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My poor Luke looked so old by the time he was eight. I used to wonder why people were always asking me his age because in my mind all I saw was beautiful Luke. I can see it now clearly looking back at photos. He was still beautiful, but I hated he seemed to age so much before his time.
 

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My poor Luke looked so old by the time he was eight. I used to wonder why people were always asking me his age because in my mind all I saw was beautiful Luke. I can see it now clearly looking back at photos. He was still beautiful, but I hated he seemed to age so much before his time.
We always said it was like Kaizer aged in fast forward once he got sick. People used to ask me all the time if he was a puppy lol. Then he got sick and really crusty looking (see pics) and people stopped asking if he was a puppy :(. He didn’t look quite as rough when he passed lol

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Like Dana, and I imagine everyone else, I hate this question, hate the subject, and sort of hate this whole thread BUT I do think it is important and worthwhile. I think it is helpful to try and have some general guidelines in mind ahead of time about what you think will be the right course for different scenarios to help guide you through the emotional decisions.
My first dog that was mine and not a family dog was my Golden girl Honeybear. She was like a first child and totally my heart dog and I prayed her whole life that I would not have to make the awful decision about when it was time. She was 12.5 deaf and a little stiff in the hips but a happy old girl. She had been having a good day, visited the neighbors who loved her, but couldn't make it up the stairs to bed that last night. My husband carried her up, laid her on her bed and I was laying beside her. She shuddered or maybe a quick seizure and was gone. My husband drove her to the e-vet just to be sure she was really gone then brought her home because we thought we were going to take her to my father-in-law's farm and bury her. It was a very hot July in Texas though and we could not go the next day so he took her back and she was cremated. My next dog Tawny was also 12.5 and she had rear leg weakness that got so bad one day she could not get up at all and she definitely had that "I'm done" look in her eye. The vet came and we had a very peaceful but heartbreaking goodbye. I never second guessed that decision.
One other thought on this topic is that I think it can be okay to say sometimes that you just cannot afford to put thousands and thousands of dollars into treatment for an aggressive cancer with a poor prognosis. You don't have to bankrupt the family trying to save your dog when there's little likelihood of significantly prolonging life.
 

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I agree with others - tough subject but good conversation and thoughts to have.

My own personal approach is that I will try anything to treat a treatable illness as long as it is not causing my dog to suffer. I will do surgeries and chemo if they are going to prolong a good quality of life. My last dog had cancer at a very healthy 12 years old - she had surgery, she got an infection, we treated the infection, we started the chemo, but it was soon evident the chemo was not working. I actually said to my vets, please tell me if you think it is time to let her go because I'm afraid I won't see it because I don't want to lose her. They said that because I was conscious of that, they believed I would see it. And I did. One day she was okay and then suddenly she was not. She had done a very strange and peaceful act of saying goodbye to our street that evening (I can't actually explain or put it all down in words, but it was something I had never seen her do, and in hindsight, I realized that she probably knew it was the last time she would see what she was looking at), and overnight, I knew she was done. She definitely let me know. I called my vet and said, we need to come now. It was devastating and I didn't know how I was going to live without her, but I knew it was right to let her go. She was not getting better and it was not fair to her. It broke my heart and I definitely panicked that I had given up too soon, but I know it was absolutely the right time.

For Shala, she also had cancer. But she was only 8 years old. And also a very healthy, athletic 8. It was a single small tumour with no spread. She had a surgery and then chemo because it turned out it was an aggressive sarcoma. The chemo was not supposed to make her sick, but it did. She was nauseous and threw up every time. It was hard. I doubted my decision to do it, but she was only 8 years old. I felt like there was so much more potential life to be lived. I might not have made the same decision for a 12-13 year old. I'm not sure. Ultimately, I decided that a few days of feeling sick every three weeks would be worth it if the chemo worked to stave off tumour regrowth. I talked about it constantly with my oncologist and vet. She was not in pain, just felt crummy. And then the chemo was over and she was her sunny, happy self again. She had looked very sick and old during the illness and treatment, but her fur grew back shiny and full, and the grey in her face was gone. I get asked all the time now if my 9 year old is a puppy. Looking back, it was definitely a hard few months, but I am so glad that I made the decision I did. Had she been in pain, the situation would have been different. I will not let a dog suffer in pain. I think each experience informs your next one.

And I will always want to be there at the end to be holding them and telling them I love them and how they made my life better for being in it.
 

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Oof this thread punched me in the gut.

Bear was the first animal I had to make the decision for. Before he got sick, though, my first foster dog 'Luna' developed brain cancer and her owner kept her alive for longer than personally would have. By the end, she was completely blind and deaf, and would just lay in her bed 24/7, having accidents in the house and picking at her food.

So when we got the devastating news that Bear had a rare and aggressive immune cancer (just 2 months shy of his 5th birthday), I was gung-ho to fight it. Let's duke it out. I will throw all the money in the world at this. But money didn't matter. His body was riddled with tumors and it happened so fast. He had had a clean ultrasound done not even 6 months prior where there wasn't even a glimmer of a tumor.

