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Body Failing But Spirit Is Not...what Do I Do?

Guest Nefer13

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Guest Nefer13

Hello All. I've never posted here before, but I have a 13-year-old grey in need of help (advice for his mom). My boy, Nefer (means handsome/beautiful) just turned 13 & his body is failing him but his spirit remains remarkably strong. Here's our situation:



- Adopted Nefer from the track at 3.5 years of age

- Very tall male - always 72 pounds until about 2 years ago when decreased to 68 pounds...stable at that weight until very recently

- Nefer has 2 non-grey brothers & 3 feline sisters (we lost our oldest kitty 2 weeks ago)

- Me - divorced/single & starting new business after becoming unemployed 2 years ago. Money situation is tough. My fur-babies are my children! I have carpal tunnel & fibromyalgia (reason I'm telling you this will make sense below)


Nefer's Physical Issues:

- Diagnosed with Cauda Equina/LS around 6 years ago by awesome vet in Chicago who is/was very grey-knowledgeable

- LS diagnosis confirmed by 4 other vets but without any imaging...just based on symptoms

- Lost left eye due to antibiotic resistant infection about 2.5 years ago; Right eye impaired due to age with no vision at night

- Found slipped disc mid-spine 2-years ago after moving to Georgia & starting with new vet

- Developed extreme diarrhea about 3 months ago & is now completely incontinent (100% fecal, maybe 50% urinary)

- Weight is now down to 54 pounds - he is skin & bones

- Early signs of kidney disease started showing about 10 months ago

- Very minor (but real...not the typical greyhound overly diagnosed) thyroid condition managed with meds

- Slight hypertension managed with meds



- Soloxine for thyroid, enalapril for hypertension

- Started on Rimadyl awhile ago but stopped about a year and a half ago due to the start of GI issues

- Switched to Tramadol but has become less and less effective & is clearly no longer sufficient (not sure it ever took away all the pain)

- Started Methadone last week in hopes of improving pain management; working to find right dose but does seem to be helping a little...probably too soon to tell

- Supplements: ResveraFlex, digestive enzymes, forti-flora, Cell Advance 880, TriCox

- Full series Adequan injections (3 yrs ago & again 1.5 years ago - no help at all)

- Gabapentin - tried 2x - 1st time no help, 2nd time severe negative reaction...almost killed him


Major Alternative Treatments We've Tried Over the Past 6 Years:

- Laser - regular treatments for about 4 years (helped a lot at first)

- Electro-shock with a large animal vet - really helped for 4-5 months but he had to be sedated for the treatment

- Assisi Loop - Nefer hated (but I love it!)

- Week-long intensive Pulse Signal Therapy treatment - no real improvement

- Special therapeutic beds


Nefer's Situation Now:

- advanced weakness/wobbliness in rear legs - can't stay fully standing when doing his business or while eating - shakes intensely when trying to stay standing

- Difficulty standing up

- Sometimes falls when trying to sit on a bed & then doesn't have the strength to get up; cries in pain, sometimes snaps at me when trying to get him up

- Painful to touch starting in the middle of his back at slipped disc point & then all the way to rear

- Paralyzed tail

- rolls on back paws, very slow to reposition to normal

- uses front legs for basically everything & back legs sort of just follow along - sometimes better than others

- Intense diarrhea...that seems to finally be resolving after 3 rounds of Propectalin & Metronitazol & diet change

- no longer able to control defecation, sometimes able to control urination

- beyond skinny


Current Considerations:

- rear harness - could really hurt his back issues + he's tall & I'm short w/ carpal tunnel & fibro...not a promising solution for either of us

- rear wheel chair - again concerned that the pain in his back half would be irritated by contact with the chair + getting him in/out doesn't seem realistic for the same reasons that the harness seems problematic. We live in the mountains so he walks up a little slope when outside...not sure he could pull chair weight up hill

- Diapers - this could help me - would love a recommendation for any that fit male greys for both urine & defecation; not sure this does much for him...maybe takes away the shame he seems to feel when he has an accident?


By now you're probably wondering why I have let this go on for so long. Here's why...

