Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat
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My skindad has fooled himself into believing that the best way to cope with loss, is to prepare for it. Schyeah, right … like anyone could ever totally prepare for the loss of a loved one. But he does have a point.
So he’s been asking himself this question, with hope that an answer may help ease the innevitable pain. Or at least help with what are sure to be some tough decisions …
Which would be worse: the pain of missing your "pet" or to watch his condition deteriorate?
He hasn’t come up with an answer yet. All this fear, uncertainty and emotion stuff is such a human concept, that I though I would ask here for him. Whatchya think?
28 July 2008
Good old Jer. I just asked my pawrents this dilemma about which one would be worse and they tell me that for them it would be watching my condition deteriorate. They feel that as much pain as it is going to cause them to lose me, at least they will have the peace of mind that I am not suffering and in pain any longer. They accept the fact that it is going to happen one day as such is life – not easy to face but the fact of life. They just hope that the day does not come for many years to come. I think that when I am not feeling well it only takes for my mom to look at me and she can read my eyes and tell whether this is that time or whether it is a time to start doing research and find me some comfort as I am not ready to leave yet. I know the day I am not here my pawrents will have a very hard time coping with it and will mourn me for a long time, as I know my Mom still mourns my brother Rex and it has been 10 yrs. Little things will trigger the memory but the tears now are tears of happy moments together and the knowledge that he is in a better place playing and healthy. It is a tough one but I know that when my time comes, they will make the right choice as I am sure your skindad will do the same. I know that as much pain it will bring them, they will know what is best for you and will make sure that your quality of life is a great one whether here with them or waiting for them at the rainbow bridge . But enough of sad things…tell your skindad that he does not have to worry about that for a while. Luv all of you!
Thank you all for the feedback. Keep it coming!
This is a healthy discussion we all need to have, eventually. Codie Ray’s mom was kind enough to share here input with us by email. And since this site is all about shasring experiences to help others prepare, here is what she had to say …
Tell your dad the answer is (yeah, like I know the answer)—its a balancing act. And it hurts like hell no matter what you do.
I still cry over losing my sweet shepherd girl nearly three years ago. Just writing to you brings back all the emotions I felt as if it were yesterday. My Rosa was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma, another particularly nasty cancer, she was at risk of hemorrhaging at any time and dying, or not, painfully, or not. There were no firm answers. She had bled out once and been stabilized. No one I consulted with recommended surgery and none gave her more than a week or two to live. I was not able to let her go at that point so I took her home. I took time off from work to be with her, I fed her whatever she wanted to eat by hand, I took lots of pictures of her. I even took her out to the woods for a few short walks, as far as she wanted to go. Mostly I just watched her sleep, and breathe, hoping that she would pass away quietly in her sleep, so I did not have to make that final call. She rallied for a few days and I thought maybe everything would be OK, and then she began to fade, a little more each day. There was no longer any question of taking her to the woods, and finally, a little over a week after her diagnosis, she stopped eating. I can barely look at the photos I took of her but when I do I can see how tired she was. I was so afraid that she would hemorrhage again and that it would be painful and frightening for her. I made the call.
I never thought I would survive her loss, and I never thought I would be able to make the decision to let her go. But the time came and I knew it was time and I was able to let go. The pain is still razor sharp, but I feel privileged that I was able to help Rosa leave this planet and give her peace. I only wish that someone could do the same for me if the situation warranted it and not get arrested. You must trust that you will also know when it is time to let go. I think you will.
That said, best of luck at the vet’s tomorrow, paws crossed it was the yellowjackets!
Codie Rae and I are thinking of you and Rene and Jerry with love and light and laughter.
A sad story, sure. But educational nonetheless. Thank you!
