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Guest Amy_Bee

Degenerative Myelopathy

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Guest Amy_Bee

Gretchen was diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy last fall. Since then, she has been on NSAIDS (the vet said DM is not painful but she probably also has arthritis and this would give her more support), Dasuquin, and Omega-3s, plus we've been doing acupuncture every other week. (I really can't afford to do it every week.) I was lucky enough to find an acupuncturist who would come to my home, which makes it much easier, more comfortable for Gretchen.

 

I think the acupuncture slowed down the progress of the DM for a long time. I was told she would likely make it to the spring, and here it's late July. She turned 14 last month. But lately she has clearly gotten worse. She can't stand at her elevated food bowl properly for more than a few seconds. After that, her rear legs start to go and I have to hold her up and adjust her legs for her. She can still walk OK and can sometimes go at a little trot if she is on the walk after a good long nap (having rested her legs), although she always ends up stumbling. Other times she's quite slow. At all times, she can't walk more than 1/2 a block without getting tired, and it's a bit of a walk across my parking lot just to get to the sidewalk (I have no yard). She has clearly lost a lot of muscle in her rear end, and as is typical, her rear nails are worn down.

 

She has started to have accidents in the house. Last night she woke me up whining at 3:30. I should have taken her out but I thought she was just hot, so I turned up the AC. (Yes, I was half asleep and not in my right mind.) I woke up in the morning and there were two piles in the living room.

 

I'm thinking of taking her back to the vet to see if they can put her on anything other than the NSAIDS, but another part of me is really struggling with how long to have her go on like this. I can't wait until she can't walk, because I won't be able to get her outside. And I don't want her to suffer. The vet had told me it would be a slow decline and then suddenly rapid and I would know it was time, but now I'm not so sure.

 

Does anyone have any suggestions for improving her quality of life? Any other medications to try or ask the vet about?

Edited by Amy_Bee

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Breakfast in bed. Deliver her meals to her. If you need to adjust her meds to more doses in a day, feed more small meals and fewer large ones.


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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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Guest Orlandosmom

I do not have a greyhound, and posted in your Off Topic forum as to why I came here, then spotted your topic off to the side. I have had two GSDs with DM and it is a heartbreaking condition. I was able to manage both with the use of a Bottoms Up and Walkin' Lift rear end harnesses and slings, and a Doggon Wheels cart through the complete loss of the rear legs and the bladder and bowel incontinence. I did have acupuncture which I think helped to slow things down as well. Hydrotherapy is also a great help if there is a facility near you and your dog is inclined to be in water. My boys did not make it anywhere near to 14, but were diagnosed much younger. If you are offered prednisone for her, it will make muscle wasting worse. Actually, your vet is right about the time frame....my boys both plateaued in the middle of the disease for about a year, then it began to move forward and when it began its final assault on the front portion of the body it happened very quickly. No one can tell anyone how to determine when it is time for their dog, but in my case I had been told that when the front end starts to go there is danger of breathing becoming difficult and then seizures. Having said that.....cart manufacturers do make quad carts which basically suspend a dog in mid air once the front is not functional, but to me that is a huge risk with quality of life.

 

There is no actual medication for DM, and no cure. True DM is completely painless, maybe the only good thing about it, but the dog in question certainly could have arthritis or even some pain from compensating for the weakened limbs. Slippery floors make things worse, there are some booties and nail coverings available to protect the feet, but a dog boot will not work as there will not be enough force in the foot to keep it in place. I don't think that imaging is anything that you are considering, but myelograms make DM worse as well. If Gretchen's front legs are strong, she may benefit from the use of a rear end harness which will make walking much easier for both of you.

 

I wish you luck with Gretchen and understand where you are with having to face DM.

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First, hugs to you and Gretchen.

 

I second the above suggestions for breakfast in bed, med adjustments if helpful, and an assistance harness that your girl can comfortably wear all the time. You also might try pee pads in the house. I say "try," because both dogs I put them down for went to great lengths to avoid them. The only way they did any good was when I put them down in the places they had already established through accidents.

 

As for figuring out the time to let her go, I think there is no right time. One saying commonly seen on this board is "Better a day early than a day late." Most people second guess themselves either way. One method is to determine her absolute favorite things in life (walks, snuggling on sofa, meals, toys, etc.) and make the decision when she isn't able to do one or more. Also, it is not selfish to consider your own needs in terms of sleep, finances, and energy.

 

"Bittersweet" is the perfect word for this period.


