Losing A Pet

We’ve had to face the conclusion that our just about 10 yr old dog, King, will have to be put down. He’s become unpredictable with aggressive behavior most notably, biting. He sunk his teeth into our neighbor’s arm last summer, snaps at the other neighbors if they try to approach him(while King galavants), he bit Doug a couple weeks ago completely out of the blue, and he’s snapped at the kids. We talked to the shelter where we got him in 1998 and discovered that senior dogs — especially biters — are not accepted unless they can find a foster home for them. No luck. The senior foster home was full. Over the last several months of inquiries, we consistently hear the same advice. It will be safer for the family and more kind for the dog to put him down. The vet uses the term “euthanize” which I know is the proper term but it sounds so clinical. I don’t know.

Anyway, I’m told he will be sedated and then given  medication to stop his heart. I want to be there with him. Doug thinks I’m crazy. Has anyone been with their pet when they died? Should I just be ok dropping him off with the vet?

I had to take JD and Annaliese with me to the vet today. They let the kids play in the toy corner so I could talk to the doctor alone. When King and I came out, the kids wanted to know if King was all better. Actually it would be easier for me to accept if King were physically a wreck but he’s not. He gets a little stiff if he’s been laying down for awhile–but don’t we all? His coat is shiny, he gets around fine, his heart is in good shape. The doctor says that generally he’s in good health. I did provide a urine sample (King’s) for them to test. Ever try collecting that from a dog? Its actually easier than you’d think. King was very accommodating! He had a bunch of blood work run in the summer for his annual check up and everything was fine. I know things can change but financially, we wouldn’t be able to afford treating any big disease. And, its no guarantee that something physical is causing the aggression.

I love my dog. JD may take it the hardest. He has claimed ownership of King. Maddie would like a puppy and a kitten someday. I think she may move on the easiest. Doug & I will be devastated. Annaliese will not understand as well as the older kids. Goofy will be able to eat his food on the floor and be the sole drinker out of his water bowl. And we thought Goofy would be the one to go first. That’s another conversation…

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12 responses to this post.

  1. I feel for you. We went through the exact same situation several years ago.

    We had to put down our dog, Mookie, who we had for about 15 years. He was with us almost since our wedding.

    During the last few years he became aggressive. Eventually the vet told us it was because he was in so much pain from arthritis. Like in your situation, the vet told us it was the humane thing to do.

    It was difficult because like King, he could still run around, wag his tail, lay at your feet, etc…

    We chose to be in the room with him because we felt we owed it to him because he had given us so much. I held him as he took his last breath and we sat with him for awhile. It was tough.

    Only you can figure out what is right for your situation. Our family will keep yours in our prayers.

    Reply

  2. Joni, Scott’s wife here….just want to reconfirm how important it was for us to be with Mookie when he was put to sleep. If not for any other reason, than the vet is a scary place….do you really want his last moments to be without you and afraid?? I don’t know, maybe some people don’t think of their pets as family, but we always have…and it seemed to give us a sense of peace within our grief. We have been with all our pets when they have gone…and it just felt like the right thing to do. You can bet that we won’t think you’re crazy.

    Reply

  3. Long story short, I had our beloved Trixie put down at home — she had fallen and couldn’t get up. There was no way for me to get her to the vet’s. But he came right out and gently sent her off. I still tear up thinking about it, but I’m glad I was with her — she was the bestest dog…

    Reply

  4. Last spring, we had to put down our cat that I had since she was 3 weeks old (rescue cat, dropper fed, 18 years old). I had avoided it for 6 months as she slowly lost weight and slowed down. It was obvious it was coming and time to make the decision.

    All 3 of my guys and I took her, held her, petted her as she was injected and died. We talked about it, cried together and buried her at home. The vet was a friend of ours and she was great about having the boys there. It was hard but we talked about it a lot and I’m glad we were together.

    One thing, with your kids at their ages, keep reinforcing that dogs are different than people…that if they “begin to bite”, you won’t get rid of them! However you explain it, that might be something to keep clear ’cause kids make connections like that.

    Reply

  5. It must be really difficult to pronounce a death sentence for your own pet. There are certain things beyond your control. I am sure you made the right decision.

    Reply

  6. Posted by Marisa on December 1, 2007 at 8:35 am

    Wow…what a crummy decision to have to make. I remember when we put our cat to sleep. We didn’t stay in the room when it happened, but I was in grade school at the time. I still remember going to the vet to say goodbye. I’ve only had my dog Monty about a year, but I think now that I would be in the room with him if I had to put him under. I would need to see him go to help me say goodbye. I think it’s part of the process of grieving. That’s my two cents. If you want someone to be there with you, let me know. I’m good for a few tears shed with a friend.

    Reply

  7. Posted by beth on December 1, 2007 at 4:18 pm

    I was with several of our pets as they were put to sleep. As Doug can tell you, we used to breed, train and show dogs, but they were family members not “in the kennel show dogs”. I personally HAD to be with our animals as they went to sleep – even at a young age. I held them and talked to them. I particularly remember my Stoli cat. My eldest son was about 6 month old and Stoli had cancer. She finally lost her quality of life and couldn’t walk much. I held her, prayed for us, talked to her, then afterward held her and cried. It is very peaceful for them. They don’t struggle, hurt, or suffer. They literally lay down their heads and go to sleep.

    As I posted to Doug, I am praying for all of you. You may even think about asking JD if he wants to be there with you. Prayers and hugs from me.

    Reply

  8. I have been with own dogs who have been put down and my parent’s dogs. I think it’s the kind thing. I am sure they are less stressed that way.

    It is NOT an easy decision. HUGS to you

    Reply

  9. It’s very hard to lose a pet, and especially to make a decision to euthanize. I used to work at a vet clinic right out of high school and during a college summer. I held a lot of pets while the shot was given. Some owners wanted to be there, but some didn’t.

    If you’d be comfortable with it, you can stay with him and hold him while it’s done. If they sedate him, he’ll be calm and he’ll go very peacefully. The decision’s really up to you. In some places, you can choose to bury him yourself or have his body cremated for a fee. The vet’s office may even dispose of pet’s bodies themselves, but it may cost a small fee.

    Best wishes to you.

    Reply

  10. Our best friend had to put her dog down over 2 years ago. She knew she wouldn’t be able to be in the room with him, but didn’t want him to be alone either. So Brent and I stayed in their with Riley, the Spaniel, and the Vet. It was very, very peaceful. First he went to sleep – then they gave him the final shot. Yes, it was still hard – but strangely peaceful. Afterwards we all came up to the property where they were building a home and we buried Riley there.

    I know your situation is a bit different, and I’m so sorry about all of this. But I know that you know the safety of your family comes first. It’s hard when a pet is a liability. I had one like that when I was a kid. An Uncle “took care of him”. That was much worse to deal with!

    Reply

  11. Posted by Dan on December 3, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    Please pass on to Doug — I highly recommend “Marley and Me” it is a must read for dog owners. Please check out http://www.marleyandme.com

    Sorry for what you are going thru. King was my buddy too.

    Reply

  12. You did the right thing. When I was a kid, we had a family cat we had to put down due to health issues. It is better for you and better for them. I am sorry for your loss.

    Reply

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