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Posts: 9

Hi Everyone, 

I had posted about the loss of my dog on another thread (Guilt with Euthanasia) but I'm still having an extremely hard time so I thought I might repost here and hopefully have some support. Everyone in my life (partner, friends, family) seem so fed up with me at this point. I can't stop seeking reassurance and feeling so much guilt for not giving him more love and attention over the years, or picking up on the cancer earlier, etc. 

Has anyone else found that they almost forget how much their fur baby was suffering towards the end, so it just feels like they let them go and it was too soon and not justified? These are the feelings i'm struggling with now and lead me to feel immense guilt and pain. When I'm reminded by others how much he was struggling, they remind me it had to be done for him, but that only helps for so long. 

-- the story --

Not sure if anyone still reads this thread but I have now read through every single post on here during my week of grief. Last week, we had to put down my beloved yorkie Rolo, who was just over 14 years old -I feel so much guilt and feel broken without him. He's been our family dog since I was 12 and he's been there for absolutely everything - breakups, school, family issues, etc. He slept on my bed or my parents bed every night. 

Rolo was a happy dog, he had his share of aging and yorkie problems (minimal hearing, possible vision problems, a heart murmur, many extracted teeth). He also had torn his CCL a few years ago, and we tried to take him for the surgery but they could not put him under anesthesia because they were worried about his tracheal collapse they discovered. He actually did well despite not having surgery and would walk/hop without any signs of pain, although we occasionally gave him pain medicine to be sure. 

About 4 months ago, he swallowed a rib bone he found on the street and we took him to an emergency vet, where they managed to remove it with a scope - we were so lucky. On that visit, they noticed a possible lung mass and said in a few weeks, he should have it re-looked at or biopsied, once he had recovered from the bone incident. We took him back to that vet a month later (instead of his usual vet) since they had treated him so well and we felt trust in them. They did an ultrasound before attempting a biopsy and they said there was no mass seen anymore - we were thrilled! 

5 weeks ago, I had taken him for his usual 45 minute walk in the neighbourhood and he loved it. Then, the next day or two he had low energy and wasn't eating as much as usual - I thought it might be since it was so hot outside, so I booked him a grooming appointment to get his hair even shorter for the summer. When he got back from the groomers, nothing had changed and that night, he wouldn't eat anything and kept sitting on the other side of the room, even though he usually loved being next to us and would eat almost ANYTHING, to the point of stealing food off our plates when we weren't looking. Then all of a sudden, he got up and tried to walk towards us but was stumbling and it was like his legs were giving out. We rushed him back to the emergency vet and they gave him fluids and once again, saw the lung mass was there. We decided to do a biopsy, since it could have been something non cancerous but sadly it showed lung cancer after we brought him home. He started to show laboured breathing, so we took him back in to the vet. We then decided to do a CT scan to show how advanced it was, to see if there was any hope for surgery, especially since his front leg had become limp. The CT showed the large mass in his lung (almost taking up 1/2-3/4 of the left lung) and possible areas in his spleen/kidneys but unclear. The vet recommended we put him down that weekend. My dad and I asked if there was any role for some antibiotics and steroids (we are both human doctors) so we could make sure there wasn't something acute going on - since the sudden decline didn't make sense if the mass had been there for months. Everyone said we would know when it was time, and we said "okay let's try this, and if its not any better by the morning, we will let him go". Surprisingly, not even 1 hour after the steroids, he perked up and was dying to eat chicken from a specific restaurant near our home - we were so excited! 

Over the next 3 weeks, he was doing okay. Slept a lot and he had periods of slightly laboured breathing, so he went to the vet - they thought they saw fluid around his lungs so they started him on a medication for that, and he stayed on the steroids (at a lower dose). He continued to only want to eat that specific chicken or sometimes, he declined the chicken but would take beef, so we would make sure we got those for him - he ate small amounts, and would sometimes have to be hand fed. His front limb regained some strength but he still couldn't walk more than 1 block before sitting down and resisting. I got him a stroller and he seemed happy to get fresh air in that. Still no interest in all his toys. We noticed he would mainly sleep lying flat, with his arms and neck extended, or with his neck propped up on the edge of his bed or a toy. When he stood, his front legs would bow out and he was always shaking, even though it was so warm outside. Over all this, his weight had decreased from 3.6kg to 2.5kg and we could see his spine and ribs through his fur. He started to distance himself from us - wanting to sleep where we couldn't always see him, or sitting as far away from us on the couch as possible. He still was fully continent, would drink water and had moments where he didn't mind snuggling and would lick my face. 

