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We Think It's Time?


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Our boy Lou has had a rough couple of years. Arthritis was discovered when he was 4, spinal meningitis myelitis in Dec. 2015, and now he has a debilitating limp on his back right leg. He is now 9 years old. My husband works and I am a full time college student. We have a tall doggy door but he still needs to be able to lift his legs to get in and out.

 

Getting to the point of this...the past week has been hard. Lou looks bright eyed, doesn't whimper or whine in pain, smiles, eats his dinner with more gusto than someone who just got out of prison...but his right patella/stifle is swollen, and luxating patella is suspected which I know is abnormal in greys. Due to his nerve/spine issues and age, he is unable to have surgery. From the specialist in Irvine he has a "5% chance of coming out of anesthesia." Bought a brace for him which he doesn't mind too much but he can't lay down comfortably.

 

This morning was agonizing. He looked to be in pain, couldn't really pee properly, gazed dreamily out in the backyard, panting excessively but still no sound from him. His tail was between his legs and he was shaking a little. My husband and I decided that we are going to call a vet for an 'at home' goodbye as he would never lay down at the vet.

 

Fast forward to now, I sit on my sofa after having just fed them and you would never know what kind of morning we had. My husband is questioning as to whether we should move forward with a goodbye. Is it too soon? Were we making a premature decision for Lou? I know they say you have to look at the good days vs bad days but what if they are in the same day? I don't want to say goodbye either but he doesn't make any sounds to indicate he is in pain. He is such a tough boy.

 

Why does this have to be so hard?

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I'm sorry you have to face this decision. I have found comfort in the words of "one day too soon is better than one day too late." No one other than you knows your boy best. They are so stoic aren't they?

 

You haven't mentioned what kind of meds he might be on right now. Can he be made more comfortable or is he already on a max dosage and is no longer comfortable? Certainly it's not fair to be selfish, but I know you are looking for some advice. I know it's so tough to see and make the decision. More will pipe up I'm sure. Hugs and gentle skritches.

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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Thank you for your response. He is on 10mg prednisone (been up and down with this one-we can't go any lower or he goes downhill quickly), 100mg gabapentin 2x daily, cyclosporine 2x daily, 100-150 mg tramadol 2-3 times daily. My poor pup is a walking pharmaceutical experiment it seems. The cyclosporine is our specialist's latest attempt at getting him off the pred as he has atrophied significantly in his legs. His left leg (the good one) is getting so overused that it's constantly tight and flexed.

I fall under the same category with better a day early than a day late but he still thinks and acts like a pup. My DH is not taking this well at all and thinks that he could make it a few more days.

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It's so hard when the spirit is still strong but the body is failing. I've just been through this with my beloved cat, and ultimately we chose to let him go a day (or week, or even month) too soon rather than risk an hour too late. I admit I've struggled some with guilt and second guessing, but I think that is a normal part of the grief process no matter the specific circumstances. Ultimately our pets live in the moment, and quality matters so much more than quantity. Wishing you and your husband peace and strength as you face this painful decision, and sending scritches to your dear Lou.

17369590311_3d5eeef92f.jpg

Rachel with Sweep and kitties Olive and Momo.
Always missing my boys Mud and
Henry

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It is always so hard, but I have recently come to recognize, in addition to "better a day too soon" it is better to let them go on a good day rather than waiting for a bad day. Harder on you, but better for them, I think. :bighug

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From your mention of Irvine, I'm guessing that you're in Southern CA? I am, too, but in Los Angeles County.

I am so sorry. It is so, very, hard. I made the decision for my Aston. He was on something like nine prescription meds and a bunch of supplements when I called it. And running (awkwardly) and playing for a minute or two each day, as he usually did, and eating like a champ. And he had no idea what was going on when the thought crossed my mind -- his hind end was sunk to the ground in the middle of our walk, but his front end was busy drooling over a squirrel across the park. :cry1 He had a progressive spinal issue (lumbosacral stenosis) that I managed as well as I could without sacrificing his quality of life to side effects, but that morning, I knew I had reached the tipping point. I knew that acupuncture might buy him a few more weeks of reduced weakness, but the returns on sessions had been diminishing, and he could still have bouts of severe weakness therein. And what if he was home alone when it happened? What if he couldn't get up, and panicked? Alone?

I knew everything he had been through without breaking, and I felt that I owed it to him not to test his breaking point. I had him on prednisone at doses that made him feel G.R.E.A.T.!!!!, but wasted his muscle down to nothing. Infections would rage out of nowhere because he was immunosuppressed; random joints would flare up; he would pee traces of blood. I was vigilant and raced to treat each time, and he was a wonderful patient...

