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December 15, 2013


I know it's been a few years, but let me start by offering my condolences to you for the loss of Serena.

I have been scouring the internet for a few weeks trying to find the answer to the "should we or shouldn't we" question. I've read guidance from vets, owners, and we had a consultation with our own vet, but still couldn't make a decision. Our girl Buffy is almost 14, still eats (a lot!), still goes for walks, but does none of her activities with any pleasure any longer. She used to bounce through life. Now she slowly plods. We've been in incontinence mode for several months; she goes outside maybe 1 in 5 times.

The hardest part for us is that mentally she's still with it. She reacts to things with excitement and then it's like a wave of "oh crap, I can't do that anymore" washes over her. Today it is snowing in Seattle and there was nothing she loved more than a snow day, but she just went outside, did her business, and came back inside like it was any ordinary day. It's never been more clear that our girl is already gone.

I know everyone thinks their dog is special, but there are so many people beyond the family that love Buffy we feel the added pressure of taking her from all of them. Your message reminded us that it isn't about us or them, it's about her. She deserves to get to fall asleep peacefully before her bitter end comes. We're still deciding on a date, but we have made the decision because of your generous words and sharing your experience with Serena with us. Thank you.

I have been struggling for the past year with the idea of putting our 17 yr old Jack Russell to sleep. I wanted this process to be black & white. I want to look into her eyes and just know - it's time. I want to walk into a room, and find that she has peacefully passed - on her own. But real life is proving to be messier and more uncertain.

Ruby started having signs of dementia and a possible neurological disorder three years ago. She began having dizzy spells that would cause her to walk into walls and fall over. They weren't more than once a month, but they were noticeable and upsetting. Then came the lethargy. It seemed rather sudden. One month she was bouncing off the walls, waiting to escape the house - and the next, she was sleeping 15hrs/day, sometimes more. Slowly, her legs and back stiffened, making it harder for her to "get busy", and accidents became frequent. Now, Ruby sleeps 90% of the day. Her dizzy spells have progressed to seizures and heavy medicines are necessary. The medicine makes her seem more senile and sleepy than she actually is, but without it she suffers one or two severe seizure a month. I don't walk her, as she simply walks in circles and cannot maintain a straight line. She is confused and has not wagged her tail in months. This is made worse by her loss of hearing and sight, which makes it hard to give direction and offer verbal affection. She has frequent accidents and spends half of her waking hours confused, whimpering, and pacing the same small area.

But there are good days. Ruby has moments of clarity. Suddenly, she sees us, loves us, seeks affection and even jogs about the house looking to pounce on a cat or her sister dog. She still loves to eat. She gets a hop in her step and twinkle in her eye when she comes in from the yard and anticipates a treat. She loves to snuggle into a fuzzy blanket or a warm body, and she seems peaceful when she's curled up on her rug by the fire. These sings of joy make it so difficult to call it quits. But I'm afraid it will only get worse for Ruby - and I am told that waiting too long is not a good idea. And so I have scheduled her last day, two weeks from now. But what about going too soon?

Ruby is my first baby. She lived through my single days, sometimes stuck at home alone when I worked endless hours, and sometimes jet-setting around the world with me. She loved to travel and couldn't wait to jump into her carrier and go on a trip. She was my "litmus test" when I met my now-husband. I left her with him when I would travel, and they bonded quickly. The two of them shared a love of nature and exercise. Even at 12 yrs old, Ruby could accompany my husband on a 10 or 15 mile run. She survived the adoption of our second dog, Frida, now 13 yrs old. With time, the two became inseparable. And she was by my side for the birth of all three of my kids. In fact, she didn't just survive the disruption, she loved those babies. Ruby would diligently encircle the twins during tummy-time, anxiously protecting them from harm. We called her "the nanny" for many years. Now, those twins are nearly teens and the baby is 8 yrs old. They hold her some nights, when her dementia causes endless crying and pacing. She will usually settle down to sleep when coddled in their arms. It's as if she's returned to puppyhood. And now, the twins encircle her, diligently calming her anxiety.

As I write this, she is sleeping peacefully on my bed in a pile of down blankets. Almost angelic.
If she were to pass in this state, it would be my fantasy realized. But she will wake soon, and I better be present or she will fall off the bed and hurt herself. And so... the second option may be more realistic. I suppose I can manufacture her departure in a way that resembles this peaceful, warm sleepiness. Thank you for the making that clearer for me.

I want to Thank you so much for creating this blog and sharing your life. Reading this has really helped me to know that I am not alone.
I have a 14 1/2 year old pointer mix, Sebastian who is going through very much the same things as your beloved Serena did. He is very hard of hearing, has severe arthritis in his back legs and the dreaded bowel incontinence. But, Bastian loves to eat and have snacks, enjoys going on walks (slower/shorter ones) and car rides. But, I know he is in pain. He cannot run and is not interested in toys nor playing with his younger brother.
I have been dealing with the pooping at anytime/anywhere for over 7 months now and the stress load is taking over everyone and everything. I have tried everything from medications, diapers, crate (re) training; you name it, we've tried it. Bastian gets so stressed out from his pooping accidents that he eats away his diapers to eat his poop. He also gets bugged-eyed and shakes excessively every time he poops because he knows it's wrong to poop in the house. I try Not to get upset because he gets upset but as you know, it is rather trying cleaning up poop, all the time. The stress has taken a toll on my marriage as well as on our other dog and cat.
It pains me to think about making 'the decision' because his organs and health are perfectly fine! But I know that he is in pain all the time. He is strong and bull headed so I know he is hurting more than he allows to show. I know his quality of life has greatly diminished but who can send their best friend to a place knowing you will never see them again (or maybe will..in another life...)
I have had Sebastian since I was 19 and he has been my baby, my rock! He has helped me through life more than anyone will ever understand. Sebastian and I share a bond that I know I will never, ever have again. He came into this world as a parvo puppy. I spent many days and sleepless nights helping him to recovery when he and his litter mates came into our vet clinic. Sebastian was strong and he was the only one to of survived. Because he is such a fighter, I know that he would give his all to live and be with me forever.

