This post has been in the back of my mind for some time. Hello there, I’m Pugless in Austin. It’s been 6 months since I’ve said goodbye to my dog.
So, knowing WHEN to say goodbye to your dog, that’s a freaking tough pill to swallow. Too many moments are spent, analyzing and agonizing about what to do. Is it the right decision? Is it the right time? If only dogs could talk. If all you’re looking for is a checklist for “when is the right time” then the link will take you to Compassionate Pet Vet’s site page to help you in your decision making process. I really like them a lot. Shout out to Dr Maggie, and her team and a huge TY to Glynis. You all are incredible people.
This post is really a celebration of my amazing Pugs. I’m also writing this post because every single time, as I began to notice little QOL changes in each of my “furriends” I went to the internet. I was looking for answers, I was seeking some sort of indication that, “Yes, it’s ok to make this decision for your dog.” That’s why you’re here, right?
This also applies to cats. I had a beautiful blue eyed Himalayan named Nicodemus. She went in her sleep at age 12… That was one of the saddest days in my life. But this post I’ll be talking about that PUGLIFE.
If you’re here reading this, know that although I can’t be there to hold your hand and sing to you, “Don’t worry, about a thing – coz every little thing, is gonna be all right.” Know that I too have been on the other side of the computer screen, wanting to make sure I was doing the right thing for my dog. Each and every single time.
No the decision isn’t easy. No it won’t be easier the next time around. No, you won’t find the perfect answer of what to do… but in your heart, if you’re reading this post, that might be a good indicator that the time is coming, and that heartbreaking decision is on the horizon. Virtually, I’m there by your side, holding your hand. It’s going to be OK! OK?
Oh and if you’re curious why I chose in home pet euthanasia– the link is very informative.
Over the past almost 18 years, I’ve had multiple sets of paws, 3 or 5 or 4 pugs, at any given point, (PLUS the occasional large dog that were fosters in rescue)… so many paws following me around the house. I’ve had foot warmers, lap warmers, and tummy warmers. Yes, each one of my pugs had a special place in my heart, and each pug chose a particular thatgirljen cuddle spot. God, how I miss them!
And as I’m writing this somber and heartfelt post, I’m not exactly sad. I’m smiling because I know I gave every one of my fur-babies a good life filled with lots of love. Ok I might be typing with a tear or two in my eyes, or maybe I’m just cutting some onions. When the time came, I sent each one of my dogs off with love, respect and dignity. We got to say good-bye. And with each senior pug in my grumble, when the time came, making the decision, and making “the call” never got any easier.
Because this was such a big life decision I had to make for each of my pets, I want to be all Hemingway and tell you my story. This isn’t one of those clinical posts about when is the right time to put your pet down. This is more a peek into my heart, and hopefully something that will in the end, eventually ease your mind as you’re looking for your own answers or validation.
I’m going to share 3 different experiences. But they all have ONE constant. We got to say goodbye.
Let that sink in for a bit. Being there, knowing that you’re sending your “best furriend” off with dignity, although it’s heart breaking and gut wrenching, you’re actually by their side. Letting THEM know, it’s ok, you’re there. They’re not alone. Be strong, you can ugly cry in the shower afterwards or heck even before. Been there, done that.
About that ONE constant, being there to say goodbye, that’s where having a Compassionate Pet Vet service comes into the picture. Enter Dr. Maggie and her amazing team at CPV. Here in Austin, Tx, we have a caring and compassionate vet service that comes to your home to perform in home pet euthanasia. CPV came highly recommended from more than one friend, and since then I’ve shared CPV’s info with a handful of other pet owners when it was their time to make the call. Every time, Compassionate Pet Vet has been part of our process. They’re totally professional, and really understanding about how hard it is to say goodbye. What I really loved about the entire interaction, was that I didn’t have to think about anything other than spending those last precious moments with each of my Pugs. They took care of everything. I’d give them 6 out of 5 stars- SIX out of five! For real.
Many cities now have in home pet euthanasia services. It’s usually a bit more expensive than going to the vet office. For my family, it was well worth the price. You’re in the comfort of your own home, so in theory, your pet will be less stressed. Services like CPV offer different packages, we always took the premium. It covered everything. I didn’t have to think twice. The Compassionate Vet service, arrived on time, were all professional, caring and thoughtful. And when all was done and goodbye was said, and the light left each of my pugs, I was able to walk them to the car and give them one last hug, an ear scratch, a kiss on the head as a send off. From there, the team transported a huge chunk of my heart to the pet crematorium. The even took care of the processing. This allowed me and my family time to grieve. I couldn’t imagine driving my dog to the crematorium after saying goodbye. If I had to, of course I would have, but instead I got to take a shower, and ugly cry. And with every pug, about a week or 2 later, we got the call to pick up our loved one and bring them home. All 3 are now back together again.
So my 3 different experiences… I want to share them because each send off and circumstance was unique. I’m hoping that by sharing, you might be able to see some signs, and even better prepare yourself for when the time comes to make the call to say goodbye.
