I feel Chloe's time has come, and I don't want to prolong her suffering just because it's hard for me. But I also can't imagine bringing her to the vet for the last time. How did you know it was time? How did you deal with the guilt and pain? How did you tell your kids? Please be gentle. This is not easy for me.
Oh, how I know the pain you're experiencing right now. My wife and I just went through the same experience with our 11-year-old Golden, River, this past December 15th. It's never easy, and it doesn't get any easier no matter how many times you have to go through this experience.
That said, at the very least, do take Chloe to the vet, and have blood work done. This procedure will help the vet in diagnosing what she is experiencing. You state Chloe is 12, so she has had a wonderful life, and she possibly has more years ahead, but until you get your vet's diagnosis you can't know for sure what is going on with her declining condition. The last thing you want is for Chloe to suffer.
Let me try and help you with the guilt and pain you're experiencing now. I realize this is not easy to do, but you need to get your feelings off yourself and think solely about what is best for Chloe. As mentioned, you don't want her to suffer. Animals have a wonderful way of telling us when it's their time to cross over the rainbow bridge. Our River had cancer. After the vet told us he didn't recommend treatment, I asked him what would be the first signs that the time was right to say goodbye. Remember now, I already knew his time was limited due to the cancer diagnosis. The vet told us that not eating and becoming lethargic are usually the first signs the time is drawing near. If Chloe is not eating, not greeting you, and not her normal self, then something is definitely going on inside if her that needs to addressed, one way or the other.
If your vet finds something life threatening such as cancer, then your vet will advise you of your options, which you need to know to make an informed decision. If euthanizing is recommended there are a few things you should know. Yes, there will be tears and you're going to feel like it's hard to breathe. I know because I just went through this...If there aren't tears and the feelings of true loss, well, one can only wonder why. Be truthful with your children. This may be the first time they are experiencing loss, so this will be a good time to help them learn how to deal with loss as well.
When Chloe's time comes, you will want to be with her. You may want to have your children with you and Chloe, but at least make sure someone close to Chloe is with her. Remember, this is the time to think about Chloe. You should be with her to comfort her as she crosses over. After you have hugged on her for as long as you and Chloe need, your vet will give Chloe a sedative to make her fall into a deep sleep. She hasn't passed yet, Chloe will simply be sleeping soundly and not experiencing anymore discomfort. Think about this for a moment...Isn't this what you want for your beloved pet of 12 beautiful years? Sure it is! Then after about ten minutes, the vet will administer a shot that will stop her heart. Chloe may take a few deep breaths, or wine and groan a bit, but you need to know that she is not in any distress or suffering at all from this procedure. As I said, this is the most humane thing you can do for a pet that has loved you for so many wonderful years. Keep your mind and heart on Chloe...
Your vet will let you stay with Chloe for as long as you feel it's necessary. Just know that Chloe will no longer be suffering or in any discomfort. You may want to have someone with you to drive you home because you will experience the same loss as one feels when they lose a member of their family or a close friend. There isn't any way around this part. It's simply the tough part of having had one of God's amazing creatures in your life for 12 years. As each day passes, your pain will begin to ease. In time, you will be able to talk about Chloe without breakdown into a stream of tears, though your eyes will still water up a bit when you talk about her, but even this too will pass in time as time and God heals your feelings of loss.
When I was with River, I witnessed something I will never forget. He was able to walk into the vet's treatment room under his own strength after we spent one last time outside the vet's office in the grass together. I had him off leash so he could sniff the ground as dogs do. Then we walked into a private room where the vet had a large doggie bed laying there on the floor. River went straight to the bed and laid down. I sat on the floor next to him and began gently petting his big beautiful head. After a few moments, River got up and turned away from me and laid back down. I didn't know what to make of him turning away from me, but I then realized without any question that this was River's way of telling me he was ready to go.
As you may or may not know, animals often want to be in seclusion, away from their pack and humans when it's their time. They will wander off to die, which is what I think River was trying to to do when he got up and turned away from me. I couldn't help it at the time, so I pulled on the dog bed around so I could stroke River a few last times before we began to process to ease him of the pain he was experiencing. Once he crossed over the rainbow bridge, I just sat there with him for a while and thought about all the beautiful memories he gave to me and my family. River was a gentle giant, and I loved him so much...
BeckyK, my thoughts, and prayers will be with you. God Bless!