The last 2-3 days, things really changed. He wouldn't drink as much, would barely eat a bite, and when we brought food to his mouth, he would turn away or even get up and walk away from us. When he did take a bite or two, he would almost choke a bit even though the pieces were SO small. He didn't like to sit next to us on the couch and would move away. Then his breathing got worse, more laboured, lots of abdominal breathing and we thought it was probably time. We tried subcutaneous fluids at home to see if it would help and when it didn't we decided to take him to the vet later that night. The vet did an assessment (a vet who had never met him before and seemed very new- something I feel horrible about now) and didn't feel like there was anything that could be done at this point. I didn't want to put Rolo through more tests, because he had been in and out of the vet so much and I know he hated it. The worst part is that before the vet, he licked my whole face and tears off while I was crying at the vet, he was more alert - eyes wide open (which I can't get out of my head now), but still having laboured breathing. With all my family around him, we told him how much we loved him and they gave the medications, he didn't fight at all like he usually did at the vet- just like that my baby was gone. I broke down and was on the floor in tears. I know he was out of his suffering but I didn't feel at peace like I thought I would.

Now I'm filled with so much guilt and thoughts:

1) Should I have done the tests, what if it was something that could have been partially helped to give him a few more good days? What if I had taken him to his normal vets during all of this, or should I have waited until a more experienced vet or one that knew him more was in?

2) He licked me and was so alert at the vet - maybe he wasn't ready? What if I betrayed him by letting him go. It breaks my heart to think he had no idea what was going on and what did he think in those last few moments? That we were giving him an injection to help him feel better and come home? He had no idea he would never be at home with us again. I'm not sure I can ever forgive myself.

3) I feel so much guilt for all the time I didn't spend with him over his life. Times I was in high school and stayed at friends houses, or went on vacation. Being in medical school and residency with out of town rotations, long 24 hour call shifts, only go to upstairs the next day without him and sleep the rest of the day. Days I was too lazy or tired to walk him until it was too late. He had about 700 sqft of the house (kitchen, living room and dining area) he would have access to all day, lots of toys, constant kibble/water, and access to our outdoor deck. My grandma lived with us and my mom was home 5 days of the week, so I know he was barely alone but I feel horrible and hate myself for being away so much. 

Sorry for the horribly long post - I just feel like a complete mess and needed to get that out there. If anyone has any thoughts, please feel free to share <3 


Posts: 1
Hi Hannah, first of anything I'm so sorry for the loss of your Rolo. Losing a pet is never easy regardless of the situation. I've never experienced what you experienced, however I just loss my beloved pet rabbit Violet less than 2 weeks ago, and I'm understand those feelings. I miss my fluffy Violet so badly, and I get when you say that you feel people get sick of you talking about Rolo, as I have felt the same.

I think those feelings of guilt are always present, I'm always thinking why didn't I took her to the vet before, why I didn't let her eat more treats, why I didn't spend that much time with her at some point etc. I think as we always want thr best for our furry babies, the fact that we couldn't do more for them is just painful, even though their deaths wasn't in our hands. I'm sure you as I we would have pay anything to keep them alive and happy, unfortunately that's not always the case.

I'm so sure you did all you could for Rolo, even gave him some more time even after you were told that he should be put down. I'm also sure that Rolo was happy with all of you surrounding him in his last moments.

I understand your pain so much, I wish my fluffy Violet had more days with me, and I miss her so much that sometimes it feels unbearable, seeing her empty space it keeps crushing me everyday. I just hope that everything gets better with time. About talking to people, I recently found the Blue Cross website, they have a pet bereavement support line, and you just can talk about your pet with someone, I felt so much better after talking about my Violet with someone experienced on pet loss.

Please know that you're not alone in your grieving, and that I'm confident that our pain will be replaced by the beautiful memories of our babies.

Posts: 2
Hi Hannah,

I think many of us here have gone through similar stories such as yours with our loved ones.  It's been a little more than 2 weeks since I had to let my dog Mickey go after 15 long years together.  I've read almost every post on this forum, and haven't commented but your post resonated with me a lot.  I want you to know that feeling guilty is a normal reaction, but you know in your heart you loved your Rolo so much and did your best for him.

