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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One thought on “When is it time to say good-bye?

  1. Dave I never post replies on blogs because I try and not spread my info all over the inter webs, it probably is anyway. In any case I thought I would leave a response to this one. With our Willow Steve and I are on dog 11. I think we have had just about any dog problem you can think of and use our vet mostly just for annual checkups and vaccines now. Most things we’ve figured out how to do. The last day of any of our beloved dogs lives though is one thing the vet does. We’ve had good and bad experiences with that. We’ve had a few dogs get to an old age for their breeds. It is so hard to know when it is time. You have described the dilemma perfectly. I understand you refusing help from a friend, you want to be with her right to the end. I am sure she wants you there too no matter how hard it is. I also know how hard it is with the special one that you knew was meant to be part of your life. No dog will ever take the place of my big Finn or my Oliver. The other dogs I loved and it was hard but both Oliver and Finn were my special buddies, both were dane retriever crosses and both were so hard to know when it was time. All I can tell you is that you’ll ‘know’. It will break your heart in a million pieces but you’ll know. I am sending all the positive energy I can your way. I know you will do the right thing at the right time. The reason I know that is that I can still see the young caring soldier I first met oh so many moons ago, and knew then as I know now that you are caring and compassionate. Those traits don’t go away. I am with you in spirit Dave as you spend your last bit of time with such a special gal. Give her a wee kiss on the nose for me. Tell her to look for Finn and Oliver over the rainbow bridge. They’ll be with a pack of 10 dogs who have graced my life. They will welcome her spirit. Much love at this difficult time OXOO Deb

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