her down….there is no cure at this stage”. So I brought her home and have been TRYING to keep her alive and with me just a little longer. I’ve cooked more food for this dog in the past two weeks than I have for me and my husband….and she’ll have none of it. Chicken, pot roast, beef, eggs, ice cream (because at this point, I just want her to EAT!!!). She’s lost a lot of weight…she’s wobbly, the vet said “She can’t even see anymore” (although she has no problems getting around the house, it seems). She’s almost deaf and I think she has dementia….I’ll find her standing in a corner just staring at a blank wall. She began vomiting on Thursday night….four times. Anymore, the ONLY time she wags her tail is when I come home from work. It’s like she’s just “existing”.

    This is the third attempt to have her put down…the first two, I just couldn’t go thru with it the first two times. The decision was made yesterday for the mobile vet today. Since then, she has had one of the better nights since this nightmare began. She ate a little, didn’t throw up, hasn’t messed in the house……and so here I am, doubting myself yet again…is the time right? Should I have waited another week? She’s laying here in front of me on her blanket…just watching me. I can’t imagine that by noon, she will be gone. I’ve been crying since last night and can’t seem to stop. I just wish I knew if I was doing the right thing at the right time. This is soooo hard!!!!

  207. Trisha says

    Stacy: I hope your struggles are over. All I can say is YES, the position you are in is almost unbearable. But it WILL get better, I promise. The other thing I’ll note, although with caution because every case is different, is that it is incredibly common for dogs to rally a bit before crashing. I gave my Lassie one more night, because she seemed a bit better, and I deeply regret it. I should have put her down when I first thought it was time. She died late the next morning, while I called the vet in a panic, and she died before he came. Her dying didn’t look easy, and it wasn’t easy for me to watch. I’m so sorry you are in this position, it is so cruel to have to be the one to make the decision. Remember though that being strong is the last and most loving gift that you can give her. Ask yourself if she would want maybe one more week of the life she has, or a guarantee of a good death surrounded by those she loves. But this might be moot. Let us know if your decision has been made.

  208. Devon says

    Hi Stacy,
    My heart breaks for you today. I am so sorry. This is so close to my heart as your story mirrors mine almost perfectly. I lost my Marla 3 weeks ago today because her kidneys were failing… She didn’t have symptoms for so long and then all of a sudden she declined so rapidly.

    Try to remember that you did do everything possible for her. As Tricia says, take care of yourself or have someone help out for the next while. Sounds like Jezebel had a great life and loved living it with you.

  209. Stacy says

    Thank you Trisha and Devon…those words mean so much to me!

    Jezebel crossed The Rainbow Bridge yesterday at noon with her head in my lap. I can honestly say it was THE HARDEST thing I have ever had to do. I keep thinking “I killed my dog” but then FORCE myself to think “She was dying a little every day…suffering and not feeling well.” And I keep having to tell myself there was absolutely NO cure for this ailment. Back in February, I had to take Jezebel in to have a tumor removed from one of her mammary glands…and her blood work was FINE back there…kidneys were doing great. It’s just so sad how sneaky and awful kidney disease is.

    I just want to say again, thank you for your kind words….reading this post and all these comments make me feel like I’m not so alone in doubting and second-guessing myself.

  210. Kelley says

    I really appreciate you taking time to respond to my very long post. I have read & reread your comments & while intellectually I know that we did right by my Remy it is my heart that is struggling with the fact that this beautiful sweet 10 month old dog needed to be put down because of the extreme health & behavioral issues that he had. Of course, it might also be easier if the original rescuer, who was a friend of well over a decade, understood the decision that we made was based on all the information that we had from a great number of professionals with far more experience than I. Nonetheless, I will forever ache for my “little man” and the life I wish he could have had.

  211. Pam says

    Our baby had partially paralyzed back leg and fell over when going potty. She would never have gone in her bed did the last two nights both wet,BM.Didn’t want food or drink but I coaxed her she would eat a little.Sometimes babyfood licked off my hand. She was 17 1/2, blind, no longer wanted to sit with me and couldn’t walk very good. My husband said we were just caretakers and it wasn’t fair to her. She paced the best she could which I have read is being in pain. The day we took her to the vet she had looked so miserable all week and it felt (even though I was scared to death) like we were doing this for her. But it was 3 months ago and after tranquilizer, counseling I am still sick that I let it happen. I miss her so much. She had been in kidney failure for awhile and slept except for few minutes now and then. Can anyone help me?

  212. Pam says

    I think I need to add to my last comment that this pup was my life for 17 1/2 years. She was however falling in her BMS’s, could no longer walk outside, had to be carried. I did all for her gladly.The last few weeks she looked so sad in her blind eye’s, didn’t want to sit by me or be touched anymore, when she could she paced. My heart ached for her, there was nothing left she enjoyed. I had to coax her to eat, seemed as though we just moved her around. The last two mornings she did both BM and wet in her bed and this baby would never have let that happen in the past. I loved her so dearly and putting her down felt so right for her but as I said we are now 3 months out and I often times want to die I miss her so much.

  213. Devon says

    Hi Pam,
    I am so sorry that this has not gotten a little bit easier for you. There will always be a special place in your heart for your baby. What I can tell is that you two had over 17 years together and I think that it is just amazing. I bet she had a great life and was loved to no end. It also sounds like you did what you could! There is no rule book for grief but I hope you can find some comfort in knowing that you are not alone. I hope you feel better – take it day by day. I am grieving my Marla and I try so hard to remember that it was not my fault and that her body was failing. It doesn’t make me miss her any less but helps me to try to move on a little bit at a time. Please be gentle with yourself.

  214. Devon says

    Dear Kelley,
    In the event that you come back here, I really wanted to say that I was so moved by your story – talk about heroic feats to save, rescue, nurture and love Remy. He was one lucky guy!! You absolutely did everything under the sun to get to the bottom of his issues and I’m sorry that there wasn’t a curable answer. Even though it was just a short time, he was so well loved. I think what all dogs want the most is to be loved.

  215. Kelley says

    I find that I am coming back daily. It helps to read others stories and, quite honestly, I look so see if someone has read mine & can help remind me that the choice we made, while so incredibly painful, was the best one for Remy. I am finding comfort in this blog because, at home, life is going on- as it should, I know. But, I crave the connection with others who know the pain of a loss of a cherished family member and understand that just because it was an animal that we lost it doesn’t make the hurt, sadness and grief any less valid or real. My pain is intense, it is constant & only here do I feel I can truly share the depth of my sadness. Not that my husband and kids don’t feel the loss, they absolutely do, but it’s different for them for whatever reason. Devin, thank you so very, very much for reaching out- your words are like a balm for my raw and aching heart.

  216. Shirley says

    I have a 8 yr old maltese that has doggie demintia, diabetes, liver shunt and skin allergies. The vet said she will never get any better and in time will continue to get worse. I don’t know what to do she is blind, mentally confused and seems to be scared at times. She still eats and drinks and likes to be loved on, do I let her continue to grow older knowing she is never going to be cured and her health will continue to decline, continue to give her 2 insulin shots, lactulose, anitbiotic and allergy medications every day. Or do I make a decision to let her leave us before getting worse? I love her with all my heart and just don’t know what is the best decision for her.

  217. Ella says

    Please help me. I put my 8 year old Jack Russel down because I retire and the space was to small to keep him. I am devastated and feel it would be better if I die to.Please do not judge me. As it is it s hell that I am going through. Will God ever forgive me?

  218. Shirley says

    Please help me, I have a 8 yr. old maltese that has doggie dementia, diabetes, liver shunt, skin allergies and is blind. The vet said she will never get any better and in time will continue to get worse. I don’t know what to do she is blind and mentally confused (she doesn’t know where she is and seems to be scared at times). She still eats and drinks and likes to be loved on, do I let her continue to grow older knowing she is never going to be cured and her health will continue to decline, continue to give her 2 insulin shots, lactulose, antibiotic and allergy medications every day. Or do I make a decision to let her leave us before getting worse? I love her with all my heart and just don’t know what is the best decision for her. This is one of the hardest decisions I will ever make and I know putting her to sleep would be one of the hardest things I could ever do. I just want to make the decision that is best for her and put what is best for me aside.

  219. Devon says

    Dear Shirley,
    I can tell you are struggling with knowing when the ‘right ‘ time will be to say goodbye. If you trust your vet, perhaps they can offer you some guidance. If your fur baby is happy and enjoying being a dog still then she may be okay for a little while. But – no one can tell you what to do and it is the hardest decision to make and, as Tricia has said, it’s not fair we have to make this decision. I hope you are okay.

  220. Devon says

    Hi all,
    Every night I faithfully come to this site. I have said this before – this space has helped me so much and I am so thankful to have a place to go which soothes my pain.
    It has been 24 days now. I am starting to be able to remember Marla and all the silly things she did that made me laugh. Sometimes I cry and sometimes I laugh. I have her sister, Riska, with me who has been my rock. She is starting to be herself again which makes me feel better. Even my really, really old cat has showed behaviours that she was looking for Marla.
    This month has been a month of ‘firsts.’ First time going out without Marla…first time going to that park… First time going to my mother ‘, and tonight it was the first time going back to the vet (to get food for Riska). I thought I was ‘ready’ and put a brave face on but the truth was that it was really tough. Thankfully there was this adorable 12-week old standard poodle that was too cute to ignore and provided a great distraction.
    It still feels so wrong that my Marla, my beautiful Marla, is gone. Pangs of guilt wash over me all the time. Sometimes I fight them away and sometimes I let them come. I trust my vet and I also never ever wanted her to suffer a single moment. But that just doesn’t take away the pain, grief and inexplicable loss knowing that my best buddy in the world is not with me anymore.

  221. Kelley Prasad says

    It is with a sense of gladness for you that I am commenting tonight. I am so very glad that you have had a glimpse of your “new normal.” The one that allows you to remember your beloved Marla and all the wonderful memories of the time you shared together without the constant soul-wrenching ache of the void left since she passed. I can feel your anguish & second-guessing in your most recent post even as you enjoyed seeing an adorable pup cavorting at the vets when you went to pick up food for Riska. I have Remy’s sister lying by my side even as I type. Sofie was the elder of the two, also a rescue- although from South Carolina some 5 years ago. She has always been one of those “velcro dogs.” Do you know the kind? The one that wants to be right with you no matter what, if I am in the shower, she lays outside by the door, if I leave the room, she follows… Throughout our ordeal with Remy, Sofie remained stalwart. I could tell that she new something wasn’t right in our house just by her body language and the look of sadness/concern that was often on her face. When Remy first got sick I thought Sofie was feeling kind of a jealousy because he naturally needed more of our attention. Now I think that it may also have been because she new that he was so very, very sick. Her behavior began to change, too. As he became more fearful, she started to show signs of fear- nothing like his, but she’d bark from inside the house at people on the street because he was out of control barking. Anyway, now that Remy has passed Sofie is feeling better. I can tell that she feels something missing, but at the same time she seems more calm. I didn’t realize just how much she was impacted by his health and behavior until he was not here. I am so sad that I didn’t notice that she was suffering, too. I took on the responsibility of these sweet pups and I feel that I overlooked her because his needs were so extreme. Now that she is more relaxed and the totally chill dog that she was before we rescued Remy I am really beginning to recognize just how much everyone’s lives had to change so that we could do everything possible to help Remy. The thing is- I’d do it all again because even though our lives changed quite drastically, he was worth it. I hope that soon I too can come back to this thread knowing that I can share that first moment where the grief was not all consuming & I could simply remember my Rem-Rem and all his puppy antics with a laugh and not just the tears. In the meantime, I’ll keep coming back to read the posts of you and others and take solace in the shared stories and the common bond we all have- love for our devoted companion.

  222. Lisa Koperek says

    I so wish I could ease the tears and loneliness and the rubber banding brains of everyone going back and forth, trying to make the right decision at the right time or trying to heal from their experiences. I too am broken and exhausted by my decision to put my beloved rescue Dobe Sonny down.

    Something from his horrible past frightened Sonny and he attacked me Thursday evening, without warning or seeming provocation, the person he trusted and knew who loved him. I am bereft and broken hearted. I hate the miserable person who abused Sonny and left him with demons that haunted him with such terror. I know that Sonny is now running free, that he isn’t frightened or frightening anymore. Yet, I am falling apart with grief and ashamed that I’m struggling to feel happy that Sonny is now at peace.

    I have learned so much in these past short days of trauma and sickening loss. To be able to bring an adopted rescued dog to peace is what “it” is all about. Sometimes that peace cannot be found in this world, no matter how hard – or even skilled – the trying or wanting.

    If what I have learnt can be of any comfort or help, I hope it is this. Having a dog is so, so rewarding and blessed. Deciding when to euthanize Sonny was the ultimate act of bringing peace to my beautiful boy who deserved and needed it. This was my responsibility. We had come forward as far as we could together, and I couldn’t – wouldn’t – let any further harm come to him.

    This aftermath of grief feels unbearable, and I know that it will be a very, very long while before I will ever be able to heal from losing my funny, honey Sonny. He was a lover, not a fighter, and I love and miss him so.

    My heart goes out to everyone tonight who is grieving their losses. Sharing makes my sadness and numbness somehow more bearable. I’m so grateful to my friend Donna for recommending Dr. McConnell and all of you on this blog.

  223. Shirley says

    We made the decision to put our 8 year old maltese to sleep this week, she had a liver shunt, diabetes, she went blind and developed dementia and she got to where she was scared to move around we packed her from room to room and outside. If she did try and walk she would bump into something and startle herself. I knew she would never be cured and she took meds and insulin shots everyday. I thought I was doing what was best for her but I feel so guilty like I made a mistake and should have let her live longer, but now it is to late, I miss her so much and I don’t know if I will ever feel any better about the decision.

  224. valerie says

    My beautiful cairn was diagnosed with prostate cancer two weeks ago and within one week he had lung mets. He was short of breath, stopped urinating due to obstruction,unable to defecate,stopped eating for about a week, unable to take piroxicam because of black stools ie gi bleeding. I euthenized him 5 days ago and I too am overwhelmed with pain and guilt.

  225. Lisa Koperek says

    Dear Shirley and Valerie,

    I know and feel your sadness and misery. As difficult as it absolutely is, I have learned to pretend that I am my best friend when I become swamped by my feelings of guilt over Sonny. I read aloud what i wrote, all of what he was suffering. Then I imagine what my best friend would say to me.

