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Posts: 5
Hello All,

First let me extend my deepest sympathy to you for the loss of your beloved furbabies. I also am thankful to have found what seems to be such a supportive community.

The predicament I find myself in is very difficult. I have a 7 year old male Spaniel mix who, aside from my husband and children, is the absolute light of my life. We rescued him a little over 5 years ago from a humane society and he was rail thin, anxious, and had been abused. We quickly nursed him to health, and gave him all the love he could handle. Though my family loves him as well, this dog has bonded with me over anyone else in the “pack.” He is my buddy. My husband jokes that the dog is my second husband because of how close we are.

Now for some background: Our boy, who I will call M for simplicity’s sake, has always been a little odd around strangers, especially men and young boys. We figured it was because of his abusive past and have taken measures so he would cause no harm, and it had not ever been a problem till recently. Unfortunately, about two years ago, M’s behavior took a turn for the worst. His aggression became worse, first towards strangers then towards family members that would visit. He has even started to snap at my oldest child, and has successfully bitten my husband and I without any provocation. We have seen the vet and nothing was found to be causing this. I was given medication to give him to try to help him, and his anxiety, but it does not level him out or seem to help.

Things have only gotten worse. A few days ago my child was outside playing with a neighbor when one of the children opened our door. Out came both of our dogs (also have a 1/2 year old husky mix who would not hurt a fly) and M came bounding towards the child. He chased the boy, I chased M. M bit the child, and as soon as he bit him he walked away, as if nothing happened. Thankfully, the child is alright all things considered, but did need stitches. We are currently on home quarantine with M by animal control. They are not requiring us to euthanize because I live in a “one bite” state and his other bites have not required a doctor visit/did not break skin and were on my husband and I.

I called the vet the day after M attacked the child and we spoke about M’s increased unprovoked aggression, including other peculiar behaviors that have gotten worse and have increased over the past few months. M often stares into space, and looks confused or has like a glazed over look to him. When he does this, I can call his name several times and he will not respond. My once goofy attention-seeking Mama’s boy is keeping to himself more; instead of following me all over the house day and night (husband calls him “my shadow”), he lies around. But not on his beloved overstuffed chair or my bed, he has taken to the corner by the door. Where he stares, at nothing. And when we go to bed at night, he is up and down at all hours, wandering around and back in bed, rinse and repeat where he used to be a sound sleeper and I would have to say come on M, time to get up!

The vet feels since the aggression is unprovoked, getting worse, and there are other things going on that something is wrong with M. Something that behavioral modification therapy and meds aside from the ones we’ve tried will not help. And especially after the incident with the neighbor child, he was not insistent, but recommended we euthanize M. I feel like my hands are tied. I do not want M to hurt anyone else, especially my children. I cannot have the liability of him hurting anyone. But I also do not not want M to suffer. What do I do? I think I know what I must do, but it is so very hard.

I love this dog so much. He has been such a source of love and light to me over these past five years. I have PTSD, and I feel that one of the reasons M and I have bonded is because, though he a dog and I human, we know what triggers and anxiety are. We have soothed and help one another heal. But I don’t know what more to do for M. And I feel as though I have failed him.

Thank you for reading this. Peace to you all.

I love you M. I’m so sorry, boy.

Posts: 92
I am so sorry for your dilemma and your pain. Could the problem with your M be physical (like a tumor or other ailment) on top of psychological ? I dont know; but I identify with your ptsd and that your dog understands and calms you. I hope you get the answers you need, and peace. ((hugs))

Posts: 5
Thank you for your reply, Pawprince.
I have taken him to the vet several time for evals and nothing physical has caught their radar. I am starting to wonder myself is something physical is indeed causing this change in him, whether it be a tumor as you said, a neurological disorder, hydrocephalus, encephalitis, or maybe even Rage Syndrome. I am at a complete loss, as are the vets.
The one vet I spoke to on the phone said that by the time I try to figure out what exactly is causing this, I will have spent thousands, he will have suffered immensely, and we will almost certainly be dealing with more bites and outbursts. Just yesterday he attacked our Husky mix, but not badly enough to break her skin. I would do just about anything for this dog of mine, and I know this isn’t him deep down inside. I just feel so lost.
Thank you for your kind words, and I wish you well.

Posts: 1

This story tugs at my heart, have you had the vets do any neurological testing?

Posts: 5
Hi Laura121,

My plan was to take him the day after the bite with the little boy, but since we are on quarantine I cannot take him out of my home for another week. I questioned the doctor about neuro testing, and he said it was something we could try of course, but with how quickly all of these behavior changes have taken place, he feels regardless of the outcome it will not be good. I plan to take him once we are not on “house arrest,” to get him assessed and take it from there. I was warned by the doctor though that the longer I wait to “do the inevitable” since his attacks are unprovoked, the more I will open my family up to these unwarranted bites.

Another thing the vet mentioned was perhaps dementia. Although he is 7 by the age/estimate of the humane society I adopted him from, M’s vet feels he could possibly be a few years older. I don’t know a lot about doggy dementia or if there is early onset. All I know is something isn’t right with my buddy.

