A pet lovers quandary

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denmarc

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Aug 8, 2009
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Grand Rapids, Michigan
I know many of you have pets.  I would assume that those pets become one of the family such as mine do.  My wife and I have always been animal lovers and have had at least a one cat or dog since we were kids.  As adults, we usually have 2 or 3 cats and a large dog running around.  Wouldn't have it any other way.  The cats couldn't give a rats butt when we went camping for the weekend.  They just figured it would be quieter around the house while they slept the day away.  But the dog?  If she didn't go with us, there would be Hell to pay!

Over the years, and many cats and dogs later, I have come to realize that for some reason God keeps sending us the animals that have special needs.  It's either a special medication, or allergies, or behavior problems, or this, or that...
you get the idea.  So we do what we need to do for our pets and move on with life. 

Other than cats and dogs, we have had parrots, ferrets, and fish (still have 3 tanks up and running).  And I am not talking about little birdies.  We had a Moluccan Cockatoo, an Umbrella Cockatoo, a Blue Crowned Amazon, and a Blue/Grey Macaw.  The cages were the size of entertainment centers!  We also have always had large dogs in the 100# range.  All pets were rescues.  Except for the birds and fish, the common denominator of the others seems to be Cancer.  Almost every ferret, cat (one still with us), and dog (except one) has developed some type of Cancer which left us with the gut wrenching decision at some point as to when they are suffering too much.

Shasta (our current German Shepard) was a young stray brought into our vets office after failing a test for police work (bomb sniffing, drug sniffing, etc.).  The dog was to go through a physical before being sent to a rescue.  Our vet thought of us after putting our previous German Shepard down due to severe behavior problems (stalker).  After the vets phone call, lo and behold, we came home with a new puppy dog.

Come to find out, this dog is allergic to everything but air!  It figures.  So we do what we need to do.  More years go by.  And then we notice something just isn't right.  A visit to the vet is in order.  And the cycle begins again.  Cancer.  We had the vet remove a tumor.  We just found out yesterday that the Cancer has reared its ugly head again in a different spot.  The vets professional opinion is surgery could be done but the Cancer will probably just sprout up again elsewhere.  It's an aggressive type of Cancer.  The poor girl's days are numbered.

I have been through this before.  Many times.  I hate it!  It never gets any easier.  On that last day I find myself sitting on a parking stone in the lot at the vets office while my wife is inside as the final injection is made.  I can't be there.

I know some of you have cats that bask in the warm sun on the dashboard.  Or dogs that quietly sneak up on the couch while you drive down the road.  You yell at the dog one minute, then love them up the next.  That's how it works.  The problem is that the dog knows that!  And I apologize for this lengthy explanation of my quandary.  I just had to unload somewhere.  I just wondered how some of you would handle the decision if you were in my shoes? 




   
 

catblaster

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Jan 11, 2010
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Kissimmee, Floriduh
My wife and I were there when our Aussie took her last breath, we hated it and still get misty after three years. I think we owed it to her ..seeing her away on her last nap. Not easy to see her gasping her last breath and wished we could take it back and she would jump up again.
Deep down you know it is for their own comfort. If we could do this for people I would have opted for it 6 months ago for myself. But I would have missed out on the xplant.
My sympathies go out to you, but it gets easier and thank god it wasn't a child.
 

Dance Chick

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Jun 17, 2012
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380
Location
Lakeland FL
Please accept my sympathy for what you are going through and for that which is yet to come.  It is absolutely horrible.  I've been through it myself.  It was an incredibly sad and hard thing to do,
but do it we must.  I hated the "death drive" as I call it....riding in the car to go to the vet's office knowing what is going to happen.  Of course, they don't know it, which is good for them, but
horrible for us.  You must do what is best for your pet and know that time will make it better, but it never totally goes away.  You must take comfort in knowing you gave your pet the best life it could've had.  I suspect it could not have had a better life anywhere else.  Take care.
 

denmarc

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Grand Rapids, Michigan
Even though we have been down this road a few times before,  it's just so hard to determine when the right time is.
The wife is already weeping about what may have to take place in a month or two down that road.  Shasta is her baby.
I don't have anything comforting to tell her except that this is the way the cards hit the table and we did our best.  Just as we did with the previous two dogs.  One was put down due to bone cancer, and the other due to bad training by the previous owner. 
The hard part is during the "death drive", the wife starts crying and then I start crying.  I'm a good size guy that doesn't put up with too much crap.  But the loss of one of my "family" tears me down to a tearfull child. 

What I don't understand is why was my family chosen to take care of ferrets, cats, and dogs all destine to be stricken with Cancer?  Why am I so lucky?
 

catblaster

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Mark....it seems that no matter how big or old we are even the toughest can be brought down by pet loss, if they don't pain then I don't trust them.