    Your pets were waiting for you to end their considerable suffering. It is our ultimate responsibility to them. That you feel such grief and remorse is surely a huge measure of how much love you will always hold for them. The broken feelings afterwards are nearly intolerable to bear sometimes. Day by day there will be beauty and great memories to come. I am sorry as I can be that you hurt this much. We are a whole community, and each of us is here to listen and care.

    Sonny’s death will always be part of my life. I wish you could have known him. Please take care of your hearts.

  226. Mercy says

    Imagine my arms encircling, embracing, burying, you all. Imagine my shoulders, soaked with your tears. Imagine my heart filled with your sorrows that nothing but time can ever make better; and it will get better. In time.

    Dakota’s been gone several long months now, and there are days, however few and far between, when I don’t cry, but there’s not ever a night when I don’t feel the loss. For nine long years she slept alongside me.

    Reading through all of your experiences gives me great comfort, but as yet, as I haven’t survived the guilt born of the sense that there had to have been something more that I could have done – and in reading some of your stories I further believe that there was. Sometimes I still think that I should have given her up to someone who could have taken better care of her than it was that I did. She wasn’t a danger to anyone. And 9 isn’t really that old even for a little Yorkie. She had a few health issues that I was unable to address in the end, but someone else could have. I get hung up on that.

    To think that she would have missed me too much to give her up so that she would have received the care that she needed was being so rather selfish. I’ve adopted dogs (and cats) who were with their previous owners for quite a long time but that became so attached to me that I’m sure they had no regrets, in the end. The same could have held true for Dakota. She could have become as attached to someone else, as she was to me. I should have given her that chance; but I didn’t.

    I spoke to her/our vet about this just last week: What I could have done. What I feel I should have done. He wasn’t especially sympathetic, I don’t think, in telling me that it would have been so much worse for her had I just dumped her off at some Emergency Animal Hospital and walked away, unable to pay. She’d have been left wondering. Feeling abandoned and afraid, and there are none to say (no guarantees) she wouldn’t have been put down, anyway, considering her history and her age. I wish I could be sure of that. That it wouldn’t have made any difference.

    After Dakota’s death I didn’t think I’d ever have need of her vet again. But for my kids who grew so weary of me and my crying all of the time that they all pitched in and surprised me with a puppy, 5 weeks ago, now. A Yorkie puppy, then 4 months of age, no less, that they were sure I wouldn’t turn down, no matter how ill prepared, emotionally, I was and having said a zillion times no more dogs. After T, no more dogs; but I didn’t turn her down, though she wasn’t/isn’t Dakota, and will most certainly not ever replace her.

    She’s nothing like Dakota, in fact, and I suppose that’s because not only is she healthy, where Dakota was not, she didn’t have the rough beginnings Dakota had in a back yard puppy mill, that made her so rather skittish that she never lunged for ankles and toes and never nibbled on fingers and always submitted to other family dogs, and never hesitated to curl up right beside me, and was always so protective of me. Sophie isn’t like that. She’s full of life and energy and bounds and rebounds through the house as though she already owns it, and us, and isn’t at all shy about biting ankles and toes or scrunching all down and growling her cute little growl when she wants to play, and of course she just loves everybody! She has no favorites, and not even me. She has, however, filled my heart and my arms and serves as a most welcomed (and loved) distraction from the pain. Where once there was death, now there is life, or so our vet reminded me when I spent half an hour crying on is shoulder over Dakota while Sophie received her 3rd set of shots.

    “Let her go!” He told me. “You’ve got this little girl to love now.” I do love her and that causes me concern. “What if I fail her, too?” He scoffed, of all things, and went into this big long lecture about how I did the best that I could have done at the time and how impossible it was for me to ever have failed Dakota when I love(d) her so much. I didn’t give her up. I was with her to the end. I didn’t fail her, he said. I put an end to her suffering and so that she knew no fear to her very last breath because those who loved her, those who had cared for her, were simply there, and though we, I, miss her terribly, painfully, she doesn’t miss us, me, at all. Those were hard words for me to hear, but I suppose I needed to hear them.

    He knows my work with ferals, and reminded me of how many family pets end up in shelters and are thereafter euthanized due, oftentimes, to health or behavioral issues. Not a single one of us here has ever put our beloved dogs through anything like that. No one here has ever abandoned our dogs. Each and every one of us was there to the end, and each and every one of us loves these beings, still. One of these days, perhaps that will be enough for us to know, and then we will heal.

  227. Kelley Prasad says

    It’s been almost one month since my beloved Remy was put down. I shared his lengthy story just a day after he was gone & I’ve since come back most every evening to this site. It continues to be a place of solace for me. There are so many of us here who are struggling with how to best care for our beloved companions or (as is my case) trying to lessen the burden felt from having to euthanize our “furbaby” for one reason or another- medical, behavioral or in extreme situations like the one my family lived with both. Trish McConnell suggested I revisit my original post in a few weeks to, I suppose, try to gain some perspective on how we really did everything we could to help Remy recover from his illness & relearn that the world was not all about IV’s, invasive treatments, daily medications… So here I am- one month out. I can’t read my original post without tearing up. Intellectually I know that we went above & beyond in our quest to help my puppy. What I still struggle with is simply the “wish” factor. I wish there had been something more to do for him, I wish that I’d never taken that trip with my family & boarded him, but most of all- I wish he was still here! I want to see him flop onto his back, look up at me with his soulful eyes begging for a rub on his tummy and shower him with kisses. I miss the way that he used to stop in his tracks and drop to the ground if he thought that he was going to be asked to go to his crate- it was the cutest thing. I miss seeing how joyfully he would run after his Frisbee or a ball. He and I made so much progress with his training that I’d been considering agility trials. Remy would wait patiently for me to set up a makeshift course of hoola hoops, 2 X 6’s to jump over, in-line skate ramps to jump from one to the other… He was so focused and intent when we trained, though I suspect the clicker & treats had more than a little to do with it. I miss him so. There has not been a day that I don’t miss him & wish he were here. I am still finding myself calling for both my dogs because I forget he is gone. I see pictures of dogs that sort of, kind of, maybe look a bit like him and it just breaks my heart. This experience has truly shaken me to my core. I’ve always been someone who felt that there are lessons to learn in our life experiences, but what lesson am I to take away from the suffering that my sweet, innocent and defenseless pup had to endure. How do I forgive myself?

  228. mercy says

    Kelly, you honestly and truly did ALL that you could. Try hard not to doubt that, and keep reading, over and over again what Trish said, and who’d know better? You went above and beyond in your unconditional love for Remy and in spite of how painful it was for you, even for all of you here, as well as for me, myself I suppose, you loved well enough and deeply enough to let go, and that dearest Kelly, Devon, Shirley, all, has got to be the greatest display love of all. It is most certainly the most selfless.

  229. Kelley Prasad says

    I sincerely thank you, Devon, and Trish for reaching out to me in this time of such sadness. I do know intellectually that despite being such a young dog (he was just 10 months) that with his severe/extreme health and behavioral issues we made the most loving decision for him based on everything we learned and tried from some 14 professionals. However, from an emotional perspective I am still struggling daily to come to a place of peace and acceptance. Perhaps had I not lost the close friendship with the person who had originally rescued Remy from the Navajo desert country in AZ because of our decision I might feel more peace. Unfortunately, I’ll never know that because we have not spoken since May short of a couple of emails in July when I tried in vain to explain what was going on and why we needed to make such a difficult decision for Remy- and us. My grief over this sweet and loving puppy is simply compounded by my bewilderment and hurt that someone I thought of as a lifelong friend would completely walk away because she didn’t agree with our choice yet never truly heard everything that went on to get us to the place where we knew we needed to let him go. What I can say is that this site, the gestures and kindness of strangers has been so greatly appreciated.

  230. Devon says

    I put Marla down 7 weeks ago. I am still grieving her.

    This week I euthanized my 19.5 year old cat named Bug. While Bugs was obviously quite old and, as I learned on Tuesday, had lymphoma among other things, the loss of two very special pets in such a short amount of time has left me devastated. I had been preparing myself for Bugs’ departure for a little while now as I saw the signs of old, old age creep in. But nothing could have prepared me for the sudden loss of Marla followed so quickly by Bug. Despite her age and diagnosis, here I am left wracked with guilt – why was I too quick to euthanize her and why didn’t I give the prednisone time to work?

    And, this has started the grieving process for Marla all over again. I am questioning myself – why didn’t I do more? I am reliving that dreadful day – and all the days that lead up to her dying. I am blaming myself when rationally I know she was having kidney failure.

    I adopted Bugs when I was only 20, and we had gone through so many life transitions together – she symbolized so many things for me and in her senior years she became the biggest cuddle that she was affectionately called the Love Bug.

    My only light is that I have Riska, Marla’s litter mate sister. Riska mourned quietly for Marla for a couple of weeks (even Bug mourned Marla). Riska and I have been getting settled into our new “normal” since and I’ve clung to her like never before. Getting up and going through the motions helps but yet I feel consumed by sadness and guilt because I lost my two angels.

    Thanks for listening, and thanks, again, for this wonderful place.

  231. Kelley Prasad says


    It seems to me we have all found this site because we are struggling with our decision (for so many different reasons) to put down a beloved companion animal. Your choice to let Bug go is so similar to the one I had to make just 3 years ago. At the time we had an 18 year old poodle, Molly and a 6 year old Boston Terrier, CC. Molly was having some health issues and I took her for a check up. I was stunned when the vet told me that she was in such bad shape, with a massive tumor at and in her bladder, that she needed to be put down right then. Just 6 months later CC was still not recovering from her own health issue. She either was born with Khiari Syndrome- where the brain is compressed into the spinal cord, or she’d had some type of injury that was causing untold pain for her. CC stopped eating, didn’t want to drink… She even turned away from being cuddled or stroked which was so unlike her. There was an expensive surgical option, but it was not only risky, there was no guarantee of success. We chose to end her pain and so in a short 6 months we had lost both of our beloved dogs. It was a very hard time for my family as our pets had brought us such joy. A few months after we lost CC our oldest called from college to say that the pup that he’d adopted was not actually allowed at his apartment & he had no one to give her to. He didn’t want to relinquish custody knowing that in South Carolina there was a great chance that his young dog would be euthanized due to overcrowding. I don’t know if I was ready to give my heart to a pet again, but I couldn’t see this sweet girl no have a home and so in August, 2011 Sofie came to live with us in PA. As you have your Riska to help assuage the pain and grief you feel for Marla and Bug, I have Sofie. In the month since Remy’s death she had rarely left my side and is the one being who seems to recognize the visceral pain and grief that I feel over his loss. As much as you question whether you should have taken a different approach with Marla, I hope that you remember that you made the best decision that you could with the information that you had at that time. Like me, it seems you struggle with what you know intellectually was the best decision for your pet, but from an emotional perspective you still feel the loss intensely. My hope for us both is to come to a place where we can reconcile the intellectual and emotional and reflect back on our time with our sweet babies with more fondness & love and less guilt.

  232. mercy says

    Kelly, I’m making no promises, because I don’t know your friend, but if I were a betting woman I would bet the farm that given enough time, she will be your friend again. No matter the bumps in the road that sometimes occur between friends, when it’s true it returns to you, most of the time, anyway.

    Maybe after a bit of time, you could attempt to share your grief with her, perhaps in a letter that contains a photograph of Remy, during a more joyous time, so she can see for herself how happy he was and how very much he was loved. That might help her to better understand how difficult a decision it was for you to make.

    Devon, don’t expect so much of yourself. 7 weeks is near no time at all. Enough time is the amount of time it takes.

    How unfortunate it seems to be sometimes that our hearts and our brains don’t operate on the same page. :-(

  233. mercy says

    So here I am again, unable to think of a better place to be. “T”, our near 15 year old Silkie is having a really rough night. He’s not eaten at all today, and no matter what it was that I tried to feed him.

    Earlier today I had to pick him up out of the dirt and carry him inside. He’d dug a neat little hole near to the back gate, in the shade, and just laid there, unmoving, when I called his name. No amount of coaxing would get him out of the hole.

    He didn’t want to come in, but because it was so warm and because he’d been out there for a while and his water dish didn’t look touched, I gave him no choice. He’s done little but lay around since, stirring only to reposition himself on his fuzzy blanket. He seems to be having difficulty finding a comfortable position to lay in, but once he does he seems to rest comfortably.

    That he’s so quiet troubles me. He has suffered so with tracheal collapse, but tonight he hasn’t coughed/hacked once. Not once; and that’s just not like him. His breathing appears to be a bit labored as well. It’s been that way for a couple of days now. He has an appointment with our vet on Friday. Just a routine checkup. I hope he makes it until then. I hope …

    I’m not ready to have him put down; not so soon after Dakota. Not ever. Multiple pets are no different really than multiple children. Each one you have is like the only one you have, in this amazing ability we have to love all things individually yet equally.

    No. I’m not ready, though I know he is.

  234. Trisha says

    I’m so sorry Mercy. Just remember, when you can, that although a little part of you died with him, a little part of him will live on in you, forever.

  235. mercy says

    Thank you, Trisha. A part of him is here, or as the song goes, “You’re here in my heart and my heart will go on and on.” And I will not ever forget. The final diagnosis was congestive heart failure accompanied by acute kidney failure. Right up to the very last moment he was wagging his tail and licking whatever part of me he could, and everyone else who came into contact with him. He experienced little if any pain, they say. I hope not. He will be missed, terribly, terribly. It comforts me to think that if there is a doggie heaven, he and Dakota have been joyfully reunited. He missed her so.