It was an absolutely miserable call to make, especially when the severe-but-temporary bout of weakness resolved before we entered the exam room that morning. The vet tech blinked at us, having been the one to receive my tearful call saying that we were bringing him in and to please prepare a room... and he asked, "are you sure you don't want us to just examine him to adjust his meds?" :cry1

I told him we were sure (my then-husband left the decision to me). We asked Aston to lie down on the blanket they laid out, and out I pulled a bag of his at-the-time favorite stinky chewy crocodile cookies from Costco. His eyes got big, honed in on the bag, and he got drooly and chattery, and I just kept stuffing his beautiful face with them as the tech started a line, and the vet came in. Aston suddenly got sleepy mid-chew, and laid his head down. He was gone before the pink syringe was empty. His body had really been so very tired. :brokenheart
I had never hugged him while he was alive, thinking he might not like it. But when he was gone, I draped myself over his body. I didn't cry. I didn't try not to. I just felt that he was gone.
And being the last one out of the exam room, I turned to study him one last time; he had been beautiful, but what was left was his shell, eyes open, soft, frozen in time.

I have his clay pawprint in my desk, and memories of him in my heart.

Afterward, I went through a period of "what have I done? I ordered my dog to be killed." But I told Aston when I brought him home at age six, that I knew he already had medical baggage (don't we all, to some extent), and I was going to try my best to make him better, and give him the best quality of life I could. And I tried my best, and drew the line before the fight broke his spirit. It was awful, but he had been through so much so stoically, from back spasms to recurrent corns to a necrotic spider bite to recurrent UTIs and... and he went out dreamily chewing his favorite cookies.

It is such a personal thing. I don't know what to say that isn't much along the lines of what has been said, but many of us have been there. I am so sorry. :grouphug

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We are coming up to the first anniversary of letting Benny go. I also made the call. We could have kept him going, but I asked him and he told me he was ready.

 

It was peaceful at home, he was on his bed, with my husband and I holding him while my friend helped him on. I held him till he left, and he was then carried out wrapped in his favourite blankets.

 

I still miss him, and cry for him. But he came back to visit me a little while later. I believe I will see him again. He also sent me Waylin, my rowdy, chattering funny guy.

 

Better a day early than late. Go forward without regrets and with love.

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What will HE gain if you leave your decision for a few more days? I suspect nothing but more discomfort and maybe worse. You know what is the right thing to do for your special boy and though you hate to do it you could well regret leaving it even for just a couple more days. Let him leave peacefully in his own home with you by his side, knowing that you love him.

Miss "England" Carol with Chancey - (Goosetree Chance) and whippet lurcher Nutmeg

R.I.P. Bluegrass Banjoman. 25.1.2004 - 25.5.2015 and Ch. Sleepyhollow Aida. 30.9.2000 - 10.1.2014.

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Thank you everyone. This morning he was his normal bright eyed self, barking like a vicious rottweiler wanting breakfast (he's the loudest, meanest grey I have ever heard!). His limp is still pronounced. I do like the "better to go out on a good day" than a bad one. If we lived closer to the beach, we would take him for the day. It's where he is happiest. I just don't think he would take the drive to and from very well.

 

TBHOUNDS- his latest xray didn't show anything that his PRIM vet was concerned with. I know that sounds bad on the vet's part, but she said that the swelling is a concern, as is his limp. She said she would test and prod as much as we and he would allow but I don't know if putting him through all of that is fair. Our friend came over last night who has known Lou as long as we have basically and Lou greeted him at the door. Our friend was floored expecting to see an immobile dog. Lou was having a good couple of hours but after a while, he started to wear down and our friend saw that he was growing weaker in the rear half of his body.

 

GAAAAHHH he is such a strong stoic dog!

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I'm so sorry you're all going through this - it's such a tough decision. We've had to make it 3 times now and it never gets easier...

 

I think it's a very good decision to do this at home. We had to make this horrible decision in an emergency situation at the vet's office - and they were responsible for the emergency situation. It was horrible and 7 years later, I still feel sick to think of it and what our girl went through. Doing it at home wasn't easy, but it was so less stressful for our babies.

 

Having said that, I'm not sure I agree with the sentiment that "you'll know when it's time" or that doing it a day early is better than doing it a day late. I agree that you have to look at his quality of life as objectively as you can (so hard to do) - but I can tell you, that is not easy. I firmly believe that you also have to think of yourself in these situations - it's okay to be a little selfish. You do not want to do this and have regrets later, but you also do not want your baby to suffer with no end in sight.

