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Old dog quality of life-is it time? Feel so torn.

(29 Posts)
Arsenicinthesugarbowl Tue 09-Jul-19 21:48:37

I have a 13 YO border collie whose mobility has deteriorated a lot in the past 12 months but very drastically over the last two months. He struggles now to stand without assistance although can walk ok once helped up. He’s not incontinent generally but has had one or two accidents lately. Doesn’t cock his leg anymore but usually manages ok once outside.
He looks exhausted after very short periods walking and isn’t the dog he once was. He also gets into corners and can’t work out how to turn round and get out again-I think his vision is going as he can’t judge kerbs etc. He doesn’t appear to enjoy anything much anymore except gentle fusses and cuddles. He isn’t eating much although remains enthusiastic about scoffing ham or cheese from fridge. Not really touching his kidney diet dog food at all in last few days but will nibble on treats.
We have taken him to the vets multiple times over the last year and 3/4 times in last 6 weeks. He fell over at the vets this week and couldn’t get up and vet recognised he has no strength in back legs but now the front ones are tired out too. Vets have given painkillers, appetite stimulants-talked about hydrotherapy too. They even mentioned rest and surgery a few months ago which felt a bit crazy for such an old boy. This is where I feel torn as I wonder if I should be doing more for him but also like he is suffering and it’s not right.
His heart is good, some kidney failure, terrible mobility-back legs are wasting away and he is at times evidently in pain which I cannot bear to see. His new medication does seem to have resolved the pain but we’ve had to double the dose in two weeks as it wasn’t working well enough.
He’s just not our lovely dog anymore and I feel that perhaps I’m being cruel by not having him PTS. But then the vet isn’t mentioning a prognosis or plan other than keep taking painkillers and trying to get him to eat.
I hoped he might just go to sleep and not wake up one night but I don’t think that is going to happen.
He’s my first dog and I want to do right by him. He’s been with me since 9 weeks old. I would really appreciate advice from people who have had to make the same decision or have had a dog with similar issues.
Thank you if you’ve got this far-didn’t mean for it to be so long.

Ilikesweetpeas Tue 09-Jul-19 21:56:31

Ahh, it's so hard isn't it? I'm having similar thoughts about my dog. Every time I make the decision she seems to get a bit better. What I would say from previous experience is think about having the vet do a home visit to put them to sleep. This is what we did last time and it was so much kinder. My dog was asleep in their bed, didn't wake up when the vet arrived (deaf) and didn't stir as the vet injected them, it was a very peaceful ending. I wish you well thanks

fourquenelles Tue 09-Jul-19 22:01:54

I am a great believer (but not good at it in practice) that's it's better to be a week too soon than a day too late when thinking about helping our dogs pass away. flowers

WisestIsShe Tue 09-Jul-19 22:06:26

It is absolutely the worst decision you'll ever have to make for you, but it is the kindest decision you can make for your boy. From what you've said it sounds like it might be time for him. Be brave and strong and do the right thing for your best friend.
I agree with pp it's better a few days early than a few days late.
I'm so sorry that you're losing him.

Dodahdodah Tue 09-Jul-19 22:09:05

It’s time. 🐾💐

bsmirched Tue 09-Jul-19 22:13:51

Oh OP I could have pretty much written this. We have a Jack Russell boy who is at least 12.5 - he's a rescue so we're not certain. Over the last month he's gone so thin and lost all strength in his back legs so we have to carry him upstairs and lift him onto the sofa. He's eating fine and when outside he'll have a little wander and a sniff, but like your lovely boy just isn't getting any enjoyment out of life. He can't play any more, just lies on the sofa most of the time.
He also has a significant heart murmur and is just seemingly aging before our eyes. Like you, I've hoped the decision would be taken out of our hands but it hasn't.
We've made the decision to have him pts at the weekend. I'd rather we can do this for him in a calm, planned way than be suddenly faced with an emergency situation where he's obviously massively suffering and we have to rush him up to the vets. I am 95% at peace with this decision but have had a few wobbles. We have 2 little boys, 5 and 9, who have grown up with him so I'm hoping this way we can say goodbye and let him go quietly and with dignity.
I don't have any easy answer for you, but I've asked my boys if they think he's happy or enjoying life and they agree he's not. I think you probably know the answer in your heart of hearts. I'm just comforting myself knowing we have loved and spoiled him and he's had a good life with us. Won't stop me breaking my heart over him, but I think it's the best thing for him.