  236. Sister Antonia says

    I wish I would have found this post earlier. It has been really helpful in the ongoing process of grieving and resolving the history with the loss of two of our dogs. We have had a dog euthanized for behavioral issues and a dog euthanized for cancer. Both cases have plenty of feelings of guilt no matter how you think it through with your mind. In June of 2013 we made the heartbreaking decision to euthanize our 1 1/2 year old female Anatolian. We got Zasha as a tiny runt puppy when she was 8 weeks old. We had raised other LGD breed pups and there were signs from her earliest days that she was not normal but our concerns were brushed aside by the breeder and we were told she would grow out of it. Unfortunately, we believed this and kept trying to work with Zasha. As Zasha grew, so did her fears and phobias. She would have rare moments of spontaneous puppy joy but they were not the norm. Most of my photos of her show the fear and insecurity that was written all over her body. We worked with her extensively with advice from trainers and a behaviorist but the final conclusion was that Zasha was born with a significant mental illness that would not respond to behavioral management/training. Fits of panic and phobia became more and more common and when in this condition she could hear no one. Working for some time I could eventually get through to her but couldn’t really console her. Her fear lived in her and at her worst, she would lie in a ball in a specific spot in my bedroom, as if trying to shut out everything else in the wold except me. It was getting to the point where I was spending vast amounts of time day and night responding to Zasha’s panics. It didn’t feel like a burden for me, she was my baby and I was happy to help her in any way I could. However, I was experiencing some serious health problems and it was pointed out to me that I couldn’t continue with Zasha like this. Then I was scheduled for a serious surgery that would require my being away for a couple of weeks. This is what finally brought the matter to the front and demanded that we look at it. I knew that the weeks without me were going to be a living hell for a dog in Zasha’s condition. I also had to look at what her quality of life was like and we had to face the fact that Zasha was unpredictable and potentially dangerous. I had no doubt in my mind that if pressured when she was in a panic, Zasha would retaliate and I knew that I was just as likely to get bitten as anyone else since she was beyond reason. It wouldn’t matter that she loved me more than anyone else and that I understood her and would persist until I could “reach” her. After much prayer and consideration we made the decision to euthanize Zasha. This was such a heartbreak for me because I loved that little girl with a special love, I guess the kind of love that you give to someone who needs you a great deal and can’t help themselves. There was a deep sense of relief in my heart as I held my Zasha in my lap and told her “you won’t ever be scared again, Baby” but I couldn’t stop feeling like it was my fault that I had to put Zasha down due to the health issues I was having or that I should have been able to do something else for her. I believe with my mind that I did the most merciful thing for my petrified girl and I know her life was a torment but my heart thinks, could you have done something else, is there a medication that you could have put her on that would have enabled her to be adopted by someone else where she would have been safer to give another chance… I still miss the little howl of delight she would give me the first time she saw me in the day. In January our four year old Anatolian stopped barking at night – a very unusual occurrence and developed a cough. A trip the vet diagnosed pneumonia and we expected that the antibiotics would clear it up. Our vet said it was that time of year and that she sees a lot of pneumonia. Since our boy was devoted to working and would not sleep inside, I made him a special house from hay bales right at the spot where he liked to watch from (he wouldn’t sleep in a normal dog house) so he would be warm and not sleeping in the wind. A couple weeks later the cough was gone but he was still barely barking. This time they x-rayed his chest to check out his lungs and found a massive tumor in his chest… The tumor was pressing on his trachea on one side and one of his lungs on the other. It made barking very painful as well as eating and with one of his lungs not expanding all the way, he developed the pneumonia pretty quickly. We were in pretty serious shock. Zouri was an incredibly special boy and I had always told him he needed to live a long time because I would miss him too much if he was gone. He was my heart dog as no other dog has ever been. It turned out there was not really anything to be done and it became obvious pretty quickly just how sick he was. I realized that he had never grown his full winter coat (did he know he wouldn’t need it?), it explained why he stretched his neck in an unusual way when eating and swallowing, it explained a funny way he had taken to lying in the last few months, as if hunched over something (trying to take pressure off the massive tumor pressing on his organs inside?). He began to look at me with a searching look and I know that he was asking for me to help him, as he always had when in pain before for any reason. Zouri is one of those LGDs who live to work. I would try to put him in the back of the golf cart when we went on our walks to preserve his strength but if he saw a hawk, he had to run after it and would come back to me barley able to breathe and I would load him up and return from our walks trying to hide my sobs from him. It got to the point where I felt like the greatest love I could show to my special boy was to release him from his pain. He went with joy to the vet clinic where everyone adored him. He laid peacefully in my lap while he was surrounded by our vet and the tech who loved him the most, petting and caressing him. I told him how much I loved him and he slipped peacefully away. I couldn’t really cry much for days. It was too sudden, too unexpected. I could barely wrap my mind around him having cancer at age 4, never mind the fact that he was gone. I was given For the Love of a Dog right after we lost Zouri. Reading about Cool Hand Luke and your special love and loss is what allowed me to finally grieve for the sweetest, best dog I have ever had the honor of knowing. I still miss my boy every day. I find myself looking towards the spot where he loved to lie, listen for his bark at night, hear him padding behind me. I felt I should have been able to do something though I’m never entirely sure what it is, to prevent him from getting cancer? noticed earlier when something could have been done? Perhaps this is just where the mind goes when it find itself torn away from a love so large that it is hard to see how you can go on and leave the object of the love behind. I remember Zouri every day and every day I thank God for the special gift He sent me. It was only four years but I treasure every one of those years and try to focus on what we had. Circumstances were such that we had a new puppy flying to us the day after we lost Zouri. My heart was too sore and wounded to even think about another dog and I didn’t want a puppy. When I opened the crate and pulled the pup into my lap, he sat up, put his paws on my shoulders and literally hugged me, holding on to me with his paws and resting his little head against mine. My heart melted at that little puppy hug and I realized this pup was not Zouri’s replacement, but another beautiful soul to care for and raise with a whole different relationship to develop as we get to know each other on our journey. My losses still ache, I still have times when I feel guilty and like I failed Zouri and Zasha in some way but I can only tell them how much I loved them. I know they know and the circumstances surrounding the losses are what I’ve had to categorize as some of the unanswerable questions of life. It is ok to not have answers for everything.

  237. frances newson says

    Hi, we had to make the awful decision to have our beautiful girl Honey put to sleep on Friday. She was 12 years and 3 days old, she had kidney failure and despite a few trips to the vets recently as she was off colour, and her back legs were failing, they all put it down to her age. She was so beautiful, and I miss her so much I can’t stop thinking about her and wishing we had known so we could save her. She loved her walks, and every morning she was waiting by her lead with her daughter who we still have. Even when I tried to leave her for some extra sleep she would turn up with her tail wagging! She spent her last week on holiday with our daughter in Cornwall and the whole week revolved around her and what would be nicest for her to do. She had a trip to the beach and had great time. But I didn’t spend that week with her :( and I miss her so much the house is so different without her. I miss hearing her rubbing her ears and licking her paws. She had so many allergies and we had to put powder in her ears nearly every day. And I wish I could do it today :( I just want her back. I want to see her lying in the garden soaking up the sun, or running up the garden when she had just eaten an apple off the tree. Or waiting for me to come downstairs when she was lying on the sofa in my spot, or lying by the cooker while I was trying to cook just waiting for something to fall, or behind e while I was washing up and I would turn around and trip over her. Waiting for me to sit down so she could come for a stroke and give me her paw. She loved holding hands and would curls her claws around my hand as I held her hers. Nudging my arm as I just picked up my cup of coffee. Leaping onto my lap while I was watching tv – 38kg of Golden retriever! Waiting patiently for me to come down in the morning and let her out and make her breakfast. she used to ‘pad’ on the floor so we knew she wanted to be let out when the door was closed. I miss all those things. She used to make a low rumble at the back of her throat to ‘talk’ to us – it was so funny! Its just so hard, I don’t think I will ever stop missing her. I love her so much. And I feel so guilty for the times I told her off and when I was in a hurry to go out and wouldn’t have time for a cuddle with her and she would just go into her bed and just watch me leave. And she loved trips in the car but I would never leave a dog in the car so there were so many times I didn’t take her out with me. I just want her back here with me now.

  238. Michelle says

    Hi. I am glad I found this site. I also see that I am not the only person feeling guilt and sorrow after putting my dog down. Missy, a Border collie mix was about 15 1/2 and I made the decision Monday morning 9/15 to let her go. I got her as a pup from the humane society; because she was a new arrival she was sitting in quarantine and I immediately fell in love with her, named her and took her home that day. For the next 15 years she provided our family happiness and love and in return we gave her the same. This past May, Missy, an otherwise healthy dog (did have arthritis in her hind legs and incontinence) had a softball size tumor that later turned out to be cancerous removed from her belly. She did well for the next few months and then this past Sunday 9/14 she had a seizure. I was home and heard her screaming when I found her she was laying all contorted and had defecated, pee’d, had saliva all over her and couldn’t move. I immediately took her to the emergency vet where I thought I was going to have to put her down. Then over the course of the next three hours of waiting she started coming around and I was ready to just bring her home thinking it was a fluke. The vet came in and did her exam, discussed her history and options then told me that due to her age and the fact that she has never had a seizure that she more than likely had a brain tumor, or it could have possibly been a fluke (deep down I knew it wasn’t a fluke). I read the release paperwork and decided to just watch her for the next 24 hours. That same evening she had another seizure, then 6 hours later, another and by 3 am the next morning she had a total of 3 seizures in less than 24 hours. I knew something bad was wrong with my dear dog. I made the appointment with the vet as soon as they opened for that same morning; she then had another seizure, so now we are at 4 within 24 hours, all of them about 6-7 hours apart. During her appointment we discussed literally the same things I had discussed with the emergency vet the day before and she gave me plenty of time to decide to try medications, ct scan, mri, all of which I know deep down wouldn’t have done any good (I still am questioning this decision). After each seizure it took her a little longer to recover than the previous one and I didn’t want Missy hurting and I didn’t want to see her get worse. It was the most painful decision I have in all my years had to make. After I put her down I cried for hours, I still cry, even though I know I did the right thing, but I now have this huge hole in my heart and pit in my stomach and it sometimes hurts to just breathe. I have taken solace in reading the stories of others and realize that I did do the right thing but am having a hard time moving forward. Missy 1999-2014, she truly was the best dog ever.

  239. mercy says

    Michelle, it’s good to be here, moving forward, however slowly, together. Even the closest of friends and most sincere of family members don’t always understand. How grateful I am, then, for Trisha, and for all of you who come together to express what it is that we all feel. Such caring, such sharing, may not lessen the sorrow, but it does help to make it more bearable.

  240. Kelley Prasad says

    Mercy- you are so very right. Over the last 7 weeks since Remy was put down for extreme IBD of unknown origin that manifested into fear aggression toward anyone or any animal that was not our immediate family it has been coming to this site, sharing my story, reading others that has provided the most support. It is here that I can truly express the depth of my pain over the decision to euthanize my darling puppy. The ability to open up and express the pain, grief, guilt that we all seem to have in common can, I think, help to begin the first (baby) steps toward acceptance and moving forward with life.

  241. Julie says

    I am overcome by such emotion as I sit here and read all of these stories. It will be 11 weeks ago on Monday that I lost my Boomer baby. I was blessed to have had Boomer for six short years. My husband and I raised him from a puppy, and what a gorgeous handful of a German Shorthaired Pointer he was! Although I’d always grown up with dogs, Boomer was my first dog as an adult and he was MY dog. He went everywhere with us and was like velcro with me. Everywhere I went, Boomer would follow. Bath time, laundry, relaxing on the sofa…it didn’t matter as long as he could be right there with me. Being a GSP, Boomer always had a lot of energy. But, that was fine with us as we were very active and helped him burn that energy. However, despite being active and well loved, Booomer dealt with some separation anxiety and anxiety around loud noises, especially fireworks. When Boomer was 4 years old, my husband and I found out we were expecting a baby girl. We were so excited, but anxious as well. Boomer had some nervous tendencies and was not always comfortable around young children. He got nervous around their energy and had a bad experience with one of my nephews, where my nephew hit him repeatedly in the face. After that point, he was always wary of children. However, as soon as I found out I was pregnant, Boomer changed immensely. His energy level became more calm. He was so respectful of me and stopped jumping up on me in excitement (which was how he greeted me every time I came home) and even went so far as to come up onto the bed on the opposite side as me so as not to jump on me when I was laying down. When my daughter arrived, Boomer was the best dog with her. He was so gentle and good with her. Boomer loved to play tug of war, but with my daughter, he would let her take anything out of his mouth and it was just like he knew she was a baby and something to treat delicately. Then, we had an incident between him and my daughter. I am still so numb and distraught, as I still haven’t fully processed all that has happened. The morning was like any other. I had just gotten back from running errands and was straightening up a bit, as my Mom and brother were coming for lunch. My daughter ran into the living room, with Boomer in tow, when I stopped to answer a phone call. Next, I heard three loud barks and my 17 month old crying. I’ll never know exactly what happened, but ultimately Boomer bit her twice on the face. The bites were not serious enough to need stitches, but there was a cut above her eyebrow and serious swelling and bruising on the left side of her face. When I ran to see what had happened, my heart just sank. I knew that I had just lost my dog. I cried and cried as I tried to clean up and console my daughter. I feel so much guilt and keep replaying that day over and over. If I just hadn’t answered that phone call. If I hadn’t been concerned with straightening up the house for company that was coming. All of these things run through my mind and I can’t help feeling if I hadn’t been preoccupied, things wouldn’t have happened the way they did. I knew for my daughter’s safety I could not keep Boomer any longer. The decision is just killing me. I contacted several purebred rescues, who would not touch him because he had bitten someone. I was so scared to re-home him (of course I would have been honest about the events that had taken place), but Boomer was just so attached to our family and me especially, that I was so afraid that his anxiety would lead him to either be mistreated or to lash out again at someone else. After talking with our vet and going over all of our options, we decided the best thing for Boomer and our family would be to euthanize him. It has been almost 11 weeks, and I still cry everyday thinking about him. He was Mr. Personality and I just have this horrible empty feeling without him. I have received a lot of support and people tell me I did the right thing, but I just can’t wrap my mind around why it is hurting so badly if in actuality that was the right thing to do?? I do take some comfort in knowing that Boomer had a great last day. He had his favorite meal and spent the day at the park with my husband and I, chasing geese, squirrels, and swimming in the stream. He was at peace and surrounded by love when we let him go. I’ll never forget that day and will have to live with this for the rest of my life. I know time is a good healer, but I just don’t know when I’ll ever start feeling better. Boomer was a beautiful dog. We got so many compliments on him wherever we went. He was a character, too and made us laugh all of the time. He was one of the smartest dogs I’ve ever met and I swear he understood what we were saying. He just had these eyes that looked into you and connected. Unlike any dog I’ve ever had. Through Boomer’s short life, I met a lot of people and had a lot of experiences that I may not have if it wasn’t for him. I take some comfort in that. And I’ll never forget him. I still feel his presence all of the time, on our walks, at the park, and I hope that he’ll be with me always. I truly empathize with all of you that have had to go through this trauma. If you’ve made it to the end of my note, I thank you. It helps to talk about it and realize I’m not the only one who has had to go through this. Boomer was my baby and I’m not angry with him for what happened. I’m just filled with so much sadness that I won’t be seeing that goofy boy everyday. My shadow. Until we meet again, my sweet Boomer boy. Run like the wind. Run like the wind.

