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Posts: 22
So sorry about your loss. The decision is never easy. I think all who made it feel somehow sometime guilty. Guilt is normal although irrational in many cases in my opinion.
Your boy was suffering, in pain and I am sure you made the right decision. I like to think that I also gave a "tush push" my feline baby girl to heaven. At times I wonder if I could have done more but most likely not.
It is got wranching, painful experience.
Please consider nybdeepest condolences. The first few weeks are tough so be kind to yourself.

Posts: 4
Trying to find support for the guilt I am feeling after putting my 15 year old dog-Al down I found this messageboard. So grateful for all these stories.

I am having a terrible time with the guilt of putting my Al down on Thursday 4/25. He had so many issues and I told myself that if he ever experienced pain I would be able to say goodbye. He was not on deaths door before I made the decision to say goodbye, but he had been crying for 3 nights in a row (while on painkillers) and on the 3rd night his crying went on off and on all night and into the morning. I decided it was time. I thought I had to be strong for him and I was laser focused on maintaining my courage. I took him to the vet right when they opened and told them what was happening to him. They told me that he would not get any better and it would only get worse and fast. They gave him a sedative and then I got a HUGE wave of panic and almost changed my mind. Then I dug deep and said my last goodbyes- crying and saying I was so sorry.

When I got home I was absolutely hysterical and completely regretted it. I reached out to family and to people who spent time with Al and they all agreed that I did the right thing. I even emailed his vet and she also agreed, which provided me with some comfort. I think part of my guilt stems from him not having a particular life threatening diagnosis. He was old, had arthritis, was almost fully blind and deaf and had no bladder control. I keep telling myself I did it out of love and I find some comfort in that, but I also have guilt about not making a few of his last days really special. I have guilt about feeling ready to put him down and maybe him not being ready. My mind is playing tricks on me for sure. I know that if I didn't do it then I don't know when I would have had the strength again and could have let it go on for too long. He was my comfort through the toughest moments in my life. I can't imagine ever loving a pet more than I love him. I love him more than most people I know (terrible to say but true).

I am just sick about everything and trying to find comfort anywhere I can. Some of the first messages on this site from back in 2012 were very helpful. I made a list of reasons why I put him down and reasons why I should have kept him and all but one of the reason for keeping him were purely selfish. I miss my cuddle bug. He was a comfort to me and I have no idea how I will ever get that back. 

Posts: 9
Your story is very much like mine, mine cried on the painkillers too..... it will get easier I promise, you will someday realize that you did the right thing as he would have suffered even more. You would have prolonged their inevitable death with more pain instead of prolonging their life. You set him free into a beautiful world where you will be with him again. Now he is running and playing and looking over you, and thanking you for giving him no more pain!

Posts: 4
Your description of the guilt, after having to work up the courage to go through with it mirrors mine from almost a year ago. I remember being hysterical for days afterward. I couldn’t leave the house, or function. I spent all my pent up energy cleaning the house and getting rid of reminders my my baby (18 year old) dog, but I just remained upset and would apologize to her out loud for days. I have been having dreams about her because the 1 year anniversary of her passing is coming up. But things have gotten better. I have a little memorial wall with a couple nice photos and her collar to remember her healthy times. And it makes me feel better to remember the earlier days when she was happy. It was a long, good life and I know that she knew I loved her.
But it took weeks and maybe months before any of these thoughts really helped me. The trauma had to wear off a bit first. So while you’re in these next few days, weeks, or months and it feels like it won’t get better, please know that I spent a long time in that place too, and I’m with you. It will feel better, later.

Posts: 4
Alpals Mom

So sorry about your loss. It brings back my own fear about my decision last February to put our beloved Gus to sleep. We miss him so much. The memories we have of him came like a tidal
wave the instant he was gone, and he was young, and healthy, and loving life. It was hard to remember the last few years, and his declining health. It is a brutal decision when the time comes. But what choice do we have? We got so much love, and support from this forum. We were devastated! And these other folks lifted us up with their words. In the end, we reminded ourselves that we would never have hurt a hair on Gussies head. We loved him so, so much. We knew for 2 years or so that the time was coming. We would watch him struggle to stand, and lay down. He couldn't see well, or hear well anymore etc. We could have gone on for awhile more, but at what cost? He was falling down, and bumping into things. He couldn't tell us if he had bruises everywhere. He would never have gone potty in the house ever. But he was not able to control it anymore.  I can only say that if Guster had ever cried in pain, I would have done it then. It sounds like Al was in pain, and you did the loving thing. Not the easy thing, the loving thing. Please go easy on yourself the next few weeks.