 

For me, the key is "no end in sight" - we had to deal with a grey that stopped eating and we had to feed him with a syringe. We did that to see if he would recover after surgery, thinking if we could keep his strength up, he would get through it. After about 2 weeks, it was evident that he was only getting worse and we had to say goodbye. Our girl at the vet - she was in a lot of pain and paralyzed from the waist down. We had to say goodbye. The last time we had to do this, I still have a few regrets...she had osteo and no use of her bad leg. It was aggressive, her leg was swollen with lymphedema. She was still eating, still seeking cuddles and sleeping on her back for belly rubs. But...she couldn't walk well, or get up and down on her own. It was scary when she had to relieve herself as we were terrified she'd fall and shatter her leg. We changed our minds every day with her - should we, shouldn't we? Some days she seemed better. When she had many bad days in a row and the leg got more swollen, we made the call. We made the appointment for the next day, hoping she'd turn around a little overnight (we were prepared to cancel).

 

If you feel that Lou is stable, or showing improvement, then I'd say wait. If you see that he has been "bad" for days/weeks - and is only getting worse, I'd say to have the discussion. Of course, you do not want him to live a life of suffering that will never end, but you also need to be able to live with your decision after-the-fact.

 

The first greyhound we lost died in his sleep after suffering a heart attack. We were shocked & heart-broken and I remember thinking how awful it was. I only wish now that they all went like that...

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I had to make the same decision for my (heart) kitty, and my husband wasn't ready so I delayed for his benefit. I wish I hadn't. I also think a day too early is better than an hour too late, because the pet doesn't fear death as we do. Delaying because *we* are not ready doesn't seem fair because *they* are the ones in pain, or afraid to do things they could once do, or are just unable to do the things they love anymore.

 

It is a hard decision, and every situation is different. There are 'pet quality of life' questionnaires out there, which may help you and your husband discuss where the two of you see your pet's situation as it is now in comparison to where it used to be and where each of you feel you should make that final vet appointment. In my situation with my cat Fruity, I was the one who did almost everything for her so I knew how very bad she had gotten. My husband loved her too, but didn't have the same intimate knowledge and experience with how bad she was since I was primary caretaker.

 

(We are having similar concerns with our nongrey at this point, where I would have made the call before now...but he isn't ready and doesn't think it is time 'because she still gets happy sometimes.' Since she is way more his dog than mine, I'm not pushing it too hard. But I will insist with my cats and Monty, since they are more mine than his.)

 

I'm always sorry to hear that people are having to make this hard decision, especially when the family members have different perspectives. That makes everything so much harder. :~(

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  • 2 weeks later...

How is Lou doing?

 

Thinking of all of you. :beatheart:grouphug

On Thursday, May 25, we said goodbye to our precious boy. He had a tough morning around 12:30am. Pacing, tail between the legs, ears down...it was a sad sight. He went back to sleep and then seemed to be a little better when I left for school-that was tough knowing that when I got home, we would be saying goodbye. My DH called the at-home vet again and asked him to come early that evening when he would be available. I guess Lou slept a lot while I was gone but my hubby gave him a sedative that our primary vet issued us for just in case. It did the opposite, he tried to hide the pain as he greeted me at the door but his eyes gave him away. The at-home vet was stuck in traffic but we knew it would be around 6. Dr. Lebovic is a very gentle, understanding man. We let Lou choose where he wanted to be. I had laid out several dog beds, blankets and towels for comfort. He actually laid on a thin bed and we knew it was time. It was a peaceful moment but awful at the same time.

At 6:42pm, we carried him out to the vet's truck and said goodbye one more time. (So hard to type and cry at the same time-can't see what I'm typing). Our other boy Ralph, who just celebrated his 11th birthday today was in the room when it happened. But as soon as we saw Lou off, Ralph was anxious and wanted to go for a walk. Routinely, I reached for Lou's leash and absolutely fell to the ground in tears. We now take his leash/collar with us for every walk. I miss my little Lou dearly.

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I'm so sorry. His passing at home sounds very similar to Kasey's. For a long time I mistakeningly doubled up to feed two dog treats instead of one, accidently fed two, accidently walked two. That's ok, it's habit for you. You're a good mom. It will get better. Let Ralph help ease some of the pain.

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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What a heartbreaking time for you. I'm so very sorry for the loss of dear Lou and the horror of having to make this final, loving decision. You did the right thing. :grouphug

Irene ~ Owned and Operated by Jenny (Jenny Rocks ~ 11/24/17) ~ JRo, Jenny from the Track

Lola (AMF Won't Forget ~ 04/29/15 -07/22/19) - My girl. I'll always love you.

Wendy (Lost Footing ~ 12/11/05 - 08/18/17) ~ Forever in our hearts. "I am yours, you are mine".

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So sorry to read of your loss. You gave him a wonderful life and didn't let him down in his time of dire need. No blame... quite the opposite. Just the natural healing process of Grieving to heal you in its own good time. Run free of pain Lou... :gh_run2

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