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How do you know when its time??
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Forum Posts: 30
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8 July 2011
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18 January 2012 - 2:51 pm
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Callie was diagnosed with lung mets after xrays showed large tumors this past Sunday.  She has been coughing for over a month now and has coughed up small amounts of blood twice.  But she seems to still have life in her, so we are stuggling with the decision to put her down now or not.  The vet suggested to do it sooner than later, as she will only get worse and suffer.  The vet also said there is a chance the tumors could rupture, which would be agony for Callie.  Has anyone ever experienced this?  We absolutely do not want to watch her suffer, but its so hard to put her down now while she still seems like her old self.  Her breathing is a little labored when she lies on one side, but she does not appear uncomfortable to me.  She has been more lethargic this week than previously, but she has been on tramadol that the vet prescribed, so I wonder if her lethargic state is due to that or the tumors?   


How do you know when its time to let go?   We have an appointment scheduled for Friday right now, but I am going back and forth about going through with it.  She seems fine most of the time, but everytime she coughs it breaks my heart.   I wish she could just tell me if she is ready or not!

Here and Now

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18 January 2012 - 4:12 pm
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lparr818 said:

How do you know when its time to let go?

Excellent, albeit difficult, question. Exactly why we wrote this two-part post in the Tripawds News blog shortly after releasing Jerry from his broken body…

Saying Goodbye: How We Knew

Many have also found Doug Koktavy's book helpful in coping with the anticipatory grief you are likely feeling…

Help for Coping with Anticipatory Grief

Search this forum for other helpful advice from members. And most importantly, make the most of every day you have together by following Callie's lead and focusing on the now. She will let you know when her time has come.

Scottsburg, IN
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18 January 2012 - 4:27 pm
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Wow. This is a tough one. I haven’t had any experience with lung mets (knock on wood), but I have seen a lot of pawrents struggling with this. The one that immediately popped into my mind is Fortis. It’s been about a year since the tripawds community lost Fortis, but if memory serves me correctly he had about 5 good months after diagnosis. Some have had even more good months than that. I believe he had a tumor rupture early in his diagnosis, but still enjoyed a lot of time with his family. So that goes to show that just because she has them doesn’t mean it’s over for your girl. And since I haven’t yet been faced with this situation I can only tell you what I THINK I would do if I were in that position. I think if my Roxy girl were in that situation but still enjoying life, still happy, still eating, still had the sparkle in her eye, that is to say her quality of life were still good, I don’t think I would euthanize her yet. I think I would allow Roxy to live as long as she was willing to fight, as long as the good days out number the bad. That being said, only you know Callie well enough to make that call. I suggest you sit down with her and talk it out. If you get the feeling that she doesn’t want to fight, then keep your appointment. But if you get the feeling that she’s not ready to quit just yet , call and cancel.


18 January 2012 - 4:58 pm
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I can't speak specifically about lung mets, we were facing two other cancers.  I can share my decision making process.

When Maggie was diagnosed with her second cancer, an oral melanoma that I could not treat, I knew that the end would come when the tumor pain became evident.  I couldn't use eating as a gauge because she was reluctant to eat due to kidney failure.  It was a matter of defining the minimum quality of life for her- when we went past it, then it was time. 

When the melanoma tumor was diagnosed, we did a biopsy to confirm, and they put Maggie on a narcotic pain med.  She did not sleep for 12 hours.  We tried another med with the same result.  She could not take NSAIDs because of the  kidney problems.  So I knew as soon as I needed to medicate for pain her quality would be severely reduced. Two nights before the end she woke me in the middle of the night obviously in pain. Panting and a bit agitated.  I took her outside to let her cool off and calm down.  She did, and we went back to bed.  She was fine during the day, but then the last night she woke worse than the night before- panting, agitated- and what sealed it for me- a panicked look in her eyes.  After a half hour outside didn't help I gave her some tramadol to deal with the pain.  She slept for 30 min, then was up the rest of the night.

I talked to the vet the next morning- we could have tried to mix and match medications, but that would only have bought us a week or two, and I didn't feel that that would be quality time. She had some good moments during the day, she went to the park briefly with my dad, but when I looked at the big picture a few good minutes in 24 hours was just not enough.