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Ellen, Milo, and Jeter

remembering Eve, Baz, Scout, Romie, and Nutmeg

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Guest Amy_Bee

Thank you all so much for your advice and support. I'm going to look into getting her a harness. I used to have one because Gretchen had an FCE when she was 3 (made a full recovery), but I must have given it away at some point.

 

One vet told me that because of Gretchen's age, it's quite possible that something else will get her before the DM advances to the final stages. But Gretchen is quite a trooper and has proven to be extremely strong over the years (see FCE reference above!). So it's very possible I'll have to just make a decision at some point. It's a cruel disease for an incredibly sweet girl.

 

I fed Gretchen her first dinner in bed this evening (she eats dinner in two meals due to not being able to stand through a full helping) and will do the eating in bed thing from now on. I do have carpet squares in places where I don't have rugs, particularly the kitchen. She insists on getting up to see where I am when I'm cooking.

 

I don't come to this board nearly enough, but I do want to say how much I appreciate the support I receive when I do. The members here were the ones who told me about FCEs when I came here completely devastated and confused after having left my suddenly paralyzed greyhound at an overnight vet after her regular vet at the time couldn't figure out what was going on. I got all kinds of support and reassurance through her recovery. And of course I got tons of advice when I first brought Gretchen home about alone training, etc.

 

She is my baby and is wonderful. We've been through a lot together. For those of you who went through this, I'm so sorry. It's just awful.

Edited by Amy_Bee

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Just hugs for you and your girl.


Star aka Starz Ovation (Ronco x Oneco Maggie*, litter #48538), Coco aka Low Key (Kiowa Mon Manny x Party Hardy, litter # 59881), and mom in Illinois
We miss Reko Batman (Trouper Zeke x Marque Louisiana), 11/15/95-6/29/06, Rocco the thistledown whippet, 04/29/93-10/14/08, Reko Zema (Mo Kick x Reko Princess), 8/16/98-4/18/10, the most beautiful girl in the whole USA, my good egg Joseph aka Won by a Nose (Oneco Cufflink x Buy Back), 09/22/2003-03/01/2013, and our gentle sweet Gidget (Digitizer, Dodgem by Design x Sobe Mulberry), 1/29/2006-11/22/2014, gone much too soon. Never forgetting CJC's Buckshot, 1/2/07-10/25/10.

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Several people I know have been using CBD oil with their greyhounds with DM. It has seemed to slow the progression of physical symptoms and lessen the confusion and mental stress they are having. It has also helped with pottying and just life in general.

 

This is what one person is using

https://www.innovetpet.com/products/purcbd


Chris - Mom to: Whiskey (KT's Phys Ed), Lilly, and Felicity ( DeLand )

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Angels: Libby (Everlast), Dorie (Dog Gone Holly), and Dude (TNJ VooDoo), Copper (Kid's Copper), Cash (GSI Payncash), Toni (LPH Cry Baby),

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Several people I know have been using CBD oil with their greyhounds with DM. It has seemed to slow the progression of physical symptoms and lessen the confusion and mental stress they are having. It has also helped with pottying and just life in general.

 

This is what one person is using

https://www.innovetpet.com/products/purcbd

Petra is currently dealing with this dx in one of her galgas. You might PM her as well.

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Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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Gretchen is such a great name for a girl greyhound. What a gift that she is still going at 14, a remarkable age. A few years ago I wrote the thought below about Pagliaccio (Pal). While he did not have DM, the point is about his planned last day, which was grand. This the memory I can bring to mind because it was so grand. With all my heart I believe that a day too early (with wonderful memories) is better than a day too late. Best of luck to you and your very sweet girl.

 

I am sorry you are at the point where you are asking, but talking about it can often shed light on what we see or don't see. Like many here, I have lost far too many dogs and had to make the decision with each one to let them go. With one, I know I waited too long and it still beats me up. But I want to tell you about Pal, who went to the Bridge in 2012. Pal's LS finally became unmanageable. He was 14.1 and lived a grand life. I sat with him on several occasions and asked him what *he* wanted to do and think it crazy or not, we decided together. He had a wonderful last day. He ate all his favorite things. He got to go for a (very short) walk in the rain and wear his favorite raincoat. He hadn't fallen and become infirmed, but I could see that this is where we were heading. He (we!) had a lovely day together. Our vet called to give a heads up about 20 minutes before she arrived. Pal and I continued to quietly snuggle on the couch where we had been for two hours after his dinner. As soon as I hung up the phone, he sat up and kissed my nose, *I believe* saying "It's ok momma, I'm ready." His passing was peaceful and I believe in my heart that he is watching over me, every day. I am sure, truly, that you *will* know when it's time. Because no decision ever made with love for your hound is wrong.


