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18 yr old dog. Help me help my dh let go.

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

So, this is a really ahrd subject to hit on without sounding like an insensitive animal hater. I am in fact, quite the opposite.  We have my husband's dog, who he has had since what- 9th grade- he got the dog and they suspected he was barely old enough to be fixed. (shelter dog, but appears to be a full bred Bichon Frise.)  


He is now 18 years old.  Every little bit of light and spunk he ever had is completely gone.  He has not been able to walk on his own since the middle of the summer.  He hears, but the vet (in March, mind you) didn't think he could see at all with one eye, and losing vision in the other.  He goes to the bathroom on a puppy pad, becaus ehe cannot get up to go anywhere else.  (For at least a year prior to his complete inability to walk, he would go wherever he was, vet suspected he didnt have the sensation that he was going...)

So, he smells like a dog toilet because he usually doesn't raise himself with his front paws to even partly stand to go.  He gets baths weekly, and had been getting rinsed off with the hose every other day, but its starting to get cold out.  

From what we understand from his last vet visit (in March) aside from his old man issues of incontinence, few teeth, lack of vision and now inability to get up, he has no health problems. He was on Rymadil which helped him walk for a while, but it slowly stopped working as well and gave him diarreha....


I feel horribly insensitive telling him, look, you are going to have to make a decision on this sometime.  But, it's true. I feel selfish not wanting the dog to croak on my watch - and I am home most often - but it is true! I see the poor dog just sitting there, wobbling his head up, half asleep, with his sad black eyes and I just feel like.... poor thing... He can't get up to pee, can't get up to get his own water, just sad. I feellike the poor thing has no quality of life and we are prolonging the inevitable. My dh sees his stubborn grandfathers in this dog- they are both aging and one had trouble walking, cannot see out of one eye, but is still living and ornery.... He sees this in his dog, and I know that is why the dog is still here.  


What should/can I do? I don't know what to do or say that would help him realize it is time to go. I feel for both of em, I know it is hard to say goodbye, but I also know that sitting in your own stink until someone can change you and not bieng able to get up (or see) to get water when you want it.. it is not living. oh what to do!

Has anyone been i this place before?

post #2 of 13



That sounds so sad, poor pup! Is the dog in pain? If not, as hard as it is, I would probably let DH hang on to him a while longer, since it sounds like he represents his grandfather to some degree. You could rinse him in the shower now that it's getting cold out. If he is in constant pain, I would probably work more actively to help DH be okay with putting him down. 


Either way, you're absolutely right that he doesn't have much quality of life right now, and I'm sure it's very hard for you to see him struggle day after day -- I'm sorry. greensad.gif

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

I can't tell if he is in pain or not. :(

He was, before he was on the Rymadil, panting constantly, now I am unsure if he really can feel his back end much at all TO feel the pain, as when dh tries to "help" him stand, he leans to one side and falls on his bum pretty quickly.


I would wash him off, as it is me who's nose is most offended (Im 14wk pg) LOL, but honestly, changing his pee pad makes me dry heave now and then, cannot see carrying him upstairs to rinse... I wonder if he would tolerate the kitchen sink..... 


Another caveat is that we are driving a good 15 hours for Thanskgiving to visit family...in our van we just got a couple weeks ago.... I cannot imagine making the trip with him! :?

post #4 of 13
That sounds so hard.

I agree that pain is a big consideration (not the only), but it isn't always easy to tell. I have 13 an 14 yr old dogs and one of them is very communicative about any pain or discomfort, but the other would never let us know. I think he has got to be uncomfortable if he's peeing on himself, though. My older dog is incontinent (controlled by meds) and I swear she looks unhappy when she's peed. Anyway, I don't think thre's a right time in this kind of situation. It sounds to me like your heart is in the right place.

I don't have any words of wisdom, but just wanted to empathize w both you and your dh. It is so hard watching your dog get old. I hope things end peacefully.
post #5 of 13

(((Hugs))) i hear you.


i have a couple of friends in your situation. over a dog i am attached to deeply coz i housesit him quite often.


he IS in pain and gets painpills sometimes.


however all 3 of us see him havign the will to live through all his age old symptoms. but the wife also sees a life of misery.


its such a hard decision for both of them.


through his painful arthiritis, collapsing legs, incontinence in teh house, blindness and deafness - Marty still has a desire to live. that is apparent. which makes the decision easy on the dh but hard on the dw because of the pain factor.


i myself am really torn on this - because i have taken care of quite a few family members on hospice. and except for one, even through their pain and difficuluties they all wanted to live and not move to oregon. seeing them willing to live through the pain makes it really hard for me to make that decision about the animal.


however having said that - there is a cat who should be put to sleep - you can intuitively tell - but my friend just cant. do. it. even though all 3 vets have told her the same thing. instead she chooses to give her cat morphine.


so i would say just support your dh. i am sure he KNOWS very clearly your wishes. just empathise with him. when he is ready he will make the decision and he will know where you stand on that.

post #6 of 13

Oh boy, I have been in your shoes.  And will be again in the not to distant future.


We had an elderly cat that we kept alive for too long.  This was our "fur baby" in every sense of the baby word.  I remember the day the vet figuratively shook my by the shoulders and told me we needed to consider putting her down.  (She is a wonderful vet, she was doing her job)


My DH absolutely refused to even discuss it.  In his mind, the next treatment was going to be the magic pill to cure all her ills.  I was a little more rational but we still let things go on way too long and even years later, it makes me very sad that we prolonged her suffering because of our weakness.


From what you descripe, it sounds like your dog has a very poor quality of life. 


With a great deal of empathy, I would first tell your DH that he needs to handle all doggie duties - all clean ups, all care.  Play the pregnancy card if you need to do so. 


