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Hi all!! For those who have not followed along with Kaizer’s thread in the Health section of the forum, he’s been having a pretty crappy year health-wise. The symptoms keep piling up, we’ve seen literally every specialist this year (except for ophthalmology), done all the tests, and we have absolutely no idea what’s going on with him. We have 2 final appointments: tomorrow for a follow-up with his neurologist, and then October 1 for a consult with an Internal Medicine Specialist at UPenn (hoping that UPenn’s network can maybe find something we have not yet tested for). My vet and I have agreed that, depending on what those appointments reveal, we have no further avenues to pursue as far as a diagnosis. So we are putting him on palliative care until his QOL decreases too much and I have to make the decision for him.

It breaks my heart and I am wholly unprepared for this, but I absolutely do not want him to suffer (moreso than he already has, anyway). My vet said she wouldn’t even blame me if I chose not to do these last two appointments, but I’d feel incredibly guilty if I didn’t try everything I could possibly do. I don’t expect much to come out of either these appointments (though i always hope!), which is why I’m asking this now. Especially since it looks like I have some time with him now.

So I’m looking for “bucket list” ideas! Anything I can do with him, give to him, etc. while we still have time. If you know you only have a finite time left with your dog (like months vs years), what would you do?

I’ll take any ideas!

Pic of my sweet boy during his “neurologic episode” yesterday ❤
Dog Property Wood Dog breed Carnivore
 
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This breaks my heart. I am so sorry. We went through a much shorter timeline but one of the best things we did was to go to one of our favorite places, an overlook over a lake he loves to swim at, and brought blankets and picnic stuff and just hung and loved on him. We played some quiet music and our family surrounded him and Let him know how much he was cherished and loved. Prayers are with you all.
 

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I'm so sorry.
I've never had a bucket list, when I lose one, it seems to be sudden and driving thru McDonalds for a sundae as last treat seems to be the most I can pull off...
I know it is hard- and it would not be wrong in any way to help him go when you think it is time. You'll choose a day early rather than a day late, I am sure, because you love him so.
 

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A special place sounds like a wonderful thing to do, if I could have had the chance to do that with my boy I think it would have been comforting. An ice-cream and all his favourite foods too. I'm so very sorry you are going through this, it's heartbreaking for you all x
 

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We've never really had much time to work with. All of our have been kind of sudden. But I think if they had a special place they liked to go, I'd take them as much as possible. Little things that make each day special....a special treat, extra time with you. Take lots of photos for later on to help focus on good times. Doesn't have to be big, just meaningful. I had been following Kaizer on your other thread and hoping for the best like so many others. I'm sorry to hear that you're nearing the end of the road with him.
 

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I'm sorry about Kaiser. You are showing him true love.

Luke lived four months from diagnosis and I was hoping he would make it to summer vacation with us feeling well and he did. We went to the mountains and he enjoyed the cooler temps/seemed more energetic. He also swam in the pool five days before he died -- it was one of his favorite things to do. On his last day with us, he had visitors/hugs, two servings of sirloin steak and a scoop of ice cream. He was at peace when he passed, with his paw on my arm, and looking at me. I lucked out with all of that.

Here's a few photos of Luke from August 22, 2019. He passed away on August 28, 2019.

Water Dog Dog breed Carnivore Companion dog


Water Dog Carnivore Tree Swimming pool


Water Dog Plant Carnivore Fawn


Luke knew he was surrounded by love -- just like Kaiser knows. I think he's living the best life he could possibly live with you. I hate you are going through this. It's so hard to lose them. I still feel all the love Luke left in this world. Kaiser mostly just wants to be with you. He will enjoy whatever you choose as long as you are there.
 

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I'm gobmsmacked to see this.... I didn't realize this was happening and I still think of Kaiser as a puppy.... I'm so sorry for your heartache and all you two have been through.

I admire your attitude more than you know, my first Golden was really my first experience with having time to process that I had only a short time left, always before it was a very sudden thing or out of my hands. I didn't handle it well, at all. I was grieving his loss before he was even gone and it is one of my biggest regrets in life. I think your bucket list is such a good idea.

The thing I've seen friends do that they have seemed happiest with is to hire a good family photographer or have a talented friend help if that's not in the budget. Having some photos of themselves with their dogs that are good quality is a treasure. I am planning to do that when our weather gets nicer next month. My Collie Mack is 10 and Ellie is 8 and I know I'm not promised tomorrow with either of them.

