I had to put my dog down and I feel guilty

Being faced with the decision to put your dog or cat down (or “put to sleep”) is one of the most impossible decisions you will make. You may feel your pet is very sad and wished you didn’t end their life. You’ll find yourself bargaining with the vet, as if they have some secret power to stop death. All of a sudden, spending money is not an issue. You will find yourself easily spending money you don’t have to buy more time for your dog or cat, and, also bargaining with God.

Most, if not all, pet owners feel guilty after putting their dog or cat to sleep. If you decide to put your pet down / to sleep, feelings of guilt will haunt you in a big way. It’s hard for me to say this, but, don’t feel that way. I know it’s impossible to think otherwise. I was there. NOTHING could soothe the emptiness I felt coming home to a dog-less house, especially the first 3 days. It was torture. I had to leave the house and go for a walk.

That first day coming home from work without my dog there was torture. I couldn’t be in the house. I actually looked for her in her usual spots, hoping she would be there.

THE JOURNEY WITH ONE OF MY BEST FRIENDS

In 2002 I came home to my dog-less apartment to a thought. “What if I got a dog?” My parents always had a dog and we grew up with them. I knew the responsibility in having a dog was huge, especially since I have a day job, as most people do. I wanted a smaller dog but not too small. The Wizard of Oz is one of my favorite movies and I loved the look and personality of cairn terriers.

roxanne
Roxy, my baby, cairn terrier at 2 years old. Also known as Roxanne or Foxanne by daddy.

Entering a pet store, my eyes locked with a cute little light brown and tan baby. Her ears perked up, as if she was waiting for me. I knew before I held her, she was the one. She was a cairn terrier of about 10 weeks old. I took her home that night and named her Roxy. This girl was such a sweet little babe and we did everything together. She slept in the bed with me on the 3rd night. Her first trip to the vet was a memorable one. As we sat in the waiting room, I heard a woman crying. Minutes passed and she left the vet clinic without her animal. I knew what happened…her dog had passed. Holding Roxy on my lap, I whispered in her ear, “I’m glad that’s not us.” I knew that day would come for us, but, dismissed the thought immediately.

A couple years later I added a 2nd cairn terrier, Jack, to our home. Roxy and Jack got along great. Roxy maintained the lead of the pack, next to me. Jack was 2 years younger than her. Having two dogs in the house is amazing and very loving, in case you are thinking about it….if you can afford the vet bills. I certainly don’t have the money but I made it work. It’s really not that bad and having two dogs is really something great.

Roxy loved laying by me, curling up right next to me on the couch most days. It was especially great when Jack curled up on the other side. You can’t buy happiness like that. As years went on, she stood with her front paws on the couch, unable to jump, with just a short little bark to say “daddy pick me up.”

I had to put my dog down and I feel guilty
Roxy and Jack

Fast forward to 14 years of age, Roxy is slower. The evening of October 4th 2016, she went to bed and all was well. The next morning, before leaving for work, I let both dogs out, as I always do. Roxy stumbled and couldn’t keep her balanced. She fell on her side in the grass as if dizzy. I picked her up and she felt different to me. Her muscles seemed a bit tighter and she was clearly uncomfortable and not too functional. She was very lethargic. Holding her up, she started to slouch backwards, as if she was asleep. I gave her mouth to nose and that woke her up a bit. I knew I wasn’t going to work that day.

My wife said Roxy doesn’t look good at all and is probably dying. I shot that down right away with “are you nuts? She’s just sick or something.” The vet said they needed to do an x ray and would like to do blood work and some other scan as well. I thought maybe it was some sugar crash diabetic thing? The x ray showed an enlarged mass. It wasn’t weight she was gaining, it was her pancreas.

Surgery would be $2,000 with no guarantees. We took her home and I laid with her for the remainder of the day in her bed. I was in denial. She started to vomit and couldn’t hold food or water down, but was hungry. She wasn’t walking or responding, just laying and breathing fast and shallow. I took her to the vet again later that evening since she declined fast. My wife said her body is shutting down and that really upset me to hear.