Your post about precious Serena and reading others' comments has really helped me with thee most difficult decision of my life. . I know Sebastian will never leave me on his own. My love needs to be stronger than his this one time.

I want to thank you for reminding me that sending Sebastian to the rainbow bridge is not an act of selfishness, but rather kindness. The best thing I can do for him now is to have the vet help him to go 'nawny' while his mummy holds him. Reminding him to wait for her at the field where they can run around and be together again

Well maybe that was your choice but my boy just got Vestibular Disease from metronidazole i know my comment is belated but anyway im up so late and im lying beside oden an 8yr old 100lb GSD he is paralized from the neck down and in partial coma due to metronidazole im gonna fight as long as he does and then some and my max is a 130lb 14 yr old GSD max has arthritis and uses a sling to walk he suffers from incontinence both bowel and bladder has for over a year his accidents are like elephant size so i adjusted i plan on being there for max and oden to the bitter end unless they decide they want me to let go and if they decide that then i would do the vet rest instead of them screaming in pain right now im just clinging to hope and laying on the floor beside oden turning him and giving hin range of motion treatment he cannot eat or drink on his own nor walk he can lift his head but not open his eyes im not giving up we were playing 3 days ago
but all of these stories sadden me i would hate to se the day when they put elderly humans to sleep for incontinence and dementia or old age but value for life is different people dont treat life equally if one can care for an elderly human up to the end than why not your beloved furfamilly too maybe if you look at it differently you may allow natural life span its easy to become discouraged but having clean poop is sadly not enough for me to let max go and the blank stare that dogs get when they are old is memories of the back in the day lots of happy memories and knowledge of death being close they worry about it so i say reconsider unless it is the only option to relive your familly member but that is just my thoughts on this situation

Hello, I have been searching the internet for help with deciding when to put my 16 plus cock-a-poo Roxy to sleep. Given she was an owner surrender, they had limited information about her exact date of birth. She was neglected but we know she is at least 16, I made her birthday July 4th for Independence Day. She has lived a wonderful life with my other 3 dogs and I for the past 7 years. She started failing a couple of years ago but the past year has been worse. Her failing hind legs and dementia became more serious 8 months ago. She has also had fecal incontinence off and on for two years. She has been on metronidazol for incontinence for several months and Rimdyl for the past 3 months which has helped a little with getting her up the stairs and her getting up after extended time in her bed. I have to help her often and she has most of the issues the above dogs have. She is still very sweet, enjoys affection and will eat (although less) but that is it for the most part. The last time I walked her a few weeks ago she was extremely slow with little interest. She will however wonder around my large yard and sometimes stare into space. She is about 80% bind and also her hearing and sense of smell have diminished. Recently her pooping in the house has become pretty constant with her not waking me to go. She used to wake me know I just here click, click, click of her nails. I keep her groomed short to help. I can deal with cleaning up (thank God for hard wood floors) but it has become a daily occurrence maybe even twice a day and it breaks my heart to see her legs splayed out on the floor or struggling to get up. I rush to help her and have rubber back mats all over the house yet she prefers the wood floor or her bed. With all of her problems, I do not believe having an appetite should be the deciding barometer to keeping her in my world. She deserves more. I lost my beloved Jack Russell Jazz a year ago, a day before her 15th birthday. She suddenly became ill and I did everything I could yet was told she would not make it due to congestive heart failure and a growth. The vet said she had 3 days to live so everyone visited and we did all we could to make her happy and comfortable. I asked God to take her if it was her time and told Jazz she could go and that night my baby passed around 3:30 am in my bed next to me. It was a beautiful ending to her life. My vet said I was fortunate she died as she did but know I will probably never happen again which is why I am here. Thank you for the amazing guidance. Your article and comments were helpful beyond measure in my decision. Thank you

What beautiful, tender stories.
Bless all of you for your loving care to your canine friends.


It was on the 22 september 2017 that i made the decision to get Misty put to sleep. Like yourselves i really struggled and didnt feel i could cope with this difficult decision. I wanted to keep her with me but that would have been really selfish. In end she couldnt walk far, at one night walk i walked ahead of her she stopped and looked at me then she just collapsed on the ground i ran to her saying how sorry i was and i picked her up and carried her home. Then in middle of night she would pant until she got settled. This has been going on for a few months now (the panting) she was on tramadol and gabapentin to ease her pain. She also had a huge mass on her left side and it had doubled in size in last couple if weeks. On her second last trip to vets as we were leaving an old guy going in commented "not a happy dog" . Right up until end though she was eating and drinking it was her body that gave up. Im torn up with grief at having her put to sleep but im sure i did right thing by her. RIP Misty 14/01/02-22/09/17

Brian - I have had this page saved in my iPhone Safari reading list for months now. I have read it multiple times along with everyone’s comments. I guess it was to help fortify my confidence in making the right decision for our elderly yellow lab, Elsa. She crossed last night, with me and my husband by her side, tummy filled with cheese (her favorite). She went snoring, peacefully.
I woke up this morning after a few hours of restless sleep and felt such profound grief and agony. But I reread your words and know that it was the kindest thing we could have ever done for her. What an honor to have been there for her throughout her happy life and peaceful end. I just wanted to say thank you for giving me some solace.

