Registered: 1592163620 Posts: 4
I am heart broken and grief stricken. Sorry for the lengthy message but would appreciate any support out there. The details are part of letting the guilt out- I’d probably go get grief support but we are in the middle of a pandemic so I am hesitant. I am hoping somebody out there can help talk me through my guilty thoughts.
My sweet 9 year old Jackson wasn’t the healthiest of dogs (or should I say he didn’t have the best luck)but was a 120 pound smart, sweet, and devoted dog. He had both knees operated on very young, was a megasophagus dog in remission from thyroid issues a few years ago, and had severe gastrointestinal issues last year having to take Tylosin powder the rest of his life.. Then in November 2019 of last year he was diagnosed with nasal cancer, very rare cancer that 1-2% of dogs get. They told me he had 1-3 months without radiation. We had to go to a major university 2 hours away for radiation but learned that he couldn’t take back to back anesthesia for radiation So we ended up doing once a week palliative radiation for 4 weeks in a row. This was to help with the cancer blocking his left nostril and growing into the right nasal side and close to his brain and pallet. It was to hopefully give him relief and buy him an average of 6 months of life. Radiation ended end of January 2020, and all seemed good besides bleeding through the nose- but one month later he started what appears to be seizures. We never saw him seize but we witnessed the days of difficulty for him to get back to normal.(the recovery) The seizures were once a month with about 2 days of recovery; limping, curved back, lethargy, uncomfortable days. Was this the tumor invading the brain or from radiation damage? We don’t know as I didn’t want to put him under anesthesia anymore. We started him on prednisone and seizure meds(although the neurologist was not sure if they were seizures)He even cried with pain after these episodes/seizures as if his neck hurt during this recovery time. The last time he had an episode(seizure) the recovery was 3 days(One day longer). And then he had another one a few days later and was scratching at the tile floor and circling round and round and round. He then started the limping etc We always promised ourselves we would never let this awesome dog suffer. After witnessing this (what I thought was 2seizures in a week) I called the vet and made the appointment for euthanasia the same day in the afternoon. I was bound and determined I wouldn’t let him suffer. The kids took off from work and we all took him to the vet at 4pm that day. . The problem is he seemed to rally that afternoon and didn’t have the recovery symptoms last like they did in the past. I questioned his acting normal- the family agreed that it was time. We went forward with it. I have a video and photos that day of what looks like a healthy dog. I think that kills me the most. I know you say to make a list of the good and the bad but in this situation he still ate, was at a healthy weight, still had good days in when not recovering from seizures. I feel like I was afraid of the Possible grand mal And the tumor growing through his pallet or eye or eating through his bone. His nose bled every night. He panted a lot but I didn’t know if that was pain or prednisone/other meds making him anxious. I’d give anything for another day with him- as I didn’t realize how much he did for my soul. I can never forget the fear in his eyes at the vet before they gave him a shot to calm him. I held him and comforted him but it happened so fast. He trusted me-I was the one giving him his medication and keeping him well. Why was I so hasty on this decision ? Why didn’t I sleep on it? I honestly don’t know if I can ever forgive myself. I loved that dog so much-
Registered: 1444060919 Posts: 637
I can so relate to this. Reading your story makes me sad. I can say without hesitation that I fully understand what you are talking about. Because I did something quite similar. And like your Jackson, my girl had both of her knees operated on as a puppy. I had just adopted her. We really didn't even know each other that long or that well. That was traumatizing. The surgery on her knees. I was not and am not an experienced pet guardian. I was struggling to make this puppy well. I had no support and did it by myself. It was sad seeing this young dog who had what is called a planned trauma. They break the knees to reset them. I put her on pain meds and they made her cry and hallucinate.
I had my Tum for 16 years. I adopted her as a puppy. In haste I had her "euthanized" and afterwards wanted to kill myself because I did not plan it out. It was impulsive. She was sick but I didn't know what was wrong with her. I took her to the vet, the vet said cancer and I freaked out. I said "euthanize her". But the reality is, I was in such shock that I wasn't giving it any thought as to what the future was going to be like with this major decision. I could not for a million dollars believe what I had done after the fact. Like you said about your dog, my Tum trusted me. How could I lead her down this path? What had I done? The whole experience traumatized me and to this day I am an "anti euthanasia advocate" except in rare cases. My view now is if a pet is on his or her way out (crude way to put it) then let them die a natural death. Why rush them into it and put them through a horrible experience...when they were going to die on their own? That's my view and it isn't shared by everyone.
I never in a million years though I would recover from what happened with Tum. I am angry at myself still for my handling of the end of her life. But that's not the way we were meant to operate with ourselves. Be angry for a while, OK. But don't stay angry. I have to move on.
