Sadly I have spent some time during the last week thinking about when to put our dog to sleep.
I mentioned in a previous post that Bailey our standard poodle was diagnosed with lymphoma, even though he just turned 6 this September. Unfortunately the cancer is growing really fast and we have been faced with the looming question of when will we need to put him down.
Two weeks ago he had started growling in his sleep and acting aggressive so we thought the cancer had traveled to his brain. We took him to the vet anticipating that he would need to be put down right then, but the doctor said it was the high dose of steroids we were using to fight the cancer that was causing the behavior problems not the cancer. That was a huge relief but as a result we had to take him off the steroids immediately and within a week the tumors in his neck doubled in size, which is horrible. Each tumor is now the size of a tennis ball.
While I was away with Tiara in the hospital he developed a limp and had an accident in the house. Louie and I got really scared and weren’t sure what to do. I wasn’t home to see him myself so Louie and I face timed so I could see how he looked. Gotta love technology. He looked like the dog I love but with a saggier coat, no shine in his hair and a really bad limp. Lou decided he would take Bailey back to the vet that day and get his opinion. I started researching vets that would come to our home to put him down while Lou was taking him to our regular vet. The vet said he only had 1 week to 1 month to live. That was last Thursday.
I begged Lou to come to the hospital and stay the night with TT so I could go home to see Bailey just in case Tiara remained in the hospital indefinitely. I needed to spend some time with Bailey since he considers me his primary master and I hadn’t been home in 6 days and he needed me. I know he doesn’t eat or sleep well while I am gone, so I wanted to give him a little break by coming home for the night and let him know I cared and knew he was feeling bad.
As soon as I saw him I noticed he smelled really different, like a sick person and was limping while trying to greet me and do his circle dance. He spins in circles around you when you walk into the house. I used to think it was funny and annoying and now I just feel sad and want to cry thinking about it. Back to what the vet said. The doctor told Lou ” you will know when it is time to put him down.”
Really, how will I know for sure? The doctor always tells you before your baby is born, you will know when it is time, but guess what people I never knew. I showed up at the hospital for lots of false starts and then almost waited too long several times. Life and death seem so uncertain at times. I watched my grandparents die and each time I was always surprised when it finally happened. You prepare yourself as much as you can and when you finally think someone can’t survive another breath, they continue to breath for another day. The human spirit is beyond comprehension.
The problem is that with animals, we have to choose when it is time for them to pass in order to avoid unnecessary suffering. What if we put him down before he is ready. What if he would rather suffer and die naturally than be put down. He can’t tell me, so I don’t know what he wants. I can look into his eyes and see he doesn’t feel well, but we all feel sick at times. Do you think he knows he is dying or does he just think he is sick and hopes to get better. Sadly, I think he knows the truth and I don’t know how I will find the strength to make that final call to the vet.
As I watched Tiara breath with the help of a ventilator mask last week I wondered how many more hospital illnesses her body could endure? She is stronger than anyone I know but when the nurse told me how bad her veins looked I got really scared. The thought of my child dying is more than I can bear to think about so I will stop thinking about it until the next big seizure happens or the next emergency trip to the hospital occurs when I am confronted with this unconscionable thought once again.
But what about Bailey? Will I really know when it is time for him to leave our family? Will he tell me somehow? I pray Lou and I will know and make the right decision for him.
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