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managing the end, somewhat morbid

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A few days ago my husband pointed out that both Solo and Fly have blue casts to their eyes. I hadn't noticed, which seems remarkable considering how much time I spend looking into them, but I've been looking into them every day, and I guess the change has happened gradually over time. Fly turned 10 on Christmas. Solo will be 10 in May. They're both in excellent shape, and normally people guess they are less than half their ages. But I've been thinking more and more lately about my dogs' mortality, which is underscored by Jett's relative youth and exuberance and general shiny brand-newness (she is 15 months old now). Jett's eyes are, of course, jet black.

 

I think Solo and Fly both have several good years left in them, but I don't want to be caught off guard. Especially in Solo's case -- he is terrified of the vet (any vet) and goes into survival mode when he's there. I don't want his last moments to be filled with terror. His fear of the vet is not something I can fix between now and then; it isn't a matter of taking him there more often and giving him yummies. He knows very well what happens at the vet and it involves far too many of his triggers at once for him to be effectively desensitized to it. I can't imagine him being much more receptive to a vet visiting at home, since he has a very difficult time with strangers entering the house.

 

Is anyone here in the same situation and are there any creative or workable solutions to this problem?

 

I figure anything I learn that would help Solo would also help Fly -- she behaves flawlessly at the vet, but you can tell she's a bit nervous about being there. I'd like to spare her that if I can.

 

Sorry to be so morbid, and it's not information that I'll need anytime soon, but it's better to know ahead of time.

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Eww, I hate answering this but.

 

Do you have any friends that Solo especially likes that are vet techs or "know" what they are doing in regards to giving shots and hitting veins w/o a problem? Understanding he won't like a vet visit at home a "good" friend can help. I say "good" as this is not something I would wish upon a friend to begin with but there are some very special friends that would understand if it comes to this.

 

As for the blue cast in the eyes, I suppose we (the owners) are the last to consciously notice, we see them everyday and the gradual change is not seen.

 

Karen

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I made the decision to euthanize a rescue dog a few months ago. He didn't like the vet either. He was a big boy, so before the hour ride to my vet, I gave him a couple of ACE, so by the time we got there, he was already woozy, and so we had no problem handling him, picking him up and putting him on the table. (Gawd, this is hard to write about).

 

That's what I would do for any of my dogs for whom going to the vet has been stressful.

 

With most of my dogs, my resident dogs, I won't have a problem because to them, a visit to the vet is a big social event.

 

Then there is Juta, my mt. dog, who is not afraid of the vet, but hates the vet. When I had her spayed a few years ago, I gave her some Ace as well before we left home, and I stayed with her at the vet's, until the stuff they gave her took hold and she was out.

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Thanks for the input.

 

Solo is absolutely, positively not having Ace -- EVER -- but perhaps there is something else that might serve the same purpose.

 

I suppose you might say Solo hates the vet. He is sure that everyone at the clinic has ill intentions and appears to subscribe to the philosophy that if he's gonna go down, he's going to take all of them with him. Fighting for his life is not really how I want him to go out.

 

Thanks again.

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I know what you mean about ACE. I had it on hand, but never used it until the issue with the rescue dog. Better to have said some sort of sedative, I guess. I was hesitant to use it on Juta, but it was that or having the vet's nice white coat ripped off.

 

Tam and Sligo have cloudy eyes now, and I dread the thought of having to make the decision. I will be dealing with the same questions when it comes to make a decision for Juta. She is over 100 lbs. and I doubt that in her last moments, she'll like the vet any better.

 

I guess I avoid thinking about the inevitable, but since it's been brought up, I'll be talking to my vet about how to handle Juta when the time comes to make the decision.

She's the only one I'd have to consider how to handle her last hours.

 

I guess it's good that the subject has been brought up. Thanks.

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I guess I wouldn't spend too much time on this until it happens. With our dogs, by the time they go to our vet (who they love) for the final time, they're pretty much beyond caring where they are... In the meantime, what do you do if they need emergency vet care?

Barb S

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Well, I have to worry about this -- the whole point is to be prepared. I hope that by the time it becomes relevant, Solo is too old and tired to care. What I really hope is that he dies peacefully at home in his sleep of very advanced old age. What I really really hope is that this entire discussion becomes moot. But if it doesn't and I wasn't prepared I will never, ever forgive myself.