Old Dogs are the Best Dogs. :heartThank you, campers. Current enrollees: Aiden. Bea. Punkin. Annie. Miss M. Cletus, knot like the others.

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.

 

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

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Our old Great Dane progressed like that and once she started to actually mind that she soiled her bed and couldn't get up to go outside without being lifted, we asked the vet to come out and send her to the Bridge. It's is so hard when you are engaged in a dozen coping strategies to actually be able to see the wood from the trees. There is no blame in it and you're obviously a very caring person who will go that extra mile for their hound.

 

:bighug

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It's a personal decision, but if your dog cannot even stand up to eat, I'm sure if she was given a choice, she would prefer to say her goodbyes while she still has a little dignity left in the arms of those who loved her.



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

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Guest Amy_Bee

Several people I know have been using CBD oil with their greyhounds with DM. It has seemed to slow the progression of physical symptoms and lessen the confusion and mental stress they are having. It has also helped with pottying and just life in general.

 

This is what one person is using

https://www.innovetpet.com/products/purcbd

 

Great, I'll try it. Just ordered.

Gretchen is such a great name for a girl greyhound. What a gift that she is still going at 14, a remarkable age. A few years ago I wrote the thought below about Pagliaccio (Pal). While he did not have DM, the point is about his planned last day, which was grand. This the memory I can bring to mind because it was so grand. With all my heart I believe that a day too early (with wonderful memories) is better than a day too late. Best of luck to you and your very sweet girl.

 

I am sorry you are at the point where you are asking, but talking about it can often shed light on what we see or don't see. Like many here, I have lost far too many dogs and had to make the decision with each one to let them go. With one, I know I waited too long and it still beats me up. But I want to tell you about Pal, who went to the Bridge in 2012. Pal's LS finally became unmanageable. He was 14.1 and lived a grand life. I sat with him on several occasions and asked him what *he* wanted to do and think it crazy or not, we decided together. He had a wonderful last day. He ate all his favorite things. He got to go for a (very short) walk in the rain and wear his favorite raincoat. He hadn't fallen and become infirmed, but I could see that this is where we were heading. He (we!) had a lovely day together. Our vet called to give a heads up about 20 minutes before she arrived. Pal and I continued to quietly snuggle on the couch where we had been for two hours after his dinner. As soon as I hung up the phone, he sat up and kissed my nose, *I believe* saying "It's ok momma, I'm ready." His passing was peaceful and I believe in my heart that he is watching over me, every day. I am sure, truly, that you *will* know when it's time. Because no decision ever made with love for your hound is wrong.

Thank you for sharing this beautiful story.

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Guest Amy_Bee

It's a personal decision, but if your dog cannot even stand up to eat, I'm sure if she was given a choice, she would prefer to say her goodbyes while she still has a little dignity left in the arms of those who loved her.

 

Yes, dignity. This is what I'm struggling with now. People have told me, "Get a cart, have her wear diapers when she gets to that point," etc. I'm not willing to let her go that far, and I agree with those who say it's better to be a day early than a day late. My plan is to try these last couple of options (the oil someone recommended, a harness on walks) and also see where she is after her next acupuncture treatment. As I say, I'm small and live in an apartment with no yard. She can walk fine. She just can't stand in one place for too long without her rear legs bowing. There's no way I could even care for her if she couldn't walk, and I know that she would be very frustrated to lose that ability as well. I've already found a vet who does in-home euthanasia. She came to meet Gretchen months ago, so Gretchen would know her. She's very close and is ready for my call whenever it's time.

 

In a way, I'm at peace with it. She's 14, which means she has lived a good, long life. Part of having a pet is helping them say goodbye with dignity and in as much comfort as possible. When she was first diagnosed, I was obsessed with watching her to see if she was getting worse. Then I thought, "No, I'm going to enjoy her while she's here and just support her while she's still in the early stages." And that helped change my attitude... that I'm very, very lucky to have had her in my life for as long as I have. All that said, I will be devastated when she goes because after all, I'm human.

 

I'm relieved to get some validation for feeling this way (better early than late) for people here, who I KNOW love their dogs to an incredible degree.

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Yes, dignity. This is what I'm struggling with now. People have told me, "Get a cart, have her wear diapers when she gets to that point," etc. I'm not willing to let her go that far, and I agree with those who say it's better to be a day early than a day late. My plan is to try these last couple of options (the oil someone recommended, a harness on walks) and also see where she is after her next acupuncture treatment. As I say, I'm small and live in an apartment with no yard. She can walk fine. She just can't stand in one place for too long without her rear legs bowing. There's no way I could even care for her if she couldn't walk, and I know that she would be very frustrated to lose that ability as well. I've already found a vet who does in-home euthanasia. She came to meet Gretchen months ago, so Gretchen would know her. She's very close and is ready for my call whenever it's time.