Posts: 7
I agree with everyone here. I lost my 15 year old cat, Clara, almost 15 months ago. I cried pretty much every day for months and spent days in bed after deciding to let her go. I still cry a lot to be honest, but I promise it gets better. For me (and probably for many), I relived those 30 minutes in the vet office every night when I closed my eyes. I had so much guilt that I took her out of her home and into a vet’s office. If I had known when she would decline so rapidly, I would have wanted someone to come to the house. But you have to remember that what you did is an act of love. It seems so counterintuitive when we spend our pets whole life keeping them healthy and taking care of them....particularly when they get sick and old. But - as has been said - letting them suffer is only prolonging their death, not their life.

I read a book called “the pet loss companion” that I recommend to help process your grief.
It does take time, but eventually it gets easier and you are better able to focus on the love you shared and the happy memories. Hang in there. (Hugs) :-)

Posts: 4
Thank you all you have responded to my post- Severus, Enyasdad and Dearmiss. I am sorry for your losses. Their innocence and unconditional love makes their passing so much more painful. Seeing your messages has really meant a lot to me. It has been six days and my brain is still processing Al's death. I've been going through all our pictures and writing our memories together down.

I got his ashes and paw print yesterday and this morning was the first morning I could actually eat breakfast. Having him home is helping. I can't really explain it, but I feel more at ease like he is here. I can talk to him and find comfort in that.

There was one thing that was happening with Al that my vet was never able to explain to me and I am wondering if any of you had anything similar happen. About once or twice a month for 2 years Al would wake me up shaking uncontrollably for a couple hours. (He would physically come and nudge me to wake up to help him.) This only happened at night and all I could do to comfort him was hold him. He didn't cry in pain or anything and he never needed to go to the bathroom. It was so odd. I took him to the vet and they ran blood tests and everything was normal. Has this happened to anyone else and/or do you know what could have been the problem? I was always so scared when it happened and felt like he was giving me a sign that he was ready to go.

Thank you again so much!

Posts: 9
I made a photo album too with every single picture I could possibly find and started to write all of our memories down too, I put her picture in a frame and made a special place for her on a table-it will help so much. I remember mine would shake too- I was told it was her body temperature as when they get older it doesn't regulate like it use to, I feel that it was a sign that her body was failing. It is ok that you didn't recognize it, I was in denial too and I regret lots, but I know she would have suffered and I did not want to have her go through that, she didn't deserve it. 

Posts: 15
I'm sorry for your loss too.  The vet made a paw impression on some kind of synthetic clay for us to keep.  I framed it along with a favorite photo of Emma.  It was also helpful for me to make a Shutterfly book.  It was a way to spend a little more time with her, making decisions about layout and text, and I will have that book forever. 

Posts: 4
The shaking might have been some sort of seizures. My very old chihuahua Scampers had them from time to time in her final years of life.

It is a difficult decision for all of us to make because our pet is losing its life and we are losing our best friend. And yes, I want to echo the part about loving my dog more than I did my own relatives. I cried more when she died than when my own brother died. It is a very difficult time emotionally to go through but time does help.

The other thing that helps is getting a new dog. If possible for others reading this and facing the coming inevitable with their current dog, get a new dog while you still have time. There is no worse feeling in my opinion than coming home to an empty house and the reality sinking in, and the abrupt change of suddenly having no dog at all. Believe me it helps a lot to have a dog in your home that you already know and love for emotional support during this very dark time in your life. I never thought I would ever love a new dog as much as I did Scampers and while she is very different than Scampers, she is very wonderful in her own way.

Posts: 4
I lost my beloved Kelly Dec 8th at 17 years and after coming home to an empty house I am going to get another JRT shortie like her. I am excited and looking forward to picking her up in Mid May. Dogs live in the moment and after my Kelly passed I asked for a sign. There was a phone called I looked at the caller id and it said Brown Kellie. She was brown faced and her name was Kellie and that was my sign that she made it to the rainbow bridge!!! They are still with us ! Before she passed she stayed up all night with her paw on my heart! that is love! Love will carry us through and the joy that a dog brings is everlasting!!

Posts: 6
Hi Alspals Mom.
Your post echoes so much of what I went through.  I euthanized my beloved dog Jasper 2/13/18.  I experienced extreme guilt & regret.  I couldn't explain it either, but I felt a bit
better when I received his ashes back.  It was several months before I was ready to spread them
on the property he loved.  I just want to tell you that I had always heard the saying "what a 
difference a year makes". I believe it is so true.  A few months after Jasper passed, I went to 
our local shelter & adopted another dog.  My expectations were not very high, as I thought I could never love another dog as much as Jasper, but I just missed having a dog around.  
Remarkably, Gryffin worked his way into my heart & helped it to heal.  I don't love Jasper any 
less, and I still miss him, but I know it was meant for Gryffin to come into my home and heart.
I truly believe Jasper approves.  Be kind to yourself.  It will get better. You did the right thing.

