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preparing for the end:(

(34 Posts)
flyinghogfish Tue 02-Dec-14 14:48:36

Hi everyone. Firstly can I say what a lovely forum this is, I have been lurking here for a while and have read some lovely posts, you all really love your dog's and I wanted to share my story.
15 1/2 years ago I bought home a tri coloured border collie who completely changed mine and my partners lives. He was quirky, clever and so affectionate always on the go. As our children appeared he took it all in his stride, and was always very patient when they started crawling, etc, such a good dog.
About 18 months ago I noticed he had a bit of stiffness in his back legs. The vet diagnosed arthritis and prescribed him with metacam and tramadol which he has been taking ever since. He was still happy in himself, enjoying short walks and his weekly roast dinner smile
This morning I noticed that he kept tending up and shaking, looking very unhappy so I took him back to the vets. Turns out the arthritis has spread to his back sad
Because he is still eating and drinking and appears lucid he has prescribed stronger pain killers and we have to see how he goes over the next week or so, but he said we should be prepared for the fact that this may be the end of the road for him.
My children are 11 and 13, and have had him all through their lives. They are going to be devastated (as will me and my partner) and I wondered if anyone could give me some advice regarding preparing them for the inevitable? Should I allow them to be present when it's finally time? I think I would like the vet to come to our house to do it while he's tucked up in his favourite blanket after a nice roast dinner in familiar surroundings (I am crying as I write this it's just so painful) or would it be better to take him to the surgery? He is currently linked on painkillers and looks very comfortable, dear old dog xx

basildonbond Tue 02-Dec-14 17:14:12

That's so sad - poor you and poor ddog

When our family dog we'd had since I was 4 had to be put to sleep we all went to the vets to say goodbye but I couldn't stay in the room while she went (still makes me want to cry even now, 30 years later)

I do wish we'd asked the vet to come to the house as I think it would be much nicer to slip away in the comfort of your own home surrounded by the people you love

Be very nice to yourselves - even though you've got some notice that the end can't be far off now it will still come as a shock when it eventually happens

Pootrouble Tue 02-Dec-14 18:23:23

We had our beloved german shep put to sleep today. I was heartbroken sad I wouldnt recommend children being there- I am glad we didnt. Our dog was given two sedation injections which still didnt knock her out fully and she kept growling and snapping at the vet. That was very hard to see. Im lost in the house without y baby

EasyToEatTiger Tue 02-Dec-14 18:50:39

I fear time is closing in on our eldest dog too. We lost one of the oldies last year, which was unbearably sad. It happened very fast, really over the course of a day. The vet came to the house and we knew that ddog felt safe. We were all there and really it could not have gone better. I didn't want to go to the vets and crash the car on the way back because I was howling so much. I think it is much nicer for everyone if the vet can come to you, but that's just me.

flyinghogfish Tue 02-Dec-14 19:08:14

Thank you everyone, trouble I am very sorry to hear you lost your dog today and it sounds like you made the right decision to take ddog to the vets.
We have spoken to the children and they have taken it quite well, to be honest we all knew it was inevitable.
We are going to see how it pans out over the next couple of days, but at the moment we are all in agreement that he should be home when it happens, he will be feeling secure and in familiar surroundings.
So I guess it's just a waiting game now, he seems very settled and ate a good dinner, we will take each day as it comes.
Thanks again for your responses x

Molotov Tue 02-Dec-14 19:15:14

Bless you, flying, that's such a sad post sad Have my hand to hold and a cuddle, too thanks

My first dog was bought for me when I was 4yo and lived til he was 17yo ... so I had him from ages 4-21yo. He had cataracts and was in ailing health. One day he just went down the garden and just couldn't make it back up to the house. My DF and I took him to the vet but there wasn't anything the vet was prepared to do: my dog had probably had a stroke and he kindest thing was to take the pain away from him by having him put to sleep.

My old dog was calm and the vet was gentle. I wouldn't leave him and held him when he was given the injection: I felt his body relax and then I felt him 'go'. It was quick and I'm certain he felt no pain.

But I did. And it happened 10 years ago and it still hurts me.

I left the room in floods of hysterical tears. I didn't react in the way I thought I would. I didn't have children of my own then, but unless they were 18+, I wouldn't allow them to witness it.

