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How do you know when to say goodbye???
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Forum Posts: 59
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2 May 2020 - 10:56 am
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Hi everyone,

The last couple of days have been a very sad.   Lucky has not been feeling well over the last couple of weeks.  Some days were good and he would eat and play, and others he refused to eat and just laid around.  At his last chemo treatment, 2 weeks ago today, he also had an eye infection that the doctor gave us drops for.  We were giving him the drops every day but his eye seemed to be getting worse and the eye socket area was swollen.  I spoke with the vet the other day and emailed him some pictures and he wasn’t overly concerned and said he would look at it again next Friday at his last chemo session.  He seemed worse the last few days, and so I called the vet yesterday morning and asked if we could bring him in.  My husband took him to the vet which is an hour away.  I stayed home because yesterday was my daughter’s 16th birthday and I didn’t want both of us to be gone. 

My husband called about 1:30 and said that he had bad news.  The cancer is back and is in his jaw which is causing the swelling in the jaw/eye socket area.   I am so heartbroken!!!  He was doing so well and then he wasn’t.  The vet said that there really isn’t anything we can do.  He said we could do a CATscan and if the cancer hadn’t progressed too far, we could look at removing a part of his jaw and then maybe chemo again.  I can’t do that to him.  What kind of life would that be for him?  The doctor thinks he has a couple of weeks. 

I can’t stop crying.  He is such a good boy and this is so unfair.  I don’t know how to say goodbye to him.  I told my daughter this morning and she was heartbroken.  We have talked to the vet and they have assured us that we can be with him when the time comes.  I just don’t know how to do this.  I don’t know how to find the strength.  I also don’t know how we will know when its time??? I would truly appreciate any advice from those of you that have gone through this terrible loss.  Thank you,

Pam (aka Lucky’s mom)

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2 May 2020 - 12:09 pm
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Hi Pam,

I am so sorry to hear this about Lucky. When Brownie started feeling bad, I had the same question. How do you know when it’s time?

I can’t explain it, but you will know. There is all the statics that ask “what is his quality of life”, but I didn’t go by that. I knew my dog, and I listen to my heart. Your heart will tell you!

I am sending prayers to you, Lucky and your family.

My Beautiful Beloved Brownie was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma on February 26, 2019.  With all odds against him he lived an additional one year and eight days with amputation, love, and prayer.  I was honored to be his mom, and I have never been so proud!  He will live forever in my Heart!

Brownie Bubba Bell

04/01/2007 - 03/05/2020

"March Saint"

The Rainbow Bridge



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2 May 2020 - 12:20 pm
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Ohhhhh Pam, my heart just shattered when I read your news, I’m really, really sorry. Rarely do we see this kind of thing happen, it’s so awful and I wish I could help comfort you and your family right now. 

If it would help you feel better to get another opinion, you can reach out to the oncologists at Colorado State University this week to see what they have to say. They offer long-distance consulting and may be doing it right now during the pandemic. If anyone would know for sure what, if any treatment options are available, they would. We met a dog named Baron who beat bone cancer in the skull thanks to their Stereotactic Radiation Therapy. It may help you to know that you looked at all the options. Just as an aside, removing part of the jaw isn’t as terrible as it sounds. I felt the same way you did when I first learned about it, but once I talked to a vet oncology surgeon and learned how it’s done and how a dog’s quality of life isn’t really impacted by it, I felt more at ease with that procedure if I ever had to face it with a dog of my own.

As for knowing when it’s time….yeah, losing a pet is the worst and it hurts like hell. You do have the strength, you’ve just never tested yourself. If you find yourself in that place, it’s important to:

Talk to your husband and daughter, and have a family conversation. Create a list of things that Lucky loves doing the most. That is the list you will use to gauge what his quality of life is like on a day-to-day basis. Agree as a family that when Lucky can no longer do X,Y and Z, or doesn’t enjoy them anymore, then it will be time. The Penny Jar Method is a good way to visually measure where he’s at with things.

In the meantime, make a “joy list” of things that just make Lucky so so so happy. His favorite foods, toys, things to do with you. Then, do them! They don’t have to be big adventures, remember, all he wants is to be with his favorite people.