GrumpyMiddleAgedWoman Tue 09-Jul-19 22:14:33

A week too soon is definitely better than a day too late: we had our old PTS 18 months ago when she was still just about able to enjoy life but was going downhill fast (she had a tumour, so with her the decision was easier, as we knew she hadn't got long anyway).

The best advice I have ever heard on this topic is to think of a list of things your dog used to enjoy - walks, sniffs, food, treats, chews, cuddles, games, work, training, sunbathing, whatever - and then consider how many are left.

SIL used this with her dog, and felt she'd picked the right time. But it's never easy, and it always feel terrible. flowers

Arsenicinthesugarbowl Tue 09-Jul-19 22:16:23

Thank you all so much. I think really I know it is but I can’t quite bear to be the one to decide. I want the vet to tell me it’s time but they don’t know my dog like I do so why would they? He's been such a treasure all these years I want to do what’s right for him.
I will speak to the vet tomorrow more frankly and see what they say.

bsmirched Tue 09-Jul-19 22:16:46

@fourquenelles that thought is a huge comfort.

DramaAlpaca Tue 09-Jul-19 22:18:46

I completely agree with fourquenelles.

I think it's time, OP. I'm really sorry flowers

Yawninfinitum Tue 09-Jul-19 22:23:27

Oh this has made me cry.

Mine is younger so I haven’t had to face this but the love you have for your boy shines through your post.

He has clearly been cherished and adored and what more can a dog ask for? What a happy life he has had.

It does sound time.
A planned calm departure sounds perfect.

Much love to you OP.

Arsenicinthesugarbowl Tue 09-Jul-19 22:25:31

Bsmirched I’m so so sorry. My kids are 19 and 11 so have known our boy much of or all their lives. I know they will be really upset too but are probably more philosophical than I am right now. I hope it all goes well for you.
Grumpy none of the things he likes doing that makes him the dog he was are left. It’s a really good point that’s made me think how long those things have been missing. Apart from eating cheese if it’s hand fed to him. He used to leg it to the kitchen if the fridge opened. Not now. No playing with his ball, no picking up sticks, no going in the sea. Just sleeping and tottering outside with help pretty much.

justasking111 Tue 09-Jul-19 22:30:20

In the old days vets would say it is time. Now with drugs and other treatments they allow the dog to cling to life, sometimes wonder if it isn`t about money with some of them. Only one of my dogs died naturally whilst waiting to go to the vet she just slipped away. The others we had to let the vet give the injection.

It is time, so sorry OP. flowers

rabbitsandrhubarb Tue 09-Jul-19 22:30:27

We were in this situation 2 weeks ago with our lovely 14 year old springer. She was finding it hard to walk despite arthritis meds and pain killers, still loved her food and wandering outside for a sniff but she looked tired and I worried that she was suffering. As Grumpymiddleagedwoman says, think of all the things they used to love but can no longer do, when I thought in detail about that I realised it was time, even though I felt terrible having to make that decision.

We booked the vet to come to our home on Friday afternoon, got the adult children home to spend a last couple of days with her, and I bought lots of treats - fish and liver, for her dinners. On the day we all sat outside in the garden with the vet, she came out to greet him and the nurse, I had a bowl of cooked liver chunks which she adored, and fed to her as they prepped her and it was all very peaceful. That was just how I wanted it to be, she just slipped away.

It is so very hard, but I am relieved now that she is no longer in any discomfort. I miss her terribly, even though we have a young spaniel as well.

Sympathy to all those who have been in this position.