 

When Solo needs emergency care I take him to the vet with a muzzle on and we manage as best we can and get through it. I just don't want that to be the last thing he experiences. For regular vet visits he gets Dormitor. Without being sedated he is basically impossible to examine because he fights so hard.

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When the time is closer I would ask the vet to give you a heavy sedative that you can give at home and then take whomever to the vet. I believe that with severe liver failure this may not work as well since they cannot process the drugs properly. I definitely think drugging in advance would be much better when you take them in.

 

When we had to euthanize Charlotte it was extremely hard since she was in severe liver failure. I wish we would have made the decision a lot sooner than we did or at least known the liver failure would cause problems with the sedative they give before the real drug. Just thinking about it is making me cry and it has been more than 4 years. The drugs were actually extremely painful to her and were not taking effect. She was screaming bloody murder which made it horrible. When we learned she had cancer we had to decide what the trigger would be that it was time and that was if she stopped eating. In many instances this is a good trigger but for her it made things worse because of the liver failure.

 

I really wish we could have given her heavy doses of oral sedatives before we go to the vets so it wouldn't have been such a horrible experience for everyone involved including the vets. They were crying just as hard as we were because of the screaming.

 

We had called the vets earlier that day and they had a room reserved for us so we just had to go directly to that room and not worry about waiting around. They also made sure that around the time we were to arrive that at least one of OUR preference vets were available so we did not have to wait. Once everything was done we were escorted out and a bill was sent so we did not have to hang around to pay.

 

Charlotte was my heart dog and I miss her dearly and the way her life ended was one of the most horrible experiences in my life. A relatively painless and quick procedure was painful and very drawn out.

 

Now I need to go wipe the tears away and give all my dogs a hug.

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Oh, Kim. :rolleyes: I'm sorry. I have tears just reading about it.

 

I know it's morbid, but unfortunately something we will all have to face, and it's better to be somewhat (as much as you ever can be) prepared. Having said that, I admit I haven't even thought about it for my guys.

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OK, Breathe , just breathe.... inhale... hold it , one , two, three, now slowly exhale...one , two, three...

Jeez, I was already emotional this AM and now I'm gonna be a mess all day! But thanks for the heads up, I would have never ever known something like that could occur.

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My Willy also turned 10 on Christmas day. He also has the blue cast in his eyes. I have put

three other dogs to sleep over the past 5 yrs either to ill health or just old age. It's always hard

and I dread it. Nonetheless I go in with them and hold them so I am their last contact in this world.

Then I hold them for a time and cry. I discussed this with a friend once and she said her vet will come

out to her car and put her dogs down. I don't know if all vets will do this but I am going to ask for this

the next time. The car holds happy memories for them and seems like it would be a good idea.

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When we put Ness down a month ago, we'd had several conversations with our vet about what exactly would happen. We did the same thing as Kim did in that we called ahead and they had a room ready for us. I had talked to the vet the day before and asked exactly what would happen, so we knew what to expect. The worst was having to get her in the car since she hated the car and always threw up. So, we put a blanket in the floorboard and she sat under my feet and I talked to her the whole way there.

 

But, that doesn't help the terrified dog of course. The person we have adopted our foster dog to is a mobile vet who specifically comes to the house in cases of euthanasia (as well as others--it's great and we are considering moving all our routine care to her since it will mean not having to take any dogs to the vet for shots, etc.). I know that there are other vets who will make house calls for this purpose. It'd probably be worth calling around to have one in reserve (or maybe your vet will do this, too.)

 

I think you're very smart to be prepared--talking over Ness' end of life preparations with our vet made it so much clearer what we needed to do. It didn't make it any easier of course.

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If our experiences with Charlotte can help just one person not to have to deal with what we did my tears are more than worth it.

 

For those that don't know Charlotte was only 4 yrs old.

 

Planning ahead is something that should be done.

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A rescue boy I had several years ago, for him, since he could no longer walk and he was a huge border collie, the vet came out to the car. From there I drove him to where I had him cremated.

 

I've always thought that dying peacefully at home would be the best, saving me from a decision. Flick dropped dead before my eyes at home. Easier? At least the decision was made for me, but still hurts beyond words.

 

Tibbie, when I took her for her final ride to the vet, I felt at peace with her death.