In order of goodbye–
BAMBI: We woke up to Bambi age almost 13, listless and breathing on what I would consider autopilot. We think it was a stroke or heart attack, so it was really sudden. Bambi had been a spunky Diva. She ruled, like Cleopatra, and oh how pretty she was. That smoosh face and velvet ears, full of personality, and charm. Although she couldn’t manage the stairs as she got older, she was so determined. She’d bark one bark, just to say, “Hey time to bring me up on the sofa,” or “Hey, get over here and carry me down the stairs.” She knew exactly what she wanted, and how to communicate. In her last 3 days, we noticed that she wasn’t eating quite as much, but she was still full of spunk. The day before she had a bath. We spent a bit of time in the back yard together, just us gals, as she sunned herself I read a book, and Liz drew some chalk art on the patio. That night, she didn’t eat. We had a feeling that her time was on the horizon, Josh and I talked about it during dinner. Later we brought her up to the bedroom to sleep, just like every other night before. We had no idea that her time to say goodbye was just around the corner. The next morning Josh woke up to hear Bambi breathing strangely on the floor next to his side of the bed. We knew there was nothing we could do. She couldn’t move, but her eyes followed each one of us as we moved through the room. I carried her downstairs, set her up on Josh’s lap and Liz stroked her head and told her she was loved. I kissed her head, then I MADE THE CALL to Dr Maggie who was actually available and about an hour away. Knowing that there was a chance that Bambi would say goodbye when SHE wanted, we still scheduled for Compassionate Pet Vet to come to our house. Bambi took her last breath on her own, on my lap, surrounded by Josh and Liz. Thumper and Sebastian looked on. We watched the light leave her eyes, and knew she was at peace. The boys said their goodbyes, gave her a little sniff to the head and went to lay down together in their dog bed. Where they remained for most of that day. Dr Maggie arrived and I let her know that Bambi said goodbye about 20 minutes ago. Paperwork was done, vitals were taken, and Bambi was escorted with dignity like a true princess. They had a pretty woven basket to take a piece of my heart on her last car ride. I got Bambi back home about 7 days later. Liz went with me…That was a very somber and quiet ride.
THUMPER: Oh my little man. You stole my heart in so many ways. Our first Pug Thumper was 16 when it was time to say goodbye. If he had it his way, he would have never gone. Thumper was a black velvet Pug and quite a talker, but he had this grumpy grumble, not a barker unless it was a stranger at the door, or someone he didn’t know. He would greet us when he came into the room… it actually sounded like “Wussaaaap… aaaachompchomp” Seriously, I think he was trying to talk to us. As Thumper got older, we noticed he wasn’t as spry. This pug loved to run like a greyhound. In his last two years we tracked his minor changes. What sparked that was he had started to shown signs, like he was loosing coordination or control of his back legs. Nothing major, just that he would walk and his hip would dip, like he was a bit tipsy. But dude, he was getting old. We had a chat, Thump and I, he said all was good momma. Went to the vet and vitals were excellent and they were surprised at how old and how healthy he was. At first he was just sleeping more and eating a bit less than usual. Nothing too alarming. That happens with old age. During the final 6 months little things like acting like he was lost, or seeking me out to make sure I was around started happening more frequently. Towards the last 2 months, he was starting to lose control of his hind legs, just a bit. His vet put him on some pain meds to help with pain and mobility, but Thumper didn’t like to pop pills. He’d wait and spit them back out. No matter what I tried, how I hid the meds in something yummy, or even self I sweet talked him to let him know that meds were supposed to help. He didn’t like the feeling of being medicated. Much respect little dude. Much respect. The final month, Thumper was starting to struggle to get up and lay down, and started having a few accidents in the house. He preferred pacing, rather than laying down in his bed. We’d have a bad night, then 3-4 good days where he would just move slowly. Then a night where he’d stand in front of the corner and stare at the wall. So we knew it was time, so we planned his goodbye. We picked a day, I MADE THE CALL and Dr Maggie and her team once again, showed up when needed. Thumper’s departure was planned and scheduled. So that week leading up to goodbye was tough. He got so many extra hugs. When he was given the sedative, there I am with my pug in my lap, saying goodbye. Josh and Liz were by my side. Thumper just sighed, and rest his head on me. He was ready. And so was I. Sebastian bopped him on the head, wondering if he was just sleeping. That was the toughest thing to see… Once again, another piece of my heart was gently taken away and transported to the pet crematorium. I immediately took a shower, and curled up with Bas and took an extra long nap that afternoon. About 7 days later when it was time to pick Thumper up, I was so… more than sad, but happy to get him home. Liz went along with me, and this time the ride was a little less quiet.
