1. My dog was diagnosed with nasal cancer around this time last year. It took his life two months later.
We did daily trips to Wendy’s where he got his favorite (chicken nuggets) and as time passed and he got worse he started getting a kid’s meal. We started collecting the stupid toys. He played with them when they were appropriate, but mostly we collected them.
We took almost daily trips to the woods, sometimes with one of the other dogs, sometimes without them. We aimed to focus on recording memories. Not living them, recording them. Nobody wants to hear you cry in a recording, they want silly things. We recorded him in the woods. We recorded him eating his nugs. We recorded him playing the occasion he’d play. We recorded him with his tricks and recorded him downtown. I couldn’t live each day, I had to record each day, because living at that time was way too hard.
He passed away on December 4th, 2020. Now, I get daily memories of my dog through my phone. Some are tearjerkers, some are happy. All are authentic and show how much my shelter pitty I got from the shelter one day because he caught my eye was loved.
2. My boy is also 7, was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor back in August, and is scheduled to be put down in a couple of days, as he’s had a sharp decline within the past week.
Every decision makes me feel guilty too. Not only a lot of what-ifs, but small things. Earlier this month I had a breakdown at the store when I realized I had decided to buy the smaller pack of food instead of the usual big one. Every day I have to look at all his toys, and blankets, and other things he no longer interacts with, and I can’t even bear to think about going through them while he is still around. I’ve done my best enjoying the time I have left, but like you say, it’s very difficult.
I don’t have an answer for you, but just wanted to say you’re not alone. Everyone who loves and cares for their dog will, or have already been through this. I try my best to rationalize my decisions in my head, as there’s often a huge disconnect between rational and emotional decisions. It seems to help. I also try to keep bouts of crying in the shower, so I don’t upset him too much.
3. The thing about dogs is they have no idea that they’re on borrowed time, or that they’re getting palliative cares.
Dogs live in the present. They don’t sit there and say, well I should live to be 14 and this really sucks that I won’t. They’re who they always were. They’re with us and they’re happy.
Most of us will outlive most of our dogs. And sometimes we get lucky and they live to be really old and sometimes we aren’t as fortunate. But the dog doesn’t know the difference.
I don’t sit there and say well you won’t be here for whatever. I just assume he will be, and if he isn’t, then at least we did everything we could to keep him happy, comfortable and not scared.
And even with the best medical care, no one knows how long our dogs have. Just hope for more than promised and help them live each day in the moment, which is what dogs are best at.
4. Years ago my heart dog was diagnosed with bladder cancer and given 2 months, give or take. We took everyday as it came. He got pizza, chicken stew, beach walks, chasing after whatever he wanted as long as he could. It’s hard, really hard. My other dog was fit and healthy then had 3 weird breaths and died. Better for her, worse for us. You get to make those special memories and do the all the things you and they like doing.
Make every day the best you can and your dog will be forever happy.
5. The advice my vet gave me was not to cry in front of them. They will expend much-needed energy in trying to cheer me up! And that is exactly what happened with my Catahoula, Elvis. He was given 2-3 weeks to live with hemangiosarcoma. He ended up going on for 4 months before letting us know it was time. The one time I lost it in front of him, he practically crawled into my lap trying to make me happy! It sounds like with your boy it stresses him out, which is still using up much-needed energy. If you need to cry, do what I ended up doing….many times….and going out to the car to bawl until I could get a grip again.
We put off an anniversary trip but he kept on ticking so we ended up taking it at a different date with my friend acting as dogsitter. We spoiled him with whatever he would eat. Taco Bell?? Okie dokie! It was a hoot watching him pick the lettuce off we forgot about. My neighbor would cook him food and treats. He liked a toy? He got it! Anything to make him happy. And when he passed, he was cremated with his favorite toy. The rest got put away until the next dog because we just can’t live without one.
Stop thinking about his death. We are ALL gonna die. No one wins this game of life. It is the QUALITY of the life that counts. So do what you can to give him quality time. Love on him, take him out and about, give him treats if you have to leave him behind if you have to go out. Take selfies with your boy! And just love him.
6. My dog was diagnosed and given 4-5 months with treatment. We spent 5 figures on surgery before the diagnosis and could no longer afford treatment. Instead we had him on a steady supply of pain killers and cbd. Which seemed to work better than the treatment.
Everyday and week would go by and we’d be asking us this the one. We would take him on all the walks and drove him two hours away to get white castle with him for his birthday. We fed him all the things we withheld worrying he’d get to fat. We gave him hundreds of water bottles to chew and dozens if toys to destroy. We gave him all the bones and treats we could afford. When we worked long days we would give him to my parents so he was never alone.
Days turned into weeks, and weeks into months and it seemed like he was never going to go. 20 lbs later and a year in a half past when he was supposed to go he let out a yelp when getting up, then stopped moving. When we got an ultrasound we found his cancer had spread and cut off his urethra and butt. At that point we had to make the hard choice. We put him down because we didn’t want him to suffer.
We make their lives better until we can’t, and when we can’t we make them comfortable. I understand its hard to enjoy the time you have with them given the circumstances. But when its all over you’ll regret not taking that last walk, or throwing that last ball. Do this for them now so you don’t feel bad later. This may go on a while. Or if could be done in an instant, treat every moment as it could be the last.
7. I have had to live with my cat being terminally ill- not any of the dogs I’ve lost, they’ve all been short illnesses.
In the end, what they need from you is comfort, good food, enjoyable activities within their limits, pain relief as needed, and love.
The rest is for you. Like my vet pointed out- they don’t know they’re dying.
I’ve had a lot of loss in my life. Humans, pets. We all have to go someday.
So, how do you enjoy your time left with your pup? Work on focussing on the now. Remind yourself that pup can enjoy this toy now. Your company now. You can enjoy his company now.
Now is all we have, and leaning into being right there with your pup is all you can do.
8. It’s the little things that count so make the best of them. My pup was never a cuddler and we had always respected that. He wouldn’t even let you hug him. As soon as a pet/scratch advanced into anything more, he was out. With that being said, a memory I’ll always cherish from his last few months was when he spooned my leg to sleep. I sat on the floor against the couch, legs stretched forward and pet him from a few inches away. He crept closer and closer until his legs were stretched across mine. I probably sat there for an hour with a butt cramp and a numb leg before he woke up and moved to another more comfortable spot. It was worth every second. Make happy little memories like this with your pup and you’ll always have something positive to look back on.
9. My bestest girl, Sofia, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and the best-case scenario was 2 months with prednisone. She ended up lasting 6 months died just before her birthday.
It was devastating to know that I was experiencing her last Thanksgiving, her last Christmas, my last birthday with her… All of it was joy and agony rolled into one.
The best advice I can give is just to love everything. Do everything you want to do, buy the goddamn toys because even if you have to deal with them after the fact you will know he will have enjoyed every minute with his toys and with you. It sucks knowing that things are coming to an end but you, at the back of your mind (and much like me with Sofia), always knew your time would end at some point…it just happens to be sooner than you think. Give him the extra treats, buy him all the toys, take him everywhere you want to go, and practice all the agility you feel like. He isn’t gone yet so LIVE with him.
With Sofia, I did as much as I could with her. I spent every minute I could with her and gave her the most unhealthy shit because she was dying and deserved to have whatever the fuck she wanted. We cuddled in bed and binge-watched Stranger Things, shared some chicken soup, buried ourselves under the blankets on cold days… I regret nothing. I lost her and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of her, even though it has been years and I have another heart (wolf)dog that I love more than I have words for. She will forever be my lovey and if there is something after this life then I hope I am greeted by her waiting for me to cuddle in bed and give her cheese.