26 July 2008
I find it very easy right now to "not" think about it, seeing Radar so full of life and energy. He is happy and pain free right now and you get lulled into the feeling that it will always be this way. But…… in my heart …. I know that the day will come when this decision will force itself into my mind and life. I feel that Radar will let me know. When his energy and love for life are replaced with pain and fatigue I will be able to see in his eyes that plea for relief and freedom. Yes it will hurt. I have lost someone close to me before and know how I will react. It isn’t pretty and I am not looking forward to it. There will be no peace for me no matter how right the decision is. But, that said, I will make the decision because it is the right decision for Radar.
4 September 2008
Watching Finny suddenly begin to deteriorate broke my heart. However, making the decision to put him to sleep killed me. I questioned myself, asked if we could have done more, wondered if I was being selfish because I had to help him get up, etc. But in the end, we knew we made the right choice. He had lost so much strength and I worried that he would hurt himself trying to get up during the day. After he passed, I had mixed emotions. I did realize that we did the very best for him and I knew that Finny was no longer suffering. Of course I miss him every day. I had a nightmare about him after putting him to sleep. It was hard. Period. But for anyone who has lost a dog to osteosarcoma knows, the end is not pretty but can be made so much easier by our decisions as the dog’s caretaker.
I don’t think you can ever prepare for the profound loss and sorrow you will feel. If you decide to put your dog to sleep (I really don’t like that term but there are so many others that I dislike more), the days before are heartbreaking because you know that your time is limited with your dear friend. That’s just how it is. But being with him as he peacefully passes is such a tremendous gift that you can give to your friend and it makes it a little less painful.
I find it very easy right now to "not" think about it…
Exactly why we started this discussion … assuming it will be better to be prepared. (As prepared as we all can be.)
And yes, we agree the decision should be the dog’s. We’ve heard too many stories of people prolonging a pet’s life, despite decreasing quality, for their own sake. Thanks for the input.
This past week my pawrents have been feeling pretty much in a daze. When my mom got back from Puerto Rico and saw how bad I was she just broke down and thought it was going to be "our time". She prayed really hard and started doing some research and took me to the vet. Luckily for me it was not something that could not be taken care of and I am doing much better. But one thing she truly discussed with my Dad was that as much it was going to hurt them and as heartbroken my Mom would have been, they would have never kept me in pain and suffering just to keep me with them. My Mom tells me all the time that she wants me to live forever (eventhough she knows I can’t) but when the time comes I know she will do the right thing for me and that I will forever live in her heart. This is a very sad topic but glad that we are discussing and more thankful than anything for the story that Codie Ray’s mom shared with us. I am sure that your pawrents will do what is best for you eventhough it will be heartbreaking and hard for them. Love you all!
Jim & Rene,
I look at the situation this way: is the deterioration in the dog causing him pain? Does Jerry still have that old "spark" in his eyes? You will know, without a doubt, when it’s time for you to do something (if needed); or, as you explained, the vet said he might throw a clot and Jerry’s heart will stop instantly. That would make your decision the easiest of all. The truth of the matter is, there really is no way to prepare for the loss. When I had Drucy euthanized, I was so relieved to end any suffering she might be feeling. As the days went by, I was happy I chose to be with her until the very end, stroking her little head and kissing her as she went into her final sleep. She had been so loyal to me after all those years, that was the least I could do for her. But then, the days pass… the loneliness creeps in and the reality that the one true friend you ever had is truly gone now and for me, the pain was unbearable. Months and months went by and I wasn’t getting any better until a beautiful little mini poodle needed to be rescued. I wasn’t ready for a new dog and didn’t know if I could ever stand the thought of going through the loss of losing another dog, ever again. But, here he was, on his way to a shelter and labeled a "biter". I knew they would put him to sleep if I didn’t take him in. It was the best decision of my life and I call my little Blazer my saviour. I live alone except that Blazer & I have a great big brother kitty, named Kimber. I was no longer isolated with my pain and depression, because I had a new 4 y/o poodle who needed my love and attention. He could never take away the love I have for my beautiful little wirehaired-dachshund, Drucy, but he did give me a reason to live and to feel good about saving his life. Perhaps, when Jerry’s time comes, there will be not too far down the road, another dog who desperately needs saving and you two can open your hearts to that little soul. He or she will never replace the love you have for any animal you have ever lost; but, you will see that you are doing the greatest thing on earth by giving another dog a chance at a great life with the two of you together.