I was also very unstable when clearing his stuff out of the house and kept replaying my favourite times with him: thw first time I saw him and begging my parents for the cute puppy; the way he would join me in my wendy house when I was a child; how he would sit by my feet under the table as I did my homework in my teens; the way we had to leave the radio on for him on Bonfire Night because he hated fireworks; seeing him in my mind's eye, curled up in his basket as an elderly gent ... It was just so profoundly sad. They're members of your family, after all, but just give yourself some time to let it sink in and grieve sad

I hope that it is a while off for your dog yet. Meanwhile, just make him as comfortable as possible and give him as much love as he needs.

Best wishes, OP thanks

Molotov Tue 02-Dec-14 19:18:12

I forgot to say that I agree that you're doing the right thing in getting the vet to come to you.

Molotov Tue 02-Dec-14 19:18:46

... when the time comes.

It might not be his time just yet x

Aliennation Tue 02-Dec-14 19:30:05

Hi OP, I grew up with a border collie, she was my best friend. Had her from age 5 to 21! Such faithful dogs.
I am now a vet nurse, we did a home euthanasia for a client last week (16 yr old collie). As euthanasias go it was very calm and peaceful, we gave a sedative first so she wasn't stressed and slept away in her owners arms. I think euthanasias are less stressful for the animal.
Sorry you're facing this difficult time, it's so hard to let them go.

Aliennation Tue 02-Dec-14 19:30:56

Should be 'home euthanasias'.

EvenBetter Thu 04-Dec-14 18:30:45

I'm sorry, I know how you feel, cherish him while you still have him, take big sniffs of his smell and kiss him, because its hell when they're not here.
Having the vet come out is a millions times preferable to making them go to the surgery which they all hate and find scary!
(Word of warning, our vet wouldn't take our darlings body away, we had to bring it to the vets for the crematorium to pick up, ourselves, which we didn't know about until she was dead, so ask your vet what they do)

Collaborate Thu 04-Dec-14 20:14:15

I was 19 when our 13 yr old rough collie was PTS. I'm glad I stayed with him. My parents couldn't bring themselves to stay in the room, but just before the vet gave the injection I was overcome with a sense of calm, that I was there to hold him in his last moments, and I could see that he was at last at peace. If your children want to be there, let them. Please.

Owllady Thu 04-Dec-14 22:18:47

I've unfortunately lost two collies in the last few years, one 18, the other 12. Both in very different circumstances. My children were also a similar age to yours.

The older girl we had done at home as I refused to take her to the vets as it was unfair on her. We had no warning so unfortunately the children learnt of her death when they came home from school.

The other one was in an accident and I spoke to them when they came home from school and the one wanted yo come (he was 11 at the time) he stroked and talked to her but had to leave before they pts but I stayed.

I think you do best of the situation but with time to plan I'd do as your instinct tells you. I'm so sorry, it's do hard. They get into your heart and its just devastating

JoffreyBaratheon Thu 04-Dec-14 22:30:34

OP, I'm going to be really honest with you. Because I just went through this a couple of months ago losing my 14 year old dog. And there is stuff I wish I'd known.

I have been with several dogs when PTS. My 6 year old staffy got a brain tumour and had to be PTS a few years back. He died on his feet - in a split second. I also stayed with a friend's 14 year old dog being PTS, same vet practice - and he definitely didn't die instantly. Maybe a matter of seconds but he was distressed. I never told my friend (they had to leave the room before the dog went - they couldn't cope with it so I stayed so it would have a familiar face with it at the end).

When my 14 year old went recently, she also seemed distressed. As the vet was doing it she remarked something about older dogs sometimes taking a bit longer because their circulations can be compromised. I wish she'd told me sooner. Later I researched online to try to make sense of what we saw - my dog also did something I have never seen before called 'agonal breathing'. A reflex makes them appear to continue to try to draw breaths after their brain is dead and heart has stopped (Sorry to be so graphic but I wish someone had warned me this could happen). It went on for a minute or more - even after the vet left us alone with her. It was very frightening and distressing to watch. I have been at home caring for my disabled son all the years I had this dog so she had been my life and soul, and only company in the day, day in day out for 14 years. There are no words for how much I loved my dog - and to see that was also beyond words. The vet said something breezy like "Oh that's just a reflex - don't worry!" Which wasn't much help but when I did look it up later I found out it was as she said, a reflex and if anything, a sign the dog has already gone. Sorry again to be so graphic.

