When Is It Time to Say Goodbye to Our Beloved Dogs?

I had a stressful weekend last week.  Since my dogs get me up at all hours of the night, I had decided that I was going to sleep in late on Saturday morning.  I was still lounging in bed when I heard the dogs downstairs barking at the front door a little before 10:00 in the morning.  I figured it was the mailman since my mail is delivered about that time.  But the dogs kept barking.  It must be someone at the door.  I went into the front bedroom and peeked out the window and saw my ex’s truck drive away.  I knew that one of his dogs that we had had in common when we were still married was having health issues.  I was afraid that maybe Casey had taken a turn for the worse or even passed away.

I threw on my clothes and brushed my hair and drove to the antique shop where my ex’s coin shop is located.  I do the books for the antique shop so I’m in there several times a week anyway.  I went over to the coin shop and asked my ex if he had stopped by my house this morning.  He had.  Our Sheltie, Casey, has had health problems for about a year now.  In March he was very ill and was bleeding through his nose and very lethargic.  With medication they got him past that crisis.

Late fall last year, my ex kept telling me that Casey was stumbling when he walked and “listed” to his left side when he walked.  I threw out that maybe he had vestibular disease.  He brought Casey to the vet who wasn’t sure what the problem was.  At the same time, Casey was diagnosed with a megaesophagus issue.  With this condition, regurgitation after eating and aspirating fluid into the lungs was a possibility.  Casey had aspirate pneumonia at Christmas time and was coughing quite a bit. Also, the vet guessed that the listing to the left could possibly be a severe inner ear infection so antibiotics and steroids were prescribed.  Casey got over the pneumonia but was still stumbling when he walked and leaning to the left side.

My ex took him back in to a different vet when the stumbling continued.  This vet suggested that he bring Casey to a canine neurologist.  The next week Casey was examined by the neurologist and they found the source of the stumbling.  Casey has a brain tumor.  They don’t know if it’s cancerous or not–it doesn’t really matter since the tumor is growing, it’s on his brain stem and it’s inoperable.

When my ex stopped by last week, he felt it was probably time to put Casey down and he wanted me to be able to say goodbye to him.  The condition was, though, that I could only see him when his live-in girlfriend (who hates the dogs and me and will be the subject of another post) was out of town.  Last Saturday afternoon, I went over to his house to say good-bye to Casey.

My heart broke seeing this beautiful, little guy.  Casey is a handsome sable color-headed white Sheltie.  I remember when we got him as a puppy.  We were living in AZ then and had to pick him up at the Las Vegas airport.  He snuggled into my shoulder and shook the whole way home from Vegas to our home in Arizona.  I had tried training Casey to do therapy work, but he just did not have the personality to do the work.  By the time of my divorce, I had adopted Mario.  Mario was a great therapy dog but he and Casey did not get along so I took Mario and my ex kept Casey.

Poor, sweet Casey was lying on a dog bed, breathing heavily and periodically coughing.  My ex had had Casey to the vet the day before and he figured that Casey had aspirate pneumonia again.  He gave my ex a new drug to fight the pneumonia but told him it was time to think about putting him down.

I picked Casey up in my arms and cradled him like a baby.  It was obvious that the tumor was pressing on the optic nerve and his eye on that side was clouded over with white.  He laid in my arms while I rocked him.  It was breaking my heart seeing him like that.  I whispered to him that it was okay to let go and that he had been a wonderful dog.  I told him how much I loved him and I was sad that I didn’t get to see him more often but again, that’s a post for a later date.

After an hour of cuddling little Casey, I set him down on his bed.  He started coughing but according to my ex, that was part of the pneumonia thing.  As I left I told him that if he needed me to go with to put Casey down, I most certainly would do that.

I was so emotionally drained from the experience that I came home, fed my dogs, played with them for awhile, took a hot bath and headed to bed with the dogs in tow.  I watched TV in bed with several of my precious furkids all around me and wondered about the meaning of life and why some animals and humans had to go through such painful experiences.  After all my contemplating though, I couldn’t come up with any answer.