The turning point for me was when he stopped eating. I don't think he was ready to go when I pulled the plug, but I don't regret doing it when we did. He walked into the vet's office, tail wagging, head high, distended belly from fluid leaking from his liver. Kissed all the techs and was just his perfect self. But it wasn't fair to him or to me to let him waste away. That was back in 2017.

In 2020 I had to put both my cats down. January 2020 my eldest (almost 19 years old) suffered a stroke one day. We came home and he was acting unusual. Glued to the walls. Wouldn't get on the counter to eat. We realized he was completely blind. The dogs didn't realize it, and they jostled him around which I was not OK with at all. We took him to the vet and had him examined and we came to the decision to put him down that day because it was not fair to expect him to navigate the chaos of our household plus his myriad other health problems that complicated things.

In July 2020, my other cat Casey (just 3 months shy of turning 17 years old) stopped eating. Out of no where. We took her in and after a bunch of diagnostics we discovered cancer her in jaw and mouth. It had metastasized to her jawbone and was inoperable given it's spread. We were told if we opted for hospice it would be a sharp decline. Having done hospice with Bear, I didn't want to go through that again (never knowing if I'd wake up or come home and she died alone). So we put her down that day.

I hope I don't have to make that decision for a good long while. CeeCee is 7, Lana is 4, and Molly is just 2. May the health gods shine on them and keep them safe.
 

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I agree with you Dana, I would rather put them down before they get bad. Our first golden, Autumn, was easier to decide. She was 15 1/2 and had suffered a stroke. It was her second stroke and the first time she made a good recovery within about 2 days. This time though, she was not recovering and would not eat, not even her favorite treats, so we knew it was time. My second golden, April, was much harder. She was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma of the spleen at only 8. She had good days and bad days. But the bad days only happened about once a week. Then the bad days started to happen more frequently, so I decided that I needed to let her go before they started to outnumber her good days. The day I called to make the appointment she was having a bad day. But the day of the appointment was a good day so that made it so much more difficult because she seemed so normal. Even my vet made me second guess myself because he saw how good she looked. I had to remind myself that he was only seeing her on this one day and that I knew what she was like on her bad days. I have to confess that even though in my head I knew it was right to let her go before she got really bad, my heart still sometimes wonders if I did it too soon. It’ll be 3 years for April this fall.
 

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Aww I’m not gonna lie that part you shared about your last dog saying goodbye to your street made me tear up 😭 I’m sorry for your loss, and I agree it’s a hard topic but important to discuss…

My golden (my first dog) is only 5 months now but it’s crazy to think I will be almost 40 when I have those thoughts and conversations and how many major life events we both will go through 🥺

I agree with others - tough subject but good conversation and thoughts to have.

My own personal approach is that I will try anything to treat a treatable illness as long as it is not causing my dog to suffer. I will do surgeries and chemo if they are going to prolong a good quality of life. My last dog had cancer at a very healthy 12 years old - she had surgery, she got an infection, we treated the infection, we started the chemo, but it was soon evident the chemo was not working. I actually said to my vets, please tell me if you think it is time to let her go because I'm afraid I won't see it because I don't want to lose her. They said that because I was conscious of that, they believed I would see it. And I did. One day she was okay and then suddenly she was not. She had done a very strange and peaceful act of saying goodbye to our street that evening (I can't actually explain or put it all down in words, but it was something I had never seen her do, and in hindsight, I realized that she probably knew it was the last time she would see what she was looking at), and overnight, I knew she was done. She definitely let me know. I called my vet and said, we need to come now. It was devastating and I didn't know how I was going to live without her, but I knew it was right to let her go. She was not getting better and it was not fair to her. It broke my heart and I definitely panicked that I had given up too soon, but I know it was absolutely the right time.

For Shala, she also had cancer. But she was only 8 years old. And also a very healthy, athletic 8. It was a single small tumour with no spread. She had a surgery and then chemo because it turned out it was an aggressive sarcoma. The chemo was not supposed to make her sick, but it did. She was nauseous and threw up every time. It was hard. I doubted my decision to do it, but she was only 8 years old. I felt like there was so much more potential life to be lived. I might not have made the same decision for a 12-13 year old. I'm not sure. Ultimately, I decided that a few days of feeling sick every three weeks would be worth it if the chemo worked to stave off tumour regrowth. I talked about it constantly with my oncologist and vet. She was not in pain, just felt crummy. And then the chemo was over and she was her sunny, happy self again. She had looked very sick and old during the illness and treatment, but her fur grew back shiny and full, and the grey in her face was gone. I get asked all the time now if my 9 year old is a puppy. Looking back, it was definitely a hard few months, but I am so glad that I made the decision I did. Had she been in pain, the situation would have been different. I will not let a dog suffer in pain. I think each experience informs your next one.

And I will always want to be there at the end to be holding them and telling them I love them and how they made my life better for being in it.
 

