Golden Retriever Dog Forums banner
1 - 12 of 12 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This forum has already been so helpful as we navigated treatment for our sweetest soul and brightest light, Nash - thank you.

Nash, our 13 year old Golden, was diagnosed with subcutaneous hemangiosarcoma in late April via CT scan, followed by surgery & complete removal (low margins) in early May. He began chemo 3 weeks later, and his oncologist thought he felt a reemergence at that appointment. He spent the day in the ER 10 days post-chemo (doxorubicin) with the rare side effect of white blood cells dropping too low and infection spreading. Nash had another CT scan 2 days ago to determine next steps with radiation in mind and we discovered multiple new tumors and metastasis in his lungs.

Our oncologist told us 1-2 months given the rate of spread. He is recommending stopping treatment and focusing on quality of life.

We are heart broken. Our boy is as happy and joy-filled as ever.

We also want a compassionate end of life at home with us and wrapped up in snuggles on his favorite bed. I want to do everything in my power to give that to him and avoid fear, pain, and a traumatic experience in the ER. He has brought joy to so many and lives his life spreading love and smiles. I'm sure many of us understand what special souls our Goldens are, they simply do not understand or give any mind to the hardships of life.

This leads to my question and I will take any and all feedback and/or shared experiences.
How can we better understand when it's time to give him a compassionate end of life? My understanding is that hemangio can end quickly and badly- are there any threw-lines or warnings the days before? A great friend and Golden lover has told me, 'I'd rather a month too early than a day too late.' I want all the time I can get...

He's still playing fetch in the backyard, gobbling up home-cooked meals, and enjoying his life.

We know it will feel too early, but it's difficult to know what TOO-too early is - I hope this makes sense.

We have found & contacted the end of life services we'd like to use so we aren't scrambling and can just focus on enjoying our beautiful boy in the time we have left.

Thank you to anyone and everyone who read this. I've been a lurker on this forum for a few years and the passion for Goldens and support in this community is wonderful.
Dog Carnivore Tree Dog breed Plant
Dog Carnivore Collar Dog breed Whiskers
Dog Carnivore Tree Dog breed Plant

Dog Carnivore Collar Dog breed Whiskers
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,663 Posts
I'm so sorry. This has to be one of the toughest decisions of your life. Both my boy's sire and dam ended up dying of hemangiosarcoma so I fear ending up in your situation. My only thoughts are:
I strongly agree with your friend about being too early rather than too late.
A home death can be a very peaceful experience and if you have another dog I think it helps them to see the deceased.
You have loved Nash well his whole life so determine now that whatever you choose you made the best and most loving decision you knew how and don't allow yourself to dwell on second guessing it after the fact.

I hope someone with more practical experience might be able to provide a more precise answer to your question. With hemangiosarcoma it seems they are often fine and then suddenly not which just makes it so hard to know. Hug sweet Nash for me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,955 Posts
Big hug. I’m so sorry about your sweet boy.

My Golden got cancer when he was eight and it took him in four months. Expected life expectancy was two to four months. I simply decided I wasn’t going to make him suffer, so as long as he was happy and eating I would continue his treatments. About five days before he passed, his hematocrit started dropping again and the doctor said the chemo was no longer working. They could have tried one more type of chemo (it would have been his third variation in chemo) and there was a 50% chance it would work, but it would have required another blood transfusion and I could tell Luke was tired and I thought he had been through enough. I wanted to let him go before something dire went on where he would end up suffering.

He stopped eating a couple of days before he passed. Only lethargy was going on other than that — no signs of distress. I scheduled for them to come and put him to sleep. I was thankful that morning because he woke up and ate — he got steak twice and some ice cream — and laid on our rear foyer floor (it was cold and he liked it) with me beside him seeming content. He left this world easily and that’s what I wanted for him, so I consider myself very fortunate there.

I’d be more concerned about something happening quickly with the type of cancer your dog has. I know it’s a beyond difficult decision. I’d agree with a little early is better than too late. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Nash knows he is very much loved.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'm so sorry. This has to be one of the toughest decisions of your life. Both my boy's sire and dam ended up dying of hemangiosarcoma so I fear ending up in your situation. My only thoughts are:
I strongly agree with your friend about being too early rather than too late.
A home death can be a very peaceful experience and if you have another dog I think it helps them to see the deceased.
You have loved Nash well his whole life so determine now that whatever you choose you made the best and most loving decision you knew how and don't allow yourself to dwell on second guessing it after the fact.

I hope someone with more practical experience might be able to provide a more precise answer to your question. With hemangiosarcoma it seems they are often fine and then suddenly not which just makes it so hard to know. Hug sweet Nash for me.
Thank you for your thoughtful response, it means so much right now.

I'm sorry to hear you know all too well about this disease.