Yesterday - I took my 11 1'2 yr aussie Shooter to the vet - I knew it was time - he had hip dysplasia and been treated for 6 yrs more or less - he was such a good boy - he continued to sweetly go potty whenever we asked. His eyes were cloudy - and he could not lay still for long - he panted most all day and night - and even with medicine was awake most all nights - he was terrified of walking on any slick surface - we travel and have moved several times this past couple of yrs - he would ride patiently on day long trips - but the last yr it has taken him longer to recover - he also had some raw spots where he licked - I think b/c of pain - he lost interest in most things (except his love of the leaf blower) - maybe b/c of pain - he stopped following me around - but still liked for me to go outside while he was in the grass - he put his paw on my hand when I would pet his stomach, he ate well - drank more than usual - he began to lay by us more - he was falling more - and barely made it up a few steps - I would pick him up - or support his back legs when I was there - he seemed to appreciate that. He rarely complained except little whimpers in his sleep -I think he may have had a little stroke or dog dementia - he just wasn't himself - although he tried to be what he thought we wanted. Future grooming would be out of the question - even though I know they loved him - it would just be too painful - I can not describe how heartbroken I am to lose my travel party buddy - he was the life of the party - a real jokester - and everyone loved him - he was so funny. I can't stop crying - his last morning was one of his better days - and this made me even more sad and guilty. My husbands tears make me feel like even more of a monster - even though he agrees it was best - it was me who pushed and made the appointment - I knew it was coming and it was all I could think of - I knew it had to be done - or accept that things would get worse - I was very worried he would dislocate or break a leg (again) - I thank you for giving us a place to share - I bet you never knew your blog would bring comfort - I'm sorry for all who have to make this choice - I know there will be better days. He loved loved loved to swim - this summer he went to the beach for the first time - he loved it until the waves knocked him down - so we just let them wash over us for awhile. I will miss you puppy...

We do love our dogs.. because they love us, so we love them, so they love us. It's tough to make that final decision. Sometimes it is very obvious that it is time and at others you are in limbo, sort of a transition period, which is where we're at right now with our 12 yr. old golden retriever. She still gets some enjoyment out of life and is not in gross pain but her gut is uncomfortable (mast cell lymphoma), has diarrhea and low appetite. She lies around a lot and is mopey. She wasn't supposed to make it this long. She fooled the experts and the vet called her "a miracle dog", but I think she has had her last swim. When she stops drinking and won't get up, then it will be time. I've been through this with a number of dogs but practice does not make it easy. Carry on.

This is what I needed. Our dog is “young” and about to turn 9. She’s never had any heath problems until 2017. Enlarged heart and it’s just going downhill from there. These past few months she’s gone from brown to almost all white in the face, eyes clear to cloudy in what seemed like a night. She’s lost control of her bowels and also her bladder. Our vet bill is outrageous. Thankfully they take payments. They want us to take her to a Nero. The closest is a few states away. Which is nearly impossible. We are moving in March and the vet thinks the move will stress her heart. We are a military family so the move can’t be avoided. She’s not her old self. It breaks my heart to see her exhausted after a few stairs when she literally could go hours playing catch a year ago. They vet is stumped as to what is causing all of this to happen so rapidly. They took her off all medications. She’s my girl. She’s been there through deployments and grown up with both our kids. My husband and I don’t know what to do.

Thank you for this post I am not sure how I found it, but I believe God led me to it, because we have been struggling with the same issues as you did. This has given me peace about our upcoming decision, and I thank you for taking the time to post. I too have said it would be such a blessing if he just passed in his sleep, and yes you are right giving them dignity before it because too late, that is what the reality of euthanasia is for our beloved pets and for us. I believe my sweet boy will be at the bridge waiting with my cats that I have lost. I know God has a special place in heaven for them. Thank you again for this post it touched my heart and I will share it with some of my other close friends who are facing the same reality. Blessings,


Sorry for your loss, and I know how tough it is. We decide to do that to our beloved pets because we love them and putting them sleep with the help of pet euthanasia is a hard decision but it favors to them because we don't want to suffer them in pain. Please refer to this link: https://pawsatpeacepethospice.com/

I'll join the chorus of gratitude for this piece, and yes, I'm going through it right now too, with my miniature dachshund, Simon, who is a couple months shy of 16 years old and starting to show signs of dementia, as well as incontinence which gets worse each week. He's gotten skeletal in appearance, and is mostly blind and deaf. The worst part is that it's hard for him to do what he's always loved, which was snuggle with me. He panics and grows agitated - I think mostly because he knows he has to pee, and he's in a diaper, but he's also in my bed having to pee, so that freaks him out - and sometimes I think it's just the dementia leading him to feel scared and panicky. We're waiting for that time when we know it's time to euthanize...but damn, it's hard to watch my little critter and friend and companion and (I'm a psychotherapist) colleague decline before my eyes. Thanks for providing this resource for folks going through this tough transition.

Our 13 year old Chihuahua has Canine Dementia. We saw the first signs of it almost a year ago. She started having trouble maneuvering stairs, so after a few falls we made stairs off-limits. Then we experienced the stopping and staring, standing in corners and going to the hinge side of the door. These were hard to watch but not too worrisome. She stopped being interested in her toys; we will make sure we bury her with her favorites. Then she started seeking out spots she had never gone in before and she would get stuck behind furniture . Her body now and then will get very feeble and she will walk sideways, fall over or do a headplant. I have had to raise her water dish, she has come back to me wet, and I worry that if I am not home she could drown. She walks with her tail down between her legs and her head held down. This was a dog who always had a wagging tail and bright, happy eyes. Those are gone. She sometimes can't get into her beds which are on the floor. Elimination is becoming an issue. I need to sometimes hold her like a baby and hand feed her ( which I love, actually) since she sometimes is so unstable that she falls over reaching down for her food. She has given up eating dog food of all kinds and is still eating tiny bits of egg, bacon, turkey, chicken, steak. She will have some good nights, but it is not unusual for her to wander almost all night seeking corners and weird places that I may have overlooked when baby-proofing.
I have thought about euthenization. It would be easier on me, after the initial heart-wrenching ordeal. As long as she is still eating and having some relatively good days and night, I feel I don't want to give up on her.

2019- your story still resonates. My dog is in the same position as yours was. I was unsure what to do until I read your story. It’s not easy to make that ultimate choice for our dog by at the same time it’s hard watch them suffer as they do when they get older. My dog is 15. She is my best friend. It’s hard to let go. My home won’t be the same without her. Tomorrow we are taking her to the vet... like you said to do the deed. You’re words mean so much and brings me comfort to think we are not only ones struggling with a difficult decision. I think we all want the same... for dog to go to sleep and not wake up. Like you said our dog should go while they still have some good health left. Your idea to say your dog is going to sleep and is not going wake up is comforting way to see our dog one last time. Than you for being a beacon of hope for those who struggling with thought of doing the deed.