Should you have gotten more tests done?  I had that option also, but at the end of the day I knew that those were all temporary, maybe extending his life a few days more.  You have to think that would have benefited you more than him.  Eventually he would've regressed again and you would be put in the same situation as before having to make the decision to let him go.  I had told myself when Mickey went into kidney failure, "ok if he goes through 2 really bad days back to back i'll let him go", but I realized that would've been selfish of me.  Why would we want our babies to go through hell and get to the point where they were truly suffering?  

Him licking your face at the vet might've been his way of telling you goodbye, letting you know he loved you very much, and thanking you for everything you've done. 

I still have guilt thinking about how much more time I could've spent with Mickey.  I was commuting to work (3 hours roundtrip) every day pre-Covid, and I thought about all of those times he was alone.  Technically there was always at least 1 person in the house, but he only wanted to be with me.  Yes, there were also rainy days when I got lazy about taking him out and made him go on the pad instead.  So many times I could've spent with him if only I knew.  I think our animal friends think very differently than we do.  We drive ourselves crazy looking back on every single time we left them at home or didn't play with them, but I believe that they actually think about the times we DID spend with them instead.  They loved us unconditionally which is why they are so special.  

I am still grieving, but will you know it does get easier little by little.  Once you get past the realization of Rolo no longer being physically present, you will start to get over the guilt as well.  Then comes more of the happy thoughts, and the special memories you two shared.  You will have moments where you break down again, but that is all part of the grieving process.  Rolo may not be here in the physical sense, but his energy is still very much alive and I'm sure watching over you.  

Don't be so hard on yourself, and if you find that your close friends/family members aren't being as supporting...that's what this site is for!  We are all here to listen and support 😉


Posts: 9

Eacoral12 - I'm so so sorry for your recent loss of Violet, I hope that you have been doing okay and that your pain is starting to lessen with each moment that passes. Thank you for your kind words and the recommendation for the pet bereavement support line - I will definitely be turning to that during some of the moments where the sadness becomes overwhelming. I totally know what you mean about the empty space feeling - he found a way to make his mark in almost every spot of our home but the areas his bed was in is the hardest to see. Each day I get home, I have to remind myself again that he is no longer in those spaces and it hits me like a truck again. 

Fkim228 - I'm so glad you commented, your words have been so helpful. I'm also sorry for your loss of Mickey, he sounds like he was so special and loved. You are very right that I need to remember it would have been selfish of me to keep him around any longer and I need to keep reminding myself that he didn't deserve any more pain. I'm also relieved to know that others have felt the same guilt about all the time away and all those little moments they would have spent with their fur baby if we only knew. I really hope they think they way you said because that makes it feel a whole lot better. Their unconditional love is what makes them so special but also makes their loss so devastating - they're just so innocent and I wish bad things like cancer or kidney failure didn't have to happen to them. 


Posts: 262

Hi Hannah, 

I'm so sorry for your loss. I found coming to this site was so helpful, and comforting to know that you're not alone in your suffering. I first came here 10 years ago. I was inconsolable. I ended up seeking professional counselling and I learned something that might help you. It was explained to me that our brains keep working to find a solution we need to fix the problem. Being a human doctor, that's something that probably comes quite naturally to you. I'm not a doctor, but I'm inclined that way too. 10 years ago, I spent the first 3 weeks barely eating, or sleeping. My family was frustrated with me. I couldn't understand why they didn't understand. My husband didn't understand until a friend and coworker told him that his son lost his bloodhound suddenly to bloat and it took him a long time to recover from his loss. That just made me more angry, to know that it took a coworker at work to make him more understanding of my grief. We all grieve differently. I also wanted to let you know that for me, although it took me months before I could think about him (River) without crying, I think the 3 week mark was the worst. It was unbearable. 

I lost my boy Farley (a lab) a month ago today. His health issues began when he was 12 weeks old. He has had numerous surgeries over his life time, chemo, stem cell therapy and wore braces for 2 years to support his hocks until he finished growing. He had a developmental growth disorder and developed mast cell tumors before he turned 2. Chemo treatment led to pancreatitis and diabetes. He was the best dog, and in spite of all of the medical interventions, he loved life. He had monthly vet visits for most of his life and dragged me to the door of our vet's clinic every visit, excited to say hi to everyone and greet everyone in the waiting room. He had a great life. But long term steroids had caused muscle wasting, and a couple of the many, many mast cell tumors had become large and burdensome for him. His mobility had deteriorated from degenerative changes in his joints. He had become very sick 5 months ago and our vet recommended euthanasia. He had aggressive anemia but the cause was unknown. I asked to take him home to give my family the chance to say goodbye and she sent me home with a weeks's worth of antibiotics. So we brought him home, and I went to work on him and by the time the week was over, he had rallied. His blood work was greatly improved. I was just lucky. I knew we were on borrowed time.