 

In a way, I'm at peace with it. She's 14, which means she has lived a good, long life. Part of having a pet is helping them say goodbye with dignity and in as much comfort as possible. When she was first diagnosed, I was obsessed with watching her to see if she was getting worse. Then I thought, "No, I'm going to enjoy her while she's here and just support her while she's still in the early stages." And that helped change my attitude... that I'm very, very lucky to have had her in my life for as long as I have. All that said, I will be devastated when she goes because after all, I'm human.

 

I'm relieved to get some validation for feeling this way (better early than late) for people here, who I KNOW love their dogs to an incredible degree.

:grouphug x a million


Old Dogs are the Best Dogs. :heartThank you, campers. Current enrollees: Aiden. Bea. Punkin. Annie. Miss M. Cletus, knot like the others.

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.

 

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

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:grouphug

gallery_12662_3351_862.jpg

Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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Gentle hugs.

 

Here's the thing ... while people will be happy to share their experiences and even give you advice while you're dealing with these end-stage issues, I don't know anyone who will argue with you (more than yourself) once you make the hard decisions that you need to make.

 

YOU know Gretchen, and YOU will know when she's ready (or perhaps that should be rephrased to say that she'll let you know that she's ready once YOU'RE ready to say your goodbyes).

 

Please keep us informed on how Gretchen is doing.

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Guest soylette

 

Yes, dignity. This is what I'm struggling with now. People have told me, "Get a cart, have her wear diapers when she gets to that point," etc. I'm not willing to let her go that far, and I agree with those who say it's better to be a day early than a day late. My plan is to try these last couple of options (the oil someone recommended, a harness on walks) and also see where she is after her next acupuncture treatment. As I say, I'm small and live in an apartment with no yard. She can walk fine. She just can't stand in one place for too long without her rear legs bowing. There's no way I could even care for her if she couldn't walk, and I know that she would be very frustrated to lose that ability as well. I've already found a vet who does in-home euthanasia. She came to meet Gretchen months ago, so Gretchen would know her. She's very close and is ready for my call whenever it's time.

 

In a way, I'm at peace with it. She's 14, which means she has lived a good, long life. Part of having a pet is helping them say goodbye with dignity and in as much comfort as possible. When she was first diagnosed, I was obsessed with watching her to see if she was getting worse. Then I thought, "No, I'm going to enjoy her while she's here and just support her while she's still in the early stages." And that helped change my attitude... that I'm very, very lucky to have had her in my life for as long as I have. All that said, I will be devastated when she goes because after all, I'm human.

 

I'm relieved to get some validation for feeling this way (better early than late) for people here, who I KNOW love their dogs to an incredible degree.

Amy_Bee - your story sounds so much like ours. I also live in an apt without a yard and my 15 year old grey has degenerative myelopathy and dementia. Suki can also walk - but very wobbly. We go on short walks several times a day. I have to carry her up and down the stairs and I'm a pretty small person! I bought carpet tiles so that she wouldn't slip and if there are pee accidents I can pull one up and wash it. I also line the whole thing with pee pads at night because she's now pretty incontinent. While she still loves food and and I think she likes sniffing around outside, she does show signs of fear and anxiety sometimes. I also found a vet who makes housecalls for that time. I've made and cancelled the appointment twice. Sometimes I think I'm so close to it that I don't even know if she's OK or I'm one of those people who is keeping their dog around too long? I also feel opposite sometimes - terrified that I am considering it too early before she's ready because she seems so content at other times. I just want to do what is best for her and not be selfish about it but it's a really devastating thing to have to do.

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Guest Amy_Bee

Amy_Bee - your story sounds so much like ours. I also live in an apt without a yard and my 15 year old grey has degenerative myelopathy and dementia. Suki can also walk - but very wobbly. We go on short walks several times a day. I have to carry her up and down the stairs and I'm a pretty small person! I bought carpet tiles so that she wouldn't slip and if there are pee accidents I can pull one up and wash it. I also line the whole thing with pee pads at night because she's now pretty incontinent. While she still loves food and and I think she likes sniffing around outside, she does show signs of fear and anxiety sometimes. I also found a vet who makes housecalls for that time. I've made and cancelled the appointment twice. Sometimes I think I'm so close to it that I don't even know if she's OK or I'm one of those people who is keeping their dog around too long? I also feel opposite sometimes - terrified that I am considering it too early before she's ready because she seems so content at other times. I just want to do what is best for her and not be selfish about it but it's a really devastating thing to have to do.