Right now I have 2 schnauzers, 12 and 14. Both are blind, the 14 yr old is also deaf. i paid alot of money last year to have the eyes removed from the 14yr old, now the 12 yr old needs the operation for one eye. If not the alternative is 400. 00 worth of eye drops every 6 wks or so.
I find myself resenting the time and energy needed to keep up with them. I also resent the money I spend. I am 60 yrs old and the"child" for whom the pets were bought, is no longer living at home and unable to care for either dog at this time.

I am struggling emotionally because I live alone, my house smells like a barn, and its a huge effort for me to be able to invite anyone over.
The dogs have to sent to the kennel, or they will bark endlessly, professionals have to come in and steam my hardwoods and carpet etc.
Cleaners have to help me with chores i dont get to because i clean up after the dogs everyday.. my life feels very controlled by my pets at this point.
I am also worried about the large sums of money i have spent for the medical procedures needed by the dogs.
I do not remember any of my childhood dogs going blind, and my parents certainly wouldnt have payed 3500.00 to have their eyes removed. I did find out that most ordinary vets can remove eyes for a much lower rate, and i ONLY have to pay 1200 for the removal of the12yr olds 1 eye. At first my vet recommended me to their collegue who was an eye specialist, thus the large surgery fee.

From reading these comments I am now wondering if the younger one is in fact senile. The 12yr old wants to eat constantly, and i cant imagine where shes putting it all.
now she hardly wants to go outside by herself anymore so much of the output is in the house.

I am really at a loss right now because I feel like a servant to my pets, whom I love dearly, but really, Im a senior too and havent been in the best of health this year either.
Thanks for listening.
Im not ready to let go, but I realize that its coming.

I am in a difficult place with my Great Dane, Claire. She has severe spondylitis and hip dysplasia, but can still walk. She has some limitations with movement and is under a vet’s care with anti inflammatory therapy, pain medication and supplement support. She is only 8; we adopted her when she was 4, having been abandoned after being repeatedly bred. She has come so far and has been a bonded companion to our 10 year old male Dane.
She has developed fecal incontinence and we now have her in washable diapers. We have begun the discussion of when to let her go. Our vet said when her condition caused incontinence was a fair time for her and told us she wouldn’t be a typical case;she’s still a fairly young dog. Reading other’s stories here has been helpful- the big difference is most are old dogs. We’re taking it day by day for now.

I know this is an old thread but I came upon it this morning and it has really helped me. My 15 1/2 year old pit mix is having similar issues, plus the occasional seizure. She has weakness in her hind quarters and has hardly pooped outside in months. She doesn't even realizes she has gone. She wanders at night and we find her staring off into space, or standing in corners. But, she is still our girl- loves to snuggle up with you when you pet her, which she never did before, eats like a champ and is generally a joy to be around (unless you are trying to clean her up, see point above). She was our 'kid before kids'. Is her quality of life good, I'm not sure. Is it going to get better? Well, she is over 15 and a 50lb dog so not likely. We don't want her to suffer but also feel like we are being selfish to keep her her on this earth. The line you wrote 'Here’s the most important thing to remember: ”If you can save your dog or cat even one day of discomfort, you must,” . I am a bucket of tears today but I know it is the correct, unselfish decision. Thank you for sharing your story. We have her scheduled for Monday so we get one last weekend to enjoy her before her trip over the rainbow bridge.

Your post is 6 years ago but hits the nail on the head for what we are going through with our amazing 14 year old Black Lab. He has been truly awesome and now we are faced with a decision. He had the same poop explosion and when you said you felt compassion and frustration at the same time I felt compassion and incredible guilt for some reason. I think the guilt is because that is how it makes us feel about having to put him to sleep.

I laughed when you said a run away freight train coming down the stairs. That couldn't be any more true and the same goes for him coming up the stairs, slow and steady with a few times sliding right back down. My fear of him getting injured in the scenario makes me understand that would be worse than maybe letting him go. I have strategically placed carpets at the bottom of the stairs, not right at the bottom but about a foot further because when he gets to that last one he is going so fast he leaps off it and now he lands with some grip instead of sliding across the wood floor and sometimes crashing.

Today I watched him walk around his backyard trying to go and his hips collapsed to where he sat right down. Poor boy can't poop in peace and it is a major effort each time now.

With our daughter about to graduate college and faced with big finals in her nursing program we are trying to avoid this until she is done but I am afraid we just might not be able to.

The sadness, guilt, and pain - the thought of putting him in the car and driving him to his final sleep feels terrible. I have tears just writing this. There is a perception that I fear he will feel we no longer want him and are abandoning him and that haunts me. But I know he is begging to suffer and this is not going to suddenly turn around and be better. From all the great times we had with our boy Dixon this part is just agonizing. I am trying to find the good in helping ending his suffering.

Thank you for your well written story,


This story helped me a lot. My little shih tzu, Gunner, has been declining slowly. He lost his hearing in the last couple years, which helped since he was so scared of thunder. But then his saliva glands swelled up in August, and when I brought him in, antibiotics were not helping him a lot. We opted for some steroids to bring it down, and though it helped him, it induced diabetes. I only knew because he was so skinny and peeing everywhere. We started insulin twice a day, and it seems like he was getting better, until all of his sight was lost. He couldn't even find his way back to our house after going to the bathroom, which I had to carry him out to do. Then the glands started swelling again. Last weekend, he was in so much pain. One of his glands swelled up so large that it was hard and looked like a soft ball under his tiny little head. He didn't eat. He slept a lot and had trouble breathing. I made the decision to bring him in, and then I came home from work and he ate! So I delayed it, but that evening, as he lay there completely in discomfort, I realized it was time.
The next day I made an appointment, and when I came home, he ate again, acted a little like his old self, and made me second guess it. Luckliy, I have wonderful people around me that have been telling me that he is in pain. I think when you are around your dog so much, a "good" day isn't really a good day anymore. It looks that way, but it wasn't. I kept hoping he would die in his sleep so he wouldn't have to be so humiliated and sad anymore.
I brought him in, and the vet told us that he had declined a lot. She said we could "band aid" him, but it wouldn't get any better. We chose to put him to sleep so that he could go peacefully in his sleep as well. You see, our last dog died alone at home, and it wasn't a good death. I didn't want that for Gunner.
Needeless to say, I feel so guilty. I keep thinking I could have had more time with him, and I made that decision too quickly. Your post helped me realize that it wasn't too quickly. That I wanted him to die peacefully in his sleep. That I loved him so much, and he loved me.
Thank you.

