When is it time to say good-bye?

I think one of the hardest things about owning a pet is having to decide when its time to say good-bye.

In my last post I mentioned that Kharma, my 11yo Great Dane is dying of old age.

She had some health issues that her vet assured me were minor, but I couldn’t help but notice how much she slowed down.

Through February she just seemed so tired.
Where she used to be first up the stairs when I announced that it was bedtime she would plod, if she even moved off the couch at all.
She started to show little interest in food, except for treats. Even for those she wouldn’t leave the couch. I had to bring them to her.
She wouldn’t greet even her favourite people at the door, nor would she go running at a knock barking her fool head off.

But she didn’t appear to be in any pain. So I coddled her and cared for her as best I could.

On the night I wrote the blog entry I mentioned above Kharma was lying on the comforter behind my chair. I pondered her for a long while. So long that my housemate wandered by and asked what was wrong.

“I think she’s got a week or two at the most.” I responded sadly.

We talked about the signs we’d both been seeing. He kindly offered to take her on her last trip to the vet when it was time.
“No, I’ll be with her when its her time”.

Tonight, just over a week later and its a very different dog lying on the comforter beside me (one of the dogs moved it I think).

She’s still slower than she was, and I’ve noticed it takes effort for her to climb on furniture, but she’s eating her own food, greeting people at the door, and even barking at random things when she’s in the backyard.

With these improvements there are bad days, even bad moments. Last night she looked so tired and worn out again. I had to run out to the grocery store for some things, including dog food. When I returned she was waiting at the door and bounced around with the other dogs.

I’m taking this one day at a time, but I’m finding the question of how do I know when its her time very hard in this instance.

With my other dogs it was obvious. They were obviously suffering. While these were terrible moments, the decision was easy because it was the right one.

I worry that when Kharma’s time comes that I will miss it. That I will take some other sign as a sign that she’s not ready.

I love her dearly. While all my dogs have been, or are awesome in their own way from the moment I met her I knew she was special. She’s affectionate in ways that I’ve never experienced with other dogs (or most humans for that matter).

It would break me if I realize one day that I’ve let her suffer for my own selfish reasons.

I thought writing this would help me solidify my thoughts…but it hasn’t.

I am, in this moment, very sad.

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3 Days that Saved My Life

This will be hard to write and for some, undoubtedly, hard to read.

I’m going to share my story in the hopes that it might help someone.

It’s no secret that I struggle with depression. Many are aware that there are days that I wake up regretting that I didn’t die in my sleep.

Mood wise, things got better towards the end of last year.

I noticed my mood slipping, but wasn’t too concerned as it always does during the winter months.

My life went to shit. I made some mistakes in the past that caught up with me and have created a difficult financial situation.

There were other things that I have to deal with that seemed harder and harder the more depressed I got.

Then my 11yr old Great Dane, Kharma started to show her age. Great Danes rarely live past 10, so this wasn’t unexpected, but the realization that my big girl is dying hit me harder than I thought it would. (I got tearful just typing that in fact). She is currently sleeping on the comforter behind me, so she is soldiering on.

Eventually, with everything piling on my depression deepened even further.

Then, one day I realized that things were futile, hopeless, joyless, and there was absolutely no light at the end of the tunnel.

I started to isolate myself as much as I could. I stopped looking after myself. I started subsisting on instant Pho noodles because the act of taking something out of the freezer to defrost was like trying to climb a mountain. I couldn’t even contemplate the energy it would take to prepare a meal, no matter how simple.

Often I would find myself sitting on the couch with Kharma’s head on my lap prematurely mourning her loss.

It became harder and harder to leave the house, except for work.

Even though it was difficult I did my best to stay in touch because I didn’t want people to worry.

Thoughts of suicide started creeping in more and more frequently.

That voice in the back of my head that speaks up at times like this, pointing out that people love me, people need me, my dogs need me, work needs me, and that things will get better became less and less convincing, and more annoying.

There have been a couple of times in the past where I reached this point, and during those episodes I became fearful that I would harm myself.

That fear wasn’t there this time.

There was only fatigue. A bone deep exhaustion.

I didn’t see the point of carrying on.

The internal struggle of choosing between living and dying started becoming a nightly ritual.

I had almost reached the point where the voice telling me to carry on was gone.

Then, at a particularly bad and hopeless moment that side of my brain made a proposition.

“3 days”, it said. “If you’re determined to die, 3 days won’t matter one way or another.”

So a deal was struck. I would wait 3 days and if things didn’t get better I would end things.

When I struck that deal I figured I would be dead in three days.

Three days passed, and I can honestly say that at that moment I’d completely forgotten about the arrangement.

It was a few days after that when while driving home from work I found myself singing along with the radio and realized that my depression had lessened and I was actually thinking about the future.

My personal life is still a shit show, Kharma is still approaching the end of her days, but I have plans on how to deal with it all appropriately. It will be hard, but not impossible.

I can see a light at the end of the tunnel and will eventually reach it, thanks to those 3 days.