One of my tear triggers is the playing of taps, just typing this tears me up, started when they played it at my brothers funeral, he served in north Africa and Italy during WW2.
 

ferfer

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Jul 20, 2008
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389
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Arizona
Mark - Shasta has done her job very well.  She has given both of you her love, devotion and friendship.  You both have done your job very well and returned what she gave you and provide for her.  Shasta is in your heart and will never leave but the ache will, in time, turn to joy at having her in your life and sadness that she had to leave. 

Shasta will likely tell you when she is ready to go.  You can only hope you are strong enough to see those signs and honor her life by letting her go.

As you already know, Shasta has done her job so well you will once again honor her by giving your heart to another furkid. 

Jennifer
 

denmarc

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Grand Rapids, Michigan
catblaster said:
One of my tear triggers is the playing of taps, just typing this tears me up, started when they played it at my brothers funeral, he served in north Africa and Italy during WW2.

God bless your brother.  I guess I will just have to relish the time we have left with Shasta.  Remember the good times while she is here with us.  The times that made us smile and laugh.  The times that made everyday life go away and we actually enjoyed the day.  I can already sense another rescue puppy in our future.  If I were to ask the wife about it, she would give me a hearty "HELL NO!". 

Until I come in the house with this little rescued puff ball of a puppy.  All bets are off.
Maybe our house is a halfway house to pet heaven for sick animals.  It's getting to the point where I don't care. 
Bring them on!  It's the ones I've taken in and cared for that hurt when it comes time to let them go by my hand.
Then i cry.
 

denmarc

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Grand Rapids, Michigan
ferfer said:
As you already know, Shasta has done her job so well you will once again honor her by giving your heart to another furkid. 

Jennifer

Boy, did my face light up after reading this!  You are so right.  The wife and I look at each other and say "NO WAY!"
Mark my words, after "The Day" takes place, it will only be a matter of time and we will be on the prowl for another poor little puppy.  Probably with Cancer in it's future, but what the Hell.  We are used to it in this house.  Right?  Is there a better place for such a pup to be?  I know there are worse places!
 

Seajay

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Nov 7, 2011
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448
Here is the way me and Willa look at this problem of pets.  We have decided to be cremated when we die.  Our ashes will be mixed together and we will be buried together in a large urn. We each have promised the other that the survivor will have our puppies, Finnie, Gypsy and Gus Gus each cremated when they die.  We have made our wishes known to her children lest we both die at the same time.  We wish that the remains of our dogs be mixed with our ashes and all of us buried together.  This way, we can spend eternity each with the things that meant most to us during our lives.  I can think of nothing better than to spend eternity with my wonderful wife and my three dogs. 

Remember this ........ This is just the way we feel and it may not work for you.....cj...
 

denmarc

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Grand Rapids, Michigan
We are not far from your way of thinking, Seajay.  All of the pets we have lost over the years have been cremated.  We are starting to wonder if the mantel above the fireplace can withstand the weight!  One (that one was half Great Dane and half Doberman)  we thought would take bricks off the wall!  His ashes are in a special place.  His urn is bulging with the cover taped on just in case of a "fly by".

I do admire your dedication to your family.  And I do mean the "whole" family.  And it does work for us.  The problem is I am not sure that anywhere in MI can a 5 gallon pail of ashes be dumped where we request?  We got a pretty good headstart on the pail now and by the time the wife and I add to it, there will probably be some law that prohibits the wish.  Story of my life.
 

eeaton1

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USA/Florida
My deepest, deepest sympathy.  Our beloved Vizlsa was diagnosed with canine lymphoma in January and we put him down in early May.  The decision not too spend thousands of dollars on chemo treatment that did not insure a cure or assurance as to how long before recurrence was difficult.  We did decide to give him steroids to lengthen his time with us and, supposedly, to preclude any pain and suffering as he declined.  We found out that that decision brought on unfavorable side effects that brought on questions of Quality of Life but prayed that he was not in pain.  We kept asking the vet when to let him go and all we got was that we would know when it was time.  We did reach that time and took him to the vet for our tear-filled farewell.  I know the final moments were peaceful for him but quite devastating for us.  The experience was not what we expected and not one that we would personally ever want to experience again.  So I understand and believe you and your wife made the best decision for yourselves and your beloved pet and even understand more your difficulty in being there at the end.  We know that our pets won't be there with us forever but it is still hard to let them go when the time comes.  Enjoy the memories and, maybe, like we hope will happen with us you will bring another special pet into your life.  God Bless!
 

denmarc

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Grand Rapids, Michigan
eeaton1 said:
My deepest, deepest sympathy.  Our beloved Vizlsa was diagnosed with canine lymphoma in January and we put him down in early May.  The decision not too spend thousands of dollars on chemo treatment that did not insure a cure or assurance as to how long before recurrence was difficult.  We did decide to give him steroids to lengthen his time with us and, supposedly, to preclude any pain and suffering as he declined.  We found out that that decision brought on unfavorable side effects that brought on questions of Quality of Life but prayed that he was not in pain.  We kept asking the vet when to let him go and all we got was that we would know when it was time.  We did reach that time and took him to the vet for our tear-filled farewell.  I know the final moments were peaceful for him but quite devastating for us.  The experience was not what we expected and not one that we would personally ever want to experience again.  So I understand and believe you and your wife made the best decision for yourselves and your beloved pet and even understand more your difficulty in being there at the end.  We know that our pets won't be there with us forever but it is still hard to let them go when the time comes.  Enjoy the memories and, maybe, like we hope will happen with us you will bring another special pet into your life.  God Bless!