The vet said she didn’t look good and if we went with surgery, there is a very good chance she could die on the table. If she survived, (maybe 20% chance) she may live another 9 months at best.

I’m a fighter and NEVER give up. I wanted Roxy with me always and asked if there were meds to ease her pain or make it better. Anything to lower the size of the inflamed organ. I was trying to buy time to research and make things right. Bargaining for her life made sense at the time. My wife said it’s time to let her go. I told her there is no way that’s going to happen. Roxy couldn’t move or stand. At that moment I knew.

The thought of not being with her anymore was not something I was ready for. She was with me through so much. The thing with death is, most of the time you’re not ready for it, and you go into shock and denial.

When the vet returned to the room I asked through tears what anesthesia is all about and what the process of putting your dog to sleep is. I asked if he would recommend it, given her state. A vet will rarely give their opinion but I couldn’t make the call. He said it is up to me but given the circumstances, it doesn’t look good for her. I agreed but found it near impossible to utter the words, ok, let’s do it. I didn’t want to let my best friend go forever.

Animals, in my book, are so much better than most people. They love you unconditionally and are perfect gifts from God. I couldn’t make this choice. Luckily, her state of being helped me with the decision. She couldn’t go to the washroom, couldn’t eat and nothing was going to save her. Looking back now, it was the correct choice. She was very sick and was obviously not going to be her normal self.

Some people have decided to put their dog to sleep when the dog is still pretty much coherent. I couldn’t do that. I would be saying…see, she’s fine…she sees and hears me. Sometimes though, be it cancer, bad arthritis or something else, the decision must be made.

The vet returned to take her to a back room for prepping, which is putting a cathedar in her leg. He said it was really difficult to get that going since her veins were very narrow. That comforted me a bit; another sign it was time. I would rather her pass away with me holding her than to get news that she did it alone while I was at work, or, alone on the operating table.

While this process was going on, I was in shock and just going through the motions, following the vet’s lead.

When I was ready, the vet injected her with a mild anesthetic to calm her, as if she was going to have surgery. They don’t do it all in one shot. Once she was relaxed and in a sleep state, he asked me if I was ready and I said “no. I will never be ready.” A few minutes later I said ok and he injected the dose of anesthetic to stop her heart. A few seconds later he said quietly, “she’s gone.”

At that moment I felt nothing. I wasn’t relieved and I wasn’t upset. I just felt nothing.

I miss my dog
Roxy / Roxanne in her bed

Typing this makes me tear up and it’s been 9 months already. She was gone and out of pain, but her body was still warm. A part of me, for an instant, felt ok, knowing she was out of pain until I would never see her again for as long as I walk this earth. Maybe I sound a little dramatic but this pain hurts and it hurts BAD. As my vet said later on, “I’ve seen some of most muscle-headed tough guys cry like a baby over the death of their dog.” A dog’s love is amazing.

I stayed with her as she laid on the table, for about 90 minutes, petting her and talking to her, crying as I did. The hardest part was making the unreal decision to do it. My wife was home with the kids since she didn’t want them seeing the act. They were there before the act, saying their goodbyes. I wore my sunglasses so they wouldn’t see me cry, which was useless, as I was pretty bad. I didn’t care who saw me. My kids, 4 and 8, were very good about it. My 4 year old gave out kleenex and my 8 year old cried much less than me.

When she became stiff and cool to the touch I decided it was time to leave. I was there for almost 3 hours. Arriving home, my youngest asked where Roxy was. A knife through the chest. I said, in heaven. My 2nd dog, Jack, greeted me, and looked for his sister, who wasn’t there. The next day, Jack continued to look for her.

I went to work the next day and cried the entire way to work and back. Arriving home, I couldn’t stay in the house. I found myself looking for her, hoping she would be in her favorite spots. I know how death works but when you’re involved, it doesn’t make sense. She wasn’t in her normal spot and that drove me mad. I had to leave that house. I couldn’t be there so I went for a walk, alone.

Mourning the loss of a loved one is really difficult because you can’t physically do anything to make it better. Only time will make it better. I understand that makes no sense, because you don’t want it better, you just want your dog / cat back.

