Girls Write Out
Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Today's post is a hard one. I apologize if it's too much of a downer, but I need your advice.

You've heard me talk about our deaf and blind shih tzu before. She'll be 16 this year and she's not doing well at all. She's had a couple of strokes in the last year that's left her "altered". Her manners are a thing of the past, she can't see, she can't hear, she's frail and not eating much. About all she has going for her is a sense of smell.  Occasionally, she will whine when trying to get comfortable at night, but for the most part, she doesn't act as though she's in pain.

I talked with the vet's office about our options. It's such a hard decision. Have any of you ever made the decision to put your animal to sleep? How did you come to that decision?  I certainly don't want Nocchi to suffer, but I don't want to put her down too early, either. The vet said we all want our animals to die naturally, but the truth is 99% of us have to put them to sleep.

Any words of wisdom that you can give me before we make our decision would be greatly appreciated. By the way, the dog in the picture is not our dog. I couldn't bring myself to put her picture up there.
Diann Hunt  
posted at 11:54 PM  
  Comments (31)
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At 12:30 AM, Blogger MarySnyder-Joy Filled Life said...


My heart hurts for you. We had a precious shepherd mix, April, who we had to put down. It sounds much like your story -- she had a stroke and after an intitial rally, she just starting going downhill. It got to the point that I had to pick her up to carry her outside because she could barely stand. She wasn't in severe pain, but she was going down fast.

It wasn't an easy decision -- we didn't want to do it, but we really felt it was the best we could do for this precious pet who loved us and our little girls with a fierce devotion.

I stood by her during the procedure (my sweet man just couldn't do it, he was too heart broken). It was peaceful -- they gave her a setative and I just talked to her and petted her -- and she drifted to sleep. I cry just thinking about it. We still miss her and it's been 12 years.

My heart aches for you, it's not an easy decision to make/


At 1:11 AM, Blogger Kristin said...

Oh I'm so sorry, Di. I can't think of any advice but I will tell you that my dad waited too long, and his baby was chased by a deer into the street and all these strangers were around her while she suffered. Oh that's a horrible story, but my dad -- well you can't even say Sneaker's name. I'm so sorry, it's never going to be easy. My dad would have never made the "decision" though.

At 1:30 AM, Blogger Annie said...

oh Diann, that is so hard! When I was 17, we had to put our dog, Max, a cairn down. He was 2 years old when we got him, when i was 5. he was the only dog i ever knew! He had a very rare disease that happens like, 1 in 500,000 dogs, where his body literally began rejecting his skin. We just thought he had dry skin, which is common in Cairns, but no. Rare disease. He began getting scabs everywhere and losing hair and he was in a ton of pain. so finally, when he was listless, not eating, and he jsut didn't look good, my parents decided that we had to say goodbye. It was so hard. Max was a constant companion to my dad when he was going through his epilepsy and not driving and the death of my grandpa. There's definitely something to be said about the man-dog connection. It's never an easy decision, because dogs are not only our pets, they're family.

My prayers are with you and your family as you figure out what decision to make. Lots of love.

At 2:43 AM, Blogger Anna Marie said...

Oh, how I feel for you!
Just yesterday my sweetheart cat Sugar was hit and killed by a car. My mom and I cried all day. Sugar was one of the sweetest cats in the world, and we miss her.
I'll be praying for you and your fur baby, I know how heartbroken you are. :(

At 4:06 AM, Blogger Sally said...

Right after I graduated from college, my mom had to make the decision to put down our mini schnauzer who was 17. He was the only dog I'd had up to that point, and he was SO much a part of our family.

But, he was old, and deaf and blind, and he started having problems getting out of his bed. This all happened right after my sister moved out - she was the last kid to leave the nest, so it was extra hard on mom and dad -- but, it was the right decision for Schroeder.

We cried like we lost a sibling, but we were so thankful he wasn't in pain anymore. And I would much rather say goodbye that way than the way hubby and I had to say goodbye to the dog we had when we got married -- when we got out and was hit by a car.

I pray for comfort for you, and the strength to make your decision.

At 6:57 AM, Blogger Ausjenny said...

I feel for you also. its just 3 years since we had to put Horse (my cat) down. I came back from a few days in the city and she was one sick cat. she had started showing signs for a bit before hand. When i got home she was really sick and I had to take her to the vet. She did some tests but she had bad Kidney disease with some of the emzines the highest they had seen. For Horses sake the only thing to do was put her to sleep as she was so sick and it was the kindest thing to do. It was Hard but I aprreciated having time to say goodbye.