 

Soylette, I'm just seeing this now. I teared up reading your post because I can identify with it. I'll echo what others have said-- that only you can know when it's time, and there's no WRONG time. It's much easier to give this advice when talking about someone else's dog, of course. I've given this same advice to several of my friends, telling them not to listen to judgmental people who think they're doing it too soon or waiting too long, and to just do what they think is best.

 

In regards to Gretchen, a family member told me "she'll let you know when she's ready," but I'm not sure that's true. That brings a whole new layer of doubt. "Is she letting me know now?" "What about when she can't walk at all? Is that 'letting me know'?" My sister's dog (a lab mix) DID seem to let my sister know. One night she kept whining and just wouldn't settle down. By that time they were carrying her up and down the stairs (arthritis) and she was deaf. But she seemed to have no other issues. They brought her down and up twice, thinking she had to pee, but she just stood in their yard, looking confused. It dawned on them that it had been a long time since this very active dog was really able to enjoy what she used to enjoy-- engaging with the kids, playing fetch, swimming, etc. They realized she was no longer having a good quality of life and put her down the next morning. It was just that night that told them. But truth be told, would it have been wrong to put her down a month or so before, when she had already slowed down quite a bit? Maybe not. It's hard to know. They did their best for her.

 

On the other hand, a neighbor of mine had a dog with Cushings. After caring for him for a long time (he wore diapers in the house, she got him a light for his collar because he was having trouble seeing at night, etc), she decided one day that "he's not getting any better, and at some point I have to make the decision, and it's going to be today." She got tired of seeing his decline and didn't want him to be unhappy.

 

I think a lot of people have doubts, and it's really difficult with a degenerative disease. It's not as if Suki or Gretchen have cancer or heart failure, and they appear pretty happy at times. I'm not sure what else I can say, except hugs to you.

 

I logged in because I have a tough question about Gretchen, but I'll make another post about it.

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Guest Amy_Bee

I think I might be getting close with Gretchen. She is still walking without a harness. In fact I bought one and tested it out on her in the apartment and she refused to walk in it. Sometimes she trots with me still, and other times she's quite stiff and seems exhausted at the end of short walks.

 

I've been feeding her meals in bed. It seems to be working out and gives her legs more energy for the walk that follows. I got her hemp oil as well.

 

Lately she's been pooping in the house. It's not every day, but it's often. Sometimes it's during the night. I try to avoid this by giving her an extra walk late at night, but she seems to really have trouble walking at that time, since she's tired. When pooping at night, she used to leave my bedroom and do it in the living room, the farthest room from my bedroom. Then a couple of nights ago, she woke me up whining at about 5 am. She had pooped in her own bed because she couldn't help itI cleaned it up and she went back to sleep. Last night she pooped in her bed again, only she didn't wake me. I woke up in the morning and she stood up and she had been lying in poop.

 

I'm wondering if this is a sign. Gretchen clearly can no longer control her poop. On walks, she sometimes starts pooping while walking, like a horse. And now, she's lying in it. It must be miserable for her.

 

Some people tell me Gretchen looks great for 14. Others tell me she looks quite old and stiff. (I have a neighbor who also has an old dog, and she's quite candid with me about how Gretchen looks to her. I actually appreciate it, coming from her.) I think it really depends on the time and day. She has good days and bad. It's also hard for me to look at her objectively.

 

I don't even know if I'm asking for advice. I'm going to call her vet and get her thoughts. I just wanted to share my (very mixed) thoughts.

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All I can say is:- "Would you be happy lying in your own poop?"

 

No?

 

Then there is your answer.

 

We all question whether or not we are making the decision too early but as far as I am concerned early is better than too late.


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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Guest Amy_Bee

All I can say is:- "Would you be happy lying in your own poop?"

 

No?

 

Then there is your answer.

 

We all question whether or not we are making the decision too early but as far as I am concerned early is better than too late.

 

A somewhat harsh answer, but I take your point.

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Sorry, I tried to soften it with the last sentence, having made that decision several times with older dogs. We just have to grit our teeth and accept that we are the ones that take on the responsibility for our animals' health and comfort in life and death and we at least have the ability to make the end of their lives as comfortable and peaceful as we can. As far as I am concerned if my dog is telling me it has had enough then I have left it too late, I would rather it left this world on a good, happy day than one in which it has struggled either mentally or physically.


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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