 

I should also make plans in advance for the mt. dogs. 1. -- because they are huge and I'd need someone on standby to help with moving them, if they can't walk on their own --and if they're dying, what are the chances of them walking on their own. 2. if they are like Juta and hate strangers, vet included.

 

It's a subject that's necessary, I know, but one that's difficult to make an emotionally detached decision about.

 

I'm not good at dealing with end of life matters.

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Is there a place that Solo is comfortable greeting strangers? A compassionate vet will meet you somewhere private that your dog may feel comfortable at. I was lucky, my dogs always enjoyed the car and they enjoyed the vet....and so a last car ride was always a treat for them even if I cried for the whole drive. One thing to think about is also what you want done with the remains, if you're interested in a buriel or a cremation.

 

It's hard to think about but I really believe it's what we need to plan for the most because the end should be as dignified as the life. Hopefully you have plenty of time to plan.

 

Maria

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Boy, this is a really hard one albeit inevitable for everyone.

 

Melanie, have you had to have a dog euthanized before? I ask this because if you're as attached to Solo as I was to Riley I think you may or may not be surprised at how profoundly difficult it is for you.

 

Your description of not being able to see things objectively because you're with them everyday I can relate to; everyone had always told me that I'd know when it was time, but I only did when I was at the point of panic. There were collapses, blood transfusions, heavy duty medications (including injections -- which I am very squeamish about but managed because I had to), overnight stays at the vets, panting all day and night, difficulty walking, food refusal, etc. I could go on. I'm sure this is a story that many share. Through all this I still didn't know and would have begged someone else to make the decision for me. It wasn't until, in a haze of denial and the depth of sadness, we went for a drive to her favourite spot and I asked her if she wanted to get out of the car, that the look on her face said it all. So what I mean to tell you through this is that even though the end is bad, after the end is probably worse :rolleyes: and if you've never gone through it, and can somehow prepare for this, maybe it can be better. Mine involved going awol from work, life, food, family etc. Thank goodness for friends and Ensure.

 

So, besides somehow being prepared for it emotionally (not just if there has to be medical intervention and there is a chance his/her life can be saved, but if its old age and the body just begins to shut down), you're right to be concerned about making it easier for Solo and Fly. Since you're a scientist, I understand your concern for their peace of mind and comfort and wanting to get it right. What others have said about having someone who they like and/or trust coming to the house and administering the injection is a good idea. We had the vet come to our home and Riley was put to sleep on the front porch with my arms around her. Then the vet and her tech took her away with them in the car on a blanket. This was the expensive way to go, but I certainly preferred it, as did she, I'm sure because of her general vet anxiety, lack of mobility and laboured breathing. What I would give you is a heads-up about the payment process. The vet had us sign all the papers and give her a cheque as soon as she came over so we could get that out of the way. In retrospect, I would actually ask to do this either ahead of time or be sent the paperwork in the mail later. Maybe some vets have policies about this; i.e. they won't perform the service unless its paid for first. Perhaps you can ask your vet now about this.

 

In regards to sedatives, only you know what medication works with both dogs and what their anxiety thresholds are; it sounds like you may need something heavy duty for Solo if you do end up bringing him in. But, my preference is a home visit so it can be a private affair.

Ailsa

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I've not faced this yet with a dog, but my neighbor across the street has, with her beloved 15-year-old golden. When the time came (actually, it was past time, but you know), the vet came out to the house. To me, that would mean a lot, not having to take the dog into the vet office at that time. Is our vet in the minority in doing this? I hope not.

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This may be a long shot, but isn't your hubby a doctor? (I am assuming since from the Steeler's thread.) Would your vet teach him how to give Solo the injections?

 

ETA: I am sure it is much different, and it is A LOT to ask the man that you love, but in Solo's case it might be less stressful.

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I sometimes tell people that I think Duncan was saving me great deal of heartache by having a type of cancer that has no effective treatment or cure. When he was diagnosed I didn't have to agonize about whether or not I should make a dog who hates needles and hates being left at the vet go in for treatment. The decision was made for me; I spoiled him rotten then let him go when he told me it was time. I was lucky enough to find a sympathetic vet who was willing to euthanize him in his favorite place in the world, the hay field. That was arranged ahead of time, all I had to do was call her on the morning we were ready and she would take care of everything.