This article, How to Prepare for Pet Loss Before It Happens, has a ton of suggestions for measuring quality of life and preparing your heart for his transition. And Sampson’s mom Megan wrote this beautiful post about death and dying several years ago, you may find it comforting.

Also, have a conversation with your vet long before you will need to make this decision. Find out how they are handling euthanasia decisions during the pandemic, you don’t want any surprises.

And don’t forget, the Tripawds Helpline is here for you too. All of us staffing the line have been through this heartbreaking time and understand the heartache.

I hope this helps a bit. Please let us know how we can make things easier for you all OK? I’m really, really sorry. 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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2 May 2020 - 12:24 pm
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Pam I am in the Tripawds Chat room for a little while if you want to talk.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Livermore, CA




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2 May 2020 - 2:01 pm
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I’m sorry you are at this point with Lucky.

My Pug Maggie lost a leg to mast cell cancer and several years later developed oral melanoma.  At the time of the melanoma diagnosis she was already dealing with kidney failure and suspicious lesions on her liver (could have been the mast cell cancer or just old age). Before the melanoma diagnosis I had already decided that I would no longer pursue any invasive treatments- I felt she had been through enough, she was 11 years old and had been battling the mast cell cancer for 4.5 years.

The vets suggested surgery to remove the tumor and part of her upper jaw with chemo to follow.  After discussing with them I decided to stick to my plan of no more invasive treatments.  I decided right then to define in my mind (and on paper) what her minimum quality of life would be knowing that by opting out of treatment she didn’t have much time left.

She still loved her walks and stroller rides and rides in the car.  She liked going to the park and snuggling on my lap.  I couldn’t use appetite because of the kidney failure, she rarely ate on her own.  But I also factored in that I had to feed her with a syringe (which she actually liked) and give her sub-q fluids every other day.  What I was most concerned about was pain from the tumor in her mouth.  She did not handle pain meds well at all- she would be anxious and not sleep for hours and hours.  I knew that when the tumor broke though into her jaw that we would not be able to keep her comfortable and it would be time for her to cross.

I wrote all that down- and it helped me focus on her life quality and know when the time came.  It also helped me after she was gone.  We humans tend to play the ‘what if’ game- and start questioning our decisions.  When those thoughts would enter my mind…’maybe if I had done the surgery’… I was able to look back at my notes and assure myself that I had done my best for her and therefore was at peace with my decision.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010

 

              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

Virginia




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2 May 2020 - 2:36 pm
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Excuse this quick aside, but I see a member on here who would know.

:  Cassie’s dog…..Domino..had part of jaw removed and did well for about a year afterwards.  

https://tripawd…..evastated/

Also, another dog mamedd Roxy had jaw tumor and did not to surfery but, of I recall did some chemomor radiation.   Sorry, can’t  find the link.

And I’m coming back in a  bit.  You have invaluable  input from Jerry and Karen!  A good balance of options and resources, and a variety of different  experiences  and rhe “why”.

Love ❤

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

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3 May 2020 - 12:19 pm
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Hi everyone,

Thank you all for your kind words. Lucky had a good night I think.  We gave him Tramadol and he slept well.  This morning has been difficult as he seems more uncomfortable.  He did eat some shredded chicken breast a while ago.  When he looks at me, I just cant help but cry.  He looks so pitiful because his left eye is swollen and red and looks painful.  He is sleeping now.  My husband and I have been talking and trying to decide when we should have him put to sleep.  My daughter who is 16 keeps saying she doesn’t think its time yet because he is still eating and going outside.  We talked with the vet about options, he is a cancer specialist, and he doesn’t think that there are really any options for Luck.  He said that their was a small possibility that if the cancer hadn’t spread too far in his jaw, then there might be the option of the surgery but he feels that if it is in his jaw, that it is probabley in other parts of his body as well.  This sweet boy has been my best buddy for 6 years now.  This is one of the hardest things I have ever had to go through.  I am just praying that when it is time, that it will be very peaceful for him.  Thank you for your continued support,

Pam

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3 May 2020 - 12:45 pm
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I am so sorry you are going thru this. Lucky is a beautiful boy!

From my personal experience, when Brownie and I began this journey I wrote Brownie a letter. I made Brownie a promise. I promised that I would not make this journey about me, because it is about him. Brownie could of hanged on longer, but he was no longer the dog I’m have grown to love. So I kept my promise and said goodbye. Did it hurt. Hell yes and it’s been 2 months and it still hurts. But I do find comfort that I didn’t have him live in pain for too long. My heart told me it was time to say goodbye.

