Registered: 1357355198 Posts: 6
In 2000 we rescued a German Shepherd from the ARL and was told they thought she was about a year old. We struggled with her adjusting at first but got through it and she was the best dog. I can't type much about her yet cause its just too hard for me.
I'll fast forward to the end of December (29th-31st) since this is what I'm struggling with. For the past year she was struggling getting up and walking around especially after laying down for a long time but she managed and moved around fine. The last few months have been harder for her to move around and she was much more "wobbly" when moving and dragging her back legs. My vet said it is common and as long as she doesn't seem in pain and isn't incontinent than she should be ok. She really began to struggle with stairs so I carried her if we went downstairs to watch tv. Unfortunately we have 5 steps leading outside too which she did slowly manage these but I would also carry her down these if she seemed like she was having a bad day. The last few weeks she did seem to get worse. Every night she would poop laying down. Even during the day she would do this sometimes. The last 2 or 3 days she even urinated when laying down (this happened twice). She was still eating, barking, etc... but just wasn't moving around much and had the incontinence issue. My wife was thinking it was time as she saw a decline and she was having a lot of accidents in the house (several per day) and when she did go outside, would not go down the stairs unless I carried her. Her parents said the same who owned GS before. I was on the fence and wasn't sure and was thinking we could talk to the vet after the new year. Well on New Years Day we went out to lunch and came home and found a glass bottle broken on her bed. She had taken a soy sauce bottle out of the recycle bin and ate about 75% of it. The only thing left was the bottom piece and a few shards. I couldn't find the bottle anywhere. We called the emergency vet and told them her history and they said to bring her in right away. She happened to poop in the car on the way there but there was no sign of blood. We got there and they took her out back to evaluate her and said they could do an xray to see but based on what we said and the way she was walking it would be ok to put her down. They said we had to think about quality of life and how hers was now. They said they could do an xray if we wanted though. I was so distraught I really don't remember all of the conversation. We basically decided it was time to let her go and didn't bother with the xray since if she did eat glass, I wouldn't put her through surgery so didn't see the point plus after the way she had declined over the last week, what the vet said, I felt it was time so we put her down. It was the hardest decision I ever made and the hardest thing I had to watch. Perhaps this is normal but now I'm in the regret state. What if she would have been fine with eating the glass and somehow passed it through ok? Would she be ok for another few months? I really regret not getting an xray for piece of mind. I guess I just thought it was her way of telling me its time. Based on things she did in the past, I could see her telling us this way. And this is silly but I completely spaced asking the vet for 1 last treat and I think the vet did because we were just so distraught over this. Given the things she's eaten over the years (never glass though!) it seems fitting that this glass bottle was her final "treat" but it just really bothers me. I get to pick up her ashes on Monday and really can't wait to get her back. I suppose that might give me some closure. I'm still quite upset but each day I do get better and cry less and sleep more through the night. I really hope this does get better eventually. Sorry for the long post and thanks for reading.
Registered: 1340924276 Posts: 4,781
I am sorry for your loss. I believe that we all second guess ourselves when the time comes to let them go. You did what you could for her, and that is all she wanted from you. Just your love, and she got that. It does get better, but it takes time. What was your special girl's name? I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.
Registered: 1357097436 Posts: 26
I feel for you and the hard decision you had to make at a most difficult time. The truth is no one can make those decisions for us and we are left to struggle with the fallout. I feel the same way about my little pug that I lost on December 29th...was there something else they could have done. Was the damage reversible? I'm sure I will always struggle with it to some extent, but each day it does get a little better. Baby steps...
It is clear that you loved your companion very much. I'm sure he knew that too. I'm sending prayers and positive thoughts your way. I hope you'll find peace in the waiting for rest to come.
Registered: 1357355198 Posts: 6
Thank you for the kind words. Her name was Coral.