SEBASTIAN: My big boy and eternal puppy. You, you my handsome handsome boy… you by far were toughest, and also most recent. I can’t even… oh boy. Yeah, you were the best of both worlds. Bas was part Thumper and part Bambi. I birthed him. I physically helped bring him into the world and deliver him into our lives. He got stuck on the way out during delivery. Josh and I helped Bambi deliver at 1am. I broke open the sac, tied the umbilical… yes Sebastian, you and I have been together since before the beginning of your time. You came into the world, nestled in my lap with 6 other puppies, and you left this world, exactly where you wanted to be, by my side. Bas filled my days with love and companionship and broke me into too many pieces. Where do I begin? So yeah, Sebastian, was almost 15 when it was time to let him go, and say goodbye. He really was the sweetest and happiest dog. Bas had this smile. Always glued to my side. Sebastian had two separate medical issues, both that manifested during the last year of his life. First he started having seizure like activity. Not constant, no pattern, and nothing was a catalyst. They were sporadic, there wasn’t any pattern. His vet said he presented with what she would believe to be a tumor, either in his nasal cavity or possibly pressing towards his brain. Unfortunately we couldn’t risk putting him under to get a scan to see for sure, he wouldn’t have made it off the table. Meds wouldn’t help to stop the seizures, but the vet prescribed something to help him sleep through the night towards his last 2 months (but those meds were more for his other issue that I’ll get to in a moment). He didn’t enjoy the liquid meds, so after a few weeks of attempting to medicate him, I took the cue and realized he didn’t want them. We switched to something else, but it wasn’t as effective. One thing to note, he had more of his seizure episodes at night. I would wake from a dead sleep just as he would start to have an episode. I’d wake Josh and we’d sit on the bathroom floor with him, to keep him calm and let him know he was ok. The episodes would last for 1 to 5 minutes. I think they wore him out. He’d just lay on the bathroom floor, so I’d lay down next to him, and we would wait together for him to feel better enough to get up. We had a 2 month span of no known episodes. In the last month he didn’t have any major episodes, just minor ones. Sebastian had a second issue. About 6 months before we said goodbye, I noticed a growth on his front joint just above his left paw. At first it was a little bump. We monitored it and made countless vet visits as it grew. Wanting to figure out what it might be, find answers, get on a treatment path. Biopsy done, blood drawn, a few different pathologies sent… and well it was inconclusive. Definitely a growth, but undetermined. For the most part, this little bump, wasn’t giving him any trouble. Then it grew a bit, still no trouble. Then it got bigger; Still no mobility issue or trouble. Another round of tests, just because it had grown. Bas was his normal happy little self. Then, during his couple of days with us, his growth began to move across the joint. The skin was beginning to show signs of stretching, and we knew it was time. We all talked it over and knew what we had to do. That last night his growth was physically growing and expanding before our eyes. I knew I would be making the call that following morning. I spent the night with Bas on my chest up against me, because that’s how close he wanted to be. He was whimpering and definitely in pain. This was the first and only time ever that he showed any signs of pain, the first time he ever vocalized it… At 7am I MADE THE CALL, and sent an email and texted Dr Maggie and her team. They were able to accommodate us that same day. Kinda a small miracle in our book. Once again CPV the handled everything with such care and professionalism. Bas was my forever puppy but I had to send him off with dignity. It was the right choice. Yet again another chunk of my heart was making its journey to the pet crematorium. We waited 2 very long weeks to get the call to bring Sebastian home. I was so relieved to get him into the car and by my side. Once again, I had my wingman Liz by my side. We were just both relieved to pick up Sebastian and have him back home with us. That car ride, we talked about how quiet the house had been over the last 2 weeks without him.
So when is the right time? As your dog gets older, when you start to notice anything unusual, or experience any changes in their usual personality and disposition, start tracking it. It’s all about QOL – quality of life. If you’ve been to the vet due to any illness or issues… then it’s a good time to begin tracking things. Are they sleeping more than usual. Not eating or drinking as much. Refusing food, or treats. Do they seem either listless or agitated. These are all things to note and track. Are you having to medicate your dog for pain or to help them sleep? If so then you my friend are most like on the countdown. It’s ok, I’m not judging you. You’re doing the right thing for your pet. If you can find an at home service in your area, it’s well worth it. If you can’t afford that option, your local vet office or pet hospital can usually accommodate. Just make sure you send your pet off as humanely as possible under the care and guidance of a medical veterinarian professional.
BABY PICS of the “kids” –Thumper, Bambi and Sebastian
For me, having the chance to prepare and process saying goodbye, although one of the most difficult decisions, really did put my mind at ease. If your dog is showing physical signs of exreme pain or discomfort, it’s probably time to say goodbye, and make that call. If your pet is vocal about pain, it’s definitely time to say goodbye. Again, we kept a spreadsheet, tracked our dog’s QOL, meds and symptoms to help us better determine when the time was coming near. It’s not fool proof and nothing is 100%… and it’s not an easy decision, and for the record it doesn’t get any easier. The CPV team we interacted with deserve a lot of credit and appreciation for what they do.
REAL TALK: Making the decision to say goodbye and put your dog down, isn’t an easy one. Sending off your four legged friend with dignity, is the most honorable thing you could do for your pet. This decision should not be taken lightly, there’s gravity in your decision. It will weigh heavy. Just trust your heart and know that if you’ve been trying to figure out the when, it could be sooner than you realize.
I’d like to believe that all dogs go to heaven and that my 3 pugs are all there waiting for me over the rainbow bridge.
PugHugs to everyone. ~thatgirljen <3