We agree with you and, although it doesn't make the decision any easier (as all of us know), it is helping us find more peace with it. Thanks again, and Nash loved your hug :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Big hug. I’m so sorry about your sweet boy.

My Golden got cancer when he was eight and it took him in four months. Expected life expectancy was two to four months. I simply decided I wasn’t going to make him suffer, so as long as he was happy and eating I would continue his treatments. About five days before he passed, his hematocrit started dropping again and the doctor said the chemo was no longer working. They could have tried one more type of chemo (it would have been his third variation in chemo) and there was a 50% chance it would work, but it would have required another blood transfusion and I could tell Luke was tired and I thought he had been through enough. I wanted to let him go before something dire went on where he would end up suffering.

He stopped eating a couple of days before he passed. Only lethargy was going on other than that — no signs of distress. I scheduled for them to come and put him to sleep. I was thankful that morning because he woke up and ate — he got steak twice and some ice cream — and laid on our rear foyer floor (it was cold and he liked it) with me beside him seeming content. He left this world easily and that’s what I wanted for him, so I consider myself very fortunate there.

I’d be more concerned about something happening quickly with the type of cancer your dog has. I know it’s a beyond difficult decision. I’d agree with a little early is better than too late. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Nash knows he is very much loved.
I'm so sorry you went through this with your sweet boy, it's such a rollercoaster.

Thank you so much for your response and sharing your story, it really does help right now. We know we want to make the compassionate decision and talking this through with people who understand is helping us. Thanks again.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
105 Posts
I am so very sorry to hear about Nash. I've only put one dog to sleep, and it was 20+ years ago. It was a hard decision then, too; my GSD had megaesophagus and kept getting aspiration pneumonia. Round after round of antibiotics, and he was not getting the nutrition he needed and was losing weight. I didn't know how to make a decision, but my vet and I agreed that if, at his next appointment in 2 weeks he had lost more weight, it would be time, even if otherwise he was doing "okay." At that next visit, he'd lost another couple of pounds, so it was time. Bodi was a very sweet, very good boy.

More recently I have had to put 2 of my kitties to sleep. They were brother and sister, and I lost my girl at 17 and my boy 6 months later, likely both to GI cancer. With my girl, she just crashed too quickly to know what was happening. She'd been losing weight slowly for a while, but I figured it was just old age and my vet didn't think otherwise. But then she got sick and it was back and forth to the vet for about 2 weeks until she stopped eating and drinking, and her left pupil blew. I rushed her back to the vet and her kidneys were failing. They said they could maybe stabilize her, but they had no idea what the underlying cause of the kidney failure was, or her vomiting, and likely at her age even if they did diagnose her, it was unlikely to be something that could be managed. So I had dropped her off that morning, and after speaking to the vet, went back there to be with her and say my goodbyes. Molly was a very sweet, very good girl.

Not 3 weeks later, her brother Huckleberry was diagnosed with a liver mass. We kept him on pain killers and prednisone for about 5 months. By that time he'd had an internist examine him and do another ultrasound, and she found a mass by his small intestine and said it was likely GI cancer. The reason I'm telling you this is because I thought I had managed Huck's pain with the gabapentin. I thought he was okay. I thought I was doing the right thing by giving him more time. But it was only after I made the decision and had Lap of Love come to my home and put him to rest that I realized I had waited too long. My boy was in pain, and had been for some time, despite the meds. When the vet gave him the sedation, I was holding him in my arms and for the first time in I don't know how long, his whole body relaxed into me. I hadn't realized how tense his body had been for months. Even the vet told me that when she arrived and saw him laying in his bed by the window, his facial expression was one of discomfort and pain. I was just too close to see it. In the days and weeks after he passed, I looked at the photos and videos I'd taken of him, and honestly I was so upset that I had not made the decision sooner. I don't think I kept him here too long for me, so much as I kept him here because it is a natural human instinct to resist the decision to take a life. As much as we can rationalize it and know we are doing what is best for our beloved pets, there is still a resistance to "playing God" I think. And after my experience with Huck, I hope that with current and future pets, I'll be more at ease with that decision, sooner. Putting Huck to rest was the kindest, most compassionate thing I could have done, and I only wish I had done it so much sooner. It still bothers me to think that I made him endure pain for too long.

So love on your boy something fierce, and give him some special days filled with his favorite foods and favorite places and activities. From some of the stories I have read about hemangiosarcoma, the end can be sudden and unpleasant, and it's not what you want for your boy. I hope you find the strength to help him cross over before he's in crisis. Help him on his journey while he is still Nash, and save him, as you said, from any fear, anxiety, or pain. He has loved you his whole life, and deserves a dignified, peaceful, loving goodbye in his home and surrounded by his people.