- His spirit & desire to engage in life has NEVER waned through all of this

- He still looks at me with a bright eye & obvious enthusiasm for all of our regular activities

- He eats more enthusiastically now than he ever has before

- He still loves to go outside...despite his obvious pain

- He is glued to my side...never lets me out of his sight & he clearly savors love, attention & massages (on the front half of his body)

- He still tries to engage with my other fur-kids, both dogs & cats


So I don't know what to do & I feel like I can no longer see the forest through the trees. I am constantly considering whether it's time to say good-bye because I am so worried about his suffering. But is my suffering playing into this too much or too little? It is physically painful for me to watch him go through all of this. The incontinence is really hard but mostly because it's on top of everything else & because no matter how cheery I am, he knows he's not supposed to go in the house. I can tell how badly he feels & how sorry he is even though I'm not making a big deal of it at all. How do you explain to a geriatric "pleaser" that it's okay & not to worry???


My vet says that Nefer is the kind of dog who may never let go of his amazing spirit...it's just who he is. My hunch is that many grey's are like this. How do I know when the pain is too much when he still has such presence? I've seen "the look" from my other kids when it's been time so I've known what to do. I don't think Nefer is ever going to give me 'the look'. Greys are just so special & different. This is absolutely gut-wrenching; my gut tells me it's not time yet but I'm not sure I should trust my gut given my emotional state.


I apologize for the length of this...I think I needed the therapy of writing all this out. What I really need is compassionate folks who love their own sight hounds to give me unbiased opinions &/or suggestions. I really have lost my ability to think objectively at this point. If you've managed to keep reading all of this, thank you! Any/all objective thoughts are most welcome.


Please hug your fur-babies. We are so truly lucky to have them. My best,




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My boy Sam was 13. Not incontinent. Wobbly on his feet, ate his dinner on his bed in the living room because he couldn't stand long. Got 3 or 4 meals a day so we could fit in all the pain meds (methocarbamol, metronidazole, gabapentin, tramadol). He had difficulty standing when he'd been lying down, but didn't object to being helped. Occasionally did a Bambi-split and couldn't get back up, and I dreaded the prospect that that might happen when I wasn't home. We had one semi-useful chiropractic visit; a second visit was massively painful and gave relief for less than a week, so we stopped. Also tried various shots on occasion--steroids, whatever.


Sam never would have given up. For me, it came down to pain control. He had a bad night where he panted all night. Neither one of us slept that night. He was maxed out on his pain meds and it still hurt--not enough that he whimpered or cried out or got snappish, but enough to keep him awake all night.


He might have had a better day--maybe been distracted from the pain for a while. Or the pain meds might have been more effective another day. But if there'd been a better day, there'd have been a worse one, too. I couldn't see making him go through that just because neither one of us was ready for him to go. So after his bad night, we went to his vet. Stopped at McDonald's first and got him sausage, egg, and cheese biscuits. (I didn't normally give him sausage, fearing stomach distress.) The vet agreed it was time. Sam's breath was starting to smell ammonia-like, and the vet thinks his kidneys were packing it in on top of everything else. So we eased him on his way, and his vet and I cried.

Edited by KF_in_Georgia

Kathy and Q (CRT Qadeer from Fuzzy's Cannon and CRT Bonnie) and
Jane (WW's Aunt Jane from Trent Lee and Aunt M); photos to come.

Missing Silver (5.19.2005-10.27.2016), Tigger (4.5.2007-3.18.2016),
darling Sam (5.10.2000-8.8.2013), Jacey-Kasey (5.19.2003-8.22.2011), and Oreo (1997-3.30.2006)

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I would let Nefer go. There are, I believe, dogs and people who never give up their spirit. But I think you need to look at quality of life. I would give him a completely awesome time (a month, two weeks?), then let him go at home, surrounded by his family and the person who loves him best.


And I'm crying for you as I type.

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I, too, say it's time. You have moved mountains to do all you can for Nefer. I think your vet is right about Nefer's strong spirit not wanting to give up.


If one day you look at his face and realize that you have waited that one day too long, I think the guilt would be overwhelming.


NoAh the podenco orito, Rita the podenco maneta, Howie the portuguese podengo maneto
Angels:  Mr X aka Denali, Lulu the podenco andaluz, Hada the podenco maneta, Georgie Girl (UMR Cordella),  Charlie the iggy,  Mazy (CBR Crazy Girl), Potato, my mystery ibizan girl, Allen (M's Pretty Boy), Percy (Fast But True), Mikey (Doray's Patuti), Pudge le mutt, Tessa the iggy, Possum (Apostle), Gracie (Dusty Lady), Harold (Slatex Harold), "Cousin" Simon our step-iggy, Little Dude the iggy ,Bandit (Bb Blue Jay), Niña the galgo, Wally (Allen Hogg), Thane (Pog Mo Thoine), Oliver (JJ Special Agent), Comet, & Rosie our original mutt.

