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44 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Wow, talk about timing! I have been putting off posting this, but came across this new topic, and have finally gotten the guts to do it.

On the 25th of June my beloved GSD Maggie went in to the vet have a tooth removed. I was in the shower when my 7 year old son came in and said "Maggie is really sick". My husband was on the phone with the vet. My dog has cancer. She has a tumor on her lower left jaw. The jaw bone is worn away so bad the vet was able to pull teeth out with her fingers. At this point she was given a couple of weeks, maybe a month.

On the 28th the results of the biopsy came back. The vet told me they believe it is either malignant oral melanoma, or fibrosarcoma (sp?). The area that is affected is so large surgery is out of the question. Chemo/radiation is a possiblity, but realistically it won't do much. The only thing we can do at this point is to keep her comfortable. The infection she has makes her smell like death. "Like a decaying body", as my husband put it (he's a cop, so truly does know what it smells like). She's been on antibiotics. Hopefully they can keep the infection under control for awhlie.

So, now I sit and wait. I apologize to Maggie everytime I see her. I sit here witih a black cloud hanging over me because I know my dog is dying a horrible death, and all I can do is wait. Wait for some sort of sign that it is time for her to go to the bridge. She sleeps alot. She is still eating. She still wags her tail while I am preparing her food, God bless her sweet soul. She still "cleans up" under my toddlers high chair. Food is her favorite thing, and she still enjoys it.

The vet mentioned that it will not be a case of us waking up in the morning to find that she has passed. Most likely it will be a matter of us bringing her in the be euthanized. I have decided that no matter what, I will be the one in the room with her. She has given me 11 years of her life, I owe it to her. I need to be there when she passes. It makes me sick to think about it. It wasn't supposed to happen this way.

When do I know it's time? What can I expect when I bring her to the vet for that last time? I want her cremated. How exactly does that work?

Any insight/advice would be GREATLY appreciated!!! I am having a very hard time dealing with this. I am also very sorry if I sound overly dramatic. I haven't posted here much, but needed to vent somehow.

Thanks so much!!!

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4,268 Posts
Oh Wendy, I'm so very sorry to know of what you must be going thru. Others will be able to help you more than I, but I just wanted to say your not alone and my heart goes out to you and your lovely dog.

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25,398 Posts
Wendy, I am sorry to hear about your girl. You can make a photo tribute of Maggie and post it. It is bittersweet to see the seniors and the life they have led. But you can remember all the great things she went thru with you in the 11 years you had her. It may make it easier to say goodbye. I feel that if the dog has lost their dignity, and is in pain then it is time. I am going to go thru this soon as well, with a 14 yr border/golden mix Clover and it will be so hard, but she has been happy and given us much happiness in return. Do you have anyone that can go with you for support when the time comes? I am lucky, that my DH will be there for us. Just let her know in the time you have left, how much she is loved, and you will know when it is time.
Your vet will be able to help you with the cremation And some vets that have been w/ your dog their whole life will accomodate you as much as possible.

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1,031 Posts
I know exactly what you are going through. I have a 9 year lab/hound named Jazzabell, who is also dying of spleen and liver cancer. It is hard because I have her on meds that keep her eating, and sleeping in a normal way, yet in the back of my mind, I know that she has a timebomb ticking away in her. When she turns over for a belly rub, I feel this mass where her liver is, and her stomach feels big and weird. While there is a chance she will pass on in the night, I feel that I too will be making that final trip to the vet. So sorry, I wish I knew what to say.

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1,171 Posts
So that you will know what will happen, talk to your vet now about how the euthanasia will be done. Make sure you are comfortable with all steps.

Some vets will come to your home for this. If you go the the clinic, ask if you can be scheduled at a time it is usually quiet. If you are like me, you may want time alone with her afterward - it is hard to leave them, even though you know they have moved into your heart.

It sounds like Maggie is still having some joys in her life. When the time comes she is not you will know it is time.