  242. Lynne says

    Thank you Trish for the initial post. Thank you everyone for your comments. I’ve learned much.
    I am at the 9 month moment from losing my bc, Pete who was only 8. He had epi but cancer was the undoing. Among other things (of all my dogs, all beloved), he was my heart dog. I have much sadness still, and much guilt. I don’t have it in me to relay all of the details. But, I am going to explore your guilt angle and maybe that will help.
    thank you

  243. penny stacy says

    my dog selena was 13 years old ad I had to make the choice to lether suffer or have her put to sleep. she had tumors and they wouldn’t do operation on her. they said she was to old so the tumors started bleeding out a. so we laidher down todaynd she couldn’t hear and had seisures

  244. Kelley Prasad says

    It’s been 3 long months since I lost my sweet Remy and I still miss him so much. But, life does go on and so though I am sad, I am no longer crying every time I think of him and all that my sweet puppy had to go through in the last months of his all too short life. Today, on Facebook, a friend sent me the following link from the American Kennel Club about loss and grieving our beloved companion animals. It dovetails so perfectly with everything that Trisha wrote in her original post. Perhaps, it will also help others who come here looking for a way to understand the profound emotions that are inherent when we lose our loved pups.

  245. mercy says

    How many times, this week, will I call Brie, Dakota? It’s happened several times, just today, and so that I am trying hard to remember if today was a special day, that my heart recalls but my brain doesn’t remember. Brie has always been Brie, prior to this week, and so I wonder.

    Mr. T’s son, ChaChi, from a former wife (lol), has been staying with us for a few days. He’s so like his father in both appearance and mannerism. Sweet and gentle and forever loving and so well behaved. Perhaps that’s what it is. Where there’s Mr. T. there has to be Dakota, and so Brie for Brie and ChaChi for ChaChi, escapes me, though I have called ChaChi, T.

    I miss them both, so.

    Thank you, Kelly, for being here and for providing the link.

  246. Angie says


    Your story is very comforting to me…I went online tonight to find any comfort I could…my dog was my baby for 6 years before my surprise human baby came along. Unfortunately she didn’t like this change in circumstances and during the next 2 years there were two separate incidents of her biting my son. She then went to live outside but I still can’t trust her around him. She has almost killed two cats and bitten at least 2 people. I made the call to discuss things with my vet today (left a message) but am feeling horrible guilt at considering euthanasia. It’s my fault she wasn’t the “baby” anymore and I feel this lead to her behavior. And now, putting her down for it. Although she is 12, she’s in otherwise good health. Thank you for sharing your story…It helps to know someone has gone through something similar.

  247. mercy says

    Angie, this goes back a few years. Near 25, but prior to the birth of our first child, my husband and I adopted a North Carolina Red we named Gizmo. He wasn’t but a puppy then, and covered with mange, which took a great deal of time and attention to be rid of. All of that attention created quite a bond between he and I, and so that for the next four years he too was my baby. Everyone so loved Gizmo and Gizmo so loved everyone, to include our first born son, and quite obsessively, in fact. So obsessively that he would only leave the side of the cradle to relieve himself. Wherever our infant son was, there too was Gizmo along with food and water dishes and/or his favorite blanket. No longer did he prefer to sleep in the bed with us but alongside the bassinet that was within easy reach, and if the baby stirred Gizmo was the first to notice.

    His over attentiveness didn’t become a noticeable problem until the baby was around two months of age when Gizmo first growled at me as I approached the cradle to retrieve my hungry, crying, baby. Thinking it a one time incident I simply fussed at Gizmo and gathered my child in my arms, only a bit concerned by the way Gizmo seemed to glare at me. From that moment on, though, in order to attend to my baby, if placed in either the cradle or bassinet, Gizmo would attempt to prevent me from attending to my child by growling, snarling, teeth bared, or even lunging at me as though he’d bite my head off if I got within two feet! Needless to say I was growing ever more concerned and even quite frightened of the dog I had so loved and for so long, yet still thought that he so loved the baby that he had adopted him as his own and no one else was to interfere with that, to include me.

    Rather than giving him up once he became such a threat we tried keeping he and the baby separated, but that didn’t work as he would claw at or gnaw on the doors and constantly bark. Keeping him outside didn’t work either because he’d would bark incessantly drawing complaints from several neighbors. It was a hard decision to make but we had no choice but to surrender him, and because he’d bitten, me, it was decided he would have to be put down. I cried and cried and yet wonder if something could have been done to change the outcome; but then I wonder if at some point he wouldn’t have turned on our son. Your comment near assures me that he would have.

    Trisha, I’ve never asked anyone before but I will ask you now, regarding Gizmo, as I have wondered about this every now and then, regarding Gizmo’s behavior, for quite some time, never having seen such behavior in a dog before or since him. Might it not have been that his obsessiveness was his attempt not to claim the baby as his own but me? In attempting to keep me away from my child was he maintaining ownership over me in coming between me and the baby as he did? Might it not have been that it wasn’t love he felt for the baby at all but resentment born of a sense of having been replaced? I’d so appreciate your take on this.

  248. Kelley Prasad says

    Almost exactly one year ago today, Remy flew some 2500 miles from the desert of Arizona to live with us on the East Coast. I remember so vividly when we picked him up at the airport and how he was just snoozing in the puppy carrier, never making a peep- just looking around curiously at all the new things to see. He was fascinated by the falling leaves. To see him tunneling through the huge leaf piles in the yard and hopping from spot to spot just made my heart fill with such love for this energetic pup. Now that the leaves are falling again, I am reminded daily of the pain and emptiness of his loss. It’s been over 3 months since he was put down and I really did think that I had managed to forge ahead and, I suppose, in many ways I have. But, my heart is heavy and the tears are so quick to come these last couple of weeks. I keep watching the snippets of video I’d taken in the short time he was with us and looking through all the photos. I miss him so much. My daughter asked just yesterday (when she saw me with tears in my eyes as I walked through the leaf strewn yard) if I wanted another dog. I hesitated. I am a true lover of animals and adore my rescue Sofie. I have had pets my entire life. But, I have never experienced anything remotely close to the intense, crazy months of watching my beloved puppy suffer from debilitating IBD and become increasingly fear aggressive around anyone or animal that didn’t live in his house. As much as I have experienced the amazing bond, the connection between my pet and myself- I just can’t see it. Maybe I am a coward because right now it just seems too big a risk to take and the idea that I might go through such a traumatic experience like the one with Remy seems too much. I can still work with the local rescue and donate to my local shelter. I can still help, but the thought of opening my heart to another pup it just too much. My broken heart is just not healing, the guilt is just not easing and so I live each day with this quiet pain inside me.

  249. Shivam says

    Hi trisha,
    It’s hurting me a lot to see my 15 yrs old doggy boulboul suffering like this. He is not able to walk and has stopped eating. I have taken him to the vet, got prescriptions n I have to take him for the scan, it pains my heart reading the comments above. I have grown with my dear dog, I cann

  250. Shivam says

    I cannot get myself to the idea that it may be the time to part, I will try evrything possible for him possible n pray to god that he will be fine.

  251. CoffeeDrip says

    In August, I put my nearly 16 year old beagle mix to sleep. It was time, and while it was difficult, it was the right decision and I felt no guilt, knowing that I had loved that dog for every moment of almost all of those years.

    Tomorrow, I will put down my ~9 year old rescued pit bull mix for a totally different reason, related to behavior. I have spent thousands of dollars trying to manage her, and cure her, and rehabilitate her over the few years I have had her. However, she remains a danger to herself, and is becoming a danger to my family, and I cannot keep spending money on her when there are more stable dogs in the world that need help. I have tried to come to peace with this decision, made after many discussions and a lengthy conversation with her very supportive veterinarian, but it is difficult to think that I could not “fix” her. In all my life, I’ve never had a dog put down for anything other than end-of-life issues or terminal illness. It just goes to show that even the strongest pet parents can’t do everything.

  252. lyn says

    I had to make the decision to send my Luna to heaven. She was only 8, but was quickly losing use of her hind legs. Our vet took xrays, she had bone cancer which was deteriorating her spine. My heart aches for her, she was so sweet and gentle.can’t live with the guilt

  253. Tania says

    Dear Trisha and all the brave and wonderful people who have shared their stories here…I have been so comforted to read about the loss of your beloved friends and my heart goes out to all of you.

    My fiance and I lost our beloved one year old Yorkie puppy Sparky almost a week ago when we made the most difficult decision we have ever had to make, after months of behavioural issues. We got him as an eight week old puppy from a reputable breeder and did everything “right” – we socialized him with people and other dogs in the park, brought him to doggy daycare and got him used to noises, the car and a variety of different situations from day one. I have been around dogs all my life and my previous dog Lola was a collie/lab mix who was the sweetest dog in the world. I didn’t do anything different with Sparky than I had done with Lola. My parents have a ten year old Yorkie who is an amazing dog and so gentle, quiet and loving. As my fiance had never had a dog growing up we felt the obvious choice was to get a breed he was familiar with, so we got a Yorkie.

    We noticed quite soon after we brought Sparky home that he was a hyper and highly strung puppy who found it difficult to sleep for long and needed constant stimulation. I phoned the breeder about a week after we got our little man to ask her if some of his behaviour was normal as he seemed nervous of everything including noises and would bark constantly even as a tiny puppy. He had been one of a litter of 3 but the breeder had separated him from his mom and siblings at 7 weeks “to prepare him for leaving them”. We did wonder at the time if this was simply too young to be separated from mom but we didn’t question it as we assumed the breeder knew what she was doing.

    Sparky hated walking on the lead from day one. We brought him to a wonderful park when he was 12 weeks to try and get him used to walking. He would refuse and would lie down and flatten himself on the ground. We spent many frustrating times watching other owners with puppies happily trotting along beside them wondering why our adored and loved little puppy would not walk. We brought him to the vet and there was physically nothing wrong with him. He used to get so hyper at home that we desperately wanted to walk him so he could release some of the energy that otherwise was directed at us by constant biting and nipping. We used positive reinforcement and tried our best to train him with treats, cuddles, lots of praise etc.

    We eventually managed to get him walking by 6 months but it was a struggle and he would often lie down on a walk and refuse to move. When he was walking he was barking and lunging at other dogs and sometimes people and children. It was sad to watch our beautiful puppy’s behaviour deteriorating so rapidly.

    As time went on he began showing small signs of aggression when we would collect him from doggy daycare (he was in daycare 3 days per week which we thought would be amazing for him, to spend lots of time with other doggies in a safe and loving environment instead of being home alone while we were working). He would be fine inside the room with the other dogs but as soon as he would see me and another dog together he became aggressive. The trainers at the daycare just kept saying “it’s reactive barking, it’s normal” but I knew it wasn’t. I couldn’t even approach another dog without Sparky going crazy at both me and lunging at the dog. Our hopes and dreams of getting a second dog as a companion to Sparky were fading fast, not to mention our plans of having a baby.

    We were very worried. Sparky’s behaviour began getting worse at home. He started barking and growling at us for attention, barking at every little noise outside including the sound of other dogs barking, barking at noises on TV, songs on the radio and it got to the stage where even the most simple, tiny things in every day life would make him stressed – if I lit a match to a candle, if I shook the sheets on the bed, getting a plastic bag out of the cupboard, squeezing a plastic bottle, leaving something on the floor that should not be there, putting something in the wrong place where it did not normally go…Sparky began showing signs of OCD, that’s the only way I can describe it because that was how it appeared to us. One night I sniffed because my nose was running and he raced onto the sofa beside me and growled right in my face – my fiance had to come and lift him down because I was in total shock that our beautiful, smart, funny puppy was behaving like a dog with some kind of mental illness.

    We had moments of pure joy with him but they never lasted long. Nothing made Sparky happy for very long, he became easily bored in spite of walks 3 times per day (sometimes up to 45 minutes each walk), lots of playing, obedience training (he could sit, stay, lie down, wait, leave, give the paw….he was a smart boy and I trained him every single day), cuddles, kisses, love…we literally did everything we could do and nothing was enough. I gave up my job at the beginning of October and decided to devote 3 months to helping Sparky overcome his fears and stresses. I tried to do something different every day but walking him became a nightmare. Every dog he saw he lunged and barked at (even Malamutes, Dobermans, German Shepherds…big dogs who had the capability of killing him easily). I dreaded every single walk, fearing that one day a dog off leash would come charging over and I wouldn’t be able to protect Sparky. Each day became more upsetting. In some ways we bonded even more than ever because I was with Sparky most of the day and when I came home from being outside for a few hours he just loved his cuddles and kisses and greeted me with such joy and affection it brought tears to my eyes. But the dark times were become more frequent, he started barking at night when we put him into his crate (he was crate trained from 8 weeks so he was completely used to it), he was awful with strangers who came to our home – including my fiance’s parents who he growled at for 4 hours before I eventually had to put him into another room (where he barked to be let out).

    We were so stressed out and it was affecting every area of our lives including our own relationship because we were so frustrated at not being able to help our little Sparky (or my little baba as I always called him…). We took him to the vet again to see if there was anything we could do. He recommended putting him on Zylkene (which are made from milk protein) and seeing a behaviourist. I waited a month for the appointment and eventually went to see her in November. She recommended a series of measures and told me that he was showing signs of dominance and that, left unchecked, he would eventually bite someone. She told me to keep him off the furniture (this was very hard as he loved his cuddles on the sofa with us), only make eye contact with him when we wanted to, not to respond to his demands for attention, we had to stop doing free running with him (which he adored, I still have videos of him running in a field with his ball and when I say his spirit was at its most free at those moments, well it really was…) We also couldn’t play with his toys with him and had to let him play alone and basically not give him any attention. She said playing tug with him would only encourage his natural hunting instincts (he was a very robust Yorkie, about 4.5 kilos, not a teacup size) so we couldn’t do that anymore either…

    We basically had to stop doing all the things we loved doing and he loved doing. I had to work harder on the obedience training and only reward good behaviour. My fiance and I decided we would try her suggestions because we loved him so much and we are not behaviourists so we were guided by this woman (who is also a veterinarian). In some ways he became more obedient to me, but in others he became more insecure – he started following me literally everywhere, even if he had been sleeping in his bed he would get up to follow me to the kitchen which was not far from where he was resting, he became even more affectionate than ever but the barking also became worse. One particularly difficult day he stood barking at my back for 30 minutes solid while I prepared the dinner and he had already had two 45 minute walks that day and I’d spent lots of time doing obedience training, praise, affection (I found it difficult to ignore him which was the behaviourist’s suggestion as I just felt in my soul that this dog was part of our little family and what is the point in having a dog if you are supposed to ignore them??? I didn’t understand that at all…)

    We finally made the decision to have our beloved baba put to sleep last week. Our decision was made slowly and carefully over a period of months and several times we had talked about it but decided that we could not do it because we loved him so much…one morning last week I was unpacking shopping and put some bananas on the floor. Sparky went crazy, barking at them, shaking his head, sneezing (which he did when he was very stressed or over excited). This was not done in a “playing” manner – he was genuinely disturbed and stressed out by these innocent bananas that could not hurt him whatsoever. I am used to dogs so I am used to a dog being curious about something or play-barking at something but this was totally different.