At 9:19 AM, Blogger Valerie said...


I don't envy your decision at all. Personally, I don't know if I could go through having to put my doggie to sleep.

My sweet one, Smokey, was 12 when he died. He was THE BEST dog in the whole entire universe. (At least my universe...) My family and I went on vacation in Maine and left him with our dear friends who always "dog sat" when we went away. They woke up one morning and Smokey was lying at the front door landing. He had died in his sleep.

That was one of the worst phone calls we ever got. I miss that cute, little, black poodle to this day and it will 16 years this August... We never got another dog.

I will be thinking of you and your family, Diann.

At 9:27 AM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

It's sure hard, Di. When we had to put down Kara's dog Harley, the inspiration for Samson, it was the hardest day ever. We still miss him but he was in pain from bone cancer.

It's a decision you have to make on your own though. No one else will know when the time has come.

At 9:40 AM, Blogger Shelley said...

Hi Diann.

How sad; it breaks my heart just to think of the pain you are going through.

Yes, I have had to put a dog down and it's difficult. We had her for 11 years, but she was suffering and I knew it was the best thing for her. I feel at peace about the whole situation five years later. For me, it was the right thing to do. I couldn't bear the suffering.

If you decide to go this route, God will give you the strength. You know, my dad is in your situation now with a 16-year-old Shih-Tsu. They must have extremely long lives. Like you, he doesn't want to let the dog go. Really, it's an individual choice. The way I look at it is if the dog is suffering, then we are being selfish by choosing to let the dog suffer just so we can still have the pet.

On a side note...we got two more pups afterward and the new pups really eased the pain. I strongly recommend getting another dog as soon as possible after yours is gone. I think they sense the grief we are feeling and love us all the more.

I will be praying for you and your dog.


At 9:45 AM, Blogger Becky said...

Yes, Diann, I've done 3 in the last 2 years. Our 14-year-old shih-tzu had to be put down last summer. She was blind, no energy, and started making puddles in the house. She looked and acted miserable. We were to take a trip and didn't have the heart to send her to the babysitter that way.

It is a hard choice, but the most humane.

I thought my mom and I would be dogless after the shih-tzu went, but within two months I had bought my Maltepoo puppy. There is a lot of difference between an elderly dog and puppy, so be warned.

At 10:06 AM, Blogger Diann Hunt said...

Thanks for all your comments. Seems like it's something many of us have to go through. It is so hard! Every time I think I'll do it, I cuddle her and just can hardly bare to let go.

Anna Marie, I'm so sorry about your cat!!! I'll be praying for you and your mom!

Thank you, Becky, for your comment. That's exactly how Nocchi is acting! Puddles everywhere, right in front of us. I'm not sure if she just doesn't know where she is or just doesn't have control anymore. It's so sad.

At 10:28 AM, Blogger Kay Day said...

It's a difficult part of pet ownership. One of my childhood dogs had to be put down. She was critically ill, though. Heart worm or something.
I can't even keep track of how many animals my mom has had to take to the vet to be "put to sleep".
My aunt had to have her pony put down as well as several other animals.
I haven't had to make the decision myself. I can only imagine how difficult it is. Beth Moore recently lost both of her dogs. It's on her blog.

I say, just pray about it. God cares about all of His creatures and I trust He will give you wisdom.
I feel for you.

At 10:52 AM, Blogger Tina said...

Diann, I'm saying a prayer for you.

At 11:52 AM, Blogger Tiff (Amber Miller) Stockton said...

Ohhh, Di. *hugs* I was right where you are just last year. The end of February, to be exact. Our black lab had been with us for 15-1/2 years and that's almost unheard of for large breeds.

But he was nearly blind, deaf and like your little one, left with his sense of smell. He'd broken his hip when he was 11 and had surgery that allowed him to live longer. The surgeon and vet said if he put him down, we'd be ending his life prematurely.

So, we kept him. And SO glad we did.

We'd decided as a family a long time prior that if Duke got to the point where he could no longer get up himself to go to the bathroom (and we'd created a no-step path for him), we had to say goodbye.