Take some pictures now. You will cherish them.

I am so sorry Maggie and her family are going through this. You are in a good place here. We care. Tell us all you want about Maggie and her place in your life.

I will be thinking of you - take care.

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2,451 Posts
You are not being overly dramatic at all. It's a gut wrenching, heartbreaking thing to go through. Thinking about making that decision will rip you apart. I know because I was there just 10 weeks ago with my boy. But I can promise you that one of these days you will look into Maggie's eyes and she will tell you that it's time. Try to enjoy every single day you have with her. She just might surprise you. My sister's dog was diagnosed with cancer of the spleen nearly two years ago (he was 11). He passed in his sleep last Sunday at 13+.

Our vet came to the house and has for all of our animals. I know it's not always possible, but if there's a way, I believe it's easiest on the dog as they are in a safe and comfortable environment. Insist that the vet sedate first. Do not take "no" for an answer. The sedation puts them into a very deep sleep and they are not cognizant of what is going on. When you're ready, they can give the final shot which stops the heart. It is painless to them and they go to sleep within seconds.

My vet made a plaster pawprint for me. I can't tell you how much that meant. I know not all vets do it, so it's something you might want to do now while Maggie is doing fairly well -- kind of like doing a kid's handprint! Some people like to clip fur and keep it.

It's very hard for some people to stay with their companion, but as painful as it is, I could never let them pass without holding them and talking with them as they go to sleep.

Your vet can arrange for the cremation. They give you the option of purchasing a container or you can buy or make your own. All of my animals are cremated and here with me. It gives me great comfort to know that they're close.

I am so sorry you are faced with this and I, and many others here, know exactly what you're going through. You'll find many compassionate people on this forum and all you have to do is post and you'll find a lot of support. Let us know how things are going and give Maggie girl a big hug from me.

For all the joy you've given me,
for the glory days gone by
My best and final gift, My Love,
I grant you wings to fly

-- Author Unknown

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Wendy, so sorry for you and Maggie. I too went through this only about 10 weeks ago, and yes you'll know when the time comes. The pain and frustration will become clear and you'll see it in Maggie's eyes. My vet brings you to a special room and allows you some final time together. As difficult as it is, I could not let my boy go alone, I stayed with him and held and talked to him until it was over. If you can, stay with her as she crosses the bridge, you will get some comfort knowing she's at peace.

My thoughts and prayers are with you.

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3,363 Posts
The vet clinic will take care of the cremation and the euthanasia should be a quick and peaceful process. I used to work for a mobile vet and we often went to people's homes to euthanize dying animals, after everything I see at the shelter, seeing these much loved and much mourned pets was terribly sad but also terribly beautiful. In the case of the two dogs I've had euthanized we actually went to the clinic but both were dogs who enjoyed an outing and I think they liked the attention. If either of them had been fearful or shy dogs, I definitely would have found some way for someone to come to our home.

In my Golden's case (end stage osteosarcoma) I took her through McDonald's first, she got a burger and chocolate chip cookies and I sat with her in her wagon (she couldn't walk at that point) and fed her pieces while we waited. I gave her a big bite of cookie when they put in the IV catheter and I don't think she ever noticed it, she was too busy licking her chops, which made me happy.

This might sound morbid, but I have a blanket that my Husky was lying on when she died and since then, I've used it to cushion the two other dogs we've had euthanized. It still gets laundered and everything so it's not like it smells like them but it's old and soft gives me something tangible that was close to them that I can hold.

Like other posters, we've kept all their ashes. I have their collars with each box. My BIL made a beautiful shadow box with his deceased dog's picture and collar which hangs over his desk. I thought that was a nice idea.