Registered: 1346262073 Posts: 2,465
Coral is a beautiful beautiful baby. I truly believe you did the right thing by sweet Coral. Her quality of life sounded terrible, and quite possibly she had som sort of doggy dementia also, what with the soy bottle and all. It was time to release her from her ailing body and let her go "home" to wait for her family! It is never easy to make the decision to let our pets go, it is the hardest thing we will ever do, but it is the final act of unconditional love that you and Coral shared!!!! Hugs to you and please don't be too hard on yourself, you loved her unconditionally for her entire life and that is all she ever wanted, to be loved and not suffer!!
Registered: 1219887733 Posts: 11,059
I am very sorry your precious girl, Coral, has passed on. Her picture is amazing......what a beautiful girl! Your love for her shines through! I know it's difficult coping with guilt feelings, but just about everyone here has dealt with it on some level.....even if our babies pass on their own. I can understand your concerns but Coral was very blessed to be in your family. Your tender loving care the last few months is so heartwarming. My heart goes out to you and your husband. Both of you will be in my thoughts and prayers.
Mare-wolf precious Christoph ~ gone four years ~
Registered: 1178588167 Posts: 1,355
I am so sorry for your loss. Your Coral is so beautiful and she is well now. I had a GS mix named Kina (she is the reason I came to this site years ago) - Coral's symptoms sound just like Kina's - trouble walking, pooping and peeing in the house which is something she never did, etc. Kina was 15 when I had to let her go and the fact that Coral was 13 or so speaks volumes to the love and care you provided her - it is unusual for GS dogs to live so long. I believe you made the right decision to let her go with her dignity, surrounded by those who love her. Coral and Kina are probably running through the fields together now.
JoAnn - Jackie, Chan, Daphne, Scarlett and Noir's mom (also Kina, Big Al, Kodiak and many other Bridge babies mom)
Registered: 1164162392 Posts: 1,910
I am so sorry for the loss of your beloved Coral. She looks sooo aware- besides adorable!- in the picture you posted.
You wonder if it "was time". I've shared my life only with cat babies, but our furred ones are sentient beings capable of love, memory, feeling... discomfort and pain. I honestly do not think that any furred one would want to continue living when it lies there after soiling itself by peeing or pooping. Would we? I don't think any sentient being would want that. She loves you, always will, wanted to be with you, but the cost to her was rising each day longer. Big dogs like GS just don't live as long, and she'd had a very long life for her breed- a life filled with your love and care, please don't forget that. I wonder if maybe Coral was pushing things by eating the bottle of soya sauce, to get her out of this life that had so little quality left. You wondered if she could have survived passing shards of glass thru her system. The chances are so remote as to be basically nonexistent. And it would have hurt- a lot. I know that in humans even little grains of glass can be fatal, apparently they shred and lacerate whatever they touch as they pass thru, so there is bleeding, pain, etc. Since both dogs and humans are omnivorous I figure the glass shards would have done her in regardless. You made the right decision, though it broke your heart to do it. In the end it was what was best for Coral, not what you wanted, that really mattered, so you did what was best for your girl. May your pain soon begin to ease.
Registered: 1357574086 Posts: 311
We never know when the "right" time is, and this is perhaps the hardest decision that we pet owners ever have to face. The important thing is that you loved Coral very much and gave her a happy life. If she was experiencing incontinence and trouble with stairs, it was probably her time to go anyway. You loved her. She knows it.
Registered: 1280313280 Posts: 596
I'm so sorry for your loss. Coral is beautiful. There's something so wonderful about shepherds, maybe it's the ears or the eyes.
It sounds like Coral could have had myelopathy, a disease very common in shepherds. My 15 year old Rottweiler, Bubba, was unable to walk for the last months of his life. He was ensconced on the floor in the livingroom so he was in the middle of everything. He had to be turned often, and bathed because he'd urinate and poop on a pad. It's very easy to second guess your decision. Could she have recovered from eating glass? Was it too soon? Was there something else that should have been done? We do the best we can for our babies. I really believe they know that we do. I was so intent on keeping Bubba going, that I refused to see the signs he showed me that he was ready. I will forever feel guilty for that, even though it was done in love. Coral trusted your judgement. And she loves you still, because death can't stop that kind of love. I pray that peace will come to you and your family.
