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Am I Fighting A Losing Battle?


Sorcha
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Tuna will be 14 in a couple of weeks. She has degenerative myelopathy and due to this she is unable to stand for a period of time long enough to eat her food (her hindquarters give out and she has to go lay down). She refuses to eat laying down. Added to this, she has laryngeal paralysis, which has progressed to the point where she cannot eat food unless it is chopped up in a blender and moistened with water to make it soft and easy to swallow. I add all sorts of things, such as jars of baby food (chicken or turkey flavors) or sliced up ground beef or chicken. She picks out the "good stuff" and leaves the rest, I figure since she cannot stand long enough to eat everything she feels she might as well eat the stuff that appeals to her most. I spend 4 hours every night trying to get her to eat at least half of her food and another 2 hours each morning. It's simply not working, and she is to the point of being underweight so much that she is a mere skeleton of her former self. Is it time to give up? She is not in pain (at least she has not indicated to me she is), she is still able to get in and out of the house to go to the bathroom, can still get around the house from dog bed to dog bed in different rooms (no stairs, it's a ranch house) although she often scrapes her rear legs up on the concrete steps going outside because they are hard for her to manage. She still has playful bouts of energy in the yard and aside from the not eating well and not always being able to rely on her hind legs to support her she's okay. I don't know if I am being selfish to keep her going on like this. She has x-ray scans recently and there are no signs of cancer. Is it time to let her go?

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Guest luvdogs

Oh, poor you. I feel for you. Only you can make the decision, but remember that even if it is just old age, your pooch has no way of telling you how they really feel. I don't think my last one was in "pain" but who knows - she couldn't see, couldn't walk properly up or down stairs, had lost her hearing, was getting snarly (likely because it was her reaction because she had lost all her senses), incontinent etc. I literally just "knew" it was the right time. That didn't make it any easier and of course on the day we had made our appt she was perky and happy to get in the car, which made me feel like I betrayed her. It was a sad time, but I just felt in my heart it was her time, she had had a good life with us. I hope you find peace with whatever you decide.

Edited by luvdogs
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I feel for you, I was in this position last July with Foxy.

 

It really sounds like Tuna still has time. I know it sounds trite, but she will tell you when she has had enough.

 

As for eating, keep at it. Will she eat if you hand feed her, or spoon feed her? I found that Foxy loved (for periods at a time) Flakes of Chicken, Tuna. Add nutritional yeast to your blended concoction. Have you tried freezing it and giving it as a frozen treat? If she likes it, add yogurt, peanut butter, bananas, liver whatever it takes.

 

Try not to spend 4 hours getting her to eat, she is likely picking up on your frustration and desperation. It took me a while, but once I could let it go, Foxy actually ate better.

Casual Bling & Hope for Hounds
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Janet & the hounds Maggie and Allen Missing my baby girl Peanut, old soul Jake, quirky Jet, Mama Grandy and my old Diva Miz Foxy; my angel, my inspiration. You all brought so much into my light, and taught me so much about the power of love, you are with me always.
If you get the chance to sit it out or dance.......... I hope you dance! Missing our littlest girl.

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It's such a personal decision to make. With us it was quality of life. If they still enjoy their meals, love to play in the yard, have a waggy tail and most of the time seem happy, those are the things we measure by. Our Emmy was the same way, we had to blend her food, she lost so much weight that she looked horrible, she didn't play any more and her tail never wagged, those were the things that let me know she was ready.

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Only you can determine what's best for your girl. You're the one who's there watching her and seeing the look in her eyes. You're the one talking to her vet about treament options, if there are any more you can offer her. You're he one who can best judge her quality of life.

 

This is the hardest and most heartbreaking part of having our fur kids get old.

 

I would add that I wonder if tube feeding her might be an option? If her food has to be mush anyway, it might make it easier to get calories in her. If she had some more energy she might feel better.

 

Hugs and skritches coming your way.

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I have been in contact with my vet regularly. Today's conversation ended with him telling me that if she can no longer stand up long enough to eat, and won't eat laying down or with me hand feeding, then it's time to re-think her quality of life. It's not that she does not want to eat (standing up), it's just that she only can for a minute or two at a time.

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Like so many here, I too was in the same position with Misty, and like Judy, I was trying to judge her "quality" of life. And sometimes, that is not an easy task.

 

For me, I think Misty's way of telling me she was done fighting was that she kept going in the bathroom to lay down and she had never done that in all the years she was with me.

 

Sometimes, the signs are there, as subtle as they may be at times. And like so many before me have said, better a day too soon than a day too late.

 

You both are in my prayers for guidance and peace.