It's more about quality of life than quantity. You don't want your dog to suffer unnecessarily. And dogs are so fiercely loyal, they'll hang on just for you. It's not an easy decision, and as others have said, no one can make it for you.

I know one thing, though. I'm glad we were there with him to know he went peacefully and was no longer in pain. And we hadn't planned this but went home that day with a new golden lab who seemed to know we needed loving and comfort. She provided it in spades!

16 years is a good number. Sometimes you have to do what's best for them, even though you'll feel the loss greatly.

At 12:37 PM, Blogger Chelf said...

Dear friend, my heart hurts for you to have to make a decision. I had to put our first "couple" pet down a few years ago. Our cat, Medford, had kidney failure, and he was only 3 years old (the Dr. said it was an 'old' cat problem). There were signs that I totally missed; I thought they were behavior, not health, related.

We had been giving him fluids by needle for a day or two, but that seemed to hurt him more. I just couldn't bear to look at those sad eyes anymore. He was in so much pain, and could do nothing. He even lost his voice.

I couldn't do it without crying, because it was like losing a child. I know people are cynical about other people's pets... but this was MY baby. I have no children, and this was the cute fluff that brightened my life for 3 years.

We had gotten two kittens about a year before he died, and Mystic, the girl, would not let me touch her at all, for fear I would put HER in a box, take her out of the house, and she would never come back. I cried for her loss as well as my own. Marvel, the baby and another boy, wasted no time moving into the Alpha male spot, and doing all the things he saw Medford doing to comfort us. He was always a cuddle-bug, but was much more so for about a month.

This decision will not come easy. I ask you to consider a few things. 1. This is an animal, and it has no soul. You are not a murderer if you put it down. 2. The quality of life must be weighed against the quality of the living. Yes, your baby is valuable and part of your family, but is the dog living well? 3. Maybe she doesn't whine, but is she in obvious pain? 4. What do the Vets recommend? Can anything be done to extend and improve her life? They can't tell you to put her down directly, unless she is already on the brink of death. Consider the value/cost/pain of what can be done.

Ultimately, your family has to decide, or nature will take its course. As a pet lover, I would beg that you put her down before she gets to the point of dying. It is truly merciful. Then, be grateful for the opportunity to say your goodbyes. Stay in the room with her if you can when the time comes. I think it helps in your healing to know that she was just asleep, and it ended her pain.

I am praying for you now.

At 2:39 PM, Blogger Ane Mulligan said...

All I can tell you, Di, is to watch her carefully. When our rotty got to where he couldn't walk well and couldn't go to the bathroom, we knew it was time. His hips has disinigrated and he was in seom pain. But still my husband and son couldn't let go. They wanted to see if he could get better. We gave him baby aspirin and watched.

That last weekend nearly killed me watching that poor dog lay in the garage in the heat. We couldn't let him in the house because he couldn't control his ... well you know.

So the poor thing spent his last couple of days in exile. It still bothers me and it was nearly 2 1/2 years ago.

When we did take him in, he layed with his head in my husband's lap and simple closed his eyes. The vet used a very gentle injection. Bear never jerked or spasmed or anything. He simply closed his eyes and was gone.

My husband felt so bad that he had worried over it and hadn't done it a few days earlier. That way, Bear's last days would have been in the house with us and not in exile in the heat.

So just keep a close eye on Nocchi, and if she seems to worsen, take her. It's much kinder.

At 2:50 PM, Blogger Rachel Overton said...

Our 18-year-old Himalayan, Knox, died last month. He just decided to quit, I think. He was old and showing his age, but he could still slap the dog around if he had to. Then one day, he just quit. The vet said that happens sometimes. Sometimes they'll get going again, and sometimes they won't. We decided to wait, and I wish we wouldn't have. He died while we were sleeping, and when we found him, there was blood everywhere--mouth, nose. He looked like he had just laid down, not been in pain, but I don't know. I wish I could have made it peaceful for sure.

That's my story. It's really hard to know what to do and not second-guess yourself later. We still miss him and still do doubletakes when we see something white that's out of place in the house.

I swear he jumped up on my desk the other day. I saw something move out of the corner of my eye and turned to see him...but, of course, it wasn't him. He used to come sit on my work if I stayed in my office too long.

Memories are bittersweet, but I wouldn't trade them for the world.


At 5:24 PM, Blogger Kayla said...