    Later that evening we were sitting on the sofa and had decided to lift him up with us for a cuddle. I took off my glasses to rub my eye and Sparky went crazy at my glasses, shaking his head, sneezing…he was totally freaked out just by my glasses in my hand. Sparky must have seen my glasses a thousand times over the last ten months that he has been with us. It was very disturbing and sad for my fiance and I to watch. I cried and cried for him because I knew in my heart at that moment that in spite of all we had done, Sparky would get worse, not better and my biggest fear was that one day, a baby would come along and he would either get jealous and aggressive at the baby or become withdrawn and depressed. We could not bear to do that to him, this pup who we loved with all our hearts.

    We brought Sparky to our vet last Saturday at lunchtime. We spent all morning walking him and playing with him, cuddling and kissing him and telling him how much we loved him. We were totally and utterly brokenhearted at having to do this dreadful thing to a dog we adored and loved beyond words and felt like traitors. I told Sparky one final time in the car as I held him on my knee and kissed him that mama loved him very much and that he was going to be free and able to play and run and chase rabbits as much as he wanted forever and ever…I asked him to remember me and to come and meet me again someday when we would all be together, I told him that Lola would be waiting to meet him and that she would look after him until I got there.

    My fiance held him until he passed away. He did not feel any pain or suffer in any way (I have read some of the very sad stories here of dogs who passed away in pain and I am so, so sad for this because that is not how it was for Sparky and it should not have been that way for any dog ever, it’s just too sad to even imagine).

    I have cried every day and so has my fiance. We are brokenhearted and miss and love our baba so, so much. Even though we gave him the best life we could possibly give him this past year, we are still wracked with guilt and anguish over what has happened and every night when my fiance comes home from work we sit and talk about Sparky and ask ourselves if there is anything we could have done differently? Could we have tried more behaviourists? Could we have trained him better from when he was a baby and been firmer with him?

    The answer we keep coming back to is that there is nothing else we could have done for Sparky. That in spite of the good times with him and beautiful, happy moments (we took him on vacation to the West of Ireland in the summer where we had a week of pure happiness and joy, walking in forests and giving Sparky an opportunity to swim for the first time, smell all the smells he could on the forest floor, he saw deer crossing our path and experienced the sensation of bark and leaves under his little feet)….there were also some very stressful and difficult moments where we found ourselves bewildered, upset, sad and confused. We had to apologize to so many other dog owners, parents of children and innocent passers by for Sparky’s erratic behaviour. I walked him one day and a lady who had special needs crossed our path and she was delighted to see him and bent down to pet him and he growled at her. She got such a fright. I was upset and apologized and said that he was a bit grumpy that morning, but deep down I knew that a six month old puppy should not be growling at anyone, particularly since he’d had a happy, fulfilled life and had never known one moment of pain, abuse or sadness like so many dogs do.

    I am sorry for the length of this post. I hadn’t intended on writing such a long reply but I’ve had so much sadness, worry, questions, anxiety and guilt inside this past week that I guess I needed to just let it all out. I’ve cried buckets of tears this week and while writing this post. I suspect the tears have not all been shed and that there will be more. Right now I can’t see a time when I will want another dog. Perhaps someday when we have our children but at the moment my grief is too strong and my heart is broken.

    I am grateful, so grateful for the time I had with Sparky. He taught me so much about myself. I developed a patience and understanding that I never knew I had inside of me. One day when we have our baby I am certain that the things Sparky has taught me will benefit our little one. Perhaps this is the reason Sparky came to us and maybe he existed so that we could learn from him and be better, kinder, more loving people. Perhaps that is what all dogs are here to teach us. I hope that he knew how much we loved him and how adored he was.

    I’ll try and post here again in a few weeks time and let you know how we are doing. In the meantime I am sending you all lots of love and hugs at this dreadfully difficult time and someday I hope the pain of losing your beloved friend will ease.

  254. leebee says

    Tania – after reading your post, I wish I could give you a big hug. (And hugs to all the other grieving pup owners who have had to say goodbye to their beloved dogs in any way whether due to behavioral issues or medical/illness reasons). I am so sorry for the loss you each have had to endure. I completely understand your pain + grief. We had to put our boy Dozer to rest 9 days ago for reasons very similar to yours Tania and a day hasn’t gone by yet that I haven’t felt extreme guilt, sadness, loss, regret, shame… it’s been a whirlwind of emotion unlike anything I have ever experienced. I miss him so much and the “what ifs” have been killing me.

    We were shocked (and I believe mildly traumatized) when our sweet, goofy, playful and loving rescue dog (who was SO good with our other two dogs) seemed to have a switch flipped and all of a sudden turned into a completely different animal when he went after a much smaller dog. There was no question that it was his intent to harm this dog – the dog did survive but the first crack in our trust toward him had appeared.

    After that vicious dog attack, we hired a well-respected trainer in our area who specializes in aggressive dogs. Dozer was incredibly smart and eager to please so he responded well to the obedience work and became the best trained dog I’d ever owned. I worked with him for hours every day for six months straight after his training was done. He wanted nothing more than to be at my side, waiting for his next command. We took him on 3 miles walks each day, unlimited playtime with our other two dogs, training “working” time, bones + toys. We thought for sure that allowing him to get so much activity would help ease the stifling anxiety he carried with him. Unfortunately, his anxiety continued to worsen and his aggression escalated and started to be directed at us as well, to a point where it struck fear in our hearts when it would happen. We tried changes in food, supplementation, anxiety pills. It got to the point were even hearing dogs bark on a tv show was a major trigger for him, causing an aggressive episode.

    We felt we had exhausted our options, stopping short of his having to live crated with a cone when home alone (inside the house he was incredibly anxious and an extreme self-mutilator due to separation anxiety, even when the rest of his pack was still home with him) and also stopping short of his never getting to go outside of the confines of our home when we were at home. This would be no life for him. Nor would it be a life for us. He’d never get to experience hiking or camping or road trips with us. Leaving him home caused him to self-mutilate (he would lick all the way down through fur and all layers of the skin to exposing muscle). Leaving him with a pet sitter posed a huge liability risk because he was becoming aggressive with us on occasion – how would he respond to a stranger in the house? We thought long and hard about what to do. And we thought it would be the best decision in the long run, for Dozer’s safety and ours.

    Even when the time came, while I cried and cried, we thought we were making the compassionate choice, particularly for him because when he was in the throes of his anxiety we felt he must have been suffering. But the minute he was gone, we had immediate regret and guilt and wanted to turn back the clock so that we could give him more time. Was it just that he was still young? Would have have grown out of it with more training and love? Would a mostly confined life be better because it was still a LIFE to be lived?

    I don’t know how to forgive myself. I don’t know how to stop the what-ifs. The rational side of me knows how much I adored and loved this dog but that he was on a scary and dangerous path. The emotional side is completely devastated and missing him every minute of the day.

    I’ve read every comment on this post and it has provided tremendous help to know that I am not alone in having had to make this really awful choice for my sweet boy.

    Thank you to every one of you who has taken the time to share your own experience – please know the comfort you have given me and others. Thank you to Trisha for writing this blog post and creating a safe space where we can find others who are also suffering from the pain of an impossible choice. Trisha, I keep reminding myself of your words that I am the one who has to set the burden down. I am sure trying. I know it will get easier with time. I just wish time would fly a little faster.

    Sending much love to all of you…

  255. Stephanie says

    Dear Patricia
    Thank you for sharing your writings with us. It’s been 2 weeks today since I lost my beloved girl, a mongrel dog who came into my life 7 months ago by surprise – she came into my yard and didn’t wanna go. It was instant love between the two of us, and 2 weeks ago exactly, we had to put her down because we found out she had cancer – which had spread too far already. Luckily, we tend to think that she didn’t suffer a lot because she was having a greedy appetite until 4 days before she was euthanized. But still, I feel so guilty because I had brought her to the vet so many times before – for check-ups, for de-worming, for vaccines, for bronchitis (that we thought she had), for follow-ups, etc. But the vet was not a good one – we now realize that – and he never ever saw anything related to cancer and always told me that she was in perfect health.
    Anyway, thank you helping me cope with her loss. Time heals as we say, and someday, I want to believe that I will see her again, somewhere in Heaven.

  256. Tania says

    Stephanie – I have read your story and I am so very sorry for your loss. When I was reading what you wrote, all I could think about was that your dog was so, so loved by you and you did absolutely everything you could have done for her. It sounds to me that for the short time she was in your life, she was so well cared for and so adored by you. Right now, the grief is overwhelming for all of us, but I wanted to tell you that when I read what you wrote, it was clear to me that you provided a loving, caring home for that dog and as human beings who love our dogs, that is all any of us can do.

    Leebee…if I could send you a cyber hug I’d be sending it right now. Oh my goodness, I was so touched by Dozer’s story and there are so many similarities between your story and mine, that I want you to know I was instantly comforted by what you wrote about your beloved Dozer. The amazing thing for me, is that reading through what you wrote, I know in my heart that you loved that dog and that you did all you could for him in every way possible. It is always difficult for us to be objective about our situation because we spend hours going through the “what ifs?” as you said and I have done this for two weeks now, without ever reaching any conclusion other than the one we came to before we made our decision to put Sparky to sleep, which was that there simply was no other option. But, when I read your own story leebee, all I kept thinking about was, “oh my goodness, this dog was so loved and his mom and dad and family could not have done any more to help him”. It is strange how I can be objective about your situation but not about my own. But if I can bring comfort to you in any way, it’s to tell you that how much you loved that beautiful, goofy pup just shines through in what you have written and even though you are still feeling the guilt, the anguish and the pain (and will continue to feel this way for a while, for this is a bereavement and all bereavements take time to heal), please, please know that you really and truly did everything you could for him. Like you, I wish time would fly a little faster too. It’s been two weeks since Sparky passed away and the time has gone so slowly for me.

    I think what has really struck me is that all of us, no matter what the circumstances of losing our beloved pets, feel the same grief, guilt, sadness, regret and pain. Regret that we put our pet to sleep at all is such a common feeling among us – like you leebee, I instantly regretted our decision to have Sparky put to sleep and all I wanted from that moment to this, was to have him back on our sofa, squishing in between us the way he always did. I remember when my fiance walked out of the surgery with the lead in his hand and no Sparky, I had this moment of complete shock and disbelief – as if I had never expected it to happen at all, that somehow, at the eleventh hour, one of us would change our minds and stop the vet at the last second and that the three of us would just get back in the car and drive home again. So for the first few hours all I felt was shock and disbelief that he was gone and then instant, instant regret that I didn’t do more to save him, stop it from happening, help him….anything.

    I have cried almost every day. I suffered from ill health back in 2008 and again in 2010 and these past two weeks I’ve cried so much that I have made myself unwell. Grief puts a huge strain on the immune system and this is what’s happening to me now, so I need to find a way to deal with this grief (I’m trying to be “brave” and not cry in front of my fiance so much because he is going through his own pain after losing Sparky too, so I don’t want to make it worse for him…). I am missing him as much today as two weeks ago and am longing for his smiley little face, soft fur and funny little ways. I get up in the mornings and come into the kitchen expecting to see him but then he isn’t there, I go to bed at night, switching off lights and doing my usual nighttime routines that he was always such a massive part of (the nighttime pee-pee in the garden before bed, tucking him into his crate with his blankets and favourite toys, kissing him goodnight). I miss our walks, our cuddles, playing together, rubbing him down with his towel after he’d been running through muddy fields, calling his name, giving him his dinner and watching him patiently sitting quietly and waiting for it. Even silly things like cooking the dinner….he’d always be at my feet waiting for something to fall from the kitchen counter (he loved carrots more than anything and sometimes I’d pretend to drop a piece accidentally and he’d grab it and I’d make out like I was chasing him for it but that he’d “won” the carrot…). All of these precious memories are locked in my heart and head forever and I am grateful for them, so grateful, but I miss him and want him here with me again.

    I usually love Christmas time but this year it just doesn’t have the same meaning for me. We put up our tree last weekend and the whole time we kept saying “oh if Sparky was here he’d be pulling the ornaments off the tree and barking at it like crazy thinking it was this big old threat when it was totally harmless”…nothing feels the same for me now and I can’t wait to put this year behind me as it has been bittersweet – getting Sparky in February as a baby and then saying goodbye to him one day after his first birthday on 6 December. I know other people get worse troubles and problems and I should be grateful for what we have, but I can’t help but feel sad and sorry that he isn’t here to share this Christmas with us the way he should have been. It’s all so unfair.

    I wish all of you a peaceful Christmas or holiday season and hope that 2015 brings new hope and joy and happiness for everyone. I will check back in the new year and let you know how things are going – if I can just stop crying (and sighing…anyone else doing a lot of that?) I’ll be doing okay. Much love to all of you.

  257. Amy says

    On Christmas Day at 9:30 a.m., my sweet, beautiful hound passed peacefully. I could not have written a better script for our emergency vet visit, complete with her favorite vet tech from our usual vet (I didn’t know she worked at the emergency vet, much less on Christmas Day!). I am blessed to not feel guilt for Bailey’s death. She handled her liver disease very well and over the past six months was slowly declining in health. Her rapid decline late Tuesday through Wednesday was, without a doubt, the end of her time with me.