I researched a bit further and found out you can have a pet sedated before the final injection (no-one has ever told me that and we weren't offered it But now I know the vet knew this could have happened and was indeed more likely with an old dog - I feel upset as we should have been offered this)

We couldn't afford to have her PTS at home which would have been ideal as she hated the vet's But I also looked this up afterwards (couldn't face researching it before - I was in shock about her having to go). But I learned that although it sounds ideal it is a bit like a home birth. Things can go wrong and if they do, there isn't the back up you'd get at the surgery. I also read it is statistically more likely an elderly dog will not die peacefully in its sleep and can suffer a lot in the last hours maybe in the middle of the night when you couldn't get to a vet - so I knew we did the right thing.

My husband made the appointment at about 10am and she was PTS at 5pm. It was in the summer holidays so the kids - including the adult kids and my youngest who had her their entire lives - were all at home from uni and school. We gathered them together and told them. They spent the day hugging her and saying goodbye.

The older kids were at the point they already knew she would have to go. It was obvious she had no quality of life.

Given the distress she had for maybe the last minute or two or her life and then that grisly agonal breathing I was so glad the kids - even the 21 year old - stayed home. I think they'd still be traumatised now if they'd seen it. It is probably also commoner in old dogs.

Love to you OP. My advice is under no circs let the kids be in the room when it happens (just in case) and give them time to say goodbye in their own way. Our staff we buried in the garden with full ceremony and grave goods (the kids each put a present in with him - his favourite toys or something of their's that was precious to them). Our bullie I was in such shock I couldn't face bringing her home and couldn't afford to have her ashes back. Simply had no money except what it cost to put her to sleep.

So we will never have her home. And I regret not just bringing her home now. I think having the other dog in the garden helped the kids to let go of him - in that they saw him off even if they weren't there when he died.

Love to you OP. Am here if you need me. Sorry for the content of this but I wish someone had told me these things may be rare I dunno but they DO happen.

atonofwashing Fri 05-Dec-14 21:52:57

Oh so many sad stories. We lost our beloved doggie just over a week ago.
Her bed is still in the lounge, we can't bear to move it. The blankets are washed and folded, but her smell still lingers and every so often I sneak up to where her blanket is,hold it up and inhale. Heartbreaking stuff. So sad.

Anyway, we had to have her PTS in the end, it was cruel to keep her alive. I made the appointment with the vet. I brought her to the family, I felt it was my responsibility to send her on her way. The full circle.
We were all with her, including our 8 yr old son. As your kids are older, ask them what they want to do. I felt that as we are a family we should all be together. And we were, and I don't regret it. We talk abt heaven and the rainbow bridge. It brings great comfort.

Enjoy your pet while you can, in your heart you'll know what the best thing is. Good luck, it's an awful time.

inmyshoos Fri 05-Dec-14 22:44:37

Hi flying
I have had to make this heartbreaking decision twice in the past 3 years. Firstly my 10 year old Great Dane and then a year later my 18 year old collie x. It was heartbreaking.
Both times i had the vet come to the house and I had them sedated before hand. My lovely dane went quite peacefully. She was i suppose less fragile than my very old frail collie girl and so would agree as they age euthanasia maybe harder. Both dogs did the agonal breathing joffrey describes. With my dane it was less obvious. One or two breaths and then she lay peacefully in my arms. Beautiful velvety girl. I always remember wanting to kiss her velvety ears one last time because i knew i would miss them so much.
My lovely fiesty colliex was a fighter til the end. She lived until she was 18 and making the decision in the end was an easier one than my dane. Her body became frail, she was deaf, eyesight failing and was becoming confused. She was a wee soul. I knew i had loved her with all my heart all the days she had been mine and giving her a dignified passing was the least i could do for her.
Both times i spent the day with them. Roast chickens for dinner. Lay infront of the fire breathing in their smell. Saying my goodbyes. It is heart breaking. But be calm, stay strong for your old boy. Collies are so sensitive.
He may have longer than you think. My old girl was frail for a good while. It was when she stopped wagging her tail I knew i had to help her.
Warmest wishes op. Savour every day. X

JoffreyBaratheon Fri 05-Dec-14 23:18:03

Yes, with mine we didn't realise til the very end but she had stopped wagging her tail months before. Just happened so gradually we didn't realise. Bull terriers do this crazy thing (even when elderly) called a 'bully run' where they rush up and down and in circles, and bounce off the wall - especially when you've gone out and come home again. But just generally when happy. The bully runs got more and more feeble and then she'd only do them - very faintly - for me and no-one else. I was the one who brought her home, and she was from the second she saw me, mummy's girl.