The vet gave me a check list of things to observe and consider evaluating as it relates to the pets quality of life.  I wish I still had to scan and post but DG threw it out as soon the moment we returned from the vet that last day.  I am sure you could google end-of-pet-life topics and find something similar.  It contained a long list of things like whether or not the pet could walk without assistant, eliminate their bowels standing up, wags or shows happinesses, seeks affection, etc.  Anyway, if you can find something similar (ask your vet?) maybe you could gently hand it over to your DH and let him look at it on his own.


Your family is allowing you to bring this dog to spend the night? 


Morphine will make doggie comfortable, it is a pain killer that also slows all body systems down.  Your vet can give it to you in liquid form to be administered orally.  If doggie can't get up, how is he taking in food/water?  Would your DH consider starting an end-of-life treatment such as no more assisted feedings plus morphine to make him comfortable? 


Something I learned with our cat is that vets don't expect you to stay for the procedure.  For some reason, I thought we would need to stay and I was so unwilling to face that event that it clouded my thinking.  We said our goodbyes and the tech took her away. 

post #7 of 13

Oh golly, I so sympathize.  We're in a similar situation with my dad and my dog, though not to the same degree.


OP, was your dh at the last vet appointment in March?  Maybe it's time for another vet appointment, and he needs to be there with you. 


I completely agree with Caneel: tell your DH that he needs to handle all doggie duties - all clean ups, all care. Play the pregnancy card if you need to do so.  That's a lot of work for a pregnant gal.




Edited to add, maybe we're insensitive people.  We're moving, and finding a rental is made more difficult and expensive because of the dog.  Dh and I have laughed ruefully that it would be very convenient if our old guy would pass away in the next month.  I don't see it happening. He's 15 y.o and getting incontinent, but it isn't out of control yet.  He's got laryngeal paralysis, which makes it difficult but not impossible to eat.  He's got cataracts but isn't completely blind. He's stumbling but (with difficulty) can still get up and trot.  He still acts perky at meal time. If he declines to the point we have to put him down I'm going to be a sobbing, wet mess.  If he dies in his sleep, like of course I hope for him,  I'm going to cry and be very relieved.

post #8 of 13
Originally Posted by journeymom View Post

Edited to add, maybe we're insensitive people.  We're moving, and finding a rental is made more difficult and expensive because of the dog.  Dh and I have laughed ruefully that it would be very convenient if our old guy would pass away in the next month.


When we started the process of selling our old house, DH and I would talk about how tough it would be to keep it show-ready with a highly shedding yellow lab, and then she died unexpectedly the week before we started showing the house (she was 6 and perfectly fit and healthy -- she collapsed while we were playing fetch with her). It made the selling process and the move much easier, but I would have given anything to have had to sweep up her piles and piles of fluffy yellow hair. greensad.gif


ETA: This totally isn't a guilt-trip directed towards you -- I completely understand the wry, dark-sense-of-humor intent of your post -- it just triggered that memory for me. Good luck with your move -- that process is a pain! 

post #9 of 13

Lol! I get it, Limabean.  And I'm so sorry, it must have hurt especially bad that she died suddenly. 

post #10 of 13

The dog needs to be seen by the vet again.  I would call and make an appointment and talk to the vet beforehand (explaing the situation and your dh's feelings). 


Let the vet talk to both of you about this.  They are very helpful in putting things into perspective and helping with your worries (and, guilt).


I feel that we, as owners and close family members for our pets have to do what is right for the animal.  It is our moral obligation to our beloved fur family.  The animal looks to us to help it and to make sure that pain stops and the hurt is over. 


When both of dogs time came, we were there with them to the end, petting them and loving them.  Personally, I could never walk away from my animal at that time, in particular!  Our vet came over to the house, both times (on one, he missed his son's championship soccer game) to give the final injection.  He was incredibly gentle and it didn't hurt our dogs.  And, they were in familiar surroundings, not an office they knew and didn't really like!


There was no hurry in getting the dog out of an office or driving them home.  They were already there.  We could take our time to say goodbye and love you.  It made the burial easier, too.


Hugs to both of you, it isn't easy.  But, please, think of the pet's life and what it is going through.


It really must be about quality, NOT quantity....

post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 

I will look into the "Quality of life" stuff online. I feel like I am harping on the subject every day. DH does 99% of doggie duties. I change his pad during the day as I am here to do so.  He only weighs like 15lb so that in itself is nto a big deal (it is the smell!!!!)


I think dh looked into quality of life stuff a while back actually, and he rationalized that the dog was eating and leans into you when pet, seeks affection, therefore the dog was "OK".....


I agree a visit to the vet might be a good move but I think dh would feel like "if I take him to the vet, he isnt coming back" 


As far as how the dog eats and drinks- dh puts a food bowl in front of him, and he eats it up no problem, propped on his front legs.  


Journey, no, neither DH or I were there for that appointment. His mom took the dog to see if he could be medicated and to get a sort of status report.  


Lots to think about... 

post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 

OK, I found this:



PAIN- dog is nto showing outward signs of pain, he was earlier in the year, panting, but not now.

APPETITE- When presented with food he maws it down like nobodys business. same with water.

INCONTINENCE- um, yeah. And he does not seem to care much when he pees or poos himself.

MOBILITY- Can sit up on his own but cannot go anywhere.

HAPPINESS- I personally feel like he is a sad, sad boy. He does like an ear rub, and seems to enjoy that, but otherwise his eyes say sad.



post #13 of 13

How about just calling your vet to talk about it?  I'm sure you are not the first 1/2 of a partnership who felt an animal's time had come when the other 1/2 is holding out?  Get some ideas?  It's hard to let go...


Best wishes,


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