He became weak and didn't have the muscle mass to easily support his weight. Yet still, he was happy and would manage to make it to the toy box to find a particular toy he was looking for. When I saw him laying with his front legs stretched out and his head resting between them, and walking with his head lowered, I knew he was suffering. During the procedure, one of the needles stung and he startled into a sitting position. His eyes were bright and wide. It upset me so much. Everyone said how peaceful it was, and later when I told him how distressed I was by his being startled, my husband thought he left so peacefully and with dignity. I suspect that I would never have been able to see it as either peaceful or dignified. I just felt like I had just killed my dog. 

So, then I started to torture myself, wondering, why didn't I at least try taking him off steroids 5 months before. I started wracking my brain trying to think of something I might have missed, or something I could have done differently to turn things around one more time. I started feeling the onset of panic attacks which at first I thought were going to kill me. It's all just a part of the process. It's the swamp of grief. It may come in waves, and when your brain has processed as much as it can, you will hopefully find relief, and it may continue in that cycle until you have incorporated your loss and find acceptance. 

I saw the pictures of your Rolo. What a sweetheart. When I read that he had licked your face and your tears away, my first reaction was that he was thanking you for loving him with your whole heart, and for making the heartbreaking decision you made for him. From everything that you described in your posts, I believe there was nothing more you could have done for him other than to help to send him on his final journey. 

When I think about Farley and look at the last pictures we took of him, I too forget that he was suffering and again have to analyse it all over again. I'm so sorry too that your family and friends aren't very supportive. That just makes it so much harder for you. Come here as often as you need to. Everyone here is so understanding. They've all been down this road. 

Oh, and one last thing. I still haven't removed anything of Farley's and I'm in no rush to. I still have the sharpie container on the counter with spent syringes and his insulin in the fridge. And nobody, but nobody is going to pressure me into removing them. 



Posts: 115
Hannah so sorry for the loss of Rolo.Sounds like he was so loved and had a great life.The guilt you describe is similar to mine as I just put my 17 year old pug to sleep who,had many ailments.Deep down you know you did everything you could to keep him here but he was suffering and it wasn’t right to,keep him around and let him suffer.Yes my pug had a decent last night so I though should I wait but I know the labored breathing and all her pain was still there.You feel like you could have spent more time with them one extra walk one less time from work but we lived with them as much as we could we never think they will leave us at the time.Just know you shared a great life together and he was so lucky he had you to love Be grateful of that bond and hold on to the wonderful memories you shared take care

Posts: 115
Hannah so sorry for the loss of Rolo.Sounds like he was so loved and had a great life.The guilt you describe is similar to mine as I just put my 17 year old pug to sleep who,had many ailments.Deep down you know you did everything you could to keep him here but he was suffering and it wasn’t right to,keep him around and let him suffer.Yes my pug had a decent last night so I though should I wait but I know the labored breathing and all her pain was still there.You feel like you could have spent more time with them one extra walk one less time from work but we lived with them as much as we could we never think they will leave us at the time.Just know you shared a great life together and he was so lucky he had you to love Be grateful of that bond and hold on to the wonderful memories you shared take care

Posts: 9


First of all, I'm so so sorry for your loss of Farley :( He must have been a very tough boy to have gone through so much and you were such a loving parent for doing all that you did. He was so lucky to have you, as I'm sure you were lucky to have him

I can't even begin to say how much your comment means to me. Everything you said and experienced is so spot on, things that no one around me seems to understand. The comments you wrote feel like things I could have almost written myself - the panicking and wracking my brain non-stop to think of any little detail I can question. I hope I can find an end to this cycle eventually.

It is so comforting to know that others felt how I did at that last vet visit, where we knew they were suffering but all we can think of is that wide eyed expression rather than the peace and end to suffering that others saw right away. I will try to believe that him licking me was him thanking me and telling me it was time - he really knew me so well and could pick up on anytime I was sad or upset - they are so amazing like that. Like I keep saying to those around me, Rolo did much more for me than I could have ever done for him.