Hugs to you 

Posts: 4
Its been a little over 3 weeks since I said a painful goodbye to my dog Al. I have to say that getting his ashes home has been somewhat helpful to me. Its a comfort knowing that he is home where he belongs. But I am still dealing with theses HUGE waves of grief. I miss him SOOOO much. It sounds strange and kind of sad, but Al knew me better than anyone. He was my constant comfort and companion. Its so hard not having him here.

I also still feel so much guilt about not doing more to give him more time. I feel like I gave up on him. I tell myself that if I would have waited and done more I might be regretting putting him through more suffering. I know he was in so much pain. I only let that pain go on for 3 days before I said it was enough. What is a life when you blind, deaf and in pain or on pain killers? I almost believe I did the right thing. Hopefully one day I will forgive myself.

Thank you all for your comments. They have been so helpful.


Posts: 26
Hi Alpals_mom,

I just finishing writing a reply on another thread of how the guilt I held onto so tight and the would’ve, should’ve, could’ve game has slowly disappeared. I don’t feel guilt anymore, but rather more relieved he is not suffering and I try to remember the great life we shared. I wanted for that life to continue for ever but unfortunately, it does not. Maybe, it is reminder that we need to enjoy life more.

I hope that overtime that guilt you have disappears and when it does, the love you have will always remain. You will always miss your beloved family member. It will become easier once the emotional fog you are under slowly dissipates. My heart goes out to you. I only vaguely remember the first few weeks as I was on emotional overload.

Posts: 3
I am still feeling extremely guilty.  It will be 4 months on May 25th that I had to put my beautiful boy Mac down.  His hind legs were going, he was pooing in the house, just walking and it would fall out.  His legs got really bad when it got cold and he collapsed and I had to pick him up. 

He was my life.  He was my emotional support animal.  I had to put him down 4 days after his 13th birthday.  I knew the day would come, but it came too fast and what I will never get over is that I didn't hold him, I wasn't touching him, I didn't kiss him, I didn't tell him I loved him the hundreds of thousands of times I always told him.  Everyone told me I was in shock. 

I just cannot get passed that, it will haunt me for the rest of my life.  I have cried every day 2 or 3 days a day since it happened.  I will never forgive myself.  I always hugged him, I always kissed him, I always told him I loved him constantly and when he needed me the most I just knelt there not believing what I was doing.

It's an awful feeling, I've had dogs all my life, I'm 65 and Mac was special, he was perfect and I wasn't there for him when he needed me.  I don't know what was running through my head when it was happening.  My heart is shattered not broken shattered.  I don't want to live without him, I have never felt so lonely in my life.  I have never felt so useless in my life. 

I will never get over what I did, I don't deserve another dog and that's if I even want one, Mac will never be replaced.  It took me a year to get Mac after my last Old English Sheepdog died.  I don't deserve to be a mom to another dog.

I don't know why, I just don't know why I wasn't holding him, I hate myself.

Posts: 4
Dear Mcrt.....
Your post sounds so familiar with our experience. Our boy Gus was pretty much blind, deaf and losing
His legs. He was pooping in the house, and basically losing his dignity toward the end. But we loved him!
We loved him so much. We talked to him, and for him.He was a funny, sweet, wise dog. He loved us right back. We hiked over 12000 miles with him unleashed.. We snuggles thousands of times. He was so gentle and loving. But when we decided to put him to sleep, we became like Zombies. We were cold and methodical. It was a snap decision. And it will be hard to accept ever. ....I think maybe that God knows that we couldn’t do it if we were in our normal state of mind, and he steels us for what he knows is the time. That’s the only way I can explain it. We would never have hurt a hair on Gussies head. But after watching his decline over 2 years. And making countless adjustments for him, we knew the day was coming. At some point you have to say “this is the day” So you can sleep through the night, or whatever latest adjustment you are dealing with. I read where most people wait too long , and the dog suffers. That can’t happen! Please forgive yourself. And remember the great quote from Charles Dickens. “ No one is useless who can help lift the burden of someone else.”

Posts: 175
To All Those Who Have Posted On This Thread, 

I too had to let my sweet, sweet Rosie, my beloved white little Jack Russell Terrier go to the Rainbow Bridge one year ago yesterday.  I had her for over 14 years...I got her as a stray so I'm not sure how old she really was but I estimate at least 16 or 17.  People say, well, she lived a good long life but it is never long enough!