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I'm no help because with my old cocker, I sat sobbing in my car and my vet had to come outside and carry him in. She brought me his collar when it was over. When I had to put my old cat down, I did make it into the waiting room but that was all I could manage, I handed his crate to my favorite vet tech and went back out to the car and cried. Makes me teary to think back about them.

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I will be forever grateful for our vet, who did come to our home to euthanize Buzz. The last time I took him to the vet, for the needle biopsy that confirmed the lump on the side of his head was malignant, he was so scared that his eyes were rolling back in his head. I couldn't do that to him again.

 

A month before this happened, I'd been in the vet's office picking up medications, and Dr. Reif happened to be sitting at the counter, and I was able to ask if he provided that service. He did, so when the time came, it was a simple matter of making the appointment. Since we are long time clients, Dr. R simply asked that we take care of the bill in the next couple days.

 

I will always do it this way from now on, if at all possible. Yes, it was more expensive, but giving Buzz the last few peaceful moments of his life were well worth it. In addition, Terry and I had privacy, and we didn't have to worry about being able to drive home.

 

Melanie, if your husband could administer a sedative to Solo, and then the vet could come in and give the anesthesia, that might be kindest. Buzz knew when he saw Dr. Reif that something was up and he got nervous. I wish I could have saved him even that.

 

Ruth

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I will be forever grateful for our vet, who did come to our home to euthanize Buzz. The last time I took him to the vet, for the needle biopsy that confirmed the lump on the side of his head was malignant, he was so scared that his eyes were rolling back in his head. I couldn't do that to him again.

 

A month before this happened, I'd been in the vet's office picking up medications, and Dr. Reif happened to be sitting at the counter, and I was able to ask if he provided that service. He did, so when the time came, it was a simple matter of making the appointment. Since we are long time clients, Dr. R simply asked that we take care of the bill in the next couple days.

 

I will always do it this way from now on, if at all possible. Yes, it was more expensive, but giving Buzz the last few peaceful moments of his life were well worth it. In addition, Terry and I had privacy, and we didn't have to worry about being able to drive home.

 

Melanie, if your husband could administer a sedative to Solo, and then the vet could come in and give the anesthesia, that might be kindest. Buzz knew when he saw Dr. Reif that something was up and he got nervous. I wish I could have saved him even that.

 

Ruth

I'm sure Buster will offer up a poem to ease your heart- Paw hugs and kisses from Idaho- I have been there too many times.

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In addition to a tech or vet friend, if you have any people you trust that work for a shelter it's possible that they could be of service.

 

Maggie's going to be 10 in May as well and I've thought about this stuff briefly - still don't know how I'll handle it, but probably some Rescue Remedy since she's not petrified of vets, just nervous and hopefully someone at the house 'cause I know I'll be in no shape to drive...

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When we had to put our 15+ year old bichon down, my wonderful DH took him for me, and my wonderful FIL drove him. I was in the room when we had a cat euthanized later, though, and as hard as it was, it was peaceful and quick. I'll be there in the end for my remaining pets, and luckily none of them are freaked much about the vet. I'm surprised and happy for those of you that have vets who make house calls for this type of thing. When DH inquired about that for Ted, we were told that it wasn't "legal" or allowed by some rule/ordinance or whatever. I don't remember exactly. I'll have to look into whether things have changed since then.

 

Our vet also took care of having the remains transported to the pet funeral home and they contacted us when Ted's ashes were ready. And like Kim's vet, they sent a bill, so no standing around sobbing while trying to pay.

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I have thought about this with every dog I've loved. I think it's horrible that they should have to pass in a place they hate. I think that about humans, who are forced to pass in a hospital room that smells of antiseptic, is lit by glaring fluorescents, and noisy with the sounds of technological care.

 

I think we should push that there be a way for both dogs and humans to go in their own homes or some other loved place, when it is time. (I swear I'm going to stockpile something for myself when I get up in years. Just in case.)

 

As far as the more practical issues...

 

I think I would try to find a vet or tech who is willing to come to the house. You're making me think what I want for my own dog. He isn't absolutely terrified of the vet, though he dislikes it. It's just a matter of making those last minutes be ones of discomfort and struggle, rather than contentment.

 

Mary

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