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Poor Tuna, it is hard for one person to tell another to make this hard choice, sometimes our heart leads our heads, I always go by: if the pup is not in pain, I manage all the other issues well, and I know they let me know when it is time, I feel you will know when it is time, she will let you know, best of luck to both of you

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Guest Lovemyhound

I think it sounds like Tuna doesn't have much time left. But, she doesn't seem unhappy, in pain, suffering, etc... You mentioned she eats "the good stuff" and leaves the rest - why bother with "the rest" then. Make her meals of her favorite yummy stuff and let her enjoy them. When my bridge boy stopped eating, I made his yummiest meals out of his favorite foods, boiled chicken, boiled carrots, sweet potatoes, whatever else.. and he ate several meals out of my hand laying down. That was the week before he left me. He had a major "event" on a Sunday morning (I won't get into my details) but I knew then, it was time for him to go. That Sunday morning before it all went so bad, he actually walked outside and spent a little time in the back yard, I even saw him gazing off into the neighboring farm.

 

Point is, give her all her "favorites", whatever they may be.. and watch for her signals. Let her know she is loved, dearly. I think you will know when she's ready.

 

Prayers, love and hugs during this very difficult time. :grouphug

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The problem with the 3 thing rule, is that as they age, "things" change. What was important to them or made them happy a year ago is not necessarily the same today.

 

I think it's important to look and try & be objective: is pain controlled? are they happy?

 

I remember watching Heart take a dump and she fell into it. I was horrified, ran to get a wash rag and a towel, and she & I were running towards the door at the same time: me from the inside and she on the outside :lol She was happy as could be, grinning from ear to ear :rolleyes: I washed her up, made no fuss and she was no worse for wear. It happened a few times.....she hated to be supported, so I let her be when I could.

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I am so sorry that you are faced with this...I know how hard it is. Is it possible to get a sling for Tuna so that she CAN stand long enough to eat and to support her going up and down the concrete stairs? Sending my prayers. :grouphug

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Only you can make this most painful decision. Once their quality of life is gone, it's time. As others have said, tail wagging, eating, etc.

 

It is better to let them go a day early, rather than a day later...

 

Keeping you both in my thoughts....

 

 

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I honestly do not feel as though I will clearly know when it is her time. I went through cancer with a saluki, and knew when it was her time. But this is not cancer and it's not clear to me if I will ever be able to tell when it is her time, or perhaps it already is her time and I am letting her go on not realizing it's her time. She still roaches, she still nuzzles against me, she rarely has an accident in the house unless I am late coming home from work, she understands why I keep her contained to one room in the house when I leave (the less moving around she does the better), she still enjoys romping around in the backyard, even though her romps are a bit limited, she understands she can no longer go up and doen the steps to the finished basement (which used to be her favorite room) and tries to take care on the concrete steps going outside, somtimes she takes a fall on the steps outside but even though she is bleeding she continues on her way to the yard to do her busines then returns to me to help her back inside and patiently waits while I patch her up, she clearly wants her dinner and eagerly awaits to be served by stomping her front paws (only to eat a bite or two and then go lay down), so forth and so on.

 

 

 

Oh, and she is Ms Independent and hates to be supported so I use words like "be careful" and "go easy" with her when she does something like tries to barrell out the door without stopping to size up the situation, and she seems to understand.

Edited by Sorcha
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Guest mcsheltie

Would supporting her with a sling while she eats help?

 

Opps... just saw that was already suggested

Edited by mcsheltie
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I honestly do not feel as though I will clearly know when it is her time. I went through cancer with a saluki, and knew when it was her time. But this is not cancer and it's not clear to me if I will ever be able to tell when it is her time, or perhaps it already is her time and I am letting her go on not realizing it's her time. She still roaches, she still nuzzles against me, she rarely has an accident in the house unless I am late coming home from work, she understands why I keep her contained to one room in the house when I leave (the less moving around she does the better), she still enjoys romping around in the backyard, even though her romps are a bit limited, she understands she can no longer go up and doen the steps to the finished basement (which used to be her favorite room) and tries to take care on the concrete steps going outside, somtimes she takes a fall on the steps outside but even though she is bleeding she continues on her way to the yard to do her busines then returns to me to help her back inside and patiently waits while I patch her up, she clearly wants her dinner and eagerly awaits to be served by stomping her front paws (only to eat a bite or two and then go lay down), so forth and so on.

 

 

 

Oh, and she is Ms Independent and hates to be supported so I use words like "be careful" and "go easy" with her when she does something like tries to barrell out the door without stopping to size up the situation, and she seems to understand.

 

You just described Foxy to a T. Wow! Foxy to had LP and unstable legs. She was rail thin for the last few months, but a more independant girl you would not find (except now we know Tuna is) For me, I knew when Foxy didn't fight help, stopped eating completely and didn't care what the others or I did. That all happened on a weekend, by Monday I had made the appointment. I really had decided that as long as she was connected to us, she was staying - albeit on her own terms. It wasn't easy, but when she was ready, she just disconnected then I knew.

Casual Bling & Hope for Hounds
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Janet & the hounds Maggie and Allen Missing my baby girl Peanut, old soul Jake, quirky Jet, Mama Grandy and my old Diva Miz Foxy; my angel, my inspiration. You all brought so much into my light, and taught me so much about the power of love, you are with me always.
If you get the chance to sit it out or dance.......... I hope you dance! Missing our littlest girl.