I have been reading this original post for over 3 years now and glad so many have commented over the years and up to last week which has prompted my post now. My JJ- love of my life- Shep/Dobie Rescue mix - who is now 15 3/4 is my "miracle dog". JJ had been my running partner in marathon training for first 11 years of his life- Easily could run 10-12 miles next to me without breaking a sweat! That all changed 4 years ago when he had his spleen removed (3 tumors- no cancer) but sheer luck that we caught it because he started peeing like crazy at night and drinking so much water. The Dr. couldn't figure out what was wrong and so I asked for an Ultrasound just to check and we couldn't believe what was found.- Normally the silent killer when the tumors burst, we were able to get it removed and he went on to a full recovery. The only thing that changed is his daily runs became daily walks- but my boy didn't miss a beat. 2 weeks after surgery he was up to walking 3-5 miles every day. Fast forward 2 years and he had a massive stroke - brain bleeds- which we believe was caused by some of the medication he was on- but after 10 days in critical care from my amazing Vet, he was home and walking and within 30 days- back to his normal self and not one lingering symptom from the stroke. Then came the Syncope 6 months later, but again with the care and correct medication- the fainting stopped and he was back to his wonderful normal self- still walking 2-3 miles every day. 1 year ago (almost to the day - we found a tumor on his back toe and determined it was cancer with a biopsy and he had the toe removed. My miracle boy again was determined to beat the odds and his new motto was "who needs 4 toes anyway". 2 weeks after the amputation he was walking proudly with a boot- his normal 2-3 miles and within 30 days - no boot and like nothing happened. 2 months later however another "stroke" and this was when I started to think- maybe enough is enough- and I didn't give them instructions to resuscitate if needed. However, my boy came through with shining colors. 2 weeks and he was back to normal- as if nothing happened. Miracle indeed. This takes us to where we are now. Another calendar year and the last 2 months have been a struggle. My house has turned into "sheet city" because he can't control his bladder with Poop when he sleeps and slowly is losing all ability to use his back legs. I put down sheets every night so that I can protect my rugs and furniture and it makes it easier for clean up- then a diaper on him and having to bath him every day. Sometimes he does get it on him, but most times he does his business and then moves to a different part of the room. My smart boy indeed. I have documented almost every day (which really does help) so that I can make an informed decision if I have to - based on good days/bad days etc for the past 2 months. While he can still walk with his front legs-, his back legs are progressively getting worse every day. He uses a rear harness or wheel chair now and he can poop outside with assistance, the last 2 however weeks have been the worst. I actually took him the Vet yesterday just for a follow-up and of course it was a better day for him and she said "no way" is he ready to go down yet. I understand her position because he really is in good spirits- doesn't appear to be in any pain or distress, but she of course doesn't see him try to get up or have to clean up after him every night/day when he can't make it outside. I am not ready to make the decision yet, but I know it will not be too much longer and this blog really does help. I want him to have is dignity- he deserves that much - but I just don't see it in his eyes yet, telling me it is time. I pray I have the strength to know when. It is hard when your sleep is deprived (mine) and you just love them so much it hurts to think clearly. Sorry for the long ramble- Thanks for listening and appreciate everyone's stories- it truly helps knowing I am not alone. People think that I rescued him, but he really rescued me.

I've learned so much reading this thread. I no longer feel so alone...My Lily (Shitzhu) just turned 15, and reading all the symptoms of end-of-life dogs, I have accepted that me and my girl are there. It's happening so soon, even though the signs have been there for the past two years. I just didn't want to explore them. Lily is almost completely blind and deaf now and has severe pain in her right leg. She's a trooper and never complains, but I can see the pain she's in. I recently noticed her back legs have begun trembling, and for the past two days she can't squat to pee anymore. She just lays there. Then it's bath time. I keep waiting for a "sure sign" from her, but I think the signs have been there for a long time. It's possibly the hardest thing I've ever had to do because I'm taking the action on this decision. But I love this little girl, and will do what's best for her. We're going to see the vet for a consult, but I'm pretty sure I know what the vet will say. Thanks so much to all of you!

I am looking for someone in similar situation,we decided to put our beautiful 14yr old husky baby to sleep on Friday. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make,I am now so heartbroken and carrying a deep sense of guilt. He was such a gentle loving boy, he had been having trouble getting up for a while and for last few weeks he hadn’t been able to get up in time to poop sometimes still sitting,the last few days he had a bad bout of diarrhoea and was really having trouble squatting,I’m sure this must of hurt. I didn’t want to see him struggle so much. Trouble is before his bad belly he could still walk slowly and wobbly at times,although he still struggled to get up and would shake sometimes (pain?). His last day was so sad and he didn’t want to go to car,I couldn’t spoil him with lovely food in fear of it going straight through him and causing him pain. He sat up in car with the wind on his face ,he then uncomfortably lay down until the vet carried him in for sedative,then bought him back.Obviously we had to have him pts in car due to covid,he didn’t fight(probably just because he was such a good boy) or maybe gave up it was peaceful ,i stroked his head an kissed him,told him I loved him an he is such a good boy. I am so sad and full of guilt,was it too early,could he of had more time,I guess I will never know!!

It's almost midnight and I just found your article. My 12 year old German Shepherd named Rowan has hip dysplasia and in the last 2 months has become unable to control her bowels. It's been years since she could climb stairs and can barely use a ramp. She hobbles around the yard, enjoying gentle love and long naps but has recently started walking into the fence and acting surprised that the fence is there, walking in front of the kids when they swing (they keep an eye out for her) or wandering strangely around the yard ignoring our calls. I wonder if she's deaf and/or blind. I've tried to keep her as comfortable as possible these last few years but with her incontinence and frequent confusion I wonder if it isn't time to start thinking about what's best for her and not what's best for me. I bought her when she was 8 weeks old. She's protected me, watched over my kids as they played in the yard, been my baby and my friend and I'm not sure if I'm ready to lose her. She's in pain. I know it but I don't know if I can do it. We just had to put her big brother, a 14 year old German Shepherd Lab mix, to sleep last year about this same time. I'm not ready for that. I don't know what to do.