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Agree with the previous posts. Pal was 14.1 and while his mind was still sharp, his body was failing. He had a grand, wonderful last day and just moments before he left he let me know that it was ok, he was ready. Given the choice, I would prefer letting them go a day too early rather than a day too late, avoiding a crisis situation that would be the last memory for both of us.

Old Dogs are the Best Dogs. :heartThank you, campers. Current enrollees:  Punkin. AnnIE Oooh M

Angels: Pal :heart. Segugio. Sorella (TPGIT). LadyBug. Zeke-aroni. MiMi Sizzle Pants. Gracie. Seamie :heart:brokenheart. (Foster)Sweet. Andy. PaddyALVIN!Mayhem. Bosco. Bruno. Dottie B. Trevor Double-Heart. Bea. Cletus, KLTO. Aiden 1-4.

:paw Upon reflection, our lives are often referenced in parts defined by the all-too-short lives of our dogs.

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Agree with the previous posts. Pal was 14.1 and while his mind was still sharp, his body was failing. He had a grand, wonderful last day and just moments before he left he let me know that it was ok, he was ready. Given the choice, I would prefer letting them go a day too early rather than a day too late, avoiding a crisis situation that would be the last memory for both of us.

+1. This was what I did for Doc. On his last day he had a sardine breakfast and a couple of wobbly little walks and some treats and a little sunbathe on the lawn. Still a happy boy, but he was going downhill fast. As we waited for the vet to come to us and we looked at each other his eyes told me 'I love you and I trust you to do what is best for me.' I have held onto that.

Clare with Tiger (Snapper Gar, b. 18/05/2015), and remembering Ken (Boomtown Ken, 01/05/2011-21/02/2020) and Doc (Barefoot Doctor, 20/08/2001-15/04/2015).

"It is also to be noted of every species, that the handsomest of each move best ... and beasts of the most elegant form, always excel in speed; of this, the horse and greyhound are beautiful examples."----Wiliam Hogarth, The Analysis of Beauty, 1753.

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I am sorry you are going through this, it is a very difficult decision. I like others believe that likely it's time to say goodbye. Spoil your boy for his last days and let him rest. Unfortunately we have to sometimes make these decisions for them.

Kyle with Stewie ('Super C Ledoux, Super C Sampson x Sing It Blondie) and forever missing my three angels, Jack ('Roy Jack', Greys Flambeau x Miss Cobblepot) and Charlie ('CTR Midas Touch', Leo's Midas x Hallo Argentina) and Shelby ('Shari's Hooty', Flying Viper x Shari Carusi) running free across the bridge.

Gus an coinnich sinn a'rithist my boys and little girl.

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Amazing and heartbreaking. I had to let Kasey go when his body failed him but not his spirit, and had someone come to the house to do so. It was so hard to realize that this happy outgoing dog was going to leave me all because he dragged a leg around like an anchor. He had LS too (but the leg issue was unrelated to that as cancer is what claimed the leg), and was so skinny as well. He'd fall, I'd scramble and strain to get him up, he couldn't get up from his bed often but I did have a harness to help. He'd go wherever I'd go. I know 100% what you are going through, taking care of your aging kid as you run the house on your own, holding your life together and keeping him comfortable. There sadly comes a point when there is really nothing more you can do. I threw all the money and care and time and love into Kasey and we just couldn't win.


The decision is ultimately yours but it is incredibly difficult to get to it. I would look at it in the light of, can anything you do now make any improvement tomorrow or after that? They never are around long enough. Hugs.

Edited by XTRAWLD

Proudly owned by:
10 year old "Ryder" CR Redman Gotcha May 2010
12.5 year old Angel "Kasey" Goodbye Kasey Gotcha July 2005-Aug 1, 2015

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I agree with the others. He is in pain, with no expectation of great improvement. His quality of life is all in the emotional connection between you, and you are trying to hang on to that. Is that fair to him? It always hurts to do the right thing for them at the end, but they don't always give up before we have to do that. It sounds like you know that the time has come, but you still need confirmation from others because of feeling guilty. Check in with friends/family members who can offer support as you face this. Good luck...and hugs!

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I think you DO know what to do, or you would not have spent so much time thinking/writing it.


