Hard decisions: when is it time to let an old dog go?

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tiva
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Hard decisions: when is it time to let an old dog go?

Postby tiva » Sun Jun 28, 2009 10:44 pm

Our very oldest dog, Juneau (husky cross) is somewhere between 14 and 15. She has been a wonderful, sweet, loving, brilliant dog ever since we adopted her from the humane society 13 years ago.

But the past year, she has had arthritis terribly in her back hip. She's on glucosamine, chronditin, fish oils, and In Clover connectin as supplements, rimadyl for inflammation and pain, and tramadol for pain.

On good days, she runs around (bunny hopping); on bad days, she only wants to walk a little.

We had one big scare this spring when her blood counts dropped because of the rimadyl, indicating anemia and internal bleeding, so we took her off it and put her on tramadol for pain. But then, over the next month, her hip got a lot worse and she didn't want to eat.

So she went back on the rimadyl three days ago, and canned food helped her regain her normal ravenous appetite.

She looked ever so much better, until this morning, when she fell off the couch (in her eagerness to get to the canned food being opened) and couldn't get up at first, and developed a huge lump on her hip. I thought dislocation, and brought her to our emergency vet. I feared that this might be time for her: if it was a serious dislocation, putting her through intensive surgery probably wouldn't be kind.

But we got a reprieve, because there was no fracture or dislocation, only muscle swelling.

I look at her sleeping now and wonder: how do we know when to stop treating when they're this old? I always thought that if you couldn't control pain, it was time to let a dog go. Or if the dog stopped eating, or stopped taking pleasure in being with her people, or if she found moving very painful. But now each of these things can be treated, so I just don't know when to let her go.

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Re: Hard decisions: when is it time to let an old dog go?

Postby Midnight Sun APBT » Sun Jun 28, 2009 10:58 pm

I was always told, the easiest way to make this decision was this....


Pick 3 things your dog LOVED to do as a young dog. 3 Activities, or events or things that they would eagerly do daily *eatting odesn't count*
When your dog can no longer do 2 of these, it is time.

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tiva
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Re: Hard decisions: when is it time to let an old dog go?

Postby tiva » Sun Jun 28, 2009 11:09 pm

Eek--by that standard, I would have been put to sleep a long time ago, and I'm only 48! I'm still in good shape, but I can't ski the same moguls or deep powder; I stopped climbing; and my kayaking has gotten more careful. (I still love to eat!)

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Re: Hard decisions: when is it time to let an old dog go?

Postby Midnight Sun APBT » Sun Jun 28, 2009 11:25 pm

tiva wrote:Eek--by that standard, I would have been put to sleep a long time ago, and I'm only 48! I'm still in good shape, but I can't ski the same moguls or deep powder; I stopped climbing; and my kayaking has gotten more careful. (I still love to eat!)



not being able to do them due to injury or some unforseable event really doesnt' apply either... we are talking about things that they can no longer do or no longer wish to do, simply because they no longer enjoy them, or cannot enjoy them due to their age.

like when a lab can no longer play ball, because it hurts to chase it, and they cant' see it, and they dont' have the disire to get up and go after it anymore.

You can still ski, even if it's not the same way you used to, and you can still kyak..... and I bet you could even still climb if you chose to do so in a more limited fashion lol...... so no I don't htink your over the hill and ready to be put down just yet...

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Re: Hard decisions: when is it time to let an old dog go?

Postby Alyssa » Sun Jun 28, 2009 11:55 pm

When the bad days outnumber the good days.

Or you can look at it like this - it is a greater gift to let them go before they start having a lot of bad days. It is harder for us, because we are selfish - we rationalize the good days make it worth it, if they have 4 good days and 3 bad days a week, and they can live like that for six years, look at all those good days. But what of those bad days are harsh?

Maybe letting them go, before the bad days have a hold is a greater and kinder gift. Letting them have a fabulous day, filling their tummies with every thing they would normally not be allowed to have, and going in a peaceful manner with those that adore them surrounding them.