Sara, I can only speak from my own experience. When the time is right, it will feel right. Until then it isn't right. Your not knowing what to do is a sign of how much you love Rowan, how much you want to be sure that you're doing the right thing for both Rowan and you.

What you're going through is difficult. It's tough. It's painful. But so is love, at certain times. When we love as deeply as you love your dog, we're happily taking on the risk that the joy of love will bring along sadness at some point, because losing the one we love is so hard. So hang in there, and keep on loving.

Last year we lost another dog, ZuZu. I wrote about this in "Love hurts. But the pain of love also is pleasure." See:


Thank you so much for sharing your experience and your thoughts. This post has helped tremendously in making a tough decision. My 14 year old lab poops in the house 1-3 times everyday for months and she is also a little senile- she is losing her personality. Her poor hips make everything hard for her. What you shared about not waiting until they are suffering greatly makes such sense. I certainly don't want that for myself and have made that clear to my loved ones. Thanking you for helping everyone that has read your post.

My beautiful, gentle dog, Holly, was ‘helped along’ on Monday. A vet came to our house to do the deed. Holly was my soul-dog, the next love of my life after my husband. I got her when I was 23, and she has been with me until now, about 15 years and two months.

The last 2 years of her life have been a slow, gut wrenching decline. It began with bed wetting during the nights. I would wake up to take Holly and my other 15 year old dog out to potty and find a large pee spot on her bed. I eventually bought some washable human incontinence pads and covered her bed with those every day. Made clean up really quick and easy.

That was also the point that her appetite became extremely picky. I was constantly trying new foods and adding fresh cooked beef and chicken to her dish to entice her to eat. At the beginning of this year, her weight began to drop, and on her last brand of dog food, she began to also have fecal incontinence. I kept thinking it was because there was so much fiber in the new brand of food, but I didn’t change it because she seemed to actually like it. The new food did not affect my other dog in the same way, so in the back of my mind I knew something else was going on.

In February of this year, she stopped eating and prompted us to rush her to vet in fear that the end was near. Apart from being an old dog with bad arthritis (Galliprant was great for that!), she was healthy as a horse. Blood work was great, she just lacked appetite. The vet prescribed Entyce, which worked a treat at revving up her appetite. We only gave it to her for a week, but the effect lasted about 5 months. Right around that time in February, she had her first “pooptastrophy.” I went into he bedroom one morning to let the pups out and saw that feces were EVERYWHERE. I couldn’t even fathom how it had occurred because I had never seen anything like it before.

Little did I know that that would become the norm... Eventually, around July, the effects of the Entyce wore off. I tried to give it to her again, but she always hated the taste and it didn’t seem to produce the desired the effect anymore. Instead, it caused a nerve wrenching side effect - random howls and crying for what seemed like no reason. We can’t imagine what the drug was doing to her to make her cry out like that, as she had always been a silent dog, never even barking in her youth.

Since the beginning of the year, Holly lost a huge amount of weight until she became skin and bones, despite me hand feeding her and trying to fatten her up constantly. She lost all her muscle mass and couldn’t walk in straight lines as dimentia finally revealed itself to be behind her incontinence and strange behavior the last few months. She would stand in corners, try to walk inside cabinets in the kitchen, and she forgot how to get up and lay down in her bed, forgot to chew her food so would just hold food in her mouth for 5 minutes at a time. She never slept at night anymore and instead was driven to walk and walk and walk in circles in her bedroom until she would slide down to the floor in exhaustion, sometimes laying in her previous poop or pee from an hour prior. I lost a ton of sleep the past year trying to care for her and keep her clean. She needed daily, sometimes several times a day, foot baths from tramping through her feces because she didn’t realize she’d done it anymore, and she started going way more often to boot.

Problem was, despite all the signs saying that Holly was no longer of sound mind and was not the same pup from even a year ago, she still maintained her adorable good looks and my husband and I treasured having her sleep on our chests, something she would have hated when she was younger. In her older age, those were the only times she didn’t fight to go walk in circles. Those were cherished, precious moments.

I made the decision to let her go after a few incidents where she pooped in her bed and she knew it, but she was too weak to get up and get away from it. So she would kick her legs and try to get up for hours, until I came home from work and found her panicking on her bed or the floor, and she’d cut her face with her own nails accidentally on a few occasions, just from the frantic kicking. To find your beautiful old pup on the floor in a panting panic with her own blood on her paws and face bleeding was horrifying. I knew after I saw that the first time, that the end was very near. I couldn’t let her do that to herself again. It didn’t happen again for a couple months, but then it did. And I knew.

We had a very kind vet come to our house to help Holly pass. Two hours prior, I hand fed her some of her favorite soft food, and I slipped in some melatonin, magnesium, and a tiny bit of left over gabapentin I’d had from before. She was very sedate by the time the vet arrived, and my husband created a soft shrine for her to rest on, surrounded by her toys and blankets. The vet came in and said “Oh, yeah, she’s already so far gone,” because Holly was sleeping peacefully on the bed my husband placed her on. The vet had to use hardly any medication to sedate her, and we spent several minutes petting her and kissing her and crying before the vet found her vein to administer the final drug. She passed at 11:20am this Monday. The vet left us with her body, since we wanted to personally take her to be cremated. Our cremation appointment wasn’t until 2:30, so we were able spend the next couple hours with our other dog sitting next to Holly and petting her face and telling her how much we cherished her, even though we knew she was no longer with us. She looked so beautiful even after death, and we know how lucky we were to be blessed with her presence as long as we had been.

I will never forget her, and I will never have a dog again, because watching the deterioration of such an intelligent vibrant soul who depended on me was so hard. If I were older, I think this loss would have been my final blow, if you know what I mean. I am still young so will survive the pain, but I can’t do this to myself again.