You know your dog. Just listen to your heart, you will know when it’s time.

You, Lucky and your family pur in your prayers.  You did so much for Lucky, and he knows that.

My Beautiful Beloved Brownie was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma on February 26, 2019.  With all odds against him he lived an additional one year and eight days with amputation, love, and prayer.  I was honored to be his mom, and I have never been so proud!  He will live forever in my Heart!

Brownie Bubba Bell

04/01/2007 - 03/05/2020

"March Saint"



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3 May 2020 - 1:18 pm
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This decision isn’t easy.  I made a promise to Sassy not to let her suffer.  I didn’t know when we went to our last check up it would be her last.  She started having problems breathing.  Her coloring was off.  My vet took one look at her and  then listened to her chest and gave me the options.  I knew Sassy would keep fighting for me.  I had to make that decision on her.  It wasn’t easy and I gave her the dignity I knew she wanted. 

I feel for you.  I have tears in my eyes as I am writing because I know how hard it is.  Trust him to tell you and you will know when that time is by the look they give you.

hugs

Michelle, Snickers, Jasmine & Angels Sassy, Bosch and Baby Simba

sassymichelle-sm.jpg

Sassy is a proud member of the Winter Warriors. Live long, & strong Winter Warriors.
sassysugarbear.tripawds.com
07/26/2006 - Sassy earned her wings 08/20/2013

05/04/2006 -  Bosch, Sassy's pal, earned his wings 03/29/19  fought cancer for 4 months.

"You aren't doing it TO her, you are doing it FOR her. Give her a chance at life."

Virginia




Forum Posts: 19740
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3 May 2020 - 1:37 pm
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For your own peace of mind, I’m  glad you spoke to the Surgeon  about “possible” that could involve surgery.  It appears clear that is not in the cards.  When I first gave you the link to Domjno, I was merely  doing that IF the Bet thought Licky was a good candidate.   If you can see outwardly that Lucky’s eye is causing  issues, that’s probably a real good indication more is going on inside.

You are surrounded  by yoir tripawd family who understand better than anyone can what you ate goi through.  This journey is like no other.  We get it.  We celebrate  as we see our dogs and cats get the sparkle back.  There’s no great joy.  And then we agonize when the time is approaching  for their earth journey to end.  No greater sadness.  

The only thing I can offer in the FWIW column is to take it day by day.  It appears Lucky is innthe part of his journey where he is still having so e good days, and then some less good days.   Make notes accordingly.  Eating, trips outside have value, but as you know,  other factors are important.   

You have some pain meds now and that might help give Lucky some more of those better days.  So that’s something  to let unfold for a bit and see of that helps.

In the meantime and, again in  the FWIW column,  you can go ahead and speak to your Bet about the process of helping Lucky transition  when the time comes.  And we know it’s not today and probably  not tomorrow, so you need not think any further than that right now.  Anyway,  you can get all those arrangements  behind you so you can focus on being fully present in the now with Lucky.

Do NOT let that piece of crap disease  interfere  with your time together now!!  Unfortunately  there will be time for grieving,  but now is the time to embrace the present  and continue  to make memories!  Remain fully present  with each glorious moment  you have with Lucky.

A scoop of ice cream and one, or ,maybe even  two M&M’s for breakfast!!  Scrambled eggs, cheese and bacon for lunch….followed by a scoop of ice cream.  Pureed baby food and vanilla pudding for a snack.  Soft foods…yeah….like ice cream!!    You get the picture. 

Take lots of pictures with Lucky and your daughter …and yourselves too.  Have her comemof with ideas on how to ,ale each day a happy memory  with Lucky.  Maybe she could buy him special toys, buy him a birthday cake, give him mashed pot and gravy. 

We would love to jave pictures!!!   Hint!!!

Surrounding you with peace, clarity and lots of love💖

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!!

PS…Always like Jackie and Karen’s idea of sort of drawing the line in the sand for our dogs , whether on this journey, or any journey.   And you can always move the line a little bit forward😉

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

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3 May 2020 - 2:12 pm
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krun15 said
I’m sorry you are at this point with Lucky.