I had to go into the antique shop on Monday to pick up time cards and do payroll.  I stopped into my ex’s shop to see how Casey was doing.  He told me that Casey seemed to be rallying and he thought my visiting him really helped perk him up.  While I was glad that Casey was doing better, I couldn’t help think that yes, maybe the pneumonia is better, but the brain tumor is still growing and causing havoc with more and more body systems.  Again I told him that I would go with when he felt the time was right but for now, he’s okay with Casey showing improvement over the pneumonia.  He’s positive that Casey will give him a sign when the time is right.

Believe me, I know about signs.  My collie, Collin, gave me a clear sign when he was ready to go.  But my Mario, with whom I was so close, didn’t give me any sign that I picked up on other than his body failing.  That and the fact that he couldn’t lift his head off the vet’s examining table told me he was suffering and there wasn’t anything that could be done.  So for now, I’m stuck sitting over at my house praying Casey will give my ex some kind of sign that he’s ready.  Otherwise, I’m relegated to sending him healing thoughts and prayers.

My handsome Collin
My handsome Collin

 

My precious Mario
My precious Mario

 

Please comment to me about your experiences with your beloved pet giving you signs that they are ready.  I welcome any and all stories that will help me get through this.  Thanks!

Comments 11

  • I believe it’s up to us as the guardians to analyze and assess what we see and feel and make the decision. Animals can’t foresee and don’t fear death the way humans do. For me, If my vet tellsme it’s time, I listen. Peace.

  • My Laci girl the end when I took her to the vet just laid in the table on her side. She never did that. My sister had passed the week before and I was crying and said I can’t do it now. I was being selfish and said so. For the next week an 1/2 I carried her in and out to potty and upstairs for bed. She was losing weight from 26 lbs to 18. She weighed less then my other smaller sheltie. She had copd arthritis in her back end and had had a vestibular stroke a few months before. I took her back to the vet as I had told my boyfridnd I was taking her to cross the bridge. When we got there she just lay on the table quietly waiting. She knew and was thankful for no more suffering and pain. I was a wreck and still miss her every single day. She was ready but I really wasn’t. I knew it was the best for her and I had to do it for her.

    • Thanks for telling me your story. Saying goodbye to our furkids truly is the hardest but most loving thing we can do for our dogs. I hope memories of your beloved Laci will help carry you through this time of grief.

  • We’ve had to say goodbye to 3 of our beloved Golden Retrievers over the years – Copper, Dusty, Dakota.
    I don’t feel we’ve ever received any special sign, except that they just needed peace and freedom from any pain or suffering.
    It is the hardest decision to make but I believe it it our duty to let them go when the time seems like it.
    Our Kimber now, is 12 yrs. old so we know in not too many years or months we will have to make that decision again.
    Always so very hard to say that goodbye.
    Blessings to you and Casey.

    • Thanks Nancy for your kind words. I know that my collie Shelby, will probably be my next dog to die and I’m praying that when she is ready she will let me know in some way, shape or form.

  • I just said goodbye yesterday to my sweet sheltie Kia. She was 13. Over 15 months ago she was diagnosed with cancer. The first sign, about a month before, was noise bleeds. She had a tumor in her nose up by her eye. I believe that it reached her brain as the last few days, she wandered around often getting “stuck” by the most simple thing. I knew it was time to let her go!

    • Thanks for sharing your experience with Kia. I’m afraid that Casey’s nosebleed a year ago was the first clue that he had a brain tumor. Peace to you and your family at this difficult time.

  • The best advice I’ve gotten from my vet is “Look at the quality of their life”. When it gets to the point that they are only a shadow of themselves, we need to step back and think about what is best for them, not us. I truly believe they give you a sign, with my two girls who had cancer, it was in their eyes. My BB girl, who we just lost two months ago, she was out playing and came in and just fell over panting. We rushed her to the vet to find out she had a bleeding stomach tumor, she would bleed out within an hour and would most likely not survive surgery, we had to make the split decision…she was already out of it but I like to think she heard us telling her how much we loved her and to run to the bridge. I hope your ex makes the right decision and doesn’t prolong your baby’s suffering (I hope I’m not being presumptuous). Hugs to you at this difficult time.

  • Hello there, Cool post. I’ll be your regular visitor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *