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· Kate
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I saw a couple of family dogs allowed to linger too long until I felt they had lost their dignity and I swore I would NEVER do that to any dog of mine.
For me it's not the dignity - it's the quality of life and the dog feeling fear or pain. Or possibly dying in the night by himself and going through the last moments without comfort or love. No emoticons can express the degree of grief and sadness I feel in thinking back to having to make a decision on behalf of my last two. The dogs prior to them were already dying when the decision had to be made to ease their passing. And I had one dog die in his sleep at the vet post surgery. Making the decision is both the kindest and most loving thing you can do.... and it's also the worst.

I was listening to Dr. Laura on the radio the other day and she had somebody call in trying to get a handle on her own emotions vs knowing what had to be done with an old dog. Dr. Laura shared how she came to make the same decision regarding her dog. There was something she said which immediately had me tearing me up and feeling that same pain and recognition - she described the moment after the vet administered the shot, the feeling of panic and horror that goes right through you where you desperately want to take it back.

I went through that with both my last two dogs.
 

· Kate
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24,953 Posts
Otter - I actually read about chemodectomas a few years ago, when my Fisher got pericardial mesothelioma. Only three types of heart tumors and besides hemangio, those are it.
My first golden had very acute hemangio. Perfectly fine in the morning, by night time couldn't walk. I had no idea what was happening. Took him to the vet the next morning, euthanized on the table when they opened him up and found golf-ball sized tumors all over his liver and spleen. I saw them with my own eyes. It was absolutely devastating and a complete shock. 10 yrs old.
Fisher has his own thread on GRF, if you search mesothelioma you can read the fine print, but I had 10 months to prepare for the inevitable. He was completely happy and did all the things he liked to do up until the very end. He would get weird symptoms that I would say "we can deal with this." When he stopped eating it was sudden and I knew that was it. Peaceful euthanasia at the vet. I cried because I missed my very good dog but he lead a full and active life of 12 1/2 years. "I could not ask for more."
Now I have Slater (Fisher's son) who is 13 1/2 and besides some old dog stuff, completely happy and healthy and doing very well. He has lar par, can't hear, only has one eye, can barely see, eats every meal and treat with gusto, snuggles with his toys, chews on nylabones, can play a short game of fetch, swims in the pool, rolls on his back in the yard, sunbathes, and keeps up with the young dogs on our daily walks on our 10 acres. He's happy as a clam.
Every time those random mesothelioma commercials come on the radio or whatnot, I think of Fisher.... :(

With cancer - I think the very small blessing is typically with hemangio, by the time you know - you basically have very limited options and it's a case where you could legit tell yourself the dog had not suffered until the last day. With my Danny being "young" enough (young 12, had just barely started going white by the time he was 9-10 years old, was still a happy little old man right through that last day and wasn't even throwing up or showing any of the other symptoms other than being very restless and refusing to eat, being unable to lay down for longer than a few seconds) to try to remove the spleen - that was us trying, but he never woke up after surgery.

Vet told us that there was a very high likelihood of it being cancer with a very poor outcome with or without surgery. She pushed us to let him go, but I remember looking at him while he was getting the ultrasound during dx and seeing him nosing and snuggling with the tech who was holding him in her lap and wagging his tail the whole time.... I don't know if they would do this still, but for ultrasounds they let me be there with him so I could literally see what they were looking at. I do not regret giving him a good chance because he still had that bright light in his eyes. A dog who is failing and has a very bad outcome ahead of him is so different.
 
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