The first few days were impossible to get through. A week felt like a month. A week later my wife brought the box home with her ashes. I have yet to open the box and see the urn I purchased that terrible night. I chose to have her cremated alone. Did you know that by default, animals are cremated together? If you choose to have ashes back, you’re getting all the ashes from all animals. Maybe to some it wouldn’t matter but it matters to me. I wanted only Roxy, so I paid the extra $75 for that. If the crematory was crooked, I could still very well have other dogs, but it’s peace of mind.

9 months later and I still have no idea what the urn looks like. I keep her favorite small stuff animal squirrel toy on my night stand. That was her baby and she loved it from the day I brought her home as a puppy.

I tell you this long story so you know you aren’t alone. It also helps me to purge some sadness. I was bargaining with no one, to bring her back. I felt bad for ending her life and the guilt was too much at times. The only thing that made me feel “ok” with the process was her final state of living. She was in no condition to do anything and her body was shutting down fast.

In the end, we all know that everything that lives, will die. That’s how life is. That’s how life works. It’s funny though, when we’re in that situation, it feels like we’re the only one ever in that situation. Right now there are millions of people at their jobs, going out for lunch, planning a party, doing whatever, while someone is in the hospital with their pet or spouse or mother or father, wondering what they should do given the terrible situation they face. Time seems to stop for those of us in terrible situations and the world becomes a very dark place. We may hate seeing people happy…I know I did. I wanted to be alone and didn’t want anyone to talk to me. Death is never easy to deal with. It is a part of life but I know it doesn’t seem like it while you are going through it. I’ve also had to deal with the loss of family and close friends. It really takes its toll on you.

Weeks later my phone rang at 2am. My brother was in the vet ER with his 16 year old maltese, who he has had since a puppy. He found himself bargaining as well, with the vet, as I listened in on speakerphone. He put his best friend to sleep that night as well. It was hard to hear him going through that pain.

At the time of writing this, Jack is still with us and is now 13. He has diabetes and has lost his vision because of it. He is on a strict diet and gets insulin shots twice a day. Jack also has cushings disease, which came about a few months before diabetes. That’s a monthly medication he needs to be on. All in all, he is doing great and romps like a puppy….but his blindness hurts me. I hate that he can’t see me and will never see me again. He gets extra love. I hold him and talk to him a lot. My dogs are my life and the only bad thing about living with them is facing that unfortunate day when everything comes crashing down at the end.

Time will heal, I promise.

UPDATE 3 YEARS LATER. I can’t believe it’s been 3 years since I wrote this. I made it about half way through the read of this post before I started to cry. I still miss her but daily life has returned with the typical stresses.

Losing your best friend, especially a dog or cat, is terrible. Since the writing of this post, my brother has lost his maltese, and a couple friends lost their dogs to old age.

Jack is still with us, although moving slower, and we now have a 2 year old German Shepherd, Leia. We got Leia when she was 8 weeks old. So I’m back to the beginning of the cycle. New puppy gets older and you cherish the time together until that dreaded day.

german shepherd GSD and cairn terrier
Jack and Leia

For me it may be a never-ending cycle. I don’t see my life without dogs, even though each time one passes, it gets harder for me to deal with.

Check out my blog for more posts on art, photography, technology and random thoughts.

Steve

There are books that can help with the loss of a pet. Check these out on Amazon.

 

Mourning

The outward, public expression of grief and may involve ceremonies and rituals of remembrances e.g. funerals. Pet death is particularly complicated as there are no traditional socially accepted ways of mourning the death of a pet. Pet funerals may be viewed by some people as pathological, “odd” or even amusing, but rituals enabling celebration of the relationship shared, acknowledging the importance of the life and death of a pet, can be powerful in the healing process.

Euthanasia

Euthanasia is a unique aspect of pet bereavement. One of the most significant differences between human and pet bereavement is the existence of the option of euthanasia in veterinary practice. The term euthanasia literally means ‘good death’ or ‘mercy killing’. Despite on-going intense ethical debate, human euthanasia is illegal throughout most of the world, with a few exceptions (e.g. in The Netherlands). Although we hope our pets will die naturally, in reality this is rarely the case, particularly for dogs.