The blessing we have with our pets is we can let them go and not watch them suffer. We can't do that with our humans.


Please think of HIM. His spirit will never die, but his body is already beyond all hope.


Best wishes. Most of us have been there--some of us many times.


Susan,  Hamish,  Mister Bigglesworth and Nikita Stanislav. Missing Ming, George, and Buck

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Most of us have been there--some of us many times.



Yes......yes, we have. We know what you're going through, we know how bad it hurts. But the agony of watching him suffer is many times worse.


I think our collective advice would be to hug him, kiss him, tell him what a good man he is, tell him you'll love him forever & never forget him.........

and then be there with him when your vet helps ease his path on to the next path. That spirit will never leave you, only that failing body.

Would that someone could do that for me when my time comes.

Blessed is the person who has earned the love of an old dog.

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This is a very personal decision .....


I had a similar situation with my older dog. His rear end was loosing the ability to balance and to control defecation (little presents in the morning). He had trouble getting up and standing for more than a few minutes and after a minute, he would start sinking. I handled it by getting more rugs around the house so that he wouldn't slip, and even though I have a ramp in the back, I set up a ramp at my front door because it was only a few feet to the grass and it was easier for him. I also put him on the bed mats so that cleaning up would be easier after he had an accident. I had to steady him as he walked around and help him up.


He still had that look in his eye and he loved his food. He would follow me from room to room or he if couldn't get up to follow me - would bark so I could come help him up so he would follow me.


To me, he still had a good life even though it was difficult. The pain and the difficulties he had was not enough for me to end his life. In the end (after many, many months), he had an incident (possible med issue), looked like a bleed and he was dying. I made it to the vet barely in time. And, I don't regret any of my decisions with him because he was happy right up to the incident. As long as he wanted to fight - I was in his corner.


It's up to you what you can and want to handle.

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Message the poster above- GeorgeofNE -and ask her for a link to George's blog he wrote on when it is a houndie's time. That helped me soooo much! It is so full of common sense wisdom. I tried to find it on the blog page but couldn't. And then my other suggustion is to simply talk to Nefer and ask him his thoughts on his situation. You will hear him. You may not want to hear what he says but you will hear him=perhaps energetically instead of verbally-but trust your intuition. This article helped me to: http://leerburg.com/bridge.htm

And sending love and hugs to all.

Edited by racindog
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I am so sorry that you are going through this as many of us have. It sucks. I had to let my whippet go in spite of his never-ending spirit. His body completely failed him. It took me a long time and I mean years before I was able to reconcile myself to it. He had the nerve lol to give me the stink eye when I let him go. But, he passed before the actual injection.


As others have said, the greatest gift we can give to our beloved pets is the gift of a release from pain - taking it and making it our own.


Wishing you peace as you grapple with your decision.


Cindy with Miss Fancypants, Paris Bueller, Zeke, and Angus 
Dante (Dg's Boyd), Zoe (In a While), Brady (Devilish Effect), Goose (BG Shotgun), Maverick (BG ShoMe), Maggie (All Trades Jax), Sherman (LNB Herman Bad) and Indy (BYB whippet) forever in my heart
The flame that burns the brightest, burns the fastest and leaves the biggest shadow

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The question I always ask myself is this: If I was the one to be in exactly that physical situation - unable to control my bowels or bladder, in pain that can't be controlled, basically paralyzed from the waist down, losing weight, failing kidneys - what would I choose?


Yes, he still loves his life on the much smaller level of his medical condition. Is this enough, and does it offset the pain and suffering he's going through on a daily basis??


It's the most personal and the hardest decision we have to make for our companions. It's *never* easy, even when it seems like it is, or should be. {{{HUGS}}}

Chris - Mom to: Felicity (DeLand), and Andi (Braska Pandora)

52592535884_69debcd9b4.jpgsiggy by Chris Harper, on Flickr

Angels: Libby (Everlast), Dorie (Dog Gone Holly), Dude (TNJ VooDoo), Copper (Kid's Copper), Cash (GSI Payncash), Toni (LPH Cry Baby), Whiskey (KT's Phys Ed), Atom, Lilly

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It is always hard to let them go, and the hardest of all are the ones who's spirit is still there as their body fails. I've been through this with cats and dogs, and I have to remind myself that we promise to take care of them, and that includes making the hard decisions when they can't or won't. Only you can make this decision for your dog, but if Nefer were mine, I would let him go :cry1

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You should know that many of the people who are responding have been through this many times, and are some of the most respected members of our community here. There isn't a person here who doesn't have some tears in their eyes knowing the heart wrenching decision you are facing. GreyTalk people are some of the best I've ever known, and are also here to help you deal with this after the fact.


