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It's time for me to start prepping to send my sweet baby girl Nike to the bridge. She has cauda equina syndrome, a compression of the nerves in her lumbar region, and is slowly losing control of her back end. The prednisone to relieve inflammation is no longer working. There is a surgical option but it only has a 20% success rate. Nike's almost 9--I just don't want to put her through it. I swore when I got her that no matter how much it would kill me, I would never let her live a painful and undignified life to satisfy my own selfish needs. The vet said I'd know when it was time to say goodbye when she starts hurting herself, can no longer get up without assistance, or loses bladder control. I thought I might have her through the rest of the year, but at the rate she's deteriorating, I doubt she'll last a couple of months.

What I hate more than anything is that she's completely healthy otherwise. Her spirit is good, her mind is clear, and she's still a puppy at heart. If she was sick in a multitude of ways this might be easier, relatively speaking.

I've never been through this before--Nike is the first dog I owned--so I guess I'm just looking for input from those who've had to make the choice to say goodbye. What can I do to make her last days happy? How do I prepare myself for this?
 

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I think you should continue to love her and treat her in the wonderful way you have all these years. I had to make the choice with my bulldog who had brain cancer. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, I miss him every day, and its been 2 years. Sometimes the greatest act of love is to let them go, its also the hardest. Enjoy the better days and get through the worse. When the time comes let her go with all the love in your heart and know that she was truely blessed to have travelled her life with such a loving and unselfish partner. Hugs and strength to you through this very tough time.
 

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Sheppy Mom, I am really sorry to hear this about Nike and for what you are going through. I don't know what to tell you about your question, I have not been there yet.

I am not familiar with cauda equina syn. other than what you have described. Is there any alternative/holisitc options ?

Keeping you and Nike in my thoughts.
 

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I'm so sorry you're going thru this. I wish I could say or do something to help you. Having a much loved dog put down never gets easier. I know I always second guess myself, I know I'm doing the right thing, but I still always question myself about it. I've never found a way to prepare myself for the eventual loss of any of my babies.

I lost JR to Cauda Equina Syndrome. I joined a CES list for humans and they gave me a lot of tips which helped him. Like you, I didn't want to put him thru the surgery (he was about 10 when he was diagnosed). Per the CES people, I put him in hydrotherapy which helped for a while, but eventually there was nothing else left to help him. I had to have him put down three months after his 13th birthday.

A couple months ago his 12-1/2 year old daughter was diagnosed with CES and spondylosis. She's going in next Wednesday for a Bowen Massage Therapy treatment - I'll post here if I see any results or not. I'm not sure if I'll put her in hydrotherapy or not, her brother got pneumonia twice last year from aspirating water. Right now she's doing pretty good but I can see her starting to exhibit more symptoms. So far she's doing well on Metacam and Tramadol, but I'm sure eventually she'll have to start taking Pred and Valium for the muscle spasms.

This is the support group that helped me so much. They wouldn't let me join, but they did give me all the support I needed including taking my problems with JR to their membership.
http://www.caudaequina.org/

GOOD LUCK and my prayers are with you and Nike.
 

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I'm so sorry to hear this
Losing a dog is always very tough, but when it's your first it's a terrifying thought also.
My Logan was my first dog and he was also 9 years old when I had him put to sleep. I spoiled him so much in his last few days. He had his favourite sausages for dinner and I spent as much time as I could with him.

On his last day, it was just so strange.. It was almost like he knew what was coming and he seemed almost relieved that the pain would be over. He was ready, without a doubt. He would usually get so excited about going in the car, but his car trip to the vet was silent.

There's no way really to prepare yourself.. Everyone deals with grief in different ways. I myself, experienced a loss of reality. It felt like I was looking down on everything from a distance. It was scary. I'll be honest and say that, even though it was fourteen months ago, I still cry over him and miss him terribly. But you have to take comfort in the fact that they've moved on and they're at peace finally
And that you'll have so many wonderful memories of her too!

Death is a natural process of life. I sorta like to look at it as being reborn almost. It doesn't have to be a completely negative thing. As much as we miss them, I truely believe they'll always remain with us in spirit
 

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Kim-that is a really great post.

Kramer is my first dog of my own so I also don't have any really good advice. I would give her whatever she wanted (as long as it didn't create more problems) and do the stuff she likes as much as possible. And get good pictures of her. Some nice quiet time where she gets massaged will bring you both some peace.

On a very practical note, there was a thread about being sure that if you have a pet euthanized to ask for the two shots. The first sedates them. I am sorry to put it so bluntly but think it's important information (that you may already know but just in case).
 

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Here's my story: I put my first GSD down in 7/04 due to similar signs. He was 12 yrs old and we had battled an autoimmune disease for 4 years that at first attacked his joints and in later years caused hind leg paralysis. We managed to bring him around from the paralysis 3 times during his last 6 months. It was clear that the last bout wasn't responding to treatment. He was a large GSD at around 110 lbs. He also had diarrhea that wasn't responding to treatment, and was diagnosed with pnuemonia secondary to fast onset laryngial paralysis. My big boy with a heart of gold was falling to pieces before my eyes. I would use a sling to support his hind end to take him outside. We had to barricade him into the kitchen and I did a lot of laundry. I started thinking it might be time, not due to the work load on myself, but due to how "embarresed" he seemed to be about his lack of control and the odds against a decent recovery from all his issues. I "knew" it was time when I went to lift him with the sling and he whined. I wasn't going to put him through pain in addition to all his other problems. I had worked in the vet field for 10 years at that point, all but 6 months at one practice. I made an appt with my previous boss (my boss and a another coworker there where also his pet sitters and friends) and when we got there all my former coworkers came out to the van, and we put a catheter in him. I fed him 2 whole slices of pizza (he usually only got the crust) and he was given the injection to a chorus of "Good boy". I've witnessed a lot of euthanasias over the years, but this was the only time I've seen this, the last thing he did was wag his tail. That helped.

As far as preparing yourself, I'm not really sure you can. The house felt empy each time I returned home (even with another dog in the house). We were preparing to move, which I think helped alot - not only kept me busy, but once we moved it was easier to not run into a memory around every corner. I also lavished extra attention on our other dog. It takes time to dull the pain and we all find our own ways of dealing with it and remebering them. Some people feel compelled to get another dog right away, others can't even think about that for months or years. I know people who have gotten involved in breed specific rescue out of a "tribute" to their lost companion.
 

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My parent's "snicker doodle", Kelly lived to be 16. After she lost all control, sight and became increasingly confused we decided to end her pain. My parents could not fathom taking her to the vet to be PTS so I had to do it. I held her in my arms for her first and second injection. As painful as it was, she was comforted, loved and knew that she was being relieved of all of her pain. She died in my arms and I cradled her all the way home where we buried her. Just look in your dog's eyes and tell him/her you love them. They understand. It's humane and peaceful.
 
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