As far as knowing when is the right time, I found this the most difficult part of the entire process. People said I would "just know" but I found that I didn't. A good day would be followed by a bad one but then another good one. It wasn't clear to me. Even when Charlotte couldn't walk well on her own, we held her in a sling to go potty and took her for long rambles in her wagon which she seemed to enjoy. Her leg had been removed so she didn't seem to be in pain. For us the "moment" came the day I had to leave the house for 2 hours and came back to find that she'd gone poop on the floor but clearly tried to drag herself to the door to go out. I didn't care a thing about soiling the house but I realized how hard that was on her, when she "knew" she wasn't supposed to. I realized that the bad moments were starting to outnumber the good ones and she was slipping fast. I'm glad we didn't wait until she couldn't enjoy her cookies and burger. It felt like the right time.

In our Rottie's case it came when he seemed to be in pain and wasn't able to enjoy the things he used to. I felt like it was the right time but I worried a lot that I'd waited to long.

I think making that decision and deciding on the moment is probably the hardest decision we can make as dog owners.

But before that sad day, it's wonderful to spend time with them, to think of things they'll enjoy and let them break the rules they never got too before

Lots of pictures of her and of you with her. Paw prints and paw casts are also nice mementoes as others have mentioned. It seems sad and morbid sometimes when you're doing it but they're priceless later, and if you have other pets, you can do everybody and create display. It doesn't have to be about losing her it can be about celebrating the time you have now.

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571 Posts
Wendy, I am so sorry that you are going through this. My boy Smoke died in February rather suddenly at home, so I didn't have to make the decision about the final vet trip. We had known he wasn't feeling well, and had a vet appointment on the Saturday. I got a telephone call at work of the Friday night to say that he'd gone to the bridge.

My vet was great though. We took Smoke to the office, and they arranged the cremation, took a cast of his pawprint etc. It is now in my bedroom with a photo and his collar.

Don't worry, Maggie will tell you when it's time...and will thank you for not letting her suffer. You've given her 11 years, and I'm sure they've been happy ones.

My thoughts are with you.

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
First of all, thanks so much for the replies. It truly means so much to me!! I am so sorry to everyone that has lost a pet. Obviously dogs don't live forever. As Maggie has gotten older I knew the day would come. I guess I had hoped that when her time came it would be quick and painless.

I was completely blind-sided by this. I had taken her into the vet the week before because I knew something was wrong. Like I said, she smelled really bad. She also had a lump under her eye. I was told it most likely was and infected/impacted tooth that had to be removed. So, when I dropped her off on the 25th I figured the tooth would be removed, and all would be well.

My husband has been great through all of this. I trust that he will help me decide when it's time. He isn't quite as emotionally attached to Maggie, and will be able to think with his head, and not is heart if you know what I mean.

Maggie is my sweetheart. She sleeps next to my side of the bed every night. When I went to Florida two years ago with the kids she laid by the front door for the majority of the week. She has been so loyal to me. She was a royal PITA as a puppy, but turned out to be a wonderful dog. She has a few "quirks". She hates having her picture taken. She will literally run and hide if I bring the camera out. It's funny because years ago I took so many pictures of her my husband called her "The Princess Diana" of the dog world. Always being photographed
I guess Maggie just got sick of it.

She looks so sad. I look into her eyes and I can tell something is different. It may be my imagination considering a month or so ago I had no clue. I don't know. Every once in awhile I think the vet may be wrong on the time frame. I am clueless at this point. Heck, I don't even know exactly what type of cancer she has for sure. The hardest part is being able to tell if she is in pain or not.

I'll just take it a day at a time. I have been mixing some yummy people food into her dog food. My husband told me to spoil her like crazy, so that's exactly what I plan on doing.

Sorry i'm rambling. Being able to write my feelings out has helped, as well as reading all of your reponses.

Time to get my human kids in bed...

Thanks so much!!!

Wendy, my heart goes out to you. I've said goodbye six times now to beloved GSDs. I just typed up a big long answer to you and deleted it. Why? I keep coming up with answers too tied up in my own loss. So I will be brief. You want to know when it will be time? You'll know. You can be certain of that. Nobody will need to tell you. Your link with your girl will ensure it.