Or is it better to wait for when they have been living in pain for months (keeping in mind that dogs and cats HIDE pain because in the wild, those that indicate they aren't feeling good get picked off first), waiting til a point that they are just shells of themselves, shambling along, just because they can manage a wag, or a lick on the face, or worse, start going down at a time you are NOT prepared to deal with it, or not there to handle it, or the natural death is not a pleasant way to go (often times a natural death is painful, scary, long and drawn out, and can be gruesome and loud (think seizuring), and it can take hours or even days.

It's a hard call.

My last dog, was about 23 years old when I finally granted him that gift. It was unbelievably hard, he was my soul mate in a dog. Looking back, I waited TOO long. I should have been kinder and done it much earlier, but our hearts - oh it is just hard, and we cannot judge such things or ourselves too harshly for loving so much.

But yeah - should have done it much much sooner, when he had more good days. I was lucky, he had a bad day that made me see it, and then I set up the appointment the next day, and I was lucky that he improved - though it made me doubt the decision. But I bought him a couple of pounds of the best roast beef ( his favorite), and some cheese (loved that stuff) and a BUNCH of chocolate (he adored that stuff and would go to lengths to steal it if we weren't careful), cuz after all, I don't need to worry about chocolate anymore, why not go out peacefully, with a belly full fo roast beef and cheese, and chocolate on the tongue, surrounded by people who love you holding you and cooing over you as you fall asleep?

It was a good way to leave, I hope I am that lucky.

But it is hard, so very hard. Heck, I am bawling my eyes out right now just typing this and it was over four years ago.

Anyway not sure if that helped or not but {{{{hugs}}}} cuz it's such a hard hard decision to make even if it truly is for the best.

I need to go blow my nose and love up on my Toby now.

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Re: Hard decisions: when is it time to let an old dog go?

Postby PinKster » Mon Jun 29, 2009 1:25 am

I cant offer any real advice, never being in this situ myself. I hope you can make the decision that's right for you and your furbaby :hug:

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Re: Hard decisions: when is it time to let an old dog go?

Postby Jazzy » Mon Jun 29, 2009 5:21 am

I would say, when you know in your heart that the enjoyment they get out of life is either outweighed by suffering or ceases to exist.

If the old gal can still get that excited about canned dog food...I would buy her a big comfy bed to place on the floor and discourage her from getting up on any furniture.

My father in law is having the same struggle with his 15 year old Springer Spaniel. She seems to have some cognitive problems, because sometimes she seem confused; and there's the incontinence issue where she'll walk around and just poop standing up like a horse...in the house...

but...she doesn't seem to be in any significant pain, she enjoys her meals, she seems to enjoy her snoozes on the couch (luckily she hasn't shown any inclination to fall off), she still likes her walks outside...although she mostly meanders...and she still enjoys affection so...he figures it's not time yet.

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Re: Hard decisions: when is it time to let an old dog go?

Postby InBearsMemory » Mon Jun 29, 2009 8:47 am

Jazzy wrote:I would say, when you know in your heart that the enjoyment they get out of life is either outweighed by suffering or ceases to exist.

If the old gal can still get that excited about canned dog food...I would buy her a big comfy bed to place on the floor and discourage her from getting up on any furniture.




x2

In your heart you will know when it is time and while people can give suggestions you alone know your dog and its daily routine.

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Re: Hard decisions: when is it time to let an old dog go?

Postby tiva » Mon Jun 29, 2009 10:30 am

Jazzy--Oh, the dog beds we have lying around the house! Soft, comfy, orthopedic, much nicer (and more expensive, come to think of it) than our own ragged futons. But of course all 3 dogs ignore their beds and scramble for the people furniture. I've put soft mats below her favorite furniture, so I hope that will avert more damage.