Registered: 1516148246 Posts: 2
Here it is, 5 years later and I have just found this post. I have just lived through the same situation with my little pug, Molly. She was 14 years and 9 months old. For about the last year she has had trouble walking. Her hind legs just seemed to not know what to do.. I live in a 4 level home so its about 7 steps to the next level, up or down and 2 steps down to the patio. So for the last year I have been carrying her up and down the steps. She struggled for most of the year getting from a laying down position to standing up, but once she was up she appeared to walk around OK. Up until the last few weeks anyway. She seemed to be happy thru all of this and was eager to eat and have her treats throughout the day. Things changed the day after Christmas 2017. She could no longer stand up on her own. I had bought a "dog lifter from Amazon last year and used it a few times over the year but really needed it when she could no longer stand. I would use it to carry her outside for her to do her "business" and that seemed to work for a few days but it came to the point where I was just holding her up and she was unable to pee or poop. She started doing that laying down in her bed - if I wasn't fast enough to get her to the pad on the floor a little ways from her bed. Well, I kept up this routine from Christmas to the second week of January. I felt really bad for her but she seemed otherwise aware and interested in things. She would also sleep on my bed where I had a protector down for her. I would wash dozens of towels everyday from the cleanup but that did not bother me at all. As long as it helped her was all I was concerned about. The last couple days of this though, her demeanor seemed to change.. In the mornings she seemed to be unaware of her surroundings and really wasn't interested in water. I felt then that I was just keeping her alive for me and that her quality of life was just not what it used to be. Over this two or three weeks I debated having her put down but the finality of that just made me shudder. Until those last couple of days anyway. Long story short; I decided to take her to the vet on a Friday. I didn't want her to suffer over the weekend because at that point I did think she was suffering. Now after having done that, here it is a week later and I can't stop crying buckets. Wishing I would have waited. Second guessing myself. The guilt is consuming me. Maybe I did it too soon. Maybe she wasn't suffering as much as I thought. At this point, I will never really know. I will have to find a way to get past this and move on. Does anyone have any suggestions on how exactly I can, in fact, move on?
Registered: 1512692286 Posts: 67
Hey, fellow dog lover and broken-hearted. No, there is no way to move on other than go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning, repeating over and over again.
I get the care you were doing at the end as I was doing it too. I would have kept it up for months if need be My girl was like yours, it wasn't fun anymore, yet I did not give the vet the chance to try anything different. I did not want her to have another day as bad as the day she had when I made the decision. Giving the vet the chance to work on her, would have kicked the can down the road and a new day of pain and discomfort would have happened. Maybe I did it too soon or maybe I saved her from a race to the emergency clinic in the dead of night in the middle of winter. I am at 6 weeks and just stopped my day to look at her pictures and watch my youtube grief videos.
Registered: 1516148246 Posts: 2
Thank you for your response. Yours' is really the only one that makes sense. To go to sleep an night and wake up in the morning and repeating over and over. That is all I can do. I keep trying to rationalize everything and nothing makes sense. There is to rhyme or reason why what happened, happened. I'll never know why. All I can do is hope that each day will somehow deaden the pain that I feel.
Thank you and Bless you!
Registered: 1520268522 Posts: 16
I'm sorry to hear of Coral's devastating last day. German Shepherds are known to get a condition called degenerative myelopahty https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canine_degenerative_myelopathy
its a spine disorder and will cause increasingly weak back legs. Of course, since nerves are involved, the urinary and fecal incontinence is likely to show up. There is a product called help em Up harness http://helpemup.com that can be very beneficial for these dogs. I had one for my chow/retriever mix that had neuropathy issues and then cognitive decline. I'm so sorry for your loss.