One final thing I want to share with you. It has brought me solace over the years. Our dogs give us so much and their love and devotion is so huge it seems priceless. But there is a price. The price is in saying goodbye as we do every decade or so more or less. I have found and I suspect you will as well that that's a pretty good deal even so. I have still come out far, far ahead. I believe you have too.

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Our last GSD had kidney failure. One day I noticed he was losing weight so I made him an appointment for the following week for a regular checkup.... the next day I called the vet up and told him I could tell something was wrong and asked to bring him in that day. We were shocked to find out it was his kidneys. We tried to agressively treat him with iv fluids, meds and diet change but he went down hill quickly. There are a few things like Rocky Mt. Spotted fever that can cause kidney problems that can be reversed. I hoped so bad that would be the case that I feel like I let him down. He was so sick at the end his last night with us was horrible for him. If I had to do it over again I would not of let him suffer for so long. I wanted to give him every chance I could to get better but he was sooo sick. I don't know much about what your dog has but you are in my prayers.

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196 Posts

The love you have for Maggie and appreciation for all she has given you is one of the sweetest things we can experience in this life.

I believe that when our dogs die, God takes them back to Himself.
Life without love is death in one form and it's a hard, hard soul that can't realize the wonder of their devotion to us.

When the need to relieve their suffering approaches so swiftly, there isn't time to sort out your feelings and come to a place of strength.
I know the shock of having to consider being responsible for making such a horrible decision for something we have nurtured, protected, and done all to keep from harm.

The support given on this forum is priceless to help us walk thru that valley of death.
You will come out the other side, because so many prayers for peace are garrisoning your heart.

My heart dog is 13 1/2 now and slowly losing function of her rear legs.
The front end is fine and strong.
My sorrow is already mounting for "that day" in the event she dosn't pass on without assistance.

I have kept a poem given to me by her breeder in her "puppy pack" when we brought her home.
I knew I might need it one day.
I hope it brings you some comfort too.

God Bless and you are in my prayers, Wendy.

Before I grow too frail and weak,
And all that's left is peace in sleep,
I know you'll do what must be done,
To end this fight that can't be won.

I don't fear death as humans do,
So let me try to comfort you.
Come, let us take a quiet stroll,
And share some moments, soul to soul.

No need for words 'twixt you and I,
No need to say a last good-bye,
We've grown so close in mind and heart,
It seems so cruel that we must part.

Be sure I sense the pain you'll feel,
Without me walking at your heel,
The days will feel full of despair,
Your sunshine simply won't be there.

In time the pain will slowly wane,
You'll think of me and smile again,
You'll speak with love and pride of me,
Your extra special G.S.D.

You will be sad - I understand,
But then don't grief let stay your hand,
For this day, more than all the rest,
Your love and friendship stands the test.

Don't grieve so that it must be you,
Who must decide this thing to do.
We've had so many happy years,
And what's to come, it holds no fears.

Now take me where my needs they'll tend,
And stay with me until the end,
Hold me close and speak to me,
until my eyes no longer see.

The final sound I need to hear,
Is your soft voice upon my ear.
Your loving face will fade and dim,
As the rush of heaven closes in.

author unknown to me

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109 Posts
My heart goes out to you. I contemplated not telling you Kayle's story, and just giving you words of hope, but maybe you will find something in her story that might help you in this horrible time that words of hope may not be able to provide. I know that when I was going thru the same thing, I searched the internet for other stories of how other people handled the same situation for strength and perhaps reassurance that we were doing the right thing, and to know we were not alone.

My husband and I lost our heart dog, Kayle, to hemangiosarcoma on April 19, my husband's 40th birthday. Exactly two weeks prior, she woke up in horrible pain. We rushed her to the vet, and later that evening, at a third hospital, she had emergency surgery to remove her kidney and a huge tumor and blood clot. We were told she had 3-6 months to live at the most. We did everything we could to be sure she was comfortable and had a good quality of life during those two weeks we were given, as it was amazing she didn't die from the bleeding tumor that had taken over her kidney.