Again, I am so very sorry. I always get choked up reading these types of posts, partially because I know how it feels to lose pets and to have to make that decision of when it's time, but also because I look at my 10 month old boy and my heart breaks knowing he will leave me someday, too. Hopefully not for a very, very long time, but with these dogs, it's never long enough, is it?

Sending Nash love from NY. 💔
 

·
3 goldens
Joined
·
12,318 Posts
First I want to say your boy Nash is a very handsome boy. I am so sorry to hear that he has cancer.. The decision you have to make is a hard one, one I have had to make 5 times since Aug. 201. Plus a few before that. As for this these last 5, We adopted Golden girl Honey at about 2 at the county pound 1 hour before she was to be gassed. Had her 12 years and she was as spry and agile at 13 as at 3. No signs of arthritis. But she came down with lymphoma. Two weeks after diagnosis, she refused food and we let her go that day.

Becasue of our ages, we decided to adopt senior dogs. The first was a 7 year old blind Great Pyrenees.. An awesome boy . We had him 3 weeks and 3 days. On that last day, he would not get up refused food, and we rushed him to the vet. Hemangiosarcoma, tumor on his spleen and it hade ruptured and he was bleeding our. We told the vet to let him as there was nothing the vet could do and we didn't want Shaggy to suffer as he had had to much of that before he was removed from an abusive home. We then adopted Great Pyrenees, Sir Moose, age 7 1/2, and a few months later adopted golden girl Sophie, age 11 years 5 weeks. We actually got her from her original ownersWe had her not quite 2 years, and then one morning, like Shaggy, she would not get up or take any food. Another trip to the vet and again Hemangiosarcoma. Bless her sweet heart (hubby called her Sweet Pea), she was gone before the vet was done with the injection..

Sir Moose developed liver disease and was given 6 months tops to live. He would not eat the hepatic food, so I researched and started cooking for him and had him 23 months. He was 11 1/2 when we had to call the vet. Rickey said he thought he would be making that call almost 2 years earlier. Sir Moose was my Hubby's buddy and it tore him up. We then adopted anohter Great Pyrenees, 9 yr 9 month-old Princess Jewel, who had been a show dog. She was 12 when she became paralyzed in her back end and a few weeks later refused food. Once again that dreaded call. And I had lost my husband one year before and he had loved her so much as did I..

Princess Jewel would be my last dog. I was looking at 77 and have a bac ticker that is made to beat with a pacemaker, stage 3 kidney due to one of the meds I was taking for my diabetes, failure, arthritis. BUT the rescue asked me if I would be a permanent foster for a senior. They would cover all vet bills, I just had to buy food. I said yes. The girl is 1/4 Sant Bernard and 3/4 Great Pyrenees and according to her chip, she would be 14 on Feb. 6. this was last Oct. .So now she is14 a little over 14 & 1/3 years old. Her backend is starting to go.. I kills me every time I have to let one of my dogs go as I love them so much. But I do it for them.

Now, I had an Irish Setter, Sir Lancelot's Irish Pride , Boots to us, who developed bone cancer in his knee when he was12 1/2.It was a very aggressive kind and he was only given a couple of weeks at the most before he would not be able to get up and probably refuse food. Well, he loved to go to the beach, be it the real beach or the bay where we waded fished. I took him there every day and I fished and let him annoy the crabs, get after the shore birds, swim etc. And because his days were numbered, I let him eat stuff I normally would not. He loved fruits and veggies and I let him eat all the melon, salad, etc he wanted. He had a sweet tooth and what we had for dessert, so did he. Imade him his own strawberry shortcake, slice of apple pie with scoop of ice cream on it, his own banana split. I had him 10 weeks. On July 8, he was not in the water as much and stayed in the shade more. I knew then. Oh, I had taken him just to let the vet look at him 1-2 times a week and weighed him. He put on weight. Vet , to this day talks about the "old red man" and how he had lived so much longer than he should have, and had put on weight. . Anyway, July 9, 1997, he fell and couldn't get up. I gave him a bowl of butter pecan ice cream and we took him for his last ride. He was 12 1/2 and I had had him since he was 9 weeks old. I probably could have had him a few more days, but he could not have gone to the beach. At least, his day was at the beach he loved.
Just spoil your boy, do things with him he loves to do. If he stops eating, that usually means he is telling you he needs to leave you. He will always be in your heart. I got my first dog, an English Setter puppy for my 11th birthday in 1956 and since then, there has only been 7 years I did not have at least 1dog, and that was the 7 years we lived in an apartment in Akron, Ohio. My heart is FULL of dogs--English Setters, Irish Setters, Golden Retrievers and Great Pyrenees.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,734 Posts
I very recently lost my Brady on May 6 to subcutaneous hemangiosarcoma.