Euthanasia related grief is distinct because it involves making an active choice to end a pet’s life and accepting personal responsibility for this decision. This can feel very awkward and often people talk about feeling guilty about having their pet euthanased to describe the discomfort involved in accepting this responsibility. It is essential to understand these feelings are normal and do not mean that the decision was wrong.

Euthanasia in veterinary medicine is sometimes referred to as “putting to sleep” – a gentle euphemism to describe an injection a veterinary surgeon administers to bring about a painless, quick death where an animal has incurable disease or injury or is suffering in old age. Euthanasia prevents suffering and distress; it is a final act of kindness. To prevent natural feelings of doubt regarding the appropriateness of euthanasia it can helpful to map out on a piece of paper all of the reasons why your vet advised euthanasia as the most humane option for your pet and then map out your own reasons for accepting this based on your lived knowledge of your pet – for example a pet having poor quality of life as a result chronic pain; not being able to go for walks, unable to play, losing interest in food and losing weight, becoming weak, being incontinent.

Assessing quality of life is very difficult as a pet may be happy and content in older age or illness not doing things they previously enjoyed, this is why it is important where possible to have a pre-euthanasia discussion with your vet and assess from different perspectives your pet’s quality of life and prognosis. Sometimes this may not be possible (such as a road traffic accident) and decisions will need to be made more quickly to prevent a pet from suffering.

Euthanasia decisions are never easy, but it may help to remember that this is a shared decision: your veterinary surgeon has professional responsibility for advising you from a medical perspective and you have personal responsibility for the decision as the pet’s owner.

 

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21 thoughts on “I had to put my dog down and I feel guilty

  1. Thank you steve 🙏
    I am not there yet but I know the time will come and your words comforted me. Just to know I am not alone. Thank you

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    1. After reading this, I was debating on whether to reply to this or not….here goes….Steve, I think everything you wrote sums up how many people feel, having put their pet down. On 3/04/2019 I took one of my 3yr old German shepherds (Micah), who was my life, to the vet to be put down. Even though I wasn’t comfortable with it, I was able to handle this decision up until the day I had to bring Micah to the vet, I was in denial. I arrived at the vet, signed some papers to allow the vet to put Micah down. After signing the papers reality hit me like a ton of bricks. I asked myself, “what am I doing?”, “who am I to make this decision to end my dogs life”? especially at 3 yrs old!
      Micah had an extremely severe case of allergies that, even with treatment, caused a lot of discomfort, loss of hair, loss of weight (you could see his ribs and hip bones thru his skin), his skin became scaly. This went on for the better part of 2 years. Eventually his appetite faded, he would barely eat 2 cups of food a day. Micah was treated by three different vets, one specialized in the treatment of allergies. I would take him in to the vet at least once every two months to be treated for his allergies, each time he would get a little better and then his health would deteriorate, losing more weight, hair and becoming less active. I got so frustrated with his current vet (who was doing all he could) that I told him that he wasn’t doing enough to get Micah healthy. Micah was in bad shape, especially for having allergies. I knew Micah was uncomfortable, I could see it in his face. It was hard for him to get up. The medicine would help but not enough. I hated to see Micah like this. It was tough to make the decision to put Micah down and at the time I felt is was best for him. Now that he’s gone, I too feel the guilt and am still crying like a baby, even as I write this. I’m also questioning myself if I did everything I could to help my dog? I don’t know the answer to that. What I do know is that Micah is gone, my other German shepherd (Kiki) looks for his brother when I get home. I also expect to see Micah when I get home. This hurts so much that I can’t handle what I just did to my dog! I keep asking myself “what if” questions! I can’t look Kiki in the face without crying. There is a huge void in my life, the guilt I feel for doing this is overwhelming and I don’t know where to turn. I have this image burned in my head of him lying on the table, lifeless. I’m wondering if time does heal all wounds. At this point I’m really trying to find the best way to deal with this, writing about it helps but it’s not enough. I want Micah back.