There will be no pain involved.  I demand it be that way!  If it needs to be, bear it on me.  Not Shasta.  And your vet wasn't pulling your leg when he told you that you would know when it was time.
Your pet will look you in the eyes and you will immediatly know that the time has come.  It doesn't make things any easier in the upcoming days, but you know what you have to do.
As I said before, this is not my first rodeo...
It just worked out that way.  And, we just keep taking them in.  Oh well...
 

Mavarick

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Jan 30, 2011
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Marc, I know exactly what you are talking about and agree that there is nothing harder I have ever done than take that ?drive?. I'm really sorry to hear about your drive. One of my favorite dogs (G Dane) was only with us a little over 3 yrs before cancer got her. All our dogs are indoor dogs, regardless the size, and she loved being outside. That and eating were here favorites! The 3 days I had before taking her in I spent with her wrapped in a blanket sitting in the garage with the door open so she could feel like she was outside. She also ate pretty good them 3 days, whenever I could get her to eat. Seemed like she knew, and was ok with it when it was time. I of course was not.
This has also happened many times to us and the only connection I can see is most were full breed dogs. Since we started taking more muts we have not had the cancer problem all though I?m sure it?s more coincidence than anything. We rescue with the intent on finding new homes as there are so many that need it. I never seem to remember that happening though, they always just live with us.
We also say ?never again?. I have found that never is just about 6 months for us and another comes along that we feel needs us (more the other way around). We know they can?t live forever but do feel that one day we will all be together. Look at this as temporary, it helps us.
 

esim134

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Jul 21, 2011
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Baton Rouge, LA
Oh my!  I read this and can't help but tear up and smile all at the same time.  I have 3 urns... Maltese from old age, Boston Terrier from probably heart attack and Boston Terrier from cancer.  All 3 were devastating in their own way.. old age was peaceful in knowing she didn't suffer, heart attack was awful - ate dinner, went outside to poop, came back in and went to his bed, found taking his final nap in his bed, literally all within 10 minutes - awful!  Cancer - oh my!, unexplainable pain and heartache, so unexpected, 3 years old - found out about tumor on a Saturday, had surgery Tuesday to remove tumor but cancer was all over, so we let her go while she was still under.  I tear up thinking about all 3. The cancer was the worst!

The smiles come when I sit back and think of them... I see all of them running around in acres and acres of yellow daisys. Running, jumping, frolicking about with all their doggie friends.. I can't help but smile!  No pain, no suffering, no cancer, just lots of love and fun!! 

I have two Bostons and 1 lab now - all rescued.  The lab is 12.  I know his time is coming.  I cringe at the thought!  As heartbreaking as it is, I will continue to have pets for the rest of my life.  They are my soul.  They are my life.  I know exactly how you feel Mark!!  I have a running joke with my friends ---- walk away, don't look them in the eye.  Just the other night I had to walk away from a stray in a restaurant parking lot... it broke my heart!  It's good to know I'm not the only one out there... glad to hear there are others like me when it comes to pets:)
 

taoshum

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Taos, NM
it's hard, really hard... especially when you know how they were before... but if they are in pain or terminal, I think they know it's time... you can tell.  I hope I can go the same way, without pain.  No matter what, they had a great time and helped everyone they could.  We can learn a lot from them.
 

Castranova

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Livermore, Colorado
I had a horse that lived to be 32. His name was Apache. I had him from high school, through college, and into my first marriage. He began to stumble and couldn't get up. Putting him down was one of the most difficult things I've had to do, but when you think about it, he didn't owe me a minute more. Putting down a beloved animal is our last measure of compassion and love for them. We owe THEM, as they can't make the decision "not to suffer" by themselves.
 

Wendy

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Colorado
They fill your heart with love and then they break it.

We lost our first lab to kidney disease after a 6 month battle with dietary adjustments. He told us when he'd had enough. We lost our second lab suddenly to hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, one night at the ER and $4000 later, he was gone. I think that was harder than the extended illness. Now we have lab #3 who has epilepsy. I know his day will also come (but not soon !) and we'll be there with him at the end, just as we were with the other two. And our hearts will break again. And then I'll drag Mike to the nearest shelter to get another hairy kid.

I'm off to the back yard to play with goofy Gordon. Think I'll give him an extra yummy snack, too.
Wendy
 
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