I realised it was 6 months since she'd done even the feeblest bully run.

She had been diagnosed as having dementia several years earlier, had been blind for a decade and gone deaf that last year. But it wasn't til we realised there had been no tail wagging or bully runs for ages, that we accepted it was time.

OP get lots of photos of her doing her favourite things and with her favourite people. I wouldn't accept my dog was going til the day it happened. So I didn't do all that.

DorisIsALittleBitPartial Fri 05-Dec-14 23:24:55

Flying, I am so sorry to hear about your ddog. I totally agree with PP who say to get the vet out and for this to happen at home when your dog is content - that moment will stay with you.
Lots of thanks to you all.

flyinghogfish Mon 08-Dec-14 08:38:10

Thank you everyone for sharing your stories, I really appreciate it.
Update on my boy, he is still with us, but he's not really with us (if that makes sense?) He spends most of his time sleeping and struggles to get in and out of his bed.
So I am going to speak to my vet today and start planning and making preparations to say goodbye. This has been a hard decision, and I have barely slept, just lie in bed thinking about what needs to be done, wishing I could turn the clock back so we could have a few more years. I feel this is the right thing to do, poor dog isn't really living, just existing and its not fair on him xxx

Geoff0409 Mon 08-Dec-14 10:38:04

Hi flying,

Reading your heartbreaking thread brought it all back to me about when we had our first dog out to sleep, and then a couple of years after my Wife's family (she was my girlfriend then). It was absolutely terrible.

You are so lucky that you have had him and that he is such a lovely part of your family. I wish you nothing more than much love and respect and hope in the longer term all you have are happy memories.

All the very best, a fellow dog lover, Geoff0409 .

Geoff0409 Mon 08-Dec-14 10:40:39

So sorry, seem to have missed out a few words, should read

Reading your heartbreaking thread brought it all back to me about when we had our first dog put to sleep, and then a couple of years after my girlfriend's (now Wife) family's dog went through the same. It was absolutely terrible.

You are so lucky that you have had him and that he is such a lovely part of your family. I wish you nothing more than much love and respect and hope in the longer term all you have are happy memories.

All the very best, a fellow dog lover, Geoff0409 .

flyinghogfish Tue 09-Dec-14 22:14:01

Thank you everyone for your kind words and for sharing your stories.
We have tried reducing his meds on the vets advice to see if he perks up, but he struggles to get up from lying down, and when he is standing up and staying still his back end drifts down to a sitting position it's almost like he doesn't have much strength there any more.
So we are planning to take him to the surgery to have him pts Friday afternoon, we decided against the home environment just in case there are complications, plus my daughter will have the option of not being present, to be honest I don't think she would handle it too well.
He will be cremated and we will wait for a perfect sunny day to scatter his ashes in a spot on his favourite walk, say a little prayer and then go for a whippy ice cream (he loved those!)
I have also found a gorgeous photo of him looking so young and happy before old age took over, it was a lovely summer's day and we were fishing for minnows with the children. This will be turned in to a big canvas print to be displayed in our living room so we can all see it and remember our happy times.
It's been a very tough and emotional week for all of us, thank you again for all your kind words and advice, God bless xx

KiwiJude Thu 11-Dec-14 20:30:32

biggest hugs to you and your family for Friday flyinghogfish. Today it's a year since our darling boxer boy had to be pts. We miss him terribly, huge hole in our hearts and lives but we had such fun and love with and from him it was worth it.

Molotov Thu 11-Dec-14 20:37:36

Your post put tears in my eyes, flying. Wishing you all the best thanks

God bless you and your dog xxx

flyinghogfish Thu 11-Dec-14 22:37:24

Thank you xx
so tonight is our last. We have all shared our happiest memories, from his serious cushion humping addiction, his first trip to the beach when a big wave swept his back end under him (the look on his face was priceless), a walk on the moors when he fell in a ditch and came out covered in black eggy stinking mud, his obsession with any kind of ball, doing tricks for treats, how he attacked the Hoover and broom, his favourite scratchy spots that would make him gurn like a loon and his legs would go smile
Tomorrow we are having sausages for breakfast and I will see if he is ok for a short walk to check his "wee mails" one last time.
Can't bring myself to go to bed just yet, he is happily sleeping in front of the fire and I am enjoying watching him and remembering happy times xx

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