Maggie was pretty sick those last 3 months, 2 cancers and kidney failure. But there was still quality- a light in her eyes, a desire to go to the park and play with me.  I know it is hard to believe, I was a doubter, but it was very clear to me when we got to the end.  There was no light in her eyes.

Listen closely to Callie.  Know what your options are.  If she wants to go past Friday be sure you have an emergency plan if things go bad on the weekend. 

This is not easy, but Callie is depending on you now. 


San Diego, CA
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18 January 2012 - 4:59 pm
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I know exactly how hard this is. I was just there a little over a week ago. I went back and forth on whether it was Time. Even about an hour before we ultimately decided it was The Day, I thought we were good to go and she still had at least a day or two left in her. (She had been resting and suddenly jumped up to run out and bark at this hawk that cruises by our yard all the time. Also we’d gone to the beach that morning – she seemed to still have a lot of spunk and life in her.)

Abby was coughing a lot too toward the end. She never coughed up anything, but the coughing and her breathing kept getting worse. The prednisone we got from the vet helped a lot with the cough, but not as much with the breathing. In the end it was her breathing when she laid down that had me the most worried. Other than that she was pretty good – more tired, slower than usual but still happy, still spunky, still had a good appetite. But she was having a harder and harder time breathing when she laid on her side. She started sleeping on her tummy to try to breathe easier. I knew it was time when I came in to find her napping with her head propped up on the side of her bed at a funny angle – she was trying so hard to get air while she slept. She was ok when I woke her up, but I couldn’t let her go a whole night like that. She looked tired. Her eyes said she was done fighting. We were able to get a last minute appointment at our vet and even though she walked into the vet’s office happy, with her tail wagging, kissing everyone – it was time. It was SO hard to let her go while she was still so happy, but I didn’t want to wait until she was miserable.

I was worried I wouldn’t know when it was time – but I did know. I was just happy that it was during her regular vet’s hours. They all loved her there so I didn’t feel badly about doing it there. I would have hated to have to rush her to the ER in the middle of the night.

Here is what my vet said to me, when I asked him that afternoon if we were doing the right thing, letting her go while she was standing there in his office, still happy and wagging her tail and eating venison jerky. He said “everyone wants to go while they are happy. If we could all choose, we’d all go that way. No one would want to suffer or be scared. And it’s a good thing that we can help our pets go while they are still happy.”

I hope this doesn’t sound like I’m saying you need to do it sooner rather than later. I’m not. I’m just trying to say that I think you will know – but be aware that “the knowing” might come on quickly. I think keeping an eye on her breathing is the most important thing.

I don’t know if that helps at all… You can PM if you want.
Hugs at this hard time. Love up your girl! Give her a kiss from her Tripawd Aunt Jackie.
Jackie, Angel Abby’s mom

Abby: Aug 1, 2009 – Jan 10, 2012. Our beautiful rescue pup lived LARGE with osteosarcoma for 15 months – half her way-too-short life. I think our "halflistic" approach (mixing traditional meds + supplements) helped her thrive. (PM me for details. I'm happy to help.) She had lung mets for over a year. They took her from us in the end, but they cannot take her spirit! She will live forever in our hearts. She loved the beach and giving kisses and going to In-N-Out for a Flying Dutchman. Tripawds blog, and a more detailed blog here. Please also check out my novel, What the Dog Ate. Now also in paperback! Purchase it at Amazon via Tripawds and help support Tripawds!

Chicago, IL
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18 January 2012 - 6:31 pm
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Well maybe Callie will tell you.  Tate looked me right in the eye and I knew he meant, “Mom, I'm done.”  He may as well have spoken it out loud.

He also refused his pain meds, and went out to lay under the low boughs of the spruce tree.  But he was still wagging his tail, and he'd rally, and I'd think “Oh maybe?”  But I'd gotten the look so I knew there was no maybe, he was ready.

I'm so sorry you are losing Callie.  I know it is very, very hard.
August 16, 2006 to November 28, 2011
TATE ~ Forever in our hearts.

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