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      1. I’m so sorry for the loss of Micah. I’m glad you found this post. I wrote it to hopefully help others. I know exactly what you’re going through because I was there. That day was unreal and surreal. It’s not possible to understand that loss. It’s weird because we know how death works, but at that time, it seems so unfair. We are so cheated. It’s completely unfair and makes no sense to us. I was destroyed that day and it took awhile to heal. Time is the only thing. I also had 2 dogs at the time. I still have Jack, her brother, who is also old now, blind with diabetes. he is on insulin every meal. he sleeps all day. I can’t have a dogless house so after a year I started looking around and found a german shepherd puppy. Got her at 8 weeks old and she is the best, as you know how they are. She is my shadow. She has added so much life to the house and to me. I know the pain is crazy, and I hate to say it, but especially with the loss of a shepherd, and at so young of an age. Try not to beat yourself up. Try not to feel guilt. In the end, Micah can’t come back. I know that hurt to hear but it’s true. So nothing you do will change things. It’s done. You did everything you could and there is no more suffering. I couldn’t see photos or video of Roxy for at least a month. At least you have kiki. I know it’s not the same but imagine how it would be without him! You will be fine. It’s going to be bad for awhile. Have you thought of another GSD?

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  2. Hello Steve, thank you so much for writing this and for sharing your story. I’m so sorry for your loss. I know your dog was special.

    We had to put our dog, Sparky, to sleep 2 weeks ago and I am still really struggling with the grief, sadness, and guilt of that decision. He was our first dog child and we adopted him 9 years ago this month. He was such a good boy. He began to suffer from seizures and then walking/vision became difficult for him. Within a few weeks he had really deteriorated. I didn’t know that he would become so ill, so fast.

    I work remote from home most of the time, and he was always here beside me and we would go for a walk each day. Now, it is heartbreaking for me to be in the house without him, not hearing his nails on the wood floor, hearing him bark at the mailman, go out and in the dog door.. all of these little sounds with such big meaning in life. I miss him so much and don’t know how to recover.

    My husband and 2 year old boy are very supportive, of course. But it breaks my heart that our little boy also lost a friend in him. He does not yet understand death, but we have tried to explain it to him as honestly as we can. He still asks about our Sparky boy near daily.

    I could not stop crying during his euthanasia, or when I picked up his ashes, or that first time waking up and not seeing him in his bed in our room… all of these daily reminders that make me cry. I’m planning to plant a small garden and tree in our yard to put his ashes under, so that we can see him blooming. It has been 2 weeks, but the time is going so slow and it feels like I will never get used to him not being here.

    Anyway, it is a bit helpful to write about him, and to read the stories of others who understand.
    Thank you so much,
    Hope

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    1. Hi, I’m so so so sorry for your loss. I know EXACTLY what you’re going through. It takes time and the pain you are feeling right now is unreal. I could not bare to be in the house after Roxy was gone. I still had Jack but I just couldn’t do it. I took a long walk after work…couldn’t get out of the house fast enough. Seeing the spots she would lay in the house, being empty, drove me crazy. Seeing her favorite toy made me lose it. I couldn’t believe the pain. I couldn’t look at photos or video of her for a few weeks easily. Since Jack is close in age to her, I knew I couldn’t be in a house with no dogs. I wanted a german shepherd and found a german shepherd female puppy and bought her. She is amazing. I never thought I would be close to another dog again. She reminds me of Roxy a lot, which is odd. I didn’t get the puppy, Leia, for about a year after Roxy passed. I was pretty good after a few months but then all of a sudden I would cry uncontrollably for minutes. It’s been 2 years since she passed and I can’t believe that. I know it’s really very hard. This is one reason I posted this, and made the video. I needed to get it out. I also searched for people going through it and their writings helped me, which is why I wrote this. Hope it helped you. We love our fur babies so much and it’s unreal when they go. I know you’re in a lot of pain. It will get better even though you may not want to hear it. Sometimes I think I hear her or the worst is when I went to feed her and she wasn’t there. Ugh….so many things that will hurt. Prayers to you.