My poor girl had a heart murmur that turned into congestive heart failure.  She was such a proud and noble little dog who had been with me through some of the best and worst times of my life; divorces, estranged adult children, traveling around the US, our adventures were endless.  

But the last year or so of her life it was not quality.  She became deaf, incontinent at times, confused and the heart issue....I literally spent a couple thousand dollars on that alone.  But it didn't matter.  To see her go downhill and stop doing the things she loved broke my heart.

So after I had picked her up from my old vet (I no longer go there) one year ago and they had drained 2 lbs of fluid from her lungs...she only weighed 16 lbs.  Rosie and I had a little talk.  We talked about what a wonderful little companion and soulmate she had been to me through the years.  We talked about her playing with the soccer ball on the beach and chasing squirrels; about her always sitting in my lap and how she loved running through the woods.  And then we talked about her going to the Rainbow Bridge.  I told her I loved her so so much but I was ready to let her go; if she wanted to go.  Rosie was ready, but I wasn't.  I so wanted her to be her old self again but those days were long gone.  

As I talked to her, she listened as if she was going on a new adventure.  Her ears perked up and her eyes....those little brown eyes...were full of excitement.  I was releasing her to go home to God; after all he only lends us our babies for a short time.  

The next morning around 5 a.m. I awoke to her panting heavily and in dire distress.  I rushed her to the emergency clinic.  They told me they could try saving her but she would probably only last a few more months....but I wanted those months!  However, I remember my promise to my little girl the night before...that I would let her go.  So I held her in my arms while they put her to sleep.  They warned me she would poop and pee on me but I didn't care.  Then with her last breath, I felt her little spirit leap into the air free from her aged and broken body.  She immediately became cold.  The vet said that was because her little heart was just broken and couldn't be fixed.  

I miss my baby every day.  I know I did the right thing and kept my promise to Rosie but it hurt(s) so bad...even though she's been gone a year.  I know she is healthy and happy at the Rainbow Bridge.  She tells me the grass is green and the sun shines all the time.

I know this is long and I hope you all read it.  I believe euthanizing a beloved but suffering fur baby is the greatest and most ultimate act of love we can give them....and that is what I gave my Rosie.  See you at the Rainbow Bridge my sweet little squirrel chaser.

Mama (Jackie in Seattle, WA) also mama to LuLu, KitKat and Blossom.


Posts: 1
I had to put my Bernie of 12 years down on Friday. It was the most difficult decision I've ever had to make. I am wracked with guilt because he had a burst of barking and jumping, when my father came over that day. He really loved my father because he would rough-house with Bernie. However, he did go to the side and lie down. He would usually play with my father for a good hour. When I told the vet about his pulse of energy, he said that was fairly normal. He pointed out that Bernie had to retire himself fairly quick. Bernie had been losing weight, down to 8lbs. from his usual 15lbs. He had been throwing up and had stopped eating/drinking for a few days. X-rays showed a mass that was growing and the vet(s) said he had cancer. He had been to the office two other times and both times they said his prognosis was poor. I just couldn't put him down then, he seemed to have a little quality of life. He stopped meeting me at the door. I would find him lying on the sofa and had to coax him off. He stopped doing his tricks or would start then just stop. He had trouble walking like his muscles were stiff. And his face.. His eyes looked so sad and he would look away. That killed me. I have other guilt that I wished I had spent more time with him and not worked so much. I wished on my days off, I hadn't felt depressed and just couldn't move myself. I feel like I did this great dog a disservice. He did so much to make my days a little better but I feel like I didn't do much back for him. Maybe all of this is normal but I wished I had been better.

