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Burying dogs safely?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
To make a long story short, we are planning to euthanize two of our dogs this week. : Both of them are quite elderly and have serious health problems. In fact, we had no idea they would ever live this long, they have stunned everyone with their longevity in the face of illness.

But now that this day has come, I have some practical issues regarding disposing of their bodies. In the past, we paid $175 each to individually cremate our pets, or we buried small pets, like cats, in our yard. We no longer have the money where we could afford to pay $350 to cremate our two dogs. So that is out.

My concern is that our kids will be playing in the yard and I am concerned about burying two dogs (one forty pounds, one twenty pounds) where they play. Is this an OK thing to do, or is there a safer way to bury dogs?

We have had a few "fire drills" where we thought each of the dogs were going to die at different times over the past few years so we are OK on advice for helping the kids with the concept of death, our own grief, and so forth -- but please, if you have any suggestions at all on those issues, feel totally free to speak up, I am always open to learning.

We are firm on our decision to euthanize these dogs, though, my only regret is that we should have done it sooner, because these are sweet old dogs who deserve not to suffer in their last days. I know I sound cold and distant, but these are my favorite dogs ever (why is it always the sweetest dogs who die, and the obnoxious aggressive dogs that seem to live forever?). I guess I'm still in denial that this is really it, since the first time we thought one of them was going to die was five years ago before my children were even born.
post #2 of 17

I'm sorry.
To answer your question, ideally you need to put them 6' underground.
There are 2 dogs buried on our farm that are only 4' down but we're basically on rock and that was as deep as the tractor could get.
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
Ok, thank you, that is helpful. We can only get about a foot before we hit solid rock, and my dh spent two entire days with a pickaxe to get two feet down to bury a cat about ten years ago. So I am pretty sure that we cannot get more than a couple of feet deep.
post #4 of 17
I'm sorry about your dogs. HUGS.

Growing up, we had several pets die, and my parents buried all the animals on our property. Since they have lived in their house, they have had 3 dogs die ( they were all on the smaller side 20-30 lbs or so), and they all were buried on the property. I am pretty sure that they didn't bury them 6 feet deep, the ground is really rocky and my father just used a shovel. I think they just buried them as deep as they could, either 1) underneath a tree or 2) next to the stone wall. There is another tree where almost all our other smaller pets were buried (rabbits, hamsters, guiniea pig, parakeet, cat).
post #5 of 17
I am sorry that the time has come to do this. No matter what brings one to that day, it's still hard.

Is the concern of depth that the pet could, uh, surface? When Tess was hit by a car two years ago, my dad dug as deep as he could with a shovel and then we buried her there, between a birdhouse and tree that they sit in (because she loved birds). It's in the long grass and not where anyone walks or plays, but I would be horrified if that wasn't deep enough.
post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
I cant believe this, but my husband is backing out. He said one of them wagged her tail today and appeared happy. One happy moment in weeks of suffering is not enough for me. These are my favorite dogs, they deserve some peace.

I cannot take both of my daughters and two disabled dogs to the vet by myself to have them euthanized. Also, I feel uncomfortable doing it when he has such serious reservations.
post #7 of 17

I am so sad for you.
My neighbor is facing a similar issue and is just so happy that her dog has the warm summer sun to enjoy for her last days. It's always better to help them leave before the quality of life has degraded too far. I'm so sorry for your pets and so sorry about your husband's issues.
post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 
It is so hard to do this in the first place. I have no doubt about whether it is time. It is long past time. I do not want to take the kids with me to do this, and he is unwilling to care for them so I can go do it -- and that's about it for my childcare options right now until the girls' preschool starts in a month. I don't want them to suffer for another month. But I want to be with these dogs when they die. I don't want to drop them off at the vet's. I may have to call one of those vets who makes house calls and face my husband's grief. He loves dogs and has trouble letting them go. He claims these are not his favorites, but how could they not be? These dogs are love in dog form.
post #9 of 17
So sorry for all youre going through!!! :
You may have done this already, but can you sit/go for a walk with your DH and tell him everything youre thinking? Explain how much you love the dogs and how much he obviously loves them and that its the right time for them to leave. Explain about denial being a step of grief that he needs to accept. Maybe have your vet speak to him? I agree that it would be insensitive to do it without his knowledge, but those poor pups.... I totally agree with wanting to be there with the dogs, however that has to happen. Maybe he wants to be with them as well? Other than the general upsetting atmosphere, what are your reasons for not wanting to have your DCs with you when the dogs finally pass? It can be a very special time of remembrance and love. But, if nothing else, calling a housecall vet might be a good idea.
Wishing your family peace and understanding -
post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
I have tried. He says they might "rally" again. But to me, every other time, they rallied after only a day or two of being down. Both of these dogs are technically "my" dogs, since I brought them into the marriage and we have always treated them as primarily mine. (we used to have nine dogs, so we sort of divvied up the care responsibilities that way before we had children). But the emotional reality is that he cares for these dogs in a very deep way and he has done most of the dog care since our first daughter was born nearly five years ago. Otherwise, I would have had these dogs euthanized several months ago when my sister came to town.
post #11 of 17
Maybe ask him how he would prefer they died? In pain and unable to tell you or quickly and peacefully? Since they are older dogs it seems that it will happen sooner rather than later. We all want to hold on to our loved ones, I know its hard.
Have you tried taking him, your DCs and your dogs to the vet, for an opinion and Q & A only? He may have some fears hes unable to express to you.
post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 
I have been talking with him about this for almost a year. He will not go talk with the vets about it. The dogs have been on pain meds and I don't think they are helping any more.