Thank you for your comment. Take care.

Posts: 5
I’m just writing to update, more for cathartic reasons than anything I guess. I didn’t get many replies but I’d like to thank those who did. And maybe this can help those who are or will go through something similar.

Our quarantine with M was over this past Sunday, on the ninth. But his health began the decline and I received permission from the Animal Control Officer working our case to take him to the vet a couple times during the quarantine. Long story short the chronic ear infections we had fought so hard with antibiotics, antifungals, pain pills, and anti-inflammation drugs were a sign of a larger problem. The neurological problems I have been noticing weren’t just all in my head. I found a mass in his ear earlier in the week which prompted the vet visit. The inflammation from the ear infections had infiltrated his drum, and created a brain tumor as well as brain lesions. These were what was causing his issues as well as the unprovoked aggression. The vet told me the best thing to do would be to euthanize, he was obviously in pain. Any treatment with the tumor and lesions would just be prolonging his suffering. His trazodone wasn’t working to calm him, and since it works on serotonin, Prozac etc wasn’t likely to work either so the aggression would remain unchecked.

Sunday night we made a larger dinner of M’s favorites and spent the day cuddling and talking to him. He spaced out a few times but was largely his old self. Monday morning was rough. He wouldn’t come inside after I let him out to potty, like he didn’t recognize me. But he was excited to get in the car. He put his head out the window a minute and I scratched him. He fell asleep on the way to the vet. The vet assured me this was the right thing to do before she gave him the IM sedation shot, which she took him in the back to give him because he sometimes tries to bite when given shots.

This is where it gets hard. When she brought him back to me, she said I’ll give you guys a few minutes, and she left. I sat there with M and he was ok for a minute. I scratched and loved him. But then he looked at me with fear in his eyes. He then began shaking, lightly at first then uncontrollably. He jumped down from our seat and into the floor where I followed. He shook worse then rolled to his side where the shaking continued, and he began to vomit. I tried to console him but it got worse and worse. I pitched forward to the door to retrieve the vet and screamed for her. He’s shaking violently, please help him! She popped her head in, and said hold on. She came back with the final shot. He had moved himself during the seizure to the side of the wall so we had to drag him to the middle of the floor. I then asked if he indeed had a seizure and she said yes I believe so and I’m so sorry but he’s as sedated as he will be. It’s now time and I’m sorry, but it’s time for him to go now. I rubbed the side of his belly as she injected his left leg and he was gone shortly after. The violence of the seizure was met with cold, calm death.

I feel so alone, so sad, and so guilty that I couldn’t do anything to make his passing more peaceful. The doctor said his tumor was a rapidly growing type, as well as the one in his ear, and that he was not conscious during the sedation/seizure so he didn’t know or feel what was going on. But I don’t know what to think or feel. I feel so very hollow.

I love you M. I miss you every second. I just hope you aren’t in pain anymore.

Posts: 69
I am so very sorry to hear of your struggles & very heartbreaking end to your plight. All I can say is that your bond to M & his with you was so strong that you knew something else was going on with him & you were right. He wasn’t himself because of the tumor growing in his ear & into his brain. Its so hard when we know that there’s something wrong, & they can’t tell us , so we have to rely on what the vets say.

Im sure from what you described that he felt very loved & safe with you. It wasn’t really him at the end acting out in agression. Ive been told when animals are in pain they can become aggressive because of the pain, especially if he had a tumor growing in his brain. Poor baby. What you had to endure at the end of his life with the quarantine & vet visits must have been so hard on you. At least at the very end you did get an answer as to why all the behavior issues.

You had to do the hardest, yet kindest , loving act of selfless love that you could do for him. I cant imagine having to endure watching the seizures at the very end, oh how very brave you were for him. You were with him to the very end & he felt your pressure & he felt your love & kindness & if he could he would have thanked you for doing for him what he couldn’t do. He will always be your protector & your angel watching over you. A bond & a love like you had for each other never dies. Hold the good memories of him in your heart always & I wish you to find peace & comfort through it all. I am so sorry for the loss of M. He sounded like a wonderful companion.

Posts: 5
Thank you doglife, your words mean so very much. He truly was my all. I miss his snuggles and his presence so much. I took a lock of hair from his tail, made a print of his paw and will be picking up his ashes tonight. I probably sound crazy to non-dog lovers (I know you guys understand though), but I don’t care. He meant so much to me. I bought a cremation locket so I can wear some of his ashes and a bit of his fur around my neck assumingly. It has his birthstone on it.

The night of the euthanasia, as I drifted to sleep, I swear I felt him lie on my legs in bed as he often did. I’d like to think it was his spirit. And I know I’m some way he is still with me. He was an amazing boy, even after this stupid, unfair disease took him over and tried to wreck him. He even tried to fight it till the the very end.

Thank you for being so kind. I really needed those wonderful words. Blessings to you and yours.
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