My aunt and uncle had a shih tzu, Gidget. She lived to be pretty old, but became nearly deaf and blind and has some infections in her ears that lasted for years. She stopped putting forth effort to do much of anything, and it was really, really sad to see her stand in front of the step outside trying to muster up the strength to climb up one step. They ended up putting her to sleep, and it was probably the best thing for her. She didn't seem to be in pain, but she wasn't enjoying life, either, and it was becoming so much of a hardship on my uncle to take care of her that they had to decide to put her down. It wasn't that she wasn't worth the care, but she was so old and her body was beaten down that you could tell she really didn't care that much, either. Anyway, if you make the decision, we won't think you're a bad person...and I'm pretty sure that the dog won't, either.

At 6:51 PM, Blogger Diann Hunt said...

You all are amazingly supportive and a wealth of information. Thank you so much for your comments. We'll be deciding this weekend what we're going to do, but I think we pretty much know what has to be done. It's just a matter of doing it. Sigh.

At 6:59 PM, Blogger Karla Akins said...

Big hugs to you. I love my dogs. It is so hard to say good-bye. You will know in your heart when it's the right time. When she isn't enjoying life anymore, then it's time. When she doesn't wag her tail or get excited about anything -- it's time. Prayers for you going up, dear writer friend.

At 9:14 PM, Blogger Megan DiMaria said...

I'm sorry you have this heartbreaking decision. I can't really help, other than to pray for peace and understanding. I'm probably not far behind you in this experience, Diann, my Jack Russell Terrier is 15 this month.

A prisoner of hope,

At 9:29 PM, Blogger Crystal Laine Miller said...

I've taken my dog to the vet to do it, but I had friends who had the vet come to their house, and they buried Chevy, their great yellow lab, in their woods. I thought that was really great. The whole family took him outside where he loved to be, petted him as the vet administered the shot.

I love dogs and there is no easy way to do this. My husband who deals with death with people on a daily basis told me one time, "Crystal, you don't have to do it." I don't know why, but that comforted me the most. I didn't have to be the one to put my dog to sleep, but I could be there in her last moments.

And God sees the little sparrow fall, and hurts for you and your great compassion.

God gave us a great gift in our pets--companions who love you unconditionally (well, and for the my Lizzie) and people who don't have that experience miss something in life.

I'm praying for you, Di.

At 9:57 PM, Blogger Pam Meyers said...

Oh, man, all these posts are making me cry.

Two and a half years ago I had to put my cat, Max, down. He suddenly came down with Kidney disease. Actually I guess it had been creeping up for a while, but he masked it very well.

One day I came home from a movie and noticed he looked unwell. By the next day he was even worse. Of course, it was Sunday, so I had to wait until Monday to call the vet. I took him in and she drew blood and said he was dehydrated. He got an IV to hydrate himself.

I brought him home and he slept all day. I just knew it was the end for him. The next morning the vet told me about the kidney disease and said he was so far along with it nothing would help. An hour later I took him to the vet's office and held him as she injected his paw. He never moved just slipped away. I'm crying now as I type this.

I came home and told his sister it was her and me now and she went, "Yippee. Now I'm Queen." She hasn't stopped yet. I live with a very bossy cat LOL.

At 12:08 PM, Blogger Robin Lee Hatcher said...

Diann, I have had to make this decision way too many times over the years. I think 5 times. Maybe 6. I made Sugar (my childhood pal who then helped me raise my children) live a year sooner than I should have. She was in pain and was deaf and her legs would give out on her. But I couldn't bear to part with her. I was selfish. But the day came when I realized I couldn't watch her suffer any more.

I've cried buckets over my lost pets, but I haven't been sorry that they were no longer in pain. That has helped me make the decision and live with the hole in my life.


At 9:26 AM, Blogger Mary said...

I am so sorry. This kind of decision is never easy and my heart aches for you. Doing what is best for our dear pets is what's important. It would be easier to just keep them around, though they may not be able to even move.

I know you will prayerfully do what is right for your little dog. We cried for weeks, every time we thought about Bitsy. Even now, eight years later it can bring tears to my eyes. But she had a tumor, was in pain, couldn't even walk to her food dish and we knew it was the best thing for her.

I can just see her running around in heaven with all our other pets. :-)

Praying for you dear sister.

At 10:40 AM, Blogger Margo Carmichael said...

Oh, I hurt for you. I've been there several times.