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  3. Well, I too am greiving for the loss of my amazing dog Ozzy, 17 years old. My heart is broken and lost without him. Two days ago he had to be put to sleep as his kidneys had gotten so bad which resulted in his deterioration.
    No words can express how much love he gave our family and how much love we gave him. He gave us so much unconditional love .I will always be grateful for him and what he taught all of us about what really matters in this world. He had so much grace when he was feeling sick. I would pat him and tell him how much I loved him and he would immediately stop whining. He was the best friend I ever had in my life. We are so sad without him. At the same time we appreciate all the love he gave our family.
    It’s a tiny bit better today than yesterday , but, I do find myself uncontrollably crying when I just yearn to hold and love him and see his big beautiful brown eyes. and I know that I can’t physically, ever see him.
    I have to say the pain in my heart I would not change for a minute go the amazing 17 years of joy and laughter, and love he gave me and my family. That can Never be taken . We love you Ozzy. Rest In Peace .
    Thanks for the beautiful memories. Thanks for everything.

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    1. I’m so very sorry for your loss! Words can’t explain the pain we feel. I couldn’t stand to be in the house when I got home from work the first few nights. I had to go for a long walk. We all know the day is coming when our perfect loving friend will no longer be with us. That is a tragic day. I found myself crying for no reason the entire way home from work, uncontrollably, out of the blue, even after the 6 month mark. I couldn’t look at photos or video of her at all. It hurt too much to know i’d never see her again. I still have her brother, Jack, who is 14.5 and fighting diabetes. He gets daily insulin. After I was ready, after about a year, I started looking for another dog and got a german shepherd puppy. Her name is Leia and she is a complete sweetheart, and my shadow. I never thought I could get close to a dog again but Leia proved me wrong. She is like Roxy in a lot of ways. Prayers to you guys.

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      1. Thank you so much and I’m really happy for new addition! Thank you for this very needed and appreciated blog. You will never know .

        Sent from my iPhone

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  4. Hi Steve- Thank you for that story, I had to put my dog down Friday 3-8-19 and I am sick with guilt and wonder if I did the right thing. I just want a do-over because I keep trying to remember how it all went down. I am so lost and confused. I adopted Johnny Cashew on 4-6-2006 and he was around 1 or 2 they said at the shelter, He has been the only thing stable in my life for all that time. I have moved to three major cities in the US and he never complained once. He just wanted to be next to me. Over the last year or so he slowed down, and his eyesight was fading. I keep getting pangs of guilt associated with my frustration over his failing health, I don’t think I was as loving as I should have been.
    This Friday it will be one week, on that night we walked in Manhattan from 29th to 62nd he walked the whole way, but off leash he went in circles. I got there and asked what I should do, the Veterinarian said , “If he were mine, I’d let him go”. So I did, the second half of my guilt is I did not hold him til the end. I just could not do it, I walked back at midnight and cried the whole way til now. He was the best thing to ever happen to me and the worst. This heartache trumps any breakup any job loss any other fear. I miss him soooooo much.
    Thank you again for a safe place to let this out….. It is Hell and I do not want to ever feel this much pain again, it’s paralyzing!
    JH

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    1. I am SO SORRY for your loss. I know exactly what you are going through and you said it best that this trumps any pain. you are right! because they love us unconditionally no matter what. they are PERFECT! nothing i will say can help you. i went through it as well even though you feel like you’re the only one. it killed me to come home that next day and not see her. it killed me to not see her in her normal places and i couldn’t stay in the house. i went for a long walk in the cold. i was so hurt i couldn’t stand it. unfortunately, there is no going back so accept that. you can’t change it. 2nd, you did everything you could and you did nothing wrong. guilt is hard to deal with and i had it a lot. we all do. we all think, what could i have done better. i’m trying to learn in life i can’t fix everything. we all know there is birth and death but when we are involved in it, it never makes sense. i can say these things now because i went through it. i couldn’t look at photos or videos of her for at least a month. i would break down and cry for no reason when i thought i was fine weeks later. it comes and goes but you will heal. i know you feel like you never will but you will. so sorry for your loss. i still have her brother, jack, who is going to be 15. he is blind and has diabetes. he still finds me in the house and i will miss him dearly when he passes. a year after Roxy passed, i got a german shepherd puppy. she is going to be 2 next month. time files. i will have to deal with this black death pain at least 2 more times.