14 years ago, I knew when it was time to have my old lab X euthanized--she was in pain. But now vet care has gotten so much better--back then, our vets didn't offer any pain meds at all. Without rimadyl and tramadol, Juneau would have let me know it was her time months ago. Even though she can't ski-jor, run alongside the bike, play frisbee, or dock dive any more, she still loves to get petted and amble around the garden and sleep under the oak tree and supervise the chickens. And she still marks over the other 2 dogs' pee, which means she's feeling peppy.

Alyssa--23 years old! I'm astonished any dog could live that long. I'm sorry for your loss. I'm sorry for all our losses!

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Re: Hard decisions: when is it time to let an old dog go?

Postby Beowulf » Mon Jun 29, 2009 11:16 am

InBearsMemory wrote:In your heart you will know when it is time and while people can give suggestions you alone know your dog and its daily routine.


:goodpost:


Hugs to you and your pup.

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Re: Hard decisions: when is it time to let an old dog go?

Postby Mya&theSiebenDackels » Mon Jun 29, 2009 11:37 am

You will know when it is time and she will let you know. Dogs have a way of letting us know things.

We thought we were going to have to put our 13 year old dachshund, Lucy to sleep last month but, now she is back to her old self; playing with toys, barking at random stuff and running around in the backyard with the other dogs.

:hug:

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Re: Hard decisions: when is it time to let an old dog go?

Postby Peneloki » Mon Jun 29, 2009 2:56 pm

I agree with everything everyone is saying, you will know when the time is right. :hug:

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Re: Hard decisions: when is it time to let an old dog go?

Postby Alyssa » Mon Jun 29, 2009 4:41 pm

tiva wrote:Alyssa--23 years old! I'm astonished any dog could live that long. I'm sorry for your loss. I'm sorry for all our losses!


Well, it was sort of an estimate - I rescued him from a horrible druggie home and had him for 17 years, and the folks there and that used to frequent that home for parties all told me that he was abandoned in the house about 5 years prior to that.

When I rescued him, I expected due to the severity of the abuse he suffered for him to live only maybe a year or two longer, I really haven't run across many dogs that suffered the severity and amount of abuse that he did for those first years of his life, but his soul was untouched. The fact that he could greet a totally unknown stranger (me) with an open heart and a wagging tail after what the lived through ... just stunned me and still does.

My vet said when we put him to sleep, he was the oldest client they had in the entire history of the clinic - which isn't too surprising - all things considered. We are lucky to have these lovely beings in our lives for however long they grace us with their presences - we are all richer for having known and loved our pets.

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Re: Hard decisions: when is it time to let an old dog go?

Postby suzi » Mon Jun 29, 2009 5:09 pm

Juneau,,,,will let you know.

My vet had told me when I had inquired @ my first dog Bogart,,,he was old, arthritic,,,,couldn't hold his bowels...I thought,,,it's time.....My vet. answered my "is it time" question very well,,,,and I took his advice......

(Pretty much his words) You will know when it is time,,,he will let you know. It's not about the quanity,,,it's about the quality."

There will come a day, where Bo will not want to go about his favorite business of the day (for him,,,,it was going to feed the horses,,,,going for a car ride,,,,,cuddleing on the couch). The eyes are the windows to his soul he told me. It was some time down the road when I tried to coax him to go and feed the horses,,he just looked at me,,,he was unwilling,,he just didn't want to get up., and yes his eyes said it all. He was tired,,,he wan't feeling joy about anything. That is the day we said "later" to each other. Hard,,,yes,,,,,but I do feel the hardest thing I would ever do was the kindest action I could take of all our years together...I have been lucky to have a couple of awesome dogs until the latest years of their life...They let you know,,,they really do.

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Re: Hard decisions: when is it time to let an old dog go?

Postby Misskiwi67 » Mon Jun 29, 2009 9:37 pm

There are a lot of good posts here, so I just have one last thing to add...

Its better to let them go a month too early than even a single day too late...


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