I worked as a head vet tech at a state of the art, AAHA cert hospital (please don't hold that against me everyone....I was a good, well-educated vet tech, not a doofus many of you and myself encounter regularly) for 3 years and watched many animals suffer needlessly because the owners kept hanging on beyond the time, trying to extend the animals life, but at a huge price paid via the animal's suffering from a lower quality of life. I swore that when we were faced with the same decision, I would not be selfish and do the same thing to my animals.

But then whammo, there we were, facing a decision to have emergency surgery on Kayle to find out exactly what was going on in her abdomen and to try and relieve her pain, because the ultrasound was not clear, or to euthanize her and avoid putting her, at age 11.5, thru the surgery, icu stay, and even more pain. After many tears and much soul searching, we decided that we would go thru with the surgery because we didn't know for sure what was wrong, and hoped that there was a chance that it was something relatively minor like an absess.

After a couple of minor complications and a 3 day stay in ICU, she came hope. She was weak, tired, sore, and more than a little dopey from the pain meds we kept her on but gradually cut back on as she was healing. But she was still Kayle, with the fire in her eyes, the sassiness in her voice, and her bossy, loving, protective attitude. She was eating, drinking, walking, barking, and trying to run and romp, roll in the grass, and chase her frisbee (she didn't understand why I would not throw it more than at her feet so she could pick it up and chew it).

Then came the morning of April 19. I will never forget when she told me it was time...she woke up nauseous that morning, vomited a couple of times, was breathing harder than usual, and would not lay down. We were watching her closely and waiting to see if she got to feeling better before going to the vet, but when she came to me, bumped me with her hiney to get my undivided attention in her Kayle-way, whined, and looking into my eyes, she told me right then that it was time. I never really understood the emotional knowing until that moment, as I always intellectualized it by examining the facts...eating, drinking, med status, etc. But there it was, heavy with grief and understanding.

Even in my knowing, and even with the vet telling us that her rads showed the cancer had spread to her lungs and liver in just two short weeks, my heart still fought it with the what-ifs....what if we can keep her comfortable for a few more weeks, what if that is just an artifact on the xray, even very unrational and somewhat paranoid what-ifs that were propogated by overwhelming grief: what if the vet is wrong, what if they mixed up the xrays, what if this isn't really happening and its just a nightmare, what if she will get better and we are over-reacting or jumping the gun, what if there is something else we can do for her.

But then there was the knowing and the ok that came from Kayle. And my remembering that I swore to not make one of mine suffer needlessly when I knew it was time. So we kept that promise and did the right and kind thing that day. Kayle died in my arms in the back seat of my car, with my husband holding her head and paws. We wanted her to go somewhere she loved, not in the vet's office. And she loved to ride in the car. We brought her home and buried her that night in our field, with the horse my husband grew up with and that we lost just three years prior.

What I found in the awareness of her slowly dying was the awareness of LIVING. Yes, while all you can do is wait, you can also LIVE in the waiting. I have a hard time putting this into words, but let me try. I fought daily to LIVE with fun, happiness, and laughter for and with her in defiance of her sickness. And you will be given more....more love, laughing, patience, empathy, appreciation, tenderness, caring, and insight into her devotion to you and your family. And you will be better for it on the other side of the grief. So will she. I kept reminding myself that Kayle was living in the moment, not fretting over that fact that she was going to die soon, even though she may have known in a way that us humans do not understand. And I did my best to live because of that.

So in response to your questions:
when? you will know. she will tell you. It may not be in the way i have described, but you will know.