My bucket list would be things that my dogs love, for Ellie it would be outdoor activities where she and I can get in the water, lake, ocean, wading in a creek. She loves food so if I knew that we were truly down to a matter of months, I would probably never give her dog food again, it would be 100% steak and veggies. And I would work harder on just taking her with me every single place I possibly could. And my husband doesn't want dogs in our bed, but if Ellie had limited time, she would sleep with me. Or she and I would sleep in the guest room together. I might consider taking a vacation that was to a dog friendly beach when it's not hot. Or lake. And we'd do a lot of hiking and retrieving. She loves that. For Mack I'd just sit on the floor and play tug with him, he loves a nature walk and playing tug with no other dogs in the room.

I'm so sorry, I hate that this is a conversation - but I think it's a good thread. Maybe if I'd seen it years ago, I wouldn't regret the way I handled my Baxter's death.
 

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Dog Dog breed Carnivore Grass Companion dog
Don’t give up! Kaiser’s story reminds me so much of Duke. Two years ago two vets told me I’d be lucky if he made it 30 days. I almost let him go that day, but he’d had one really bad day. I brought him home and cried every time I looked at him for a week. He’s had his ups and downs much like Kaizer. I’ve tried everything and am pretty much left with doing the best I can to care for him. I’ve stopped many meds after figuring out I was just wasting money. I’ve stoped trying to figure out “what’s wrong”. We have three major diagnosis, but I’m positive there’s one big issue we just haven’t named. I’ve decided to let him live happily. When his QoL is below my standard for more then 7 days I will do the unimaginable. So far the longest he’s gone with me thinking it was inevitable is four days. Then like a miracle a good week or two pop up and I have my boy back. I let him swim when he can. I had stopped letting him retrieve with the other dogs. I recently started taking him out when they are done training for a couple retrieves. It’s brought a light back in his eyes. These pictures are from this weekend. Sometimes I get teared up watching him do what he loves. He’s older acting then his age, he’s slow, he’s weak, but he’s so happy. I know if I have to let him go I’ve done everything I can.
(((hugs)))
When it’s time I’ll let him go while I sit with him. I know you love Kaizer the same way. I reached a point where I stopped testing and trying to find answers. He’s got ME, LP, he’s had a stroke. I swear he has myasthenia gravis, but every test says not. I’ve decided he gets to live everyday like it’s his last. If we have to make that decision I’m going to know he was happy. I won’t let him suffer, that’s what I know. I’ve also told a few select people that if I’m holding on to long they have the right to override my decision, and my vet knows they do.
 

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I'm so sorry that you even have to think this way, and I hope that once again, he confounds and confuses by suddenly being well.

When I knew Tesia was sick with cancer and that I would lose her (far sooner than I expected, it turned out), one thing I did was spend as much time at home with her as I could. I went to work and bought groceries and otherwise did nothing. I stayed home with her, and never regretted it for one second. I missed Christmas to stay with her. I didn't go out socially at all in her last few months. I just wanted to be with her. Now, this was when I knew I had maybe months but more likely weeks, so it may not be feasible for you. But I am so grateful that I just had all that quiet time with her.

I WOULD however try to take off some time from work now and try to take him to a great place (like where you went on vacation a few weeks ago) and let him have the greatest time while you have the greatest time with him. I'd just do everything he loves to do that he is capable of physically doing. Ultimately, he just wants to be with you feeling happy.

Sending you both best wishes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you guys. I hope he makes it absolutely clear to me that he’s good and ready to go, but I think I’m going to have to make a QOL decision. I had hoped that it was going to be sudden, but it’s not. He definitely has good days too, but I think he has more bad days sometimes. I almost wonder if it’s worse knowing that the time is coming but not really knowing when or really knowing why.

I am in no rush to make any decision - especially not such a permanent one. But I really do not want him to suffer, and that is really the only reason it’s even a consideration. I’d do anything if we even thought it was going to work. I also want to make the most of every day we have left - hence this post!