The good news is, I believe we'll see our pets in heaven. The Bible says "creation waits." I take that literally. My belief is that pets are like a class of angels. Why not? Look at the strange and wonderful critters in the Bible! Our pets don't sin, they just serve us and God by giving us love and give us pleasure, and then go to heaven. I'm convinced.

However, I was in Tokyo and saw only cars crossing that Rainbow Bridge, LOL

I had to stop reading the comments. I feel for you. I've been there several times.

I hated to give them up, but I felt like Shelley here, and didn't want to be selfish keeping them suffering in their misery just so I could enjoy them.

I figure that finally, *love lets go.*

Our little Shih Tsu was going blind and hard of hearing and when he cried out and his back leg went stiff, we knew we had to let him go. So we took him to the vet and stayed with him while he left this world.

The assistant brought me scissors and I clipped the plume of his tail and brought it home. I don't even know where it is at the moment, I can't look at it.

He would walk down the hall and bump into one of those springy little doorstops and it would go boiiiiing. Now, any time one of us does the same, I remember him.

We just got a new puppy. We have a second dog who was used to his playmate. When Jocko died, I asked the other dog, "Do you miss Jocko?" The ears went up and it hurt my heart and I said, "Whoa, I'll never ask him that again."

So we got him another. It's hard to think about it now, but there are many other wonderful dogs out there waiting to bless you.

Sending you hugs and blessings.

At 1:02 AM, Blogger Rhonda/WA state said...

I've been away on vacation. I'm so sorry that you're having to go through this.

I haven't had to experience this yet. I'm afraid we may though. Our dog is having problems with both her eyes and ears. Allergies are taking a toll on her too.

I'll pray that God will give you a peace with whatever decision you make.

At 6:48 PM, Blogger Diann Hunt said...

This has been a horrible day. We put our precious Nocchi down after 15-1/2 years of being together. I knew it would be hard, but I had NO IDEA how hard. We've never put an animal to sleep before and I just feel horrible, like I've betrayed her somehow. I know we did the right thing by her and I'll get past this, but right now, it's very, very hard. I've cried buckets today.

Thank you so much for your warm words, thoughts, and prayers. I feel guilty grieving so much over our dog when some people are facing much harder things right now, but she was my shadow 24/7 and it will take me some time to work through this.

One thing I know, I will never forget her.

At 7:07 PM, Blogger Karla Akins said...

Oh, Diann, I am sending you gentle hugs tonight. Don't feel bad that you are grieving. Dogs are such special little fur people in our lives -- 15 1/2 years is a long, long time to have a friend and then loose them! I have 4 fur babies. They are just precious to me, and I have been where you are now. There's absolutely nothing I can say to make it better. Let yourself grieve. Be patient with yourself.

I always remember the story in the bible when David was confronted by the prophet Nathan and he told the story about the little lamb that was taken from someone and taken away and killed. David was furious over that! That story shows us that even the great King David understood the love of a master for his fur child. Loving our animals is the way God made us. (2 Sam. 12:1-6) G

God knows how much you loved that little fur person. He knows how much it hurts. Let the tears flow and let yourself remember how precious your little friend was to you! Dig out the pictures and light a candle and let the healing begin dear one. You are precious and your heart matters.

At 12:19 AM, Blogger Rhonda/WA state said...

Diann, you know, these little critters are so special to us. What you're feeling is real. Don't try to discount it. Yes, others are having hard times but what you're feeling is almost like losing a family member.

There are no words to make it easier. Just know that we're all sending you hugs and we care about ya.

You're in my prayers tonight.

At 11:39 PM, Blogger Margo Carmichael said...

Sending big hugs to you, (((Diann))).


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The Authors
Kristin Billerbeck
Kristin Billerbeck is a proud Californian, wife, mother of four, and connoisseur of the irrelevant. She writes Christian Chick Lit; where she finds need for most of the useless facts lulling about in her head.

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind--usually a dog--always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles.

Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter writes women's fiction and love stories with a strong emotional element. Her husband says he provides her with all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too.

Diann Hunt

Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women's fiction. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate.

Hannah Alexander

Cheryl Hodde writes romantic medical suspense under the pen name of Hannah Alexander, using all the input she can get from her husband, Mel, for the medical expertise. For fun she hikes and reads. Out of guilt, she rescues discarded cats. She and Mel are presently taking orders from four pampered strays.

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