Posts: 1
It’s nearly 3 weeks since my beautiful chihuahua Merlin was put to sleep. For the last 3 years he had heart disease and was having regular scans. When he started to cough I hoped that it was just a cough and would just clear up. It didn’t and he started gagging and not eating much. His vet said it was probably his heart enlarging due to the heart disease and booked him in for tests. I received a phone call from the vet saying they had found a very large mass in his lung and the options would be to wait and make him comfortable until an end of life decision, or to do a biopsy to see if any treatment could be offered. I opted for the biopsy in the hope he could be treated. The vet rang and said his breathing became difficult during the sedation so she had to put him under general anaesthetic and in doing so found another mass at the back of his throat, she said did I want the oncologist to have a look to see if it could be removed, of course I said yes. She rang me back and said the position it was in it couldn’t be removed. She said it might be kinder to put him to sleep while he was under anaesthetic, as removing the breathing tube could rupture the mass and put him in distress. I was devastated and in complete shock. I said I wanted to hold him while they put him to sleep, even though he wouldn’t know I was there. It was heartbreaking, I expected to take him home with heart medication, instead he never came home. The vet said she herself was very shocked as she wasn’t expecting that either. I have been struggling with making that decision and had to phone the vet to talk it through. She said it was a very aggressive cancer, it took up most of his lung and that she doesn’t think he would have made it out of the anaesthetic because of the one in his throat, and if by some miracle he did she said we would’ve been rushing him back in a few days which would cause him great distress, that even if it was caught earlier it couldn’t be treated and we would’ve been in the same position. She said it was the right decision for him and it was the most unselfish thing to do putting him first. I still can’t forgive myself though, he was only 10 years 9 months, we should have had a good few years still together, I miss him so much it hurts, he was my beautiful baby, I can’t see a way out of this pain

Posts: 2,429
Bernie's Dad - I am so very sorry for your loss and your pain.  It is so very clear how much you love your Bernie.  I believe that after we lose our baby - especially when we feel that we made a choice - our brain struggles to make sense and too often finds/assigns blame to ourselves.

First - your decision was made out of love.  It wasn't even a choice.  Your Bernie was suffering.  He was powering through each day for YOU.  Your boy loved you and would have walked through fire for you.  But as someone that loved him so, you would never have let him do that.  You made the decision to take on the pain and release him from his.

Second - I have absolutely no doubt your Bernie's eyes were sad.  He knew that your heart was breaking.  So he was sad.  Your boy throughout his 12 years with you only wanted to love you, make you smile.  

Third - based on what you shared (his pain,lack of mobility, weight loss) you made the decision when it needed to be done.  I guarantee if you had waited too much longer you would be racked with guilt about waiting too long.

Last, with regards to the "should have's" (worked less/play more) your Bernie enjoyed every minute of his life with you.  HE had no regrets.  You must take a page from his book and embrace each and every memory that you made together. 

I am so very very sorry for your loss.  I would encourage you to start a post on the main page and share some of your stories about Bernie.  Sharing that love and memories of your special boy may help.

Take Care
InMemoryOfRascal....and Rambo

Posts: 1
This morning, I put my beloved Mischief down. My best friend since I was 3 years old. She was 11 1/2. Mischief had had problems for many years, but yesterday completely collapsed and was paralyzed. 4 years ago, we spent 5,000 dollars on a surgery. It was worth it, but we didn't have the money to do another surgery that was more expensive this time, and the recovery was long and painful for an old, little dog to endure. She wasn't drinking, or going to the bathroom, though she was eating a tiny bit. We went to the vet and had her put down. I had a panic attack and fainted while it was happening, and I just feel so guilty that I wasn't holding her while she went. I am full of guilt. The rest of my family besides my mom were 2,000 miles away, and didn't get to say goodbye. I stil don't know if it was the right thing to do. Should I have put her down and ended her suffering, or waited it out on meds and see if she could get better? I feel like we could've tried...just so my brothers and dad could say goodbye to her one last time...but that would've been selfish. I genuinely don't know what was best for her, and now I am overflowing with guilt. Did I just kill my baby when she was full of more life? She was in so much pain, but what if something could've been done? I am sick to my stomach, my heart aches, I am lost. 

Posts: 26
I’m sorry for loss,

The amount of grief you are feeling often brings on the would’ve, could’ve and should’ve. This happens as you miss mischief so much, which is completely understandable. However, rationally you already know the answer when you write it would have been unfair for mischief to prolong the pain and suffering for family members to say goodbye. Unfortunately, our beloved fur friends are not very good at communicating what is wrong with them as they adapt quite well as they age, however, when they stop eating and drinking they are now letting you it is time. Paralysis, pain, side effects of meds, not eating and drinking you had to make one of hardest but bravest decision. You put mischief needs over those of your own. It is never easy and I’m sorry for the pain you are feeling. I had 14 year cat that I put through an expensive surgery as the vets assured me it would solve the issue. The surgery was successful but I forgot to realize he was 14 years old and after the surgery another major issue arose and we had to euthanize him 2 months later. We had to euthanize his brother back in December and only now I have accepted my beloved fur babies got old. We can not prevent aging and the illnesses that comes with it. You made the best decisions based on the information you had and the quality of life mischief was experiencing. The overwhelming pain of missing mischief will make you second guess everything. Whether it is just a few years to 20 or more years it is never enough time with our beloved fur babies. You did the right thing!
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