I guess the challenge isn’t that we don’t have a diagnosis (although I would love that), it’s just that we don’t know how to treat some of his symptoms. Like his circling behavior, which isn’t neurologic (because neuro exams and MRI come back clear) and not really pain-related (since he has no pain or discomfort response to any palpation/manipulation of any part of his body). So I could give him pain meds, but gabapentin knocks him out and makes him a vegetable (if I’m concerned with QOL, this isn’t the way I want to go), and we are considering putting him back on prednisone/other immunosuppressant. I don’t give him pain meds, and he continues to have these episodes every so often. They knock him out for 3-5 days and he genuinely looks so uncomfortable. Since we don’t know what causes it, I have no way of knowing if these will become more frequent or get worse except for waiting - so again, bucket list!

I’m hoping that I don’t end up needing the ideas from this thread for a lot longer than I’m expecting, for sure!!
 

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I am so very, very sorry. I’ve lost dogs suddenly and I’ve lost dogs over months, knowing I was going to have to make that decision and waking up every day in dread that it would be that day. There is no good way to lose a wonderful dog.

You know your dog. Trust him and trust yourself. You’ll second guess it, of course…I have, every time. But I remind myself that dogs don’t fear death the way we do and that helps me, a little. It’s part of the process and, as in so many things, dogs are smarter than we are that way.

My best hopes to you and Kaizer.
 

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You, your family and Kaizer are in my heart and in my thoughts.
Love
Julie
 

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Sorry to hear this.
If there is something you always tell your dog not to do but they try anyway, you could let them do it. Licking the dirty dishes in the dishwasher came to mind when thinking about my dogs.
 

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Oh jeez, I never thought that this would come to be. Here I am at work, horribly tearing up reading this thread. I love the family portrait idea!

Sending you and all your pups good all the vibes and I hope something miraculous reveals itself in the last two appointments. But even if not, I'm sure his last days checking off his bucket list will be everything. 💕
 

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I just want to say I am so very sorry. I had 6 weeks from diagnosis to saying goodbye when I lost my eldest, and luckily most of those days were good QOL. I just tried to do his favorite things every day - drive-thru fast food restaurants for burgers, swimming in the lake every day and letting him destroy and sink the bumper, wrapping up new toys as presents and letting him rip open the paper and destroy the toy, making all of his favorite people foods for him to eat (pizza crusts and pancakes and bread and peanut butter crackers were always his favs), popping fresh popcorn at night for movie nights where the dogs got more of the popcorn than the people. We have people come over to visit and give him lots of pets and love - he loved company and strangers.

I had really wanted to take him to the beach one last time (he loved the ocean) but he got sick right at the start of covid when we all thought the world was ending. It would have been a 4 hr trip each way, and my husband was really scared of what would happen if he collapsed while there.... anyway, we live on a lake and like I said, he swam in it every day. I don’t think he cared that he didn’t see the ocean one last time (and luckily we had just been a couple months before, so I have those photos and memories).


Sending hugs to you.
 

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I am so sorry and sad to read this. It is truly heartbreaking when you do not know what is causing these issues and therefore not knowing the right treatment. I echo what everyone else has said. We lost our first Golden over 30 years ago. We never fed him ‘people’ food, but when we knew the end was near, he got steak and anything else he wanted. Just being with you is all he wants. You and Kaizer are in my thoughts and prayers.❤
 

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I'm so sorry to see this thread. What a year for Kaizer. I wish I had more to add. I think you're showing a lot of foresight and love for Kaizer by gathering ideas for a bucket list. One thing I'd do if I knew I only had months left would be to try to spend more dedicated time with just the one dog. Ella and Atlas get along well, but Ella loves nothing more than having me all to herself...
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Those are really good ideas, thanks!! He’s been on a strict prescription food diet since March so I’ve decided to open his diet back up (he doesn’t have food allergies). He’s happy to eat anything, but I think he’ll love the variety. Trying to find a happy balance between letting him eat all the things and making sure I don’t overwhelm his GI tract too quickly.

He loves the outdoors and any body of water, so I’d love to take him to the beach and then local parks. He’s been stiff this week and has basically slept the whole week, so I don’t want to push him too much. Another risk vs reward thing I have to figure out!

Kaizer with his whipped cream today!
Dog Dog breed Carnivore Collar Companion dog
 

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I’m sorry for you and Kaizer. For Ginger, her bucket list would have to include ice cream, cheese, playing with children, a car ride to Petsmart and the car wash, and playing in the yard sprinklers. Praying for God’s wisdom and comfort for you.
 
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