His mass blew up overnight on his ribcage behind his shoulder blade on May 5. One of those nightmares where you tell yourself that you can't possibly be seeing what you think you are seeing and maybe if you shut your eyes, your dog will look normal when your eyes reopen. It was too large to fit under my cupped hand. We rushed to the eVet and had tests run, he was put on painkillers, antibiotics and Yunnan Baiyao on the chance that it was not hemangio. He was wrapped tightly in vet wrap to prevent further swelling & to help prevent the tumor from bursting while we awaited results.

That afternoon (May 5 around 4:45) the dx of subcutaneous hemangiosarcoma was confirmed. and the tumor was loaded with those horrid cells.

My boy got BK bacon cheeseburger meals with french fries, longish hikes in his favorite placeswith everyone he loved and loved him, meatballs, pork & sauerkraut, some prosciutta & cheese wraps up and all his favorite foods that night & the following morning.

I could not bear the thought of his bleeding out, that tumor rupturing (there was no possibility of surgical intervention) or worse, his dying alone & possibly frightened.

He was euthanized the following day following more favorite meals & a hike with just me where yes, he even got to go swimming with all the vet wrap ... surrounded by love & comfort. He died without the possibility of fear or any type of extended pain or weakness.

It was sudden -- he had been in an obedience trial (Utility) the previous weekend and was entered in trials the next 2 weekends. He did not make those last trials obviously, but he had been running, jumping, swimming and cuddling up until the final shot.

It is a choice only you can make -- I will say for the people who understood my decisions the most common statements were that I was brave to let him go peacefully and the vets involved said they wished more people would let their dogs go surrounded with the love when there is no hope. For the people who don't understand whatever your decisions may be, either way, just remember it is your dog, your love for your dog and the possibility of a good life that will drive your decisions.

When you look within your heart and your dog's eyes, the decisions will be clear -- either way. Good luck & hugs.
 

·
Kristy
Joined
·
10,750 Posts
I agree with your friend, better a day too early than a day too late. I am sure you're very in tune with his activity level. Take it day to day. If he's eating happily and participating with the family happily, give it one more day. When the day comes that you see he didn't want breakfast, lethargic, not involved, be ready to take the necessary steps. My heart goes out to you....
 

·
Registered
VeeVee and Gabby. We are so sad - we lost VeeVee to cancer on 3.2.2022. New puppy is Breezy
Joined
·
176 Posts
Our vet told us that most humans wait too long and our precious pets suffer as a result. We recently lost our girl, VeeVee, to HHS. She was five years and one month old. At the vet on a Monday she was full of energy, running around getting hugs and treats from everyone. She adored our vet! On Wednesday she was completely different. She didn't even want to get out of the car. A world of difference in just two days. Having lost our girl on March 2, 2022, I know what you are going through and it's hell. I'm so sorry!!

I think nolefan said it all.

Try to keep in mind that you gave Nash a wonderful life and a loving home.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,938 Posts
A great friend and Golden lover has told me, 'I'd rather a month too early than a day too late.' I want all the time I can get...
I totally relate to this. And I'm so sorry you are going through this. It's heartbreaking.

With my last girl, who also had cancer, I wanted to do everything possible - as long as she was not suffering. That was my base line. I would do anything, try anything, as long as there was a chance for her to be better. I just did not want to lose her. She had surgery. She got an infection which we treated. In the end, the chemo she also needed turned out to be really hard on her, and didn't really improve anything. She stopped eating because it made her sick and she went down hill quite quickly. But it was also quite obvious to me when it was time to let her go. We were at the vet Monday afternoon to pick up a med or something and two vets said, no, it is definitely not time. I was actually talking to them about my fear that I would not "see" when it was time because I so did not want to lose her. They told me that because I was so worried about that - that I would. And they really reassured me that she was good. But Monday night into Tuesday, everything changed. And they were right. I knew. She let me know. It was the look in her eyes. I called my vet first thing Tuesday morning and told them we could not wait for our afternoon appointment. So it can change pretty quickly.

I think your guy will let you know. You'll know. You won't want him to suffer. You'll do right by him.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
762 Posts
My first dog and first competition dog died with very little warning from cardiac hemangiosarcoma.

She turned 8 years old a month before she passed and had run well at a 2 day agility trial just 5 days beforehand. She had just earned PACH 2 and High in Trial Preferred in Agility at the GR National two months prior. She exhibited zero symptoms and fortunately seemed to be spared any prolonged suffering.

She went from seemingly healthy to very sick in an instant. She was driven to the ER at 2am because she was struggling very much to breath, and the vet couldn't buy her more time.

She was technically my parent's dog - but we had each other's heart. I left a healthy dog at home (I thought), went to Florida on vacation, and came back to find she was gone.

I wish so much I could have had one last day to spoil her with junky human food, or to even have time to mentally prepare myself. It's been seven months and I still cry when I think about her.

Hugs to you. Cancer sucks.
 
1 - 12 of 12 Posts
Top