Said goodbye to our beloved dog, Jack - feeling guilty as well as devastated.

AdoraBelle Dearheart

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Jack, in his younger, healthier years.

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I'm sobbing my heart out as I write this. I can't sleep or eat, and have to keep editing and re-writing this, because my thoughts and emotions are scattered and I'm really struggling with expressing them, but I need to get this out and try to process.
My own dog Pixie is so confused, doing her utmost to comfort me, and aware that Jack isn't here. We left it too late and should have made the decision to let him go sooner. It has been so hard to know when, since his conditions gradually became worse over time so slowly, it was harder to tell when the time had come. We just adjusted to his extra care needs as and when he needed them. We've always said about animals that we would do what we could for them, as long as they're not in pain or suffering. To weigh quality of life. That euthanasia is the right call when it reaches a certain point, and I've somehow always just known when that time has come with pets in the past.

But this time I didn't know, and when I did think the time had come, didn't push hard enough for the rest of the family to also see it, but it's so easy to hold on for too long, not wanting to lose them. But I failed him, not pushing to make that appointment sooner. He was distressed on his last day with us, and we never wanted him to suffer like that. I regret that deeply.
I know he would forgive me in a heartbeat. Dogs are like that, it's one of their many wonderful qualities. But I'm so sorry Jack. We adored you, and held on too long. I'm so glad you're at peace now, and we'll always miss and remember you.
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Jack was over 15, and had some severe health issues at the end, which gradually lead to pretty much 24 hour nursing care. Around a year ago he had his first bout of ideopathic vestibular syndrome - a doggy stroke, essentially. Terrifying to experience, for him and for us, but he made a wonderful recovery in the following days, left only with a slight head tilt, and slightly worse balance.

Over the past year, he had two more episodes of vestibular syndrome. Each time we've thought we'd lose him, rushed him to the vets, and he has surprised everyone with how well he bounced back and recovered. Yet each episode did leave it's marks, affecting his balance and mobility, and combined with his arthritis, meant he needed a sling to help him outside to use the bathroom, and would sometimes lose balance and fall over. So after the third episode, the vet saw signs that made her believe he likely had a brain tumour. That the vestibular episodes were secondary to a brain tumour. Given his age and health status, we agreed that it wouldn't be right to attempt to put him through diagnostics and treatment, and that palliative care was the only humane way to manage, loving on and spoiling him while we still could.

He also had another emergency months ago, when he suddenly had severe vomiting and loose stools, and was so weak. Rushed him to the vet, convinced we were about to lose him. The vet held him on a drip for the day, warned that while it could be something treatable like gastroenteritis, that with his age and health, that it could prove fatal, or he might have organ failure. After a long day on a drip and having blood tests, the vet was so pleased with the way he improved and his blood test results - he didn't have organ failure, and the meds and fluids they'd given him made him rally enough that we could take him home at the end of the day and nurse him here. She admitted to me when I collected him that she had thought we would lose him, and he was a special dog. He recovered over the next days. He really was a tough old dog! Scared us (and the vets, who have been wonderful, both with him and with us) so many times, but battled through.

He could no longer go on walks (he certainly showed that he still wanted to! At first), but he could still gently potter about the house, get to and from the water bowl, indicate when he needed to go outside etc. He was medicated for pain relief, and he didn't seem distressed. Even when he toppled over, he seemed to take it in stride, just getting back up again, and we padded the floor with soft matts and cushions. Still always had an appetite, enjoyed fuss and being groomed while sitting in the sunshine. So with our vets blessing, we committed to nursing him as well as we could, until he showed some sign that it was time.

