Wednesday, May 12, 2010

When Do You Say Good-bye?

With Mona, our first lab, it was pretty much a no-brainer. She had  hip dysplasia and was in obvious pain.

  
Elsie. Just. Died.


She was a great dog. After she quit digging under the fence. She treed a woodchuck once. And caught a pheasant in the backyard. She loved water.

She survived parvovirus, a whole pound of raw bacon, and Abby's chocolate birthday cake. Though we found sprinkles in the yard for weeks.

And one day I found her in a puddle of piddle. Congestive heart failure. She pulled through that, too.

But died at the vet's while we were on a cruise. She was ten.

Rose was a wild thing when we brought her home. Three years old. Product of a broken marriage and returned to the breeder. She needed us.


She's always been a sickly dog, though. Skin allergies mostly. Icky ears. Perpetual scratching. Expensive foods. Frequent treatments. All kinds of medicines. And then pancreatitis, probably steroid induced.

But she recovered from that.

She hates water. And in the last few years had to lie down during short walks. So we don't walk her any more.

She'll be eleven in October.

She limps. A lot.

She scratches. A lot.

She whines. A lot.

She yelps. Sometimes.

She pants. Sometimes.

She seems restless. Sometimes.

She goes off her food. Sometimes.

And she seems fine enough. Once in a while.

She sleeps a lot.

She seems happiest when she's asleep.


How does one know--really know--when it's time to say goodbye? When it's more about love and relief of suffering than your inconvenience?

Messy carpets. Hair all over. The expense.

I wish I was Dr. Doolittle.

We've talked about it. Dennis called the vet for advice yesterday. He was in surgery, but hubby talked to one of the gals in the office who made an appointment for Saturday. For euthanasia.

But we're having second thoughts.

I prayed about it last night. Asked for some kind of sign.

She didn't get up to go out as early as usual this morning. She hasn't eaten all day. She's been vomiting all day.

Coincidence?

Making this kind of decision is for the dogs.

Have you ever had to do it?

"One reason a dog is such a lovable creature is his tail wags instead of his tongue." ~Unknown

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

13 comments:

S. Etole said...

yes ... and my heart still hurts at times

Graceful said...

Yes, it's a torturous decision. But it got to the point where we couldn't bear to witness her suffer any longer (she had congestive heart failure).

My heart goes out to you on this one...

Lorna G. Poston said...

I've had to do it. More times than I'd like to remember.

If you have any doubts, it isn't time. When Rose is ready you will know. Don't ask me how, but you will. You will feel it in your heart and you will know she's ready.

But stay with her if you can. Don't let her make the journey alone.

Lynda Young said...

Yes. I grew up with the best dog. She lived to about 12 years old.

At the moment my cat is all sorts of pain. She is currently at the vet. I'm sure it's not fatal or anything but it still hurts to watch them hurt. It's still a stressful time.

Anonymous said...

:(

Carol J. Garvin said...

I just hopped over here from Jody's blog... had seen your comments before and thought I'd come have a peek. When I saw your title and the picture of Mona I knew it was no accident that I came.

Yes, we've had to make the same decision... too many times. I bred, trained, exhibited, but mostly just loved Shelties and Labs for over 35 years. We always had anywhere from two to five dogs at any one time and those ones always lived out their lives with us.

I wrote on my blog about our most recent Lab loss: http://careann.wordpress.com/2010/03/04/just-a-dog/ .

It's tempting to postpone the decision, but it's a selfish thing because we really don't want to have to deal with the loss. When our postponing prolongs our beloved friend's discomfort, when that discomfort isn't something that can be relieved with a pill or treatment, and when they're really only comfortable when they're asleep, it's time. But Lorna is right. Stay with her. Our dogs trust us for their well being in life and we need to be there for them at the end, too. My heart goes out to you. It's a really tough decision.

Billy Coffey said...

Such a tough decision. I'm such a dog guy. I'll be praying for you and your decision, Sandra. I know that whatever you decide, it'll be the right thing.

Sandra Heska King said...

We said goodbye today and buried Rose on the south farm at the edge of the woods by the creek.

Our son decorated a cross and attached a ziplock bag with a picture of Elsie when she died. We will see if Gracee would like to do that for Rose. We haven't told her yet.

Our home is empty tonight, and I miss hearing Rose snore, but she is at peace, and so are we. Our hearts ache but are full with the outpouring of love from others who've been on the same journey.

@Susan: The ache lessens in time, but always remains--with all the memories. Hugs.

@Michelle: And if you have a really brave dog, it's sometimes hard to sense just how great the suffering is.

@Lorna: Yes, we've been there with several cats as well. But this time just seemed worse. I started having second thoughts, and though hubby was quite pensive, he was also quite resolute in the feeling that it was the best thing.

@Lynda: How is your cat?

@Anonymous: :(

@Carol: Thanks so much for your words of wisdom. The vet made the experience not pleasant but peaceful--with a little sedation and private time to say goodbye before the final injection. Dennis has always gone through this alone--with Mona and with the cats, but I felt like I should be there today and was glad I was. The two of us buried her together.

@Billy: Somehow I figured you for a dog guy. Thanks for lifting us up.

caryjo said...

I've had very few pets over the past many years -- I enjoy visiting them at other people's homes, but can't have any here. But I've experienced that pain in the past and watched others walk through it. Ain't no fun at all, under any circumstances. So sorry.

Lynda Young said...

Cat has gone to the vet for a 2nd time :( At least she is in good hands.

Sandra Heska King said...

@caryjo: My husband says, "no more" dogs and "no more" cats when these go. He's said that before.

@Lynda: Bummer. :(

Cassandra Frear said...

Yes, and it's awful.

I just felt sick. Our cat (beloved, full of personality, wonderful pet) was terminally ill with feline AIDS and would have suffered terribly. There is no cure. Death was certain. Painful death.

Still it was the hardest decision I've ever made.

We are not designed for the taking of a life, but for the giving and nurturing of life.

My heart goes out to you.

Sandra Heska King said...

We've been there many times with cats. Because they find us. And we bring them in and love on them.

Maybe that's what makes it so hard--being designed to give and nurture life, not take it.

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