I am home with the dogs all day, so I see them much more than he does. I know they are suffering. I'm going to call some vets who do housecalls and find out how much they charge for their services.

Obviously, I would still have to tell my dh, he cannot just come home one day and find that I euthanized two dogs while he was at work. I don't know how to talk with him about this without making him dig in on his position.
post #13 of 17
Again, Im so sorry for all you are going through! Its hard when our partners arent listening, especially on something as important as this. Wish I could be of more help....
post #14 of 17
I'm so sorry, I've always been so concerned with keeping a dog alive for me rather than for the dog. I worked at a referral practice for too many years and most of what we saw died and I saw so many people (sweet, loving people) who just tried too long. It used to make me so sad but at the same time I knew I was one of those people who loved too much and may not be able to let go. When my Timber was sick with a heart condition I remember asking my friend/business partner to please tell me if she saw me treating him beyond what was reasonable.

I know for me, this poem speaks volumes, particularily the last part. Maybe read it to him. Help him do things like take a paw print from them, a super nice picture, a lock of hair. Timber has been dead for 14 yrs now but I still have his picture and this poem hanging up over my desk.


Treat me kindly, my beloved master, for no heart in all the world is more grateful for kindness than the loving heart of me.

Do not break my spirit with a stick, for though I should lick your hand between the blows, your patience and understanding will more quickly teach me the things you would have me do.

Speak to me often, for your voice is the world's sweetest music, as you must know by the fierce wagging of my tail when your footstep falls upon my waiting ear.

When it is cold and wet, please take me inside, for I am now a domesticated animal, no longer used to bitter elements, and I ask no greater glory than the privilege of sitting at your feet beside the hearth... though had you no home, I would rather follow you through ice and snow than rest upon the softest pillow in the warmest home in all the land, for you are my god and I am your devoted worshiper.

Keep my pan filled with fresh water, for although I should not reproach you were it dry, I cannot tell you when I suffer thirst. Feed me clean food, that I may stay well, to romp and play and do your bidding, to walk by your side, and stand ready, willing and able to protect you with my life, should your life be in danger.

And, beloved master, should the Great Master see fit to deprive me of my health or sight, do not turn me away from you. Rather hold me gently in your arms as skilled hands grant me the merciful boon of eternal rest... and I will leave you knowing with the last breath I drew, my fate was ever safest in your hands.

by Beth Harris
post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 
Heartbreaking. But so true. Dogs are so loyal. I think he is also concerned because I am insisting that I want to go dog free for a few years after this pack dies off. Maybe that is too draconian for a dog lover. But would it be unreasonable to insist on just two dogs?

As he himself said, this will be the first time in his adult life that he has not had an outrageous number of pets.

I want to dog free because I just need a break -- I used to love having lots of dogs, but we have had so many dogs that I just can't handle it with two small children. We had SEVEN dogs when I got pregnant, and now, since they are old, we are down to "just" four dogs. Two dogs seems like almost no dogs.

Also, we are going to euthanize the two dogs together because we see no reason to make them experience grief and loss for their best friend on top of their physical afflictions. We usually separate the dogs into two groups of two during the day to reduce fighting (one of the dogs is aggressive), and these two dogs have been paired together at all times since 1995 when we got them. It might have been 1994 but we are pretty sure it was 95.

I'm totally set on doing this through a house call now. That seems by far the kindest way to do it.
post #16 of 17
So sorry you are having to go through this. My parents had to euthanize our family pet about 6 years ago because he had cancer and was blind and deaf. All he did was sleep all day but he was the sweetest dog ever. Even when he was so sick. They buried him in their backyard in a wooden box. He was buried with the blanket from his dog bed (my old childhood blankie) and his favorite stuffed animal toy. They put big rocks over the grave because they have woods behind them and didn't want any wild animals trying to dig him up.
I hope your dh comes to terms that animals don't live forever and that they are truly suffering at this point. No one likes to have to put their dog to sleep, but it is necessary in some cases.
post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thank you, I called around to house call vets today. My dh said "I'll think about it" which is his way of saying 'NO DON'T KILL MY DOGS."
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