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I am sorry you are having to go through this. It is very difficult, I know. The fact that you are asking yourself the question means that the time is drawing nearer. I was torturing myself with the thought that I wouldn't know for sure when 'the time had come' but it became crystal clear to me, eventually. Sending hugs to you and your baby. :grouphug :grouphug

Edited by fsugrad

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Guest PhillyPups
I honestly do not feel as though I will clearly know when it is her time. I went through cancer with a saluki, and knew when it was her time. But this is not cancer and it's not clear to me if I will ever be able to tell when it is her time, or perhaps it already is her time and I am letting her go on not realizing it's her time. She still roaches, she still nuzzles against me, she rarely has an accident in the house unless I am late coming home from work, she understands why I keep her contained to one room in the house when I leave (the less moving around she does the better), she still enjoys romping around in the backyard, even though her romps are a bit limited, she understands she can no longer go up and doen the steps to the finished basement (which used to be her favorite room) and tries to take care on the concrete steps going outside, somtimes she takes a fall on the steps outside but even though she is bleeding she continues on her way to the yard to do her busines then returns to me to help her back inside and patiently waits while I patch her up, she clearly wants her dinner and eagerly awaits to be served by stomping her front paws (only to eat a bite or two and then go lay down), so forth and so on.

 

 

 

Oh, and she is Ms Independent and hates to be supported so I use words like "be careful" and "go easy" with her when she does something like tries to barrell out the door without stopping to size up the situation, and she seems to understand.

 

You are describing where I was last November or December. I so feel your confusion, your turmoil, your pain.

 

I lost my beloved TigerPower to cancer in November, and Stepper at 13-1/4 year old was starting to fail. Then Stepper discovered the couch and gave me hope for more years, it was an emotional roller coaster ride for a couple of months. Good times and bad with his shakey back end, the weight loss (which happens at that age no matter what). When he was eating a turkey neck and his back end went and I put my arm under his belly and held him up, he did not miss a bite, and kept on chomping. He never ate laying down, but many meals I was holding his middle up. Then DonnieDude entered our home, and Stepper played like a puppy for two glorious weeks. Suddenly one night he could not get his back end to move and brougth himself in dragging his hind end, he would not let me help him, he got up onto the couch. Friday morning, he ate fine, Friday night he could not get off the couch for dinner and looked at me like "what do we do now Mom?" I took his dinner over to him, and Saturday I let him go. He walked into the vets office on his own steam, got to the quilt in the middle of the floor and that was all he could do, his back end collapsed, he was done. He went swiftly in my arms hearing how much I love him and would miss him till we meet again. I still can not write this without crying for my rock, my foundation, my best boy. It is so hard to figure out when it is time. Such a personal decision, and only our hounds can tell us when they are ready.

 

I know this does not help, but please know you are not alone in the indecision, the worry, the caring, the love, the hope, the tears as our beloved companions age gracefully before our eyes. :bighug

 

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When Fiona was failing from the cancer I wondered if I would know when it was time. I had never lost a dog before and I was concerned that I would let her go on too long.

 

We let her eat whatever she wanted; some days it was hot dogs and vanilla pudding. That was OK. She lost weight and started spending most evenings on her bed out on the deck.

She wasn't in pain and seemed happy, if tired.

 

The last day I just knew it was time to let her go. I can't explain it except that I had a sinking feeling in my stomach that I had not felt during the previous 5 months we fought the cancer.

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Guest grey_dreams
I honestly do not feel as though I will clearly know when it is her time. I went through cancer with a saluki, and knew when it was her time. But this is not cancer and it's not clear to me if I will ever be able to tell when it is her time, or perhaps it already is her time and I am letting her go on not realizing it's her time. She still roaches, she still nuzzles against me, she rarely has an accident in the house unless I am late coming home from work, she understands why I keep her contained to one room in the house when I leave (the less moving around she does the better), she still enjoys romping around in the backyard, even though her romps are a bit limited, she understands she can no longer go up and doen the steps to the finished basement (which used to be her favorite room) and tries to take care on the concrete steps going outside, somtimes she takes a fall on the steps outside but even though she is bleeding she continues on her way to the yard to do her busines then returns to me to help her back inside and patiently waits while I patch her up, she clearly wants her dinner and eagerly awaits to be served by stomping her front paws (only to eat a bite or two and then go lay down), so forth and so on.

 

Oh, and she is Ms Independent and hates to be supported so I use words like "be careful" and "go easy" with her when she does something like tries to barrell out the door without stopping to size up the situation, and she seems to understand.

 

I think you just answered your question right here. Sounds like she's not ready to go yet. I think when she is ready you will know.

 

Just wanted to second what some of the others have already said, have you tried to hand feed her? If she's picking the good bits out to eat and leaving the rest - why not just spoil her for the time she's got left and only give her the good bits? I've read about "satin balls" in this forum, they are some kind of high-calorie delicious food to get older/ill hounds to eat. If you search you should be able to find it.

 

Wishing you lots of strength and patience. You clearly love her a lot, and I know how hard it can be to give so much support to a failing beloved companion.

 

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