All my love, always,
Vicki Tankersley, Blazer & Kitty Kimber
You Ask Why?
You’re filled with anger and disbelief
you ask why take your pet; she never hurt a leaf
Nothing makes sense; as you sit down and cry
but only the good Lord; can really say why
Into all our lives; a little rain must fall
and we must be strong; to answer that call
It usually happens; when our guard is down
then your feelings go on; a merry-go-round
You must hold on tight now; with all your might
because it’s always darkest; before the light
Stop and take a look; down deep in your heart
it’s there you’ll find the strength; to make a new start
Your little one is now home; in Heaven above
cradled in God’s arms; covered with his love
This isn’t the end; you’ll see her one day
and on that special day; you’ll be together to stay
Everybody: My people are so thankful to all of you for opening up your hearts and sharing your input on this subject we all want to forget about. Believe it or not, they believe it is helping them prepare for what we will all face someday. Thank you.
Jerry, Jim & Rene,
It’s the least we could do to help you get through this. You have literally given your "all" to so many pawrents through your wonderful videos and this website. Your answers are always well thought out and done with such care and sympathy for those who are scared and new to amputation and all the way through rooting for pawrents when their "kids" start feeling better. You are, also, always there for those who have lost their beloved dogs, so it’s time for us to be here for you.
I speak from my heart that you all are truly 2 of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting; and, if I am correct, you do have my email address, if ever you just want to write. I still have the sweet card & the sticker "Official Member: Good Jerry Club" you sent me with the Petaluma P.O. Box (if this is still current?). By the way, I cherish this card & sticker more than you’ll ever know. But, that’s my whole point: you 2 are so thoughtful that it’s time for everyone to be there for you.
I know, I know… I talk too much!
Love, Vicki, Blazer & Kimber
the Petaluma P.O. Box (if this is still current?).
Yup. We’re still on the road, getting our mail forwarded. There’s no stopping this dog!
19 July 2008
I find it very easy right now to "not" think about it, seeing Radar so full of life and energy. He is happy and pain free right now and you get lulled into the feeling that it will always be this way. But…… in my heart …. I know that the day will come when this decision will force itself into my mind and life.
I am in that exact same position myself. I haven’t wanted to say any of this outloud to anyone because I’m too scared to face the reality of it all. Smokey is the first dog I’ve had that has been just mine… I got him when he was 6 weeks old and we’re going on 11 1/2 years together. Growing up our family was never without a dog, but when they were all ready to go, they passed without us having to make a decision.
That is my biggest fear – what if one day I make a rush decision when the next day he could be completely fine? And this stems from back in April. It actually was the night of my birthday and Smokey just seemed off. Long story short, he wasn’t eating, had horrid diarrhea, and was vomiting. We had x-rays, blood work, and ultrasounds done – absolutely nothing showed why this was happening. Two weeks later after being on meds, he was completely back to normal! And has not had that situation happen since. And then it was in June when we discovered the cancer but they don’t think those two situations had to do with one another.
I barely thought I was strong enough to get through an amputation. If and when that time comes to needing to make a more serious decision, I honestly don’t think I can do it… but the thing with Smokey is he never quits. And he never lets me know when he’s in pain. So I’m worried that no matter what, I won’t make the right decision. I play the "what if" game too much. One day could be bad, but what if the next day he’s 100 times better?
And even though I know he won’t be with me forever, a part of me thinks he will – I know he will in my heart, but I can’t imagine not having him here with me. And my other fear is if I do need to take him in and do what I can’t bring myself to say I would have to do, is he going to know? Because call me crazy, but I honestly think he understands everything I say and we have conversations with each other. I don’t want him to be upset with me because of what could be happening right around the corner. And I don’t want to make him upset by me being upset, because he picks up on my every single emotion. But I know I’ll need to be with him through to the very end.