I hope my other pup goes peacefully in her sleep, unexpected. But if I see her suffering, I will do the same thing I did for Holly, and honor her.

Hi. I put my young 8 year old to sleep 5 days ago. I'm gutted and have been looking for confirmation I did the right thing.
I too believe extending a dogs life just so it can be a shell of itself and have a few happy moments is not fair on the dog.
But after $4k and no solid answers and my baby being syringe fed mostly (the night before she passed my adult son came by to say good bye and she ate a peanut butter and liver treat sandwich for him and even walked for him). Not getting up. Becoming incontinent. Laying in the same spot all day. I could get her outside but she would just stand in one spot. I think she would fall if she tried to pee in the last day.
She had been sick in August and thats when most of the money was spent. Anti nausea meds, nsaids and antibiotics seemed to get her to a happy spot for almost 2 months. I thought we cured her. That it was just an infection making her feel I'll and not wanting to eat and the meds worked. Then 2.5 weeks ago it started again. Progressing faster. The last couple of days she was knocking on her front paws and it seemed to hurt her to touch her front pads. Full blood labs released plus extras. Lyme ruled out felt it was neurological and my pup communicated with a communicator and said it hurt between her eyes.
Any other time I've had to euthanize the dog was 14. Or 12 or 8 with cancer. But with Jem we didn't know for sure and that makes euthanasia so difficult.
Because she hated the car and got very sick and peed and pooped in the car (usually after about 30.minutes but the last 2 rides to the vet it was within 2 or 3 minutes.) She was walking at the vets better and even ate a tiny lick of food but I'm sure it was the adrenaline making her symptoms.
The vet, even the day of euthanasia, was reluctant at first. We waited a while for her to calm down then the vet saw her knuckeling on her front paws then standing up against the wall and in the corner of the room not connected at all to her surroundings.
He then said its 50/50 and would support whatever decision I made.
But grief is so hard when you're not 100% sure you did the right thing.
But she was suffering. Had she been a feral dog I'm sure she would have been picked off, unable to look after herself. So who am I to prolong that?
So so hard

Thank goodness I found this thread- I asked God for a sign that our appointment tomorrow was the right thing- this was the sign. My heart hurts but is content with be he decision.
Thank you

Thank you for your article. I am going through the exact same thing. My 15 year old 45 pound cocker mix has declined pretty quickly over the lease few months. His back legs just keep getting worse and worse to the point where I have to help him 99.9% of the time get off the ground. He has doggie dementia and paces a lot. He knows who I am some times and other times, he acts scared when I come in the door. He can't hear. But everybody keeps saying, he's eating and drinking normally he's fine. But he is a dog who loves food. Its hard for me to imagine a time where I doesn't eat. A few months ago, he also started having random accidents in the house. He peed a few times, and whenever he got excited, it was like spontaneous poop occurred. They were far and few between. Now, he poops more inside than he does out. I will take him out, and he will just stand outside sniffing, and then when I come in, he will poop, in the hallway, the lobby of the building I live in, the elevator, anywhere but outside. He hasn't had normal poop in months. And had started having issues getting down to a laying position too. He paces. I keep thinking how much more can I do this? And then I feel guilty for thinking that way. I want to do what's right for HIM. Your article put me at peace.

I just found this website whilst searching for answers about my 13years 8moth old chocolate lab called Alfie who we had put to sleep 11hrs ago. He had been unwell for a few weeks and we noticed his tummy had become hard & swollen and he was booked into the vets today for an ultrasound & x-rays. However when we went to him this morning he refused to get up from his bed and I realised he had pooped over himself and over his bed. He couldn't stand up even with my help, all he could manage was lifting his front part of his body up, he had no strength in his back legs,

I cleaned him up as much as I could, wrapped him in a few towels and carried him to my car and took him to the vets. We had seen the vet yesterday who examined Alfie and told us we needed to book him in today for the ultrasounds and the same vet met us in the carpark this morning. She examined Alfie whilst he was till in the boot of my car and she was shocked at how bad a turn he had taken in less than 24 hours. I explained about the poop and that is was black and runny and she gave her opinion of his hard swollen stomach and black poop ment that there was a very high chance that Alfie had a tumour in his stomach area and had internal bleeding - hence the black poop. In her option there was probably not much that could be done for him other than trying to stabilize him and make him comfortable.

My wife & I had discussed what we should do with Alfie beforehand should his ultrasound & x-rays show something bad, Due to his age we didn't feel it fair on him to put him through operations to try to fix anything the ultrasound revealed.

So there and then at 9.30am this morning in a sunny car park the decision was made to out my best friend to sleep. Due to covid-19 we could not so it in the vets practice if we wanted to be with Alfie when he went to sleep so we had the option of doing it the car park of the kennels across from the main building, we chose the kennels.

Alfie was put onto a stretcher and they took him away to put a needle in his front right leg. When they brought home back out and across the car park to the kennel room he was laying down but his head was up and he was looking around and he seemed to settle when he seen me & my wife waiting for him.

He was placed on the floor whilst still on a stretcher and we we were given a few minutes alone with him to say goodbye and tell him how much he is loved and will be missed, tears were streaming down our faces at this point. I had promised myself and Alfie many years ago that when the time came he would not go through it alone and I would be by his side, just as he has been by mine for almost 14 years.

A few moments later the vet appeared with two large syringes and very slowly & gently began injecting the drugs into my Alfies leg. I put my left hand under his chin and lifted his head towards my wife and I so he could look at us and didn't see what the vet was doing and I kept smoothing his head as my wife gently rubbed his ear. We couldn't tell if Alfie was still conscious at this point but we kept taking to him and fusing him as the vet made the second injection. She then left the room and we had a few minutes with our boy Alfie as he passed.

My wife & I were in floods of tears when the vet returned and checked that his heart had stopped beating. She confirmed it had and he was gone. He was so peaceful laying on his stretcher as we left the room.

We are having him cremated and intend to scatter his ashes across the fields where he grew up and I would take him every day of life until we moved house.