Sorry that your first post here is on this subject, but don't be a stranger here if you need more help getting through this now or later. The people here are amazing.


Our best to you and Nefer. Spoil him rotten while you can.


Camp Broodie. The current home of Mark Kay Mark Jack and LaVida I've Got Life.  Always missing my boy Rocket Hi Noon Rocket,  Allie  Phoenix Dynamite, Kate Miss Kate, Starz Under Da Starz, Petunia MW Neptunia and Diva Astar Dashindiva 


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Guest Nefer13

Hello Everyone!


I send more thanks than I can express. I think I just needed to know that Nefer's incredible strength & spirit is sort of a greyhound thing. There are so many unique qualities in these remarkable creatures that no one else can understand. I wondered if other greyhound parents could confirm that sometimes the end has to come with a grey despite their emotional fortitude. I think that if another one of my kids still had this much 'will to live' I would "stay in their corner" as long as their strength continued; it would be unusual for a non-grey to be this strong. But somehow my gut (& my vet) tell me that Nefer will never give up. I don't want the end to be a crisis full of extreme pain and urgency. I want him to be at peace at home in my arms.


An animal communicator told me a few years back that Nefer viewed his role in our family as "protector"! The minute she said it I knew it was true & it pulled all the pieces of Nef's personality together for me. I know that ultimately I am his protector & even if it feels too early it's better for me to take on the pain as many of you have said. I also appreciate what you're saying about a lack of hope for any lasting improvement in his pain/health. I think I also needed to confirm that there isn't some miracle treatment out there that we have missed...no one has said that specifically, but I think if something did exist it would have been mentioned. I have been saying for months now that if I were Nefer I would have given in long ago...so, I know that you are correct, Greysmom!


I have a call into my vet to come to the house in the next couple of days. I will spend those days treasuring every moment with my joyful boy.


Thank you all for your words & stories. I knew that other greyhound parents could help me more than other fur-kid parents; no one else has ever understood how I feel about my kids...but I know other grey parents do.


Hugs to all of you & your kids,


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We're a pretty good crew here and many have been down this path as previously mentioned. Stay strong, thank you for your posts.




The best gift you are giving right now is you are spoiling him during his last days and that it's on your own terms and not something else that will take him from you.

Proudly owned by:
10 year old "Ryder" CR Redman Gotcha May 2010
12.5 year old Angel "Kasey" Goodbye Kasey Gotcha July 2005-Aug 1, 2015

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Enjoy these next precious days with your beloved boy, and know you are doing the most loving, kindest act in the world. Peace to you and Nefer :heart:bighug


Jackie with Tangerine and Chimes

Always missing Gracie, Steely, Annie, Payne, Twilite, Janey Bug, Bindi, Sophie, and Dazzle

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I am typing this thru tears as well... I went thru the exact same thing you are going thru... i know the difficulty and guilt you're feeling... I had 12 magnificent years with my first dog, and when he could not get up anymore, it was time... even though he was bright-eyed, smiling, and wanted to be there with me no matter what... that's what made the decision so heartbreaking.... the fact that his body failed him, but his spirit was not ready to go... i couldn't put him thru any more, and i had to carry him to the evet, in a blanket that he soiled... I completely soaked him in my tears as i told him he was the best friend i'd ever had, i loved him more than anyone i'd ever loved, and hoped we would meet again someday....


spoil him in the next few days... treasure every moment.... take lots of pics.... give him anything he wants to eat (steak, hot dog, hamburger, ice cream).... do anything he's able to do that he enjoys.... and when the time comes, help him cross over....


i am not a religious person, but i sure hope we will get to see our pets again, someday....

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Holding back tears while reading through all this... know we are all holding you and Nefer up in our thoughts and prayers... I think it is a gift we can give our animals to prevent unnecessary suffering... may these next days be full of love and blessing to you


And do post in Remembrance, when the time comes, many others will share in your grief, which has brought me much comfort in the past with my own loss

Amy and Tim in Beverly, MA, with Chase and Always missing Kingsley (Drama King) and Ruby (KB's Bee Bopper).

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