What can you expect? They will likely check her out again, xrays, blood work, etc., So you will have the reassurance to go with your knowing (unless you have the vet come to your home). And when it is time and you say ok, the vet will give her an injection, either via an iv catheter in her leg or via a muscle. That will sedate her quickly and she will fall asleep peacefully in your arms. You will feel her get heavy and relax. Then the vet will give her another injection thru her iv catheter that will slowly stop her heart and her breathing. I felt the exact second Kayle was gone. It will be before the entire dose is administered. It takes a bit of time to administer it (a minute or so). The vet will check her heart a couple of times to be sure that she is gone. When the time comes, if you want time alone with her either before or afterwards to say your goodbyes, tell the vet and take your time.

Cremation: The vet can and should arrange this for you. It will probably be thru a third party. The vet will arrange for the transfer of her body to them for the cremation. You may be given the opportunity to choose an urn for her to be returned to you in, or the choice for a temporary urn if you wish to spread her ashes in her favorite place(s).

Please know that we are all thinking of you and Maggie. Many

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7,368 Posts
My heart goes out to you and your family!!!
It kills me that this nasty diease effects the sweetest animals and they can't even tell us what is wrong. Not fair.
My prayers are with you and Maggie

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2,587 Posts
Wendy, I'm so sorry that Maggie, you, and your family are going through this. It's heartbreaking to see your beloved friend decline before your eyes, knowing that there is nothing you can do to save them.

Our first dog, Sheba, was like a child to us. We got her as a 10-week old puppy when we were first married. When she was 10, she started having grand mal seizures and we thought for sure we'd lose her, but (long story short), she had a brain tumor successfully removed and we had another great year with her.

She started declining in her 11th year and we found out she had incurable leukemia. At first, she just seemed a little more tired than usual. We weren't ready to let her go and tried different treatments to keep her going. Like Maggie, she had a strong appetite until the end, and she was so happy just to be with us. But one day, Sheba tried to stand up to go to the bathroom and was so weak that she couldn't get up. She looked at us so sadly and we knew the time had come to let her go.

We called a mobile veterinary service and they came out right away. They were so kind and gentle with her. We went out to the back yard and took her to her favorite spot, and while we held her and petted her, they put her to sleep. It was very peaceful and it truly seemed as though she was just sleeping. Even though this happened 15 years ago, I can still remember that afternoon like it was yesterday. They gave us some time alone with her and then took her away to be cremated and returned the ashes to us. We planted a beautiful flowering tree and some pretty flowers in her favorite area.

You will know when it's time to let Maggie go. You can take comfort in knowing that you gave her a wonderful life. The love you have for each other will always be there.

Here is a poem that our veterinarian sent us. We found it very uplifting:

...Grieve not,
nor speak of me with tears
but laugh and talk of me
as if I were beside you.
I loved you so —
'twas Heaven here with you.

--Isla Paschal Richardson

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790 Posts
Originally Posted By: koog
The final sound I need to hear,
Is your soft voice upon my ear.
Your loving face will fade and dim,
As the rush of heaven closes in.
Man... this made me cry and cry and cry.

Wendy we are keeping you in our prayers. Our hearts hurt just thinking about what you are going through... but try to accept the support you have here... many resources and warm thoughts and serious praying!

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44 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thank you all *so* much for taking the time to reply to my message. It means so much to me!!

~ Jean, thanks so much for all of the links. I will be going through them all.

~ Koog & Karin, thank you SO much for the beautiful poems. I love them!.

~ Bev, thank you so much for going into detail as far as what to expect. I appreciate it!

And again, thanks to everyone else for sharing your stories!!

It truly isn't fair that such beautiful animals have to suffer in any way. It's not like you can explain to them what is going on, and that's the hardest part.

Like I said, I am going to take it one day at a time. I guess my biggest fear is waiting to long, and prolonging the suffering. I am also afraid of "jumping the gun" and ending her life a little too soon, if that makes sense. I just don't want her to suffer at all.

Anyhow, gotta go eat some dinner and go to bed.

All of you are absolutely fabulous!! Give all of your furbabies a huge hug & kiss from myself & Maggie.
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