And someday maybe you do too. Only now right now. It is going to in my opinion take you a long time to come to grips with the decision you made. Please don't be surprised at the length of time or the intensity of the feelings. You probably will have feelings you never had before. Grief is not one emotion. It is an 'emotional experience" that involves many feelings. It runs it's course but as I already said, it can take a long time. I honestly think that in the seconds leading up to your decision, you believed with all of your heart that you were doing right by Jackson. I don't see anything here that speaks of someone who was negligent or wanton. You did not give it the thought you wish you did, but you did give it some thought. Because on some level I can tell that if you 100% hadn't wanted to do it, you wouldn't have. Part of you..maybe not a big part, but part of you wanted this to happen. You are not the only one who has ever done this. And I am very sorry this has happened because of the fallout afterwards. There is no easy way out of something like this. Some problems in life have an easy fix. Do this or don't do that. But in a case like this, it is not something that comes with an easy fix. The truth is you are going to have to suffer your way to healing. You will heal to the point where you will be able to handle the rest of the healing journey. That can take a while to get to. That's where I am. I can handle the rest of journey from here. You can keep posting here as often as you need. I called pet loss hotlines for support. Peace and love to you, Stephanie
Registered: 1591958319 Posts: 7
I’m suffering the same guilt. My girl izzy was out to sleep last week, she had a huge tumour on her shoulder and was in pain. We booked the vet on Tuesday and she passed at home on Thursday. On the morning of the day we took her and our other two to the dog park and she was great!!!!! (The night before she wet herself which she never did we called her iron bladder!!!) The guilt I have faced since is huge, could I have given her a few more days, could I have fought harder for her (she was a month away from being 14), was she ready. I don’t think we will ever stop questioning ourselves but in time we will learn to live with it. I was visited by a fantail yesterday (they are the guardians of souls) I believe she came to let me know she was ok and happy.
I have had two of my three dogs longer than I’ve had kids, the next oldest has a renal tumour and we don’t know how long we have with him. It’s super hard and only people that have gone though this with animals will understand. You knew your pup, it was the right call. Take comfort in the fact that he’s pain free and illness free and running around like a nutter🥰
Registered: 1586291565 Posts: 37
I'm so sorry for your loss of Jackson. You did everything for him, above and beyond what most people do, and your final decision was the right one. When I put my big cat boy down he still had some level of enjoyment, but I knew it was time, and I didn't want to see him get to the point where he was really suffering, even though I wanted to keep him as long as possible. One of his symptoms was fluid building up in his abdomen, from cancer, which eventually would cause pressure on his lungs and/or heart, so the vet warned me about watching for signs of difficulty breathing due to pressure. I had the fluid tapped twice, he'd feel better for a couple days, but it came right back. He was just about to turn 13. I had waited too long in the past and this time I wanted to think of him instead of myself. I think for pet people the grief and guilt go hand in hand. You have nothing to feel guilty about. Jackson had major health issues. It doesn't sound likely that he could have gone on much longer without a serious episode, and he was probably trying to hide his pain. Again, I'm so sorry. It's been over 2 months for me. I miss him every minute, but I'm glad I didn't have to watch him in agony.
Take care, and I hope you can forgive yourself, because you should.
Registered: 1592163620 Posts: 4
I am so sorry for the loss of your big cat boy. Thank you so much for your words- so much appreciated. I am feeling a little better tonight....baby steps. Thx again-
Registered: 1592163620 Posts: 4
Thanks Stephanie, Heidi, and Andrea for your replies. I appreciate you taking the time to respond with your kind words and so so sorry for your losses.
I feel like I can breathe tonight. Thank you for sharing your stories.
Registered: 1158205770 Posts: 834
I think most of us feel guilt no matter what happens to those we love. It's as if we aren't feeling bad enough, let's see how much worse we can make ourselves feel. My sweet little Piper was diagnosed with kidney disease and surpassed all expectations by living for eighteen more months. During the first days of May I knew she was getting too tired to fight anymore and made arrangements for her euthanization. I have lost so many pets but she was my special little girl, she rescued me as much as I did her. When she died I blamed myself for her kidney disease, for not being able to somehow save her, for so many things. I failed to remember that our babies love unconditionally and would want us to remember the love we share. They can never truly leave us, we hold them in our hearts forever.
Registered: 1592163620 Posts: 4
Thank you for this- it is baby steps for us to move forward. We have to remember what great lives we gave these dogs. I know Piper and Jackson had great lives. It’s unfortunate the cards that were dealt to them at the end. Praying for us to remember the years of wonderful memories and for the end moments to fade away.
Registered: 1313460446 Posts: 17
I have had to put a number of pets to sleep over the years. It is natural for us to question ourselves, and especially the timing of such a decision. But you must keep reminding yourself that this is a natural response.
It is indeed problematic that our pets can't speak to us or tell us what they are experiencing. However, we KNOW our pets. We LOVE our pets. So we do the best we can with the information we are given by our vets...and with what we OBSERVE in our pets' behaviors...do they seem to be themselves...are they behaving abnormally...how is their countenance... do their eyes look alert and 'bright', or do they look 'resigned' or not happy? Anything you did for your pet, you did out of love. Putting a pet to sleep is one of the most amazing acts of love, for in making such a decision, we willingly create and accept the ensuing pain and sadness that will befall us, in order to alleviate the pain and sadness that our pet is expperiencing. In fact, I don't think someone could or should ever worry that they put their pet to sleep 'too soon'. Why would anyone put their pet to sleep sooner than necessary? Clearly, you had every reason to think it was the right time. You didn't want your pet to suffer any longer. And your pet, in his/her own way, understood this...that you did this FOR them...out of love. They are now at peace.