ScrambledToe Tue 09-Jul-19 22:32:27

Op our dog is 11.5 and a deerhound, he’s way past his life expectancy and although he is in pain in his back legs, particularly when sitting for too long or after a walk, he is still enjoying life.
He eats well, sleeps well, loves a good swim or short walk, a sniff and a cuddle too!
I do wonder if I will be aware of the ‘time’ or whether he’s at that point now and I am ignorant to it.
It’s so hard because I want him to live forever! I also don’t want to make the decision on another being’s life.
I like the idea of ticking off the things they don’t enjoy and weighing them up.
I am Just trying to take it one week/month at a time and reassess each time, but it sounds like yours is further along than mine, I’m sorry xxx

Ilikewinter Tue 09-Jul-19 22:38:14

Oh wow this is the hardest decision to make. It sounds a similar situation to our boy who went over the rainbow bridge 5 years and i feel for you.

When it happened to us i knew in my heart it was time to let him go and to keep him with us was keeping him and pain and was for our benefit not his.

Its truly heatbreakiing but afterwards we knew we had done the right thing for him.

Sending you hugs flowers

Sweetooth92 Tue 09-Jul-19 22:39:57

Our beloved childhood border collie went very much the same. Back and hind legs deteriorated so she must have been in agony-bone crumbled in places. She became incontinent and hated the fact, soiling her bed rather than the house etc.
She was a similar age to yours, and we decided to let her go while she was comfortable rather than prolong her suffering for our selfishness. She passed away peacefully with assistance from the vets in our arms, feeling as loved and safe as always.
While it was awful to do I’m so glad we opted to put her first, and we let her go as soon as she started to visibly suffer.

BiteyShark Wed 10-Jul-19 05:39:28

thanksI too think it sounds like it's time.

Maybe the vet is looking for a lead from you to bring the conversation around whether it's time to PTS. Like you said you know your dog more than anyone else and you are their advocate. thanks

itsallafiddle Wed 10-Jul-19 05:54:53

I was in exactly the same situation. My dog was 13, she hadn’t got any terminal illness, she was just old. I was struggling to get her to eat, she hadn’t got much energy to go on walks, and she was having accidents in the house. I wanted my vet to make the decision for me! One evening she tried to get up off the rug and fell over, and I just realised I was keeping her going for our benefit and not hers. It sounds like it’s time for your old boy to go xx

Arsenicinthesugarbowl Mon 15-Jul-19 22:11:21

Thank you to everyone for your kind posts. We have booked the appointment for Wednesday and he had a good weekend. Ate 3 sausages, we all lay on the floor with him and fussed him, he even managed a tiny walk outside. It hasn't lasted though. I’m going to phone vet tomorrow and try to get him in then I think. I’m sad but I’ve done all the crying I can for the minute.
I think this is the last good and kind thing I can do for him.

DakotaFanny Mon 15-Jul-19 22:22:37

Hugs OP. You sound so lovely and I am so sorry you are having to make this decision. Cuddles for your gorgeous, lucky boy.

fourquenelles Wed 17-Jul-19 17:51:58

Thinking of you OP. I hope he went to the Rainbow Bridge chewing an a custard cream surrounded by love.

spiderlight Thu 18-Jul-19 12:15:02

It is just the hardest decision imaginable, but I always try to think of it that we suffer so they don't have to. flowers

LadyOfTheFlowers Thu 18-Jul-19 12:21:15

Personally, I would say it's time. Vets will keep him alive as long as possible as is their job and in my experience as long as you're willing to pay they will carry on.
I'd ask the vet to come out for a stress free home visit while he was having a fuss and being hand fed cheese in his own comfy basket - what a way to go. ❤️

Arsenicinthesugarbowl Fri 19-Jul-19 15:56:53

fourqenelles thank you so much. He has indeed gone to the rainbow bridge. The vet gave him tramadol at our last appointment which picked him up a bit making me doubt myself. But I realised that all it really showed was how much pain he was still in even with the other painkillers. He could still barely walk-just seemed happier in himself. So he had a day of being cuddled on the sofa-ate a ham sandwich and we gave him chocolate. He was put to sleep lying on his blanket after wolfing down a load of treats. Such a good death. I’m heartbroken but feel at peace with the decision. No more pain now. What a wonderful dog he was to us. I will remember him like this-running, happy and as the noble boy he was.

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