Over the last few months he had been having a slowly increasing number of 'episodes', where he'd wake and cry in the night - often needing to be bathed since he'd been losing bladder control recently, or just needing some reassurance before going back to sleep. But as soon as I let him scent my hand and stroked him, he'd stop crying. He'd also sometimes have "episodes" where he'd seem almost in a trance, feeling compelled to circle, around a table leg or a person, leaning for balance since his mobility was poor. But those episodes were infrequent and short at first, and he didn't appear distressed; just a compulsion where he wasn't really fully aware. I had talked with the vet about it, and she thought it a result of the brain tumour pressing on a certain part of the brain. These episodes gradually increased in frequency and duration, sometimes needing to sit with him and support him so he didn't fall for 30-40 minutes until he seemed to snap out of it and calm down. Some nights he'd sleep peacefully through the night, but on occasion recently he'd wake 4-5 times a night and need comfort or a bath. These increasing episodes were what made me think the time had come to let him go, that he was upset when he cried of course, and the episodes showed his tumour was becoming worse. We didn't want him to be distressed or suffering, and I spoke to our vet about his condition and if it was the right time two weeks ago. I should have listened to my instincts.

On Thursday after he'd had rough night, waking often, we had finally agreed that he was ready to go, and arranged for the vet to come to the house this coming Monday, the soonest the vets could do a home visit. For a few reasons, we really preferred a home visit over taking him to the practice, and we'd managed his conditions for around a year now, so spending a few more days spoiling him and saying our goodbyes seemed possible. But at 4am Friday morning he cried, and I couldn't calm him from this episode. I tried everything, but he barely seemed aware of anyone, and he was agitated and struggling to get up to circle constantly, it lasted for hours.

I called the vets as soon as soon as they opened, and they were fantastic. Understanding our issues with bringing him to the surgery, they said they would come to the house that day, and call us when they had finished with surgeries to let us know they were on the way. I hadn't been able to calm him since 4am until the vet arrived at 1.30pm, but the moment the vet called and said they were on their way, he relaxed into the grass and calmed. It was as if he knew it would be over soon, and he no longer had to be anxious. They were so compassionate and professional, and he slipped away peacefully, in the garden, surrounded by people that love him.

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Finn1231

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Im so sorry for your loss. You did your best to take care of him and he went to rest in the best way a dog can. I just got a puppy myself and i really think that if you do your best and love them as much as you can, that you are a great owner. I cant imagine losing a dog would be easy, but im sure jack would want you to remember them and feel happy. Make sure to take care of yourself.
 

Fishmanic

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Sorry for your loss. I'm sure you gave him the best life possible. You did the best by him in making his voyage to doggie heaven as painless as possible. You can't bring him back but you will always have the memories of him.
 

NannaLou

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I’m so very sorry at you loss, and for your your thoughts that you didn’t do things quite right. Hindsight is a wonderful, you clearly gave him every bit of care he needed day and night. He was very lucky to have you x
 

imw

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As a Dog owner who's Woof is getting on in years, I feel for you. You clearly did what you thought was right, so please do not beat your self up - be happy in the thought of all the love and care you gave, and he now is in a very big kennel in the sky with some mates to chase a ball with.

ATB
 

Ch4rlie

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Ah am sorry to hear of this Adorabelle.

You truly did your best by Jack and he lived a lovely life with you and your family, you should have no regrets at all, am sure jack loved spending as much time as he could with you.

Am sure Jack will be chasing rabbits to his hearts content, having a wonderful time and he’ll wait for you at the Rainbow Bridge :flowers:
 

DoubleDutch

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Sorry for your loss. Still missing my labradorgirl Monty after years, though we have Bliss now. She had an "old soul" from the start and understood ANYTHING said and unsaid.
Why weren't dogs "designed" to live as long as we do? Bliss likes to cheer you up a bit !
 

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CaptainBarnicles

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What a heartbreaking read, I'm so terribly sorry 😞 what a wonderful mum you were to him, and that's all that matters. Jack knew you loved him and that you were always going to be there for him. No one really knows when 'the right time' is, please be comforted that you did the best you could. It's never easy losing your fur babies but to decide when you have to lose them 💔 there's nothing worse. Sending you big virtual hugs my lovely...
 

wasmewasntit

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Very sorry that you have lost your lad, its never easy to lose a furry best pal even when you know its going to happen eventually. Cherish the memories, let his spirit live on....remember him as he was before his body gave up on him, he sounds like he was a spirited fighter, remember him that way.....he hasn't left your side, he'll be there forever in spirit and memory
 

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