    I am grateful to read that the loss of her is an emotional and physical pain, because I feel like my heart has been shredded and my abdomen pulled apart. I wander around the house, grateful for the silence when everyone is gone. Noise is painful right now. To listen, interact, observe others actions in my house is causing me to dislike them, to wonder how they can say they also miss her, yet certainly aren’t acting any different. They expect me to understand their pain and engage in activities with them. Honestly, I despise them for it right now. I wish everyone would leave my house for several days, and let me grieve and remember my girl in my own way.

    Has anyone else felt this awful emotion, not so much hate, but disgust and revolting at how they “act sad”, but continue merrily in their daily life? I know my hounder was my girl, and I was blessed to spend the most time with her, to be her person.

    Thank you to all for sharing your feelings and process of losing a loved animal. I wish I had someone nearer to me who also understood this.

  258. leebee says

    I think about you every day since reading your response on 12/21 and sending healing, warm thoughts out into the world for you. I hope that you were able to find bits of joy throughout Christmas even through the heartache and sadness. It was the same in our home as in yours – Christmas is usually my favorite but this year was very blue. You had said that your grief was causing some health issues to return and I hope that now they have started to resolve? How are you doing? I can’t begin to thank you enough for what your words did for me. As I read them the first time, I cried and cried because it was just such a weight off my shoulders to hear someone say that they understood. It’s been a little over 5 weeks now since we said goodbye to Dozer and I still haven’t had one full day go by that I haven’t had some sort of crying spell or feeling of just getting the wind knocked out of me. They are definitely fewer and farther between but none of the guilt or regret has eased yet. I hope that your grief is beginning to lessen. When I read about you cooking dinner and missing Sparky eating the ‘dropped’ carrots, my heart broke for you because I have had the same trouble doing things that Dozer was always a part of (he always stood right behind me in the morning while I made my coffee + had to get in the habit of looking when I turned around so I wouldn’t trip over him and spill) so getting my coffee now still hurts a bit. So many every day mundane things that your Sparky and my Dozer were a part of (and all the other fur babies that people are grieving in this blog thread) are so hard now without them there. Thank you so much for the comfort you have provided me during one of the hardest things I’ve gone through – it really is such a gift and I’m so very grateful. <3

    What a wonderful thing you did for your "mongrel" – please don't beat yourself up too badly! She knew that you were the kind of person who could give her the life + love she deserved when she showed up in your yard and what a smart dog indeed for not wanting to leave because that's exactly what you did. I know without a doubt that you gave her the best months of her entire life and you are in no way to blame for not knowing about the cancer. You were a loving owner who took her in for proper medical care and you did everything you could. That is an A+ mommy in my book. Sending you hugs and I hope that your heart is on the mend.

    yes, I have definitely felt similar to you. It seems that until someone is in our own shoes, they aren't sure how to be around us. I try to be understanding that they don't really get what we're going through but at the same time, it's hard not to be resentful when you feel like you have had your heart ripped out but no one seems to notice or want to be supportive. Be kind to yourself and know that you did everything right and give yourself the space + permission to feel whatever emotions well up. Hopefully having this blog thread with many other grieving pet parents can provide some semblance of comfort that those close to you have not been able to. Wishing you peace during this very very difficult time…

  259. Bliss says

    We just had our 17 year old Austrailian/Queensland/Shephard mix named Taz put down. Seven months ago he was diagnosed with heart and lung disease and that it had already metistiszied to all over his body and had only a month to live. He was in no pain and if we kept him on medication we could maybe give him a good quality of life for another month but no longer. We decided to keep him alive as long as he was in no pain and was happy. He was our best friend, and we referred to him as our son. These two, Taz and his 11 year old sister, Precious, gave us unconditional love and affection. They greeted us every day with love and laughter. They taught us how to forgive others and ourselves. They taught us how important family really is (animal as well as human). They taught us how to truly love one another. Putting Taz down was the hardest thing we have ever had to do but we knew that for Taz it was the right decision because he let us know that he was ready for it. Precious still doesn’t get it that Taz has gone to doggie heaven. We know that it will hit her and we want to be there for her as we would for any human who has lost another human. Right now there is a very big hole in both my husband and my hearts. We lost our son. I’ve known my husband since 1979 and have seen him cry only once in his lifetime…..the first time we split up in 1992 and losing our son, Taz. My husband’s heart is broken right now and all I can do is hold him and cry with him (because my heart is also broken). He has said that since we are elderly he does not want to get another family member. I, on the other hand, DO want to get another son. Not right now, but sometime in the next year or so. I hope he’ll let me do so.

    Thank you for this forum. I needed to talk about my son and in doing so it helps me with my grief. Taz was one of a kind. God broke the mold when he was born. There will never be another one like him. I am so glad that I was given the priviledge of having him in my life.

  260. Earl says

    Stephanie ,

    My best friend (Snickers) and I went through much of what you are feeling.

    First it was when I thought something was wrong with his eye but the Vet thought that it was only a tear duct problem and besides being a Chow mix he always breathed heavily during the summer. It was only later that I found out that it was a full blown nasal tumor that went all of the way back to his brain and I was so angry that the Vet didn’t catch it earlier. Fortunately with a lot of treatment the tumor shrunk away.

    Then a year later it happened again – I knew something was wrong with the way that he was acting but my regular Vet thought that it was just Arthritis (he was 13 at the time). Two days later when he still was still not acting right, I took him to the emergency room Sunday morning at the specialists pet hospital. This is a full blown pet hospital where he had been getting his Radiation treatments for his sinus tumor and after a full examination they said the same thing (Arthritis). The following Tuesday I took him back to my regular Vet and asked that they monitor him to see if they could find the issue. The next day they called to say that I should take him immediately to the Specialist hospital because something was wrong internally. That night they performed emergency surgery for a perforated stomach.

    I was so frustrated because it took so long to find the issues even though he was seeing my Vet on a regular basis as well as having quarterly examinations at the specialists hospital.

    But after the operation I had a truly bittersweet moment where I didn’t know where to cry or give thanks (ended up doing both). During the operation for his perforated stomach, they came across lymphoma. According to the surgeon if it had been 2 weeks earlier they would not of seen it and if it had been 3 weeks later it would of been too late to do anything about it. But because of surgery for a totally unrelated issue they were able to get most of it and Chemotherapy would get the rest of it.

    In looking into his two unrelated tumors I heard the same story again and again where major issues were not discovered until it was very late and difficult to treat. The main takeaway that I came away with was the realization that their metabolism is so much faster than ours that by the time that an issue is discovered it is usually very late in the game.

    I know that my Vet who treated my dog like his own from the time that he was a puppy for over 14 years would of done anything to find the issues sooner but it wasn’t until he got a full body ultrasound that they found out the real issue.

    There is also a risk with many of the diagnostic tests that have to be weighed. For example every time that they performed a CT scan they had to put Snickers under full anesthesia so that he would stay still long enough for the scan. With 6 CT scans in 2 years each scan was a risk of its own. I don’t know the particulars of your situation but I know that many vet’s struggle with finding a balance between tests and symptoms particularly since most dogs won’t show any outward symptoms until the later stages of a tumor.

    I am very sorry for your loss because whether it was for 7 months or 14 years it is heart wrenching to lose one that is so important to us especially from something as insidious as cancer. For me, It’s been 4 months since I lost Snickers to the sinus tumor I’m still looking for a way mend the hole in my heart and to move away from the sadness of losing my best friend.

    But I try a little more every day because he was all about Joy and Happiness and the best tribute that I can give him is to celebrate his life and reflect out the Love that he gave to me.

    I know that your ‘mongrel’ loved you and I am truly sorry for your loss.

  261. Tania says

    Hi Leebee and hello to all the grieving ‘parents’ on this wonderful site,

    Leebee – thank you so very much for your kind thoughts and words. How are you doing? I do hope the pain and sadness has eased a little since your last post. It touched my heart so much because everything you said resonates with me so much. Our daily routines and doing the simple things such as making coffee in the mornings will truly never be the same again without our beloved dogs beside us.

    Amy – I do understand your feelings and I think grief by its very nature can literally rip your heart to pieces and bring every possible emotion out of you, including anger. In fact, anger is one of grief’s biggest emotions – anger at others, anger at the injustice of it all, anger when people don’t react the same way you do. I had this very same conversation with my fiance who, at one point, I accused of not missing Sparky like I did. It wasn’t true of course but I did realise that each of us expresses (and sometimes suppresses) grief in different ways and the best I could do was just let him be how he needed to be, however hard it was for me.

    Bliss – I am sorry for the loss of your son Taz. Our dogs are our babies and we are their parents. I kissed and cuddled and talked to my baba Sparky as if he was my child and for many of us our dogs are our children. I feel so sad for your loss and am thinking of you a lot.

    Well…it has been almost two months since Sparky passed away and some days I feel as if things are getting easier to bear without him but then, like a bolt from the blue, his absence will hit me and I’ll be floored yet again. I have been quite unwell (and thank you for asking how I am) but am getting better. I had a chest infection over Christmas and New Year and then of all things, got a kidney stone which was painful (and I’m told can be stress-related). I have good days and bad days. The difficult part for me is still the guilt I am feeling even though we know we did all we could. It is also very difficult to explain to people what happened to Sparky and the reasons things went the way they did. I have discovered that not everyone is understanding of the situation and a few people we know offered “solutions” that began with “but did you not try….” or “why didn’t you do X or Y….” which wasn’t helpful and just compounded our sadness.

    What I am now doing is, when people I meet out walking their own dogs say “do you have a dog?” I just say “no” and get off the subject because trying to explain that we did have a dog but he died, and then having to explain why….well it is too hard because inevitably I end up welling up and becoming tearful (which in a park full of strangers is not ideal).

    Another massive challenge for me is hearing sad stories about animal cruelty or abused dogs (I am on twitter so these stories are literally everywhere on my feed as I follow so many animal groups and societies). They affect me much, much more than they ever did before. Whenever I used to see a sad story like that I used to turn to Sparky for a big cuddle and kiss and I used to say “I’ll love you and protect you forever” almost to make up for all the dogs I could not help, but now there is no Sparky and there is a huge Sparky-shaped hole in my life and my heart.

    A kind neighbor of mine loaned me her little spaniel last week for a couple of hours as she had to go out and it was so lovely to have her with me on the sofa for a couple of hours and she is a really snuggly, affectionate dog….but I realised after she left that I miss MY dog so much and the only dog I want right now is Sparky. I still watch his little videos when he was running around chasing a ball (his favorite thing ever) and some days they make me smile, but other days they make me just so, so sad.

    Sorry for the long-winded post, I’ve been holding these thoughts in for quite some time as I think my fiance just feels so sad when I start talking about Sparky and he is trying very hard just to get on with things. We are getting married in a few months’ time so I am very much looking forward to that and looking forward to hopefully trying for a baby this year. But (and this might sound strange to anyone who has never loved a dog with all their heart) even though I would love a baby, I miss Sparky with every piece of my heart and wish so badly that he was still here and I cannot see that ever changing. My mom told me today “it’s early days, you need to give yourself time” but I cannot see a time when I won’t miss him or grieve for him. It is so horrendous feeling this way, I honestly feel as if I lost my baby, not my dog. Again, only people who adore their dogs could ever understand that feeling.

    I hope that as each month passes this will get easier. I do genuinely wonder sometimes if I am going mad with the grief that I feel for him it is so strong. I have decided to volunteer at an animal shelter (I used to do this many years ago and loved it but work pressures meant I often didn’t have the time to do it) and have chosen Valentine’s Day to start so that I can give lots of love to some dogs there. My fiance is also going to come with me and I think it will really help him. We have talked about rescuing a dog from the shelter but I think it is still too early for us. I’ll keep you posted and let you know how it goes.

    Much love to you all and I hope the grief and pain is easing as each day passes. As Leebee said in her post, be kind to yourself.

  262. Sue says

    I rescued Nina from the city shelter four years ago. I had seen her on a list of dogs that was going to be euthanized the next day, and for some reason I drove down to the shelter and took her.

    The dog had been badly abused. She was basically hairless and weighed 30 pounds (her healthy weight was 60). You could see every bone in her body.

    I fed her, walked her, took her for allergy treatments, cooked her homemade food. She became a healthy beautiful dog, people commented on her muscle tone and coat.

    It became apparent early on that she was severely dog aggressive. We took her to a training class which we were asked to stop
    Coming to due to her dog aggressiveness. I hired a private trainer that helped
    Me manage her so that she could be walked in public.

    We soon realized the dog was also a biter. The behaviour was very unpredictable . She was usually very friendly with people but certain people she would snap at or bite. We had a complaint registered with the department of Health due to the bite. We did another training class and hired another private trainer.

    I became pregnant. Although we probably should have been concerned, with my husband and I, Nina was perfect. Affectionate, loving, loyal, goofy… Everything you could want in a dog. It was just with strangers and other dogs that there was a problem, we told ourselves. We had our baby. We kept the dog and baby a healthy distance from each other and it seemed to be going well.

    Two days ago the dog lunged and snapped at our now 6 month old baby. I took her to the vet yesterday to have her euthanized. I stayed with her, held her in my lap. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. In the end it felt quite peaceful, as little consolation as that is.

    I feel like I killed my best friend. I feel like I don’t deserve to ever own another pet. I feel like a failure. I question my decision. My heart is broken.

    To me – she was an amazing dog. She was by my side, often in my bed, snuggled up against me. She was like a part of me. To the rest of the world she was dangerous and a liability.

    I keep looking for a lesson I. All this and failing to find one. 2 years ago we went on vacation to Vermont and stayed in a cabin in the middle of the woods. Since there was no one around for miles, we were able to let Nina run free. She acted like a real dog. Happy, running, chasing bugs. She had that pit bull smile that I often hear people talk about but rarely ever saw in my own dog. I hope wherever she is now that it is like that for her.

  263. Melanie says

    I’m besides myself.
    My dog just left this world, a couple of hours ago. He was only 10 months and we only had him for 4 months. I feel so guilty, he choked on a rawhide bone that my stepdaughter gave to him. He must have swallowed a big piece, my husband found him in the kitchen vomiting and urinating and pooping and foaming at the mouth. He rushed the dog outside to prevent his little girl from witnessing it.
    He attempted to clear Shiloh’s airway and he got the puppy to spit up the bone. The dog wagged his tail and walked away to recoupe, we’re assuming. My husband ran inside to find towels to wrap him in and take him to the vet but when he went outside, not even 2 minutes later, he found the dog unconscious and in a pool of blood coming from his mouth. He rushed him to the vet but somewhere on the way, the dog took his last breath.
    We both feel so guilty, I for not being here to help and him for not supervising the puppy as he was playing. We rescued him, he had been in three different homes already. We only had him for four month. He was the happiest dog I’ve ever had, he was always happy even when we were correcting his behavior. I hope we gave him as happy of a life as he gave us.
    I miss his barks and his licking already. I can’t bring myself to look at his empty crate anymore.