Because of major house renovations in the kitchen/living room, we unfortunately had to move Rolo's belongings (and all of ours) out of the main living area, but I wrapped them up and kept them safe in my closet and those will always be kept there and will never be used by another pet if we ever decide to get one. 

Thank you so much, I feel so fortunate to have found this community where others can relate and have been so kind, when we're all just strangers. I'm not one to usually comment or make posts, but I'm so glad I did. 



Posts: 9

Thank you so much for your kind reply - I'm sorry to hear about your precious pug, who you had to let go :( I will try my best to hang onto those lovely memories and try to let the other thoughts go. I probably have about 20 to 30 thousand photos of Rolo over the years and as I look through, I'm now able to smile, although the pain and sadness will always be there. I can also see how much he changed over the last few weeks/months and how he was nothing like his usual self - my dad said that at the end, he was "just existing, not living" and I can start to see that now too. 

Take care too <3 

Posts: 1,198
I just wanted to let you know that what you've written has really touched my heart. I think these precious creatures we have known and loved were put here on this earth for a reason - to help us experience unconditional love, the kind that can only come from a devoted pet. We are their universe and they show us time and time again that they will do almost anything to make us happy, to make us smile. That holds true until their time here on earth is about to end. They don't want us to know they are sick, so they hide it from us so well that we don't realize anything is wrong until it is too late to do something about it. And even then they often show their devotion and love for us as they leave this world for heaven. My cats that have left me have hung on until they could no longer do so, and they all gave me that one last meow or purr as they passed away. Because their decline was so gradual and because they hid it so well, just like you, I never really realized how much they changed over the last few weeks/months until they were just a shell of their former selves.

Anyhow, I'm glad you have so many pictures of Rolo over the years. That is one thing I always wished, to have more pictures of the animals I've known and loved over the years. I only have 1 picture of my beloved childhood cat Nitelite and just two of my other childhood cat Batman. I have 3 pictures of my childhood dog Lucky and none of our other childhood dog Schotzie. I don't have nearly enough pictures of the cats I've known and lost as an adult, but those I have are so wonderful because I can clearly see the love they have for me in their eyes. Yes, it still hurts, even after all these years, to look at them. But like you I smile when I look at them and I try my best to remember the wonderful times we had together. 

Anyhow, it sounds as though you are starting to heal from losing Rolo. It is good you're able to smile when you look at the pictures have of him. Hopefully your smiles will soon extend to deep within your heart whenever you remember the life the two of you shared...

Take care,
Mom to Angel cats Rufus, Thomas, Squeeker and Blackie


Posts: 115
Hannah so sorry for the loss of Rolo.Sounds like he was so loved and had a great life.The guilt you describe is similar to mine as I just put my 17 year old pug to sleep who,had many ailments.Deep down you know you did everything you could to keep him here but he was suffering and it wasn’t right to,keep him around and let him suffer.Yes my pug had a decent last night so I though should I wait but I know the labored breathing and all her pain was still there.You feel like you could have spent more time with them one extra walk one less time from work but we lived with them as much as we could we never think they will leave us at the time.Just know you shared a great life together and he was so lucky he had you to love Be grateful of that bond and hold on to the wonderful memories you shared take care

Posts: 9

goofygirlinva - thank you for commenting, and i'm sorry for the loss of your precious angel cats. they really do show us the most unconditional love! the decline was just so subtle until the last few weeks I still feel like I didn't have enough time to prepare although i'm sure that no amount of time would have ever been enough. it's so hard to escape those thoughts where i wish i had spoiled him and appreciated him more when he was able to go on walks, eat everything ,etc. but those are the things i can't go back and fix.  

I'm definitely starting to heal but I almost feel more guilty (a different type) as I escape the ruminating thoughts and guilt. There's lots of moments where I'm so sad and miss him, but sometimes I'm able to spend time with friends, and have a great time with laughing, etc. and then all of a sudden I realize and think "how can I be laughing like this and manage to escape those thoughts?". It almost makes me feel like I didn't care about him enough if I'm able to move forward. Or I'm able to eat some food that he would have loved and then the guilt hits me after that I was able to enjoy that. Has anyone else experienced this? 


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