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      1. Thank you for the kind words……You are right nothing anyone can say or do helps ease the pain. I thought I was doing a little better but then like a tidal wave my heart comes crashing down. I miss him so much, and I wonder if he knows how much I love him. I am regretful for not being as patient as I should have been towards the end. I swear I hear him rustling about in my empty, silent apartment. I can not talk about him without breaking down. I can not look at his picture without breaking down. I am so grateful we all can share this overwhelming pain and know that we are not alone in thinking we were the only ones who react this way. I never ever will forget him yet I don’t want to think of him just now. I am lucky to have been able to call him mine……. Johnny Cashew

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      2. Hi Janice, you will feel bad for awhile and the pain will be bad at times…almost unbearable for a handful of seconds. It will pass. I never thought it would but it does. This is the worst pain imaginable because you loved them so much and they loved you so much. It’s one of the worst black death pains there are. Sorry you are going through this. When you’re ready, a new puppy you bond with will help you. When I was ready I looked all over and finally found a puppy, german shepherd, who completes me like Roxy did. She is so special. That day of pain will come again when she goes and I will be a disaster again.

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  5. Hello Steve
    As I write this, tears are streaming down my face. After eleven years, yesterday 03/19/2019, I had to make the infinitely difficult decision to let my beloved Blackpearl (Pearly) go. Nearly 2 years ago, she had a herniated disc causing her to become incontinent. Her hind legs did not work as before, on some days she was dragging herself forward, on others it was much better. The veterinarian said “She has no pain at all, she is very happy in the front and partially paralyzed in the back”. We both (Pearly and I) never had a problem with that. She dragged herself tail wagging forward, and I ran with the cleaning bucket afterwards. Three days ago, her situation changed dramatically, she could not go potty anymore, her stomach swelled, became hard. Her breathing was so incredibly heavy, and I could see her effort and pain. I tried everything in my power, but yesterday I knew …. It’s time to let go. Everything went so fast, it had to go fast because I know that I would have never let her go otherwise. Of course, I would have made this decision anyways, but you know how it is, we try everything in our power to have our babies only a second longer in our live.

    I called the vet, explained our situation and got an appointment for the early evening. Time flew by so fast and before I could think clearly, we were already there. My immense fear of putting her in a treatment room, on an icy examination table, and accompanying her to her end made me crazy. But it was not like that, our vet has an extra room for such a heavy walk. This room is shut off from everyone else, a curtain in front of the large windows hides any curious glances.

    First, I sat on the sofa, Pearly at my feet. No, that could not happen, so I sat down on the floor. We were alone for about 15 minutes, I cuddled, kissed and talked to her. After a while, the doctor came, she too looked so sad that I had to hold back my tears. She asked if we were ready. I said nothing, because you are “never” ready. She wanted me to put Pearly on her side, so it would be better for her to find a vein in her hind leg, Pearly is (I deliberately don’t say “was” because she will always be with me) a Black Pug, her breathing always very difficult, so the side was not an option because of her herniated disc.

    I sat down on the sofa and took Pearly in my arms. Everything was so terrible, it took forever for the doctor to finally find a vein. Pearly was terrified, her breathing was hectic, and partially stopped. I thought she would die right here out of sheer fear. Finally, finally, the doctor found a vein, looked at me and asked “Can we?”. I said yes and immediately regretted this decision. I asked myself “Silke what on earth are you doing here?”, In my mind I was desperately trying to find a way to stop all this, but it was too late, the anesthetic was already running and shortly thereafter the meds that took my Pearly forever.