  264. Trisha says

    All I can say Melanie is that I am so so sorry. We all have made mistakes, how awful for you to have this one be so painful. My guess is that he wouldn’t blame you for a minute, but was happy to have spent such a lovely time with you. Take care of yourself.

  265. Kelley says


    I also lost my 10 month old puppy, Remy, in July. The stories from this site have been incredibly helpful as I still work through the guilt that I feel over his death. While the circumstances were quite different, I just wanted to say that our puppies knew love and care from us, their families. Just as I could have never anticipated that my little guy would become so sick, in pain and terrified of the world to the point of fear-based aggression, you and your husband could not have known what would happen to your puppy. I hope that soon you will see that you did everything you could in that moment and that time that you knew to do. Trish reminded me at the time that I needed to forgive myself and take time to grieve the loss, and it is my sincere hope that you can do that, too. Best wishes.

  266. merryl says

    i had to do the hardest thing i have ever had to do, putting my precious lucy, our chocolate lab down, she was 10 1/2. she was diagnosed two weeks ago with inoperable lung cancer, with a week to a month to live. the oncologist said less than 10% chance it could be lung fungus. i took lucy to a holistic vet, and she said, no way, lucy would last much longer than a week, and gave me holistic herbs and advice to fight. i did try to move heaven and earth, gave lucy everything thing i possibly could to heal her. i called the vets back several times, could it be fungus. they said no. but i insisted we put lucy on the anti fungal medication. for the first week, not on the anti fungal medication she was doing ok. her respiratory rate was high, but she was still herself and eating. i did move heaven and earth and i think all the planets to try and save her but she was failing, the second week, i decided to put her on the anti fungal medication. she took it well for 3 days, but went down hill on the 4th day, panting, and gasping for breath. i was frantic last night, on my knees praying to god to please help me, help lucy. i called the vet this morning and thought let me take her in to have another chest xray, maybe the fungus was dying. the vet said it was worse, and i had to make a decision about lucy’s quality of life. my husband is a quiet man, lets me make all the decisions, but said now is the time to let her go, she is suffering. i signed the paper and in 10 minutes our precioius lucy was gone. i feel sick to my stomach, the pain is so bad i can’t bear it. i am so afraid now that she is gone. but i could not take another night counting every breath, stroking her, and praying. this will be very hard for me, i am 70 years old, and lucy was pretty much all that i had. i am trembling as i type these words, but i want everyone who reads this to know. i loved my dog more than anything else in this world. she was my life, but more important was how much she loved me. thank you my darling girl for loving me. i will see you again. mommy

  267. Becka says

    Thank you for writing this. We are having to put my 23 month old black lab down because of his agression due to anxiety and I have cried and cried over this. I thought if we just kept working hard with him he’d change but at times everything’s great but they has been no way to tell what sets him off. He is very loved which makes this so hard. We have worked with a trainer, behaviorist and he’s been on meds however every once in a while he flips out & tries attacking us even though he
    Views us as the Alpha’s. We have kids at home and small grandchildren so we can no longer risk it. We got him free at 10 weeks and he’s never been mistreated but something happened at 6 months and he’s
    Never been the same:(

  268. Val says

    Ross came to us as a rescue 2 1/2 years ago. They told us he was a runner. He never ran. They told us he was aggressive. He loved us. He was thin and unhealthy but we nursed him well and he became the most beautiful, red haired “mutt” we ever knew. Loving and kissy and dedicated to us. Then he became anxious. Began licking the floor and moving furniture if we left him even for a few minutes. Ripped up cardboard boxes. Barked A LOT. Training did not work. Our vet diagnosed him with the lesions on the brain from having recovered from distemper as a puppy ( brown teeth with damaged enamel, thick paws) and he was put on prozac. Great job and he was a happy dog again for another year. Then the grand-babies came. At first they were great and he loved them. Till they began to crawl and walk. Then he decided to try and grab them, and our new puppy rescue, and take them away. Back to the vet who said Ross’s corneas are clouded and that is a sign the lesions have grown. And that Ross’s aggression will get worst. Last night he bit the younger dog who is now 6 months old and growls at me. This week we are taking Ross to his favorite lake, cooking his favorite turkey and loving him a lot, and with a lot of guilt, but not wanting him to think we are giving him away, letting him go to sleep and cross the rainbow bridge…… sad that he wasn’t given his shots as a puppy. But so happy we had him to love, wish it had been a lot longer. Glad I found this blog.

  269. Kim L says

    I do some self-coaching to deal with the guilt. I tell myself, “If you had known that X was happening/going to happen” would you have done something about it? The answer is always yes. Sometimes we just have to let the fact that we are not omnipotent rest there and try to remember the loving part of that relationship.

  270. Ann M. says

    I have asked myself countless times what else I could have done. Never being able to answer this question is a gut-wrenching reminder of what it means to be human. My grief at the loss of our dog, my companion, is so intense; I feel such pain and guilt. I have a place in my body for these feelings that aches. Many would question these feelings and my rationality. You my fellow travelers and their companions, I believe will grant me acceptance – and I am most humbly thankful for you. Today we put down our beloved lab-mix rescue dog. I was her person; she slept at my feet and stayed close whenever I was near. I worked with her and loved her without reservation – but it was not enough. For 2 years we worked with doctors and trainer to try to determine what was wrong – how could such a loving dog attack without warning . She attacked either our small, older dog or a family member – including me on 2 occasions. Was she ill? Was she in pain? Was it behavioral? Then unprovoked – the unthinkable from such a loving animal. Quiet one minute – in full attack mode the next. This last time – 10 days ago- was severe. It was my face and it required many stitches. There was never an obvious trigger – not food, territory, jealousy, nor a favorite toy. Some will say we waited too long. We did our best. We all do or best.

    I grieve with all of you, no matter why you have lost or had to put down a loved and cherished companion. If your dog was young like our dog – if you are still asking what else you could have done – remember we live best when we accept those things we can not change. I do not mean to live a passive life. Live with passion. Our dogs try to teach us that everyday.

    I sent the following emails to a handful of close friends, it helped because they are grieving also:

    Our girl left us today to run in fields without fences, drink cool waters from pristine streams, play with other dogs and be free of any pain or anxiety. There are people with her who love her; she remembers us all and looks forward to playing catch the sock. She fearlessly made the transition to her new life; happy, surrounded by family and with her favorite blanket. Thanks for your love and support.

  271. Kim S. says

    I am hurting over this decision right now, I have puppy, 7 weeks old and he has started to have horrible seizures. I took him to the vet today and when he called he said it is congenital and nothing can be done. This will only get worse for the baby. I know this in my head, however; it is killing my heart, he is tiny and sweet and just wants to live. It is hard to say how I got this attached so quickly but I feel like a person is being taken from me. To add to the sadness I lost my 10 yr old Dachshund last week to a back injury, and had to make this decision then too. The sadness is overwhelming, how do you get past it?

  272. Victoria says

    I have been blessed with having had many many dogs, but this decision is one of the hardest to make. I am homeless, jobless, and my 10 yo gorgeous German Shepherd Dog, Dallas, is scheduled to go to the vet tomorrow, for the last time. He has become very arthritic, can hardly walk, partially blind, dementia setting in, not wanting to eat, etc. He has always been dog aggressive and overly protective of me at 125 lbs, and even tore a bulldog’s ear on one occasion (which bounded from the owner’s home at us.) I am not sure I am making the right decision, no one is going to want him, if I tried to re-home him, plus, he would be very sad and die of a broken heart without me. He has snapped at my cats, which he has known since they were very small, and he pants all the time. How do I know if I am making the right decision? I feel so lost, given my present circumstances. I have prayed to God but have not received an answer. Please help.

  273. Trisha says

    Victoria: I am so sorry about all the burdens you are carrying. I am, however, struck by how lucky your dog is that you care about him so much, and have made plans to relieve him of suffering. And clearly he is suffering: You say he can barely walk, has dementia, is panting all the time and is no longer able to eat. All those are clear signs that your dog is suffering, perhaps a great deal. Greater love has no owner than to let him rest, even though it means she will suffer a great loss. You are making the right decision; it is just a difficult and painful one. I have always said that “simple” and “easy” are very different things. Your dog sounds like he is suffering terribly–thus, the decision to relieve him is clear. But that doesn’t make it easy–it is the hardest thing an owner can do. Please take care of yourself, remember that grief is stored in the brain in the same place as a serious injury.

  274. Victoria says


    Thank you for your kindness and words of encouragement. In my stress and state of confusion, I had forgotten to say that I love Dallas very much, he is my son, and I rescue all my animals. He was a backyard breeder situation and I’ve had him since he was four months old. This is infinitely hard, having to part with my beloved boy, but I do not want to wait until he cannot walk at all. The guilt is overwhelming. I can see and feel his depression, along with my own. I am praying for strength…

  275. Trisha says

    Victoria your love for Dallas radiated in your writing. I hope you can throw away any guilt that you are feeling, because you clearly are doing this because it is the best thing you can do for Dallas. My thoughts are with you.

  276. Bette Gibson says

    2 weeks ago tomorrow my precious Corgi..Nellie Mae will be gone 2 weeks. A month ago she was perfectly healthy. On a Saturday night..she vomited up her food..she never got sick! After thatcshe was feeling better..eating and drinking and playing. Everything seemed normal..then on Monday she got lethargic. .on Wednesday I took he to the vet..she didn’t have a fever but her Buncount was high. The ver gave me some pills for her and made an appt. For April1. I brought her home and told her she would feel better once the pills kicked in. The following Monday I took her to an animal hospital and they told me they would keep her for a week and when I brought her home she would have to be on a special diet..I kissed her bye and told her mommy would see her in a week..the next morning I gpot a call telling me that she had passed. I was inconsolable. .her kidneys were twice the size they should be and her pancreas was in trouble. I am having the worse guilt feelings..was it something that had been there before and just didn’t show uo orcwas it some food I feed her and if I had taken her to the vet sooner woyld she still be here? The second vet told me that it was Gods will. But h poo w does a perfectly healthy dog..gets sick and dies 9 days later? I am totally distraught over losing my best friend and just feel there was something I could have done to help her. It is hard to even function without hercan anyone give me advice? Thank you.

  277. Niamh says

    Yesterday I lost my beautiful Luna. She was only 2 years old and was the most playful, loving, sweet dog! She filled my life with so much happiness and my future plans feel empty without her in them. The worst part at the minute is the shock, I assumed I would get to spend at least 7 years with Luna and looked forward to our time together but she was torn from us and had to be go to sleep too soon. I want to fill this whole in my heart but really all I want back is Luna. Things seem very empty without my wee woman around.

  278. Douglas says

    I notice a majority of respondents/author and commentors have a substantial ammount of money to “move heaven and earth” for your sick and/or dying dogs and I’d do the same if I were a “have”. Fact is this must help in lowering guilt, as a “have not” I can assure you it does… we all have our place though, sometimes the poor get rich but not often the other way around. I will always feel guilty I didn’t do enough for my Bassett Homer…because I couldn’t, therefor did not! must be nice to buy your way out of guilt. Moral? none really, maybe include us all before speaking for us all.

  279. Niamh Mackle says


    I feel for you, I couldn’t do enough for Luna because I didn’t have enough either. I just had to let her go. You’re right, it only makes it harder because I would have given her everything I could.

  280. Sommer says

    I euthanized my dog Archibald a week and a half ago and I am having a very difficult time. He was 15 years old and his heart was failing and was he was in renal failure. He declined very quickly and I feel like it all happened so fast and I was so emotionally distraught I was not able to step back from the situation and think clearly.

    I feel like I gave my dog a great life for 15 years and then let him down in his final moments.

    The anxiety I feel is overwhelming.

    I am struggling with the decision I made.

    Part of me says that I loved that sweet dog more than anything so if I felt like it was the right time than it must have been. There is nothing I would not have done for him.

    Then there is the other part of me that says I made the decision to end my dogs life. Maybe I should have talked to the cardiologist one more time. Adjusted his meds and given him a few more days. Taken the risk of CHF and hospitalized him and tried more fluid therapy. ( Even though he would have hated it) My fear with this was for him to continue to deteriorate in the hospital which I have seen many dogs do. He was unable to stand or walk in the last few hours. His heart was not able to get appropriate blood supply to his legs and we were concerned he was not getting enough blood to his brain.

    He was such a wonderful creature and my heart is broken.

    The night I euthanized home I woke up to what I thought I heard was him barking twice. His bark had changed with age over the last year or so. The bark I heard that night was his bark from before it changed. I swear I heard it.

    I hope with time I am able to forgive myself. Even better I hope I can someday know for sure I did the right thing.

    Reading what other people have gone through has helped. To know you are not alone.

  281. Ginger says

    I just made my final vet appointment for my little girl Emma. My heart is breaking! She’s 15 and has been in stage 5 heart failure for almost three years and only 3 weeks ago was diagnosed with stage four kidney failure. For the past few days she won’t eat, we’re force feeding her baby food through a baby syringe to get her the binding agents. She acts like she’s hungry but has refused every form of food. We decided last night that it was time to schedule the appointment and then an hour later she started eating dog treats. I know logically she is failing and no matter what little spark of change she does, it does not mean ‘she’s healing.’ But my heart so much wants her to be well again I can hardly breath. I always thought I would be able to feed her a final “treat” but she is not eating so I’m feeling like that last gesture has been taken away from me. We’ve been trying to take her walking to her favorite places these last few days as well. I guess since she was such a food hound, to have her not be interested in food and turn away from what normally would have made her eyes go big with excitement/anticipation is more than I can take. I know now after reading these posts that even though I want her to be with me longer, I need to let go before she gets worse as it’s about her well being and not mine.

  282. Catherine Schmidt says

    I have been reading everyone’s beautiful posts and have tears streaming down my face. I can barely even write the words. My husband and I rescued a pit bull 3 1/2 years ago. Within the first month he attacked a neighbor’s calf and we decided to try and keep him still. We worked with Dabir diligently every day and every day he paid a little less attention to the cows until we could walk by without any pulling, whining, or barking and we felt good.

