Saying Goodbye Sucks

Recently , we had to put our dog to sleep. It was a REALLY tough day!

I took this picture 2 days before we put him to sleep, not realizing just how sick he really was.

For the past several years, Duke has been suffering from arthritis. It has gotten worse over the past year. In April, I witnessed a day where he couldn’t get up for about 5 minutes. That’s when I brought him in to the vet, and got him put on Carprofen, glucosamine, and fish-oil. It seemed to help for a while. When we’d run out of the Carprofen, and I couldn’t pick it up for a day or two, I could tell he was in pain. It was so sad.

For the past month or so, even on the meds, his arthritis was rapidly getting worse. The weekend before we put him down, I watched him struggling to get up and down the steps to the basement, where his bed and door to his kennel were.

On top of the arthritis, or maybe the cause of it, was the fact that he had Lyme’s Disease 8 years ago when we got him. Every 6-12 months or so, he would have flare ups that have been increasing in frequency over the past couple years. When he would have a flare up, he would get really sick. Occasionally, he would get bladder stones that also made him really sick. He had tumors on several parts of his body. New ones seemed to pop up every couple months… it was time, but it was awful.

This was taken the day we got Duke. He was so skinny.

Duke was almost 12 years old. He was loving and loyal. He didn’t like other dogs very much, but he loved everyone who would take a minute to pet him. It was hard to say goodbye to him. If I thought it was hard for me, it was even harder for my two kids. We got him when their dad and I were getting divorced. Grace was about 9, and Michael was about 5. They loved him from the moment they met him!

The night before we had him put to sleep, we had decided it was time. He was up all night with diarrhea (I literally had to let him out at least once an hour all night long). The morning of, Grace went down to say her goodbyes before school. It broke my heart a little bit to see her crying over him. He just looked up at her, like he knew it was time. She pet him for a few minutes, and then had to go.

Michael wanted to come with to the vet. He wanted to be there for his best buddy when he went to sleep. It was tough, as we both kept crying, trying to comfort each other, but also love up on Duke for the last time. The room they had us in to say goodbye was very comforting. There was a big dog bed on the floor, and a couch with blankets on it. The vet came in and did one last exam. He said Duke’s heart and lungs sounded good, and that he didn’t see any signs of a terminal illness. He mentioned that perhaps he was just really sick, and that with the right medication, we could get him back to normal. THAT WAS THE WORST THING HE COULD HAVE SAID! It tore my heart even a little more to have to stick to my decision. He followed that up with “Well, it really comes down to quality of life, and it’s your decision.” Ugh!!

I knew that if we gave him meds, he might get better. But, in between then and the next 4-6 months when we’d be going through this again, he’d still be in pain. Even with the pain meds and anti-inflammatories, he’d be pacing around the house, because it hurt too much to lay down. I knew we’d still be whimpering in his sleep, because he was hurting. I knew he’d continue to get more and more tumors (fatty tumors or cancer, we’d never have found out). I knew I had to stick with the decision to put him to sleep, but it was not easy!

This picture was taken when he was somewhere between 3 and 4 years old.

It was sad to see him go. He was just sitting between Michael and I. He was panting, and calm. He was enjoying that we were petting him, and that he had gotten to have many treats while we were there. As the vet put the sedative in his IV port, he relaxed. As the other medication went in, his panting slowed down even more, and he just put his head down and went to sleep forever. It was very peaceful, but also so sad.

That night, Michael was crying in his bed. He said he didn’t understand, the vet said Duke was fine. I had to remind him of all the reasons that it wouldn’t have been fair to Duke to keep trying to get him better, only to keep suffering in between getting really sick. I really wish the vet hadn’t said that, especially in front of a 13 year old kid who is trying to figure out how to say goodbye to his best buddy.

Once he started to realize that truth, Michael switched to blaming himself… after they put the IV port in Duke’s leg, they brought him back in to us. They told us to take as long as we wanted, and knock on the door when we were “ready” for them to come give him the medication. Michael paced around the room during that time. He pet Duke, gave him treats, and after 15-20 minutes, he knocked on the door. He said it was his fault, and that he should have waited longer. I told him we could have stayed in there for hours with Duke, and it still wouldn’t have seemed long enough.

We did get an impression of his paw, which sits on Michael’s dresser. I  noticed his leash show up on the dresser one day, and occasionally, it gets moved around, so I know he is still thinking about him. I don’t know if having him come along was the best or worst thing to do, but I wanted to honor his wishes.

Image result for heart with paw printThere are times when I miss Duke that I don’t even realize it. When I was watching Michael get on the bus on the first day of school was one of those days. Usually, Duke would have been right there with me watching him.

When people say pets leave a paw print on our hearts, they are right. Even weeks later, I get sad when I think about our sweet boy. The tears still come sometimes. I will never forget our Duke.






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