I though I would be able to accept and handle what happened today but it has had a massive effect on me and I have been very very upset. I have questioned myself over and over, did I make the right call, could we have done anything to save him bur I know what we did was the right thing for him. He hadn't been well for a little while and started pooping in the house about a month ago, you could just see from the look on his face that he didn't want to poop inside but he just couldn't help himself.

As tough as it is at the moment, the events of 11 hours ago still fresh & raw in my memory, I know we did the right thing for our Alfie and I am so proud of my wife & myself for having the courage to to be with Alf when he took his final breath and passed.

I don't know if anyone will ever read my story about my dog but just putting this here helps me deal with it and one day I am sure I will com back and read it all again.

R.I.P Alfie 14 April 2007 - 15 December 2020

I love you my boy xxx

Thank you for your beautiful story of Serena. I too have a Lab/Shepherd mix. His name is PhiPhi and he just turned 17 years old. He was originally my son’s dog in college and is named after his fraternity.
As college students do, he left his dog with his parents while home on Christmas vacation.
Phi has pretty much loss use of this hind legs, he is pretty much blind and deaf, and he too has developed canine dementia.
He wakes up several times at night, so I get up and help him outside to do his business. He can no longer stand to poop so I hold him by his lifting harness. He sleeps most of the time and he is just not PhiPhi any longer.
I too have said hundreds of times that I just want to wake up and he would have passed in his sleep. Unfortunately that has not occurred. Yesterday I had an appointment to put him to sleep, but he was having a pretty good day for him, so I backed out. I drove to the Vet’s office to speak to him, and he was so understanding but in his own way was telling me it probably is time.
Last night was not good, but not bad, but I realized just as you did with Serena that I want Phi to go in his sleep without pain, with me by his side so Friday we will give Phi the sleep he so deserves.
Thank you so much for your story of Serena.

This is beautiful. Thank you for writing this and giving me some peace about my past and present difficult decisions. God Bless you and your family.

This was written by you a long time ago but it has helped me deal with the guilt I feel for putting our Ralph down a few days ago. He was almost 14 and like your experience, for about 6 months he had been pooping in his bed most nights. Most mornings was a guarantee I needed to wedge out time to clean the dog room, and also some days of mass explosions all over the room and him. As you mentioned, it was both sad and frustrating. Ralph when going outside to pee would often fall down on the first step, or need help getting back up a step. Often in the morning his hind legs took time to work, and he would scoot around till he was able to get up. He also often fell on the grass.

A wk ago I brought him to the ER bc of breathing issues. They did an ultrasound and saw fluid in his lungs so thought it was his heart, could not confirm bc x ray machine was down. So they had to give him a diaretic. Next day they discovered it was actually pnemonia. Poor baby was being dehydrated when what he needed was fluids! We went to visit him over the days, he was VERY depressed. He did not like the vet and did not like crates. He was not eating and there was no light in his eyes.

We got to take him home after a few days but his hind legs were totally not working bc he had been laying in a crate not using them. He was not interested in food, and we had to basically carry him outside and hold him up to potty. He got slightly better the next day in that if we helped him up he could walk, but often falling down along the way to go outside. We had to help him in and he would just go lay down. He did not want his dog bed, and did not want to be in the dog room, only with us but wanted to lie on the floor. He was so skinny. He had been skipping meals and not "asking" for food sporatically for months (always wanted his treats though!) and well after the ER stay he really didnt want anything aside chicken and salmon. He would not even eat rice or his favorite strawberries. On Wed, just a few days after he came home I would say he was at his worst. Just so shaky and so sad looking. I knew. had to make the call.

The dr came to the house the next morning to help me say goodbye. An hr before he was however able to get up on his own again and walk, though shaky. I panicked thinking I did not give him enough time to get his strength back from surgery. He even gave me some wags and gave me his little saunter where hed hand his head low and come over to me for love. And boy did he love! He wouldnt eat a strawberry again though. I told the dr I was worried I did not give him enough time. She said when I told her about all of the pooping that THAT alone made it the right decision. That no dog wants to lie in their poop. She said what I wanted to do was avoid a crisis situation and that often with dogs, like old people they can have a good day and a bad day. That maybe he would walk a little more today but then tomorrow be in a bad situation again. He had been on the decline for awhile. She said she has seen too many times when owners change there mind to then call her days later in a panic. She said what I was doing was called compassion. He was clearly suffering in his current state for many days and that he was likely over the pnemonia part but yet still was not eating his normal food.

I decided she was right. We were going to Europe in 2 wks and all I could think of what if something happens when we are gone and Im not with him in his final hours of need? This dog loved his people and did NOT want to be without us. When we used to travel he would cry when the suitcases came out and continue to cry on and on with our sitter until we returned home. He was a lover. Wanted to love and be loved. I dont think Id forgive myself if I wasnt there with him, or if it was an urgent situation at the vet, a place that terrified him

With this, we got to do it on our terms. With loads of love days leading up to it, him at home with me petting him, telling him what a good boy he was and feeding him pizza and ice cream.

Thank you for your entry. It helped me understand I made the right choice and I am not alone.

Thanks for this.

Our 12 year old lab, Molly, has has lost bowel control for the past 6 months. We have a 4 year old son and 2 year old twin girls. We are cleaning poop up every single day. It's incredibly frustrating and sad. This animal that we loved so much has become a source of stress and tension, and I know she's feeling it, too. With three little kids, we just don't have much left for her in this condition anymore.

But I cried as I read this. I don't know where I'm at with it now.

Today is December 15, 2022. I am scheduled to put my 15 year and 5 month old boxer/lab down on the 17 of this month. I have gone back and forth with this decision and even thought about canceling and postponing the inevitable. Reading all of these posts have provided me much comfort in knowing that I am making the right decision. Bella has been having fecal incontinence for about 6 months. She has reallly bad arthritis in her hind legs. She pees outside with great difficulty and often sits in her pee and struggles to get back up. She still has a great appetite and enoys her daily snacks. Which makes it harder for me because I thought her apetite would be the first to go. I'm having a mobilevet come to the house. I want Bella to die at home comfortable in her surrounding around people who love her. It will be hard. There will be tears. But this is the humane thing to do. Thank you for your post.

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