    It went so incredibly fast, just a few short breaths and then …….. nothing. I listened to every sound from her, waiting for her to breathe and smile at me with her little crooked teeth again ….. but there was nothing, nothing but a warm, wet feeling on my legs as my beloved baby took one last pee on me. Yes that was it, she was so soft, so warm, so peaceful and finally freed from all that her little body did not allow her to do.

    Pearly is burned individually, money does not interest me. My little girl has shared so much suffering with me that she deserves to come back home, back to her loving family, her pug “husband” Jack and her chihuahua friend Marshmallow. The two sit next to me while I write this, and haven’t noticed that Pearly will never come back home again.

    Run free my little girl.

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  6. Steve:
    I also had a dog called Roxy, a bichon frisee I rescued from the puppy mill dog shop in Chicago. I saw her in 2005 while walking back north on Well st after a disastrous day at the CBOT and thought I would clear my mind by going to the pet shop. There was Roxy and she looked straight at me. I found out that she had been in a little cage for almost a year and nobody wanted her. I gave the pet shop keeper $20 to make sure she was treated better and went home. She then stayed in my mind and basically bribed me to take her home but this was difficult as I was commuting between Chicago and Green Bay. Two weeks later I found out through bichon rescue that dogs that stayed in the pet shop without getting sold would go to a so-called farm which is BS as those dogs will get abused. Upon finding that out I called the pets-hop owner and told him I would pick up Roxy that Friday. She looked wild, could not walk..but the other dog George taught her how to walk and she became to best looking babe of old town. I took both Roxy and George all over the USA and Europe and would fly them 1st class so they could be in the cabin. Stayed in fancy hotels only to give them the best I could give them. Cooked them sardines and disgusting liver to keep them healthy.I always thought Roxy would outlive George as she never had any medical issues and she would not eat all the crap she could her hands into. Then in February 2018 she all the sudden stopped eating and before it was too late the vet told me:stage 4 kidney failure! I went into combat mode as usual and tried saving her as she was only 13.5 but knew I had to put her down to stop her suffering. Roxy was my mistress and till today I miss her and always will and will continue to blame myself for not having seen the signs of renal failure. Today 9/2/19 I put down George to stop his suffering. He was almost 16.5 years old and he was and will always be my best friend. I loved these 2 angels so much and feel very empty without them but I also know that I have done everything to make them happy and healthy. To say the least upon holding them while the vet puts them down is not easy and surely not a macho thing at all. George was my best friend, Roxy was my slutty mistress and I was their butler. I hope to see them asap in heaven.

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    1. You are a saint for taking in those dogs and I would have done the same. I know it’s heart-wrenching. Don’t beat yourself up. There is no reason to. You gave them a fantastic loving life. In the end, we always question what we would have done differently to make things better. Death happens. It’s easy for me to say since this isn’t fresh for me…but it was 3 years ago. I was a wreck. I’m sorry for your losses. I know what you’re going through. It’s the worst pain there is. A year after Roxy passed, I got a german shepherd puppy. Leia is a lot like Roxy in so many ways. She is tied to me …. she is my shadow. I can’t go anywhere without her following me. That’s what shepherds do. She loves everyone in the family but is closest to me always. I dread that inevitable day with her.

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      1. Steve, your story was beautiful and so helpful to me as I lie here in bed at midnight, messing with my phone and glancing at the little carved wooden box that holds my beloved Katie. I googled about the guilt I still feel 5 months later and found your story. I’m sorry for your loss and please know that your thoughful writing has comforted many people.

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      2. Hi Dawn, I’m so glad you found the post I wrote! When I lost Roxy, I was destroyed. I searched, much like you did, and wanted to write something to help others and myself. It’s been 3 years now and I can’t believe how fast the time flies. I miss her and although I don’t cry, it’s hard to believe she’s gone at times. I don’t look at the little wooden box…it’s still in the box it came in. I don’t want to see it.

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  7. Steve, your story was beautiful and so helpful to me as I lie here in bed at midnight, messing with my phone and glancing at the little carved wooden box that holds my beloved Katie. I googled about the guilt I still feel 5 months later and found your story. I’m sorry for your loss and please know that your thoughful writing has comforted many people.

    Like

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