    We did the same with every new dog he met (he never had any problems with our other three dogs) but we had to pack walk and keep him on leash around new dogs for a little while until his over excitement calmed. He is very sight oriented and it was difficult to get him not to look at something he wanted to chase. We were able to do this on leash with rabbits and other animals, he went from whining and lunging to simply standing alertly and watching.

    He became our protector and the most cuddly of our dogs, willing to sit in your lap and keep you warm on cold winter nights. He won over our family and friends with his sweet sensitive disposition. It’s hard to believe that such a sweet loving dog could end up hurting, even killing another little dog.

    Last week we discovered that all our hard work had not translated from the leash, our house, or the enclosed barn area where he ran free, to our neighbors where Dabir lethally went after their little dog. We feel responsible, we wonder about the things we should or could have done, we thought our barn area was escape proof and we never thought something like that would happen.

    We have been physically ill with agony since. In order to re-home him we feel Dabir would need a specialized home and trainer that is willing to put in even more time and effort than we did and that just isn’t available. Dabir can’t stay with us anymore and it kills me to think about what he did to our neighbor’s dog and the pain they are experiencing.

    My husband and I have gone back and forth about whether to put him down. We have thought maybe we could just contain him? But the chance of him escaping is there because we thought we had things under control before and they weren’t. We wanted to rescue a pitbull and I hate that we’re another statistic, this is the hardest thing I’ve had to do and I don’t know how I’ll survive it.

    It helps tremendously to read the posts on this site. THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH. We will be putting Dabir down soon and it hurts like hell. Even as I write this, it helps a little but I am overwhelmed with pain and guilt, I blame myself, my ego and my ignorance for thinking I could give him a full and happy life. I try to think that he got 3 1/2 more years than he would have had he gone to another home. He got to walk in the pasture and play with lots of other dogs and he enriched my life. I am learning so much from this experience I just don’t know how i’ll get through the pain of losing my baby.


  283. Jodi Boucher says

    It has been almost 72 hours since I lost my sweet baby Delilah she was a 7 1/2 year old lab/shepard mix and I love her so much, she was truly apart of me.

    Delilah had severe resource guarding that has progressively gotten worse over the years…her stealing a loaf of bread weekly used to be funny but then we had a baby and then that baby began to eat real food and things progressed so quickly. Sometimes you can’t notice things when they are happening right in front of you and then it becomes this huge problem that you feel like came out of no where.

    Delilah bit the babys hand and my husband got very upset and tried to get her to back off ( he can be very aggressive) she then bit him major puncture. Things really went downhill from here my sweet girl growled anytime our baby came near her she would snarl and raise her fur and go into “attack mode” anytime she didn’t get what she wanted. We brought in a behavourist who gave us good advice positive reinforcement and nothing in life is free and things were good for a few days and then Delilah came at myself and the baby again..I was terrified of my girl who ive loved more than anything in the world and my husband made us surrender her to our local humane society.

    I was made to feel as if by keeping her I was putting her before my son which is not the case but she is a part of this family and not disposable I love her so deeply. I could not handle her being locked up there so I reclaimed her, it was likely she would be euthanized because of her aggression and she is on very expensive medication for incontinence, I worried that if she didn’t receive her medication she would keep being returned or abused because she will leak urine if she doesn’t get it, sure enough I was right because they threw out the bottle I brought with her and the info wasn’t passed along.

    I couldn’t let her go and be euthanized with strangers her last thought of me abandoning her. She seemed strange when I picked her up I had a blood test done on her everything was normal. She came home slept for an entire day and then was back to her food stealing growling etc she lashed out severely on me when I told her to get down from the high chair( she is behind the baby gate for all meals and snacks but snuck through) I had to kick my child out of her path because he was reaching for her, he loves her and she would have injured him. later that day she trampled him for food he was injured. the next day she trampled him again. I am alone all day with no help with him and he is an extremely challenging baby I am only one person, I can only do so much but it wasn’t enough. when I picked her up my husband stipulated one more chance making me feel guilty for risking my child he was at the end of his rope now she had to be put to sleep.

    We consulted with our vet and he agreed I had another behavourist come in and she tearfully told me my hands were tied and I would hate myself when something eventually happens to my son, the kind thing to do for my girl was to put her down and be with her when I did.

    She was a different dog after the baby came she wanted nothing to do with us anymore didn’t cuddle or show affection her life changed dramatically she was the center of our world for almost 7 years just us and then this incredibly demanding little baby came along. I gave her as much of me as I could, I loved her so much. I let my girl down so badly. she was so excited that morning I sent our son to daycare and I took her on a hike and we had naner time ( sharing a banana) and I gave her some mcdonalds breakfast and coffee she was so happy, when we got to the vet she was so excited, they reassured me this was right I didn’t feel much until this point and then they gave her the sedative and she went to sleep in my lap snoring and crying our eyes were locked and I apologized and told her how much I loved her she required a second dose of medication as her heart was still beating and I knew it was because she didn’t want to go my strong sweet girl I should have stopped them. I cannot believe I let this happen I love my girl and I love my son but I feel so angry with my baby and my husband I feel like it is their fault. my life has changed so much in the last year and now ive lost my girl too its just unbearable. I miss her so much I just want to go pick her up like I did before.

    My husband said he felt relieved, I feel like someone has ripped my heart out, the pain is taking my breath away I cannot believe I let my girl down like this. I keeping thinking I should have done more but I did what could but she deserved so much more. I hope she forgives me, I regret this so deeply.

    Reading this has helped and these comments are very comforting.

  284. Donna says

    My beautiful Harley Brown was put down on May 8th at around 5 in the morning. The vet tech and the vet at the emergency hospital said they believed he was in renal failure. He would have been 15 in October, so he gave us a long life of love. My heart is still breaking and I’m crying as I write this. It just was so sudden and we had no other options, and the quickness of it was the worst, but maybe that was best for him that he didn’t suffer a horrible illness for long. I think I am writing here because I want to put it out to the universe that he loved us and we loved him and of all the dogs in my childhood, he in my adulthood was the absolute smartest and engaged dog I ever had, and a true family member and I will miss him forever, until we meet again when my time comes. We called him a little boy in dog suit, and he really was that. I feel so blessed for the love he brought into our home.

  285. Peggy says

    I can’t quit crying as I read this. My Lexy is lying on her little bed near me. She is at least 16 and has been the best friend I have ever had. She has been with me in a very critical time of my life, waiting, loving and licking my tears away. I am having her euthanized tomorrow and wonder if I’m doing the right thing. She can barely walk, and when she does, she veers to the side as if she’s drunk. We have a small, in ground fountain that she will sometimes fall into if she’s not being watched and guided. She can’t hear, and she goes on the floor, or where ever she is. She didn’t used to do that. She was amazing and always used the dog door. She isn’t able to make it to the dog door anymore. When she does walk, along with veering to one side, she sort of drags her back feet. Her legs seem sometimes glued together. I feel selfish having her euthanized. You know, like I just don’t have the time to be with her 24/7. I am now, but will soon be back at work.

  286. Nita says

    I had my beloved Brussels Griffon put to sleep yesterday. He had diabetes and was beginning cataracts. I did have the money to have his glucose monitored as it should have been to get him regulated on insulin. I tried for two months on my own and many nights I watched his rapid breathing and fearing that any moment he would die because I made a wrong decision. I felt too that he would shortly be blind and his enjoyment of his life would diminish. I loved him so dearly, he was at my side every moment. I’m sick that I’ve done the wrong thing. There will never be a dog to replace him. I’m so ashamed of myself, I feel like I murdered my boy.

  287. Nita says

    In my post about putting down my dot the Brussels Griffon, I mistakenly said I DID have the month to have him checked, I meant I DID NOT have the money. I guess I can’t edit the original post?

  288. Maggieop says

    My gorgeous 4 year old golden retriever has brought me to this site tonight with an agonising decision we may have take in the not too distant future. She has always been a difficult but loving pup with quite a few behaviour issues for which we consulted a vet behaviourist 2 years ago after her first intestinal obstruction. Although muzzled on his advice she is still on a path of self destruction swallowing harmful objects that she hunts out on her daily walks. She is closely supervised and muzzled when out walking but nothing stops her snatch, grab and swallow behaviour – yes even thru the muzzle. She had surgery for a second blockage today and I know that if she recovers from this it is just a matter of time before the next awful round of obstruction surgery. I feel so bad and guilty about even asking this question but when is enough enough? We have been to excellent dog training classes for three years but despite our best efforts we can’t get her to stop this behaviour – she is totally obsessive about swallowing anything she finds outside. Her intestines are now shorter and narrower post op so the next time she will block even more easily.

  289. Sarah says

    The support here is truly comforting. I’m facing this very difficult situation right now with my beloved Luke (also named for Cool Hand Luke). I’ve been sobbing all night while he sleeps next to me. He just only turned nine, and is a active as I got him as a 3 year old from a rescue. He’s had separation anxiety since day one, and I’ve somehow managed it for the past 6 years through doggy daycare, friends, and family. I’ve tried medication, driven him across the country to see a behaviorist specializing in anxiety, numerous trainers, herbal medications, thundershirts, exercise, crates, slow release food toys and puzzles, etc, with no success. I recently moved, and he’s had a really hard time with it. His anxiety reached the point where he bit me several times last month as I was trying to leave the house, and then had to leave him in the car when I went to the hospital because I didn’t know what else to do. He’s never bitten before, and it was horrifying to see him in that much distress. Now that I’m in the new place I thought he might settle down a bit after a few weeks, but he doesn’t seem to be. On top of that, he’s having a really hard time in daycare and I don’t understand why. He’s constantly trying to climb over their gate to get to the grooming area, and they are afraid he’s going to hurt himself. He’s the sweetest, most loving dog I’ve ever had. He’s playful, fun, and I love spending time with him. He’s also seen me through a bout with depression and moved across the country with me when I had no one else. He’s the only family I have where I am, and I can’t imagine life without him.

    I would do anything to make him better, but it’s also becoming a huge financial issue for me. Doggy daycare, Prozac out of pocket, and repairing destruction has added up. I’ve probably spent 30k on him over the past 6 years, and I have a huge sense of guilt over this being a factor in the decision making process.

    More than anything though, I want him to be happy. I don’t understand what he goes through when I leave the house or drop him off at daycare, but the amount of stress he seems to be constantly under is not healthy. I take him anywhere that’s dog friendly since he’s great out in public, but sometimes I do need and want to go to non-dog friendly places. I worry about his quality of life, and I worry about mine too.

    I’m stuck in the not knowing what to do phase. I’m trying some new training methods, but it’s hard to be optimistic about it at this point and I’m at my wits end financially and emotionally. Selfishly I want to prolong his life because I can’t imagine mine without him.

  290. Trisha says

    My heart goes out to all of you who have posted on this site. I can’t comment on every one, needless to say, but know that I read every one, and every time my heart aches a bit for you.

    To Sarah, who’s comment about Luke I just read this morning: First, I am so sorry. What a dedicated, wonderful person you have been to this dog. Whatever happens, I hope you are clear that you have been moving heaven and earth for him. I so understand about the “but when he is good he is very very good…” dilemma. My Willie was like that when he was young–the dog everyone wants when he was good, a disaster when he wasn’t. A few comments, in hopes that they might in some way be helpful. First, about the day care: Clearly he is not happy in that setting. Have you tried (you well may have) putting him in a single kennel in the day care? Some dogs with Sep Anx at home do much better by themselves in other places. Another thought, again, along the lines of “other things to try”: You might talk to a Vet Beh’ist about meds–Prozac is not the drug of choice for anxiety-related issues, and it is more expensive than other meds that might work better. (You could do a phone consult with someone at the AVSAB, the vet beh’ist website.) BUT… It well may be you are emotionally and financially and logistically simply out of resources. If you are, then, first, that’s okay. Remember the ‘heaven and earth’ part. Please please remember too that you know that Luke is suffering, and if you can’t relieve it, there is nothing cruel about using the ultimate way to give him peace. Yes, it will break your heart, and I could start sobbing right now for you, but in my experience, what you are going through right now is actually the hardest part. Not knowing what to do is torture, grieving for a lost dog is painful, but cleaner, if that makes any sense. There is also this: I can’t believe that a dog has it in him to blame you for trying to help him in any way you can, even if it means sending him across the bridge. You’re the one I’m worried about–please, please take good care of yourself. I hope you have a good support group around you. Or chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate. Hugs. That goes for so many of you others who have written. I’d answer you each and everyone, but honestly, I’d spend all day crying.

  291. Sarah says

    Thank you Trisha, for your comments and advice. It does feel quite torturous right now, but I also fear grieving for him when he’s gone. I always have a “what if” in the back of my mind.

    He’s been breaking out of the kennels at daycare, but they are sweet enough to let him back in the grooming room while they are working, where he will sleep peacefully. I looked at the AVSAB website and was pleased to find a consultant in town, where I had previously thought the closest was 3 hours away. You’ve given me some hope, and some comfort. Thank you.

  292. Kelley says

    Sarah- Almost exactly one year ago, I had to let my Remy go. I found this site and poured my heart out just hoping in some small way to ease the burden of the choice to euthanize my puppy- who had developed a severe medical issue that did not respond to months of treatment, which in turn led to severe fear-based aggression. It was, hands-down, the most challenging decision I have ever made a s a pet owner. This place, this site is one I am still drawn too- I “check-in,” if you will- looking (I suppose) for someone who has had an experience like mine and to remind myself that I am not alone in the depths of the love, care and grief that happens when we lose our animal partners- no matter the cause or issue. Your story resonates with me in many ways and, I hope, that you can take comfort in your own words- you have “moved heaven and earth” for your baby. When we made our decision for Remy, it was not done lightly, believe me. But, we had to ask ourselves about the quality of life that he was living and the suffering that he experienced. I came to understand that I loved him enough to give him the peace of whatever comes next after this life. While I still mourn his loss deeply, it has been long enough that I can feel my feelings without it having me literally stop in my tracks- if that makes sense? I miss him, I think of him so often…daily, if truth be told. But, I also know this- I made the best decision for him. He no longer lives with pain and fear and I live my life knowing that I did what was best for him. I hope that you, too, can make the decision that is best for you both.

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