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Aww I’m not gonna lie that part you shared about your last dog saying goodbye to your street made me tear up
It was so moving. I knew she was doing something she had never done before, but until she died the next day, I didn't know why she was doing it or what it meant. Animals have definitely demonstrated over time that they know when they are going to die (they go off alone somewhere, for example), and I truly believe she knew. It makes me teary to remember, too.
 

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It was so moving. I knew she was doing something she had never done before, but until she died the next day, I didn't know why she was doing it or what it meant. Animals have definitely demonstrated over time that they know when they are going to die (they go off alone somewhere, for example), and I truly believe she knew. It makes me teary to remember, too.
They definitely know. On my Golden's last trip to the park where we hiked every day, she wanted to stop and just stand still while looking around, in several of her favorite areas, like she was committing them all to memory. She did the same thing with my daughter's room (my daughter was 7 when we adopted Honey as a puppy, so they grew up together and had so many great times in that room). It was her way of saying goodbye.

Many years ago, I had a GSD who was suffering from bone cancer. One day he started prompting me to play all of his favorite games, even some I had forgotten about because we hadn't played them since he was a puppy. He passed away in his sleep that evening, just a few weeks shy of his 14th birthday. They know.
 

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I had this happen too. I took Luke, my last Golden, to the end of the street for our last walk. It was as far as I thought he could go. He planted his feet and stared down the road to his favorite place in our neighborhood — a large pond area. He wanted to head that way, even though he was so sick. I walked him on down there and he did fine. He seemed happy to be there one last time.
 

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We have had to make that decision 3 times. It is never easy. I won't go into detail because it still hurts too much. We were very lucky in that all 3 lived long lives and at the end it was obvious that it was time to let them go. Our first, Blaze, was 14 1/2, the second, Shadow, was one month shy of 16 and our third, Quinn, was 2 months shy of 15. We said goodbye to Quinn in Feb of 2021 and it is still very painful to think of her loss. I am crying as I write this even though we now have 19 month old Misty who was born 17 days after we lost our Quinn. It is a very, very hard decision but we let ours go before they suffered a lot. We were very lucky to get Misty as she came from an excellent breeder but her litter had not been advertised yet and since we had a reference from one of our former breeders who has been very active in the Fort Detroit Golden Retriever Club for years we were able to put a deposit down. There were only 4 pups in the litter and 3 were already spoken for by people who had other pups from our breeder. We feel very fortunate to have her as her presence eases our loss of Quinn somewhat. She is a character in her own right and we love her dearly already. We hope she lives a very long life too! Goldens just make life better!
 

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On my Golden's last trip to the park where we hiked every day, she wanted to stop and just stand still while looking around, in several of her favorite areas, like she was committing them all to memory.
I took Luke, my last Golden, to the end of the street for our last walk. It was as far as I thought he could go. He planted his feet and stared down the road to his favorite place in our neighborhood — a large pond area.
Okay. I said I wouldn't be able to explain what Tesia did, mostly because I didn't think the emotion of it would translate, but it is almost exactly what you both describe. We had been out in front of our house, and it was so perfect because both of her dog neighbour friends came along. She had a gentle interaction with each one, and then she walked into the middle of the grassy crescent on the street and looked up the road with her head slightly up. She just stood there like she was taking it in, then she turned and looked the other way and did the same. But the bigger one was when we got back to my house - we walked up the stairs (I live in a townhouse, so we walk up to a little courtyardy-walkway-thing that runs between our rows of homes) and instead of walking up the row to our house, she very pointedly stopped and turned around, and then walked over to the corner patio of our neighbour (she had never, ever done this) and stood where she could overlook the entire street. (She was off leash so she was going where she wanted to go). Again, she just stood and looked and I felt like she was committing it to memory and saying goodbye. In retrospect, after she died, I realized she probably knew that was the last time she was going to see her street, where she had spent so much of her life. I didn't get it in the moment, but after she died, I just thought, oh my God. This all does really mean so much to them. She wanted to remember and say goodbye. I can only hope that she could smell and hear and feel me in her final moments as I said goodbye to her and she said goodbye to the world.
 

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The day she died, my Honey bear went next door to see the neighbors who sometimes kept her when we were on a trip. They said later they hadn't seen her in a couple months. I always wondered if she had gone over to say goodbye.
Twice I have let my dog see the other dog after they passed and they seemed to understand. After that they never looked for the dog or seemed to wonder what had happened. I feel like they understood death in some way.
 

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The day she died, my Honey bear went next door to see the neighbors who sometimes kept her when we were on a trip. They said later they hadn't seen her in a couple months. I always wondered if she had gone over to say goodbye.
Twice I have let my dog see the other dog after they passed and they seemed to understand. After that they never looked for the dog or seemed to wonder what had happened. I feel like they understood death in some way.
That is so sweet that your Honey bear went to see her friends. They really do seem to know what's going on and accept it without fear or sadness. Maybe they say goodbye this way, at least partly, for us, as if they're remembering the good times and saying thank you for their lives with us. Either way, I see it as such a loving, respectful, comforting, and aware gesture and it makes me love and appreciate them even more. Their hearts are so pure.💖
 
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