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Getting close to sixteen and a half


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My Kit turned 16 in December, so now she is approaching 16.5 years old. I marvel at how well she is doing. She actually runs around the back yard first thing in the morning (I am talking 5AM, still cool outside), and invites Boo to play with her and he does. She runs for the first 50 feet or so of a walk, although soon after than she wants to walk slowly back to the house.

 

She is eating well these days.

She comes to me every morning without fail while I am having coffee and roo roo's at me until I put down the coffee and go play tug with her. And she is surprisingly strong still, still has long endurance for the game, although of course I am not as vigorous with her as I used to be.

 

Her hind legs are going downhill. It is harder for her to get up the steps but she still does it without help.

 

I was at the vet 6 months ago she said she thought Kit looked as if she did not feel good at all. I agree she looked that way, but since she had been fine that morning, and was fine afterward, I attribute her demeanor at the vet to the fact that she has always hated going to the vet, and she finds the slippery floor scary and difficult. She slipped on the floor and almost went down, and the vet said she was having trouble walking.

 

Now, I really like this vet. But she told me I probably shouldn't wait much longer before euthanizing Kit. She did not believe me when I said Kit is different at home. I didn't know what to say to her.

 

She said "don't wait until she can't get up to do it". But what other criteria would I have?

She, like my Jester, has heart that will never quit. She is still enjoying her life, and I think that she will continue to enjoy it right up to the day that she cannot walk any longer.

 

She is somewhat incontinent and I have to get up two or more times in the night to let her out. Sometimes she wets her bed. But she has never shown that she is upset by this and neither am I.

 

What I am trying to say is that vets mean well but do not know the dog as well as we do. I am around Kit more hours each week than I am away from her, and she has been with me 10 years. I hate to feel my vet will criticize me, but don't know how to convince her that Kit is enjoying her life too much, still, for it to be time to let her go.

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Happy to hear that Kit's hanging in there and still enjoying her life.

 

You'll probably never convince the vet out of what she believes. You're the one who knows Kit, who spends most of your time with her, who loves her and is so dedicated to her best interests that you've got such incredible angst over whether you're doing what's best for her.

 

Trust your instincts. I can't imagine you'll let Kit suffer unnecessarily. You're too tuned into her and too committed.

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Without uncontrollable pain and obvious suffering, I think it is all about perspective and yours is the one that matters.

 

Our Cody was almost 16 and had a weak hind end and some incontinence that we were more than willing to deal with as long as he still had that twinkle in his eyes. I know our slow, short, crooked walks across the park made people wonder why we kept him,(Cody loved 'his' park). I had friends that would have drawn the line at any incontinence. I guess at 15 either of those issues could reasonably lead some folks to make that hard final decision and it would be understandable. We made it to spring, but if winter had been a typical Idaho deep snow and icy mess, my hand would have been forced because he could not have handled walking in the yard. We had mild weather and almost no snow, so we plugged along and walked in his park! A growth in his nose is what finally tipped the scales. It came out of nowhere and grew lightning fast, that was not going to end well.

 

Vets come with their own perspective of when it's the 'right time' and I'm sure they see people make the choice too early or too late in their opinion. I don't think they should ever make the owner of a well loved old timer feel criticized.

 

Sounds like you and Kit are still enjoying your time and you'll know when she isn't and that's the opinion that counts! Best Wishes Heidi

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Thanks to both of you. Sometimes it helps to get feedback on this sort of thing. I do love Kit deeply and want the best for her, and I don't think I would hold her if she did not enjoy life any more.

Jester enjoyed himself on the ride to the vet for his last appointment. It was very hard for me. But he couldn't get up any longer, and was frustrated by that, so