My Pug Maggie lost a leg to mast cell cancer and several years later developed oral melanoma.  At the time of the melanoma diagnosis she was already dealing with kidney failure and suspicious lesions on her liver (could have been the mast cell cancer or just old age). Before the melanoma diagnosis I had already decided that I would no longer pursue any invasive treatments- I felt she had been through enough, she was 11 years old and had been battling the mast cell cancer for 4.5 years.

The vets suggested surgery to remove the tumor and part of her upper jaw with chemo to follow.  After discussing with them I decided to stick to my plan of no more invasive treatments.  I decided right then to define in my mind (and on paper) what her minimum quality of life would be knowing that by opting out of treatment she didn’t have much time left.

She still loved her walks and stroller rides and rides in the car.  She liked going to the park and snuggling on my lap.  I couldn’t use appetite because of the kidney failure, she rarely ate on her own.  But I also factored in that I had to feed her with a syringe (which she actually liked) and give her sub-q fluids every other day.  What I was most concerned about was pain from the tumor in her mouth.  She did not handle pain meds well at all- she would be anxious and not sleep for hours and hours.  I knew that when the tumor broke though into her jaw that we would not be able to keep her comfortable and it would be time for her to cross.

I wrote all that down- and it helped me focus on her life quality and know when the time came.  It also helped me after she was gone.  We humans tend to play the ‘what if’ game- and start questioning our decisions.  When those thoughts would enter my mind…’maybe if I had done the surgery’… I was able to look back at my notes and assure myself that I had done my best for her and therefore was at peace with my decision.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

  

Hi Karen.  Thank you for your support.  Would you be available to talk in the chat room ?

Virginia




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3 May 2020 - 3:51 pm
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You can email Karen .  Ise your PM (private message) .  It’s the little envelope  icon.  She’s krun15.

Also, I happen to know she is volunteering  tomorrow on the Tripawds help.ine.  just  leave a message and she will get back to you.  She’s a great resource  amd can help you on so many levels❤

1 844 TRIPAWD

Give Lucky a great big smooch for is, okay?  

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

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3 May 2020 - 4:03 pm
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Thank you.  I will definitely give him a big kiss!

New York, NY
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3 May 2020 - 5:00 pm
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Hi Pam – My heart breaks for you and your family.  From your posts, it is clear not only how much Lucky is loved, but how that love has driven all of your decisions about what is best for him.  From what others have written here, you will know when it is time to make the ultimate decision rooted in that love.  Sending you peace and hugs from NYC! sp_hearticon2 Stacy & Griffin

The Rainbow Bridge



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3 May 2020 - 6:23 pm
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Pam, I’m in the Tripawds Chat for a little while if you want to talk. I’m sorry I missed you there earlier.

Knowing when to say goodbye is a bit different for every dog, and every family. It’s important to make sure everyone is on board with the choice. One thing I learned in talking to pet loss counselors, is that appetite and tail wags are not the most reliable way to gauge whether or a not a dog is ready to say goodbye. Those behaviors are so instinctual, that most dogs will do them right up until the end even when things are very bad. So creating the joy list referenced in the article I linked to is a good way to begin really digging deep to agree on the kinds of things that make him happiest, things other than food. What does he like to do? What gets him excited and walking around? When he can no longer do those things, then he’s probably letting you know.

Another idea: there is an old saying “Better a day too early than a day too late.” I find it to be so true. Ask yourself, “How do we want to remember Lucky?” Do we let him go when he still has a bit of a twinkle in his eye, or wait until he’s so far gone that he doesn’t recognize us? Yes, you may feel like you are jumping the gun if you set him free while he still has that twinkle, but in the end, you are doing him an incredible kindness by not allowing him to suffer. In my experience talking to pet parents, the people who grief the hardest and have tons of regrets, are the people who truly feel they waited too long to say goodbye. The pet parents who didn’t wait until things got really bad still grieve, but it’s not on the same level.

Either way this really, really sucks. I wish I could help make things easier. Just know that you can call the Helpline any time or post in here OK? And Monday through Friday you will usually find me in the Tripawds Chat during business hours, or you can Private Message me to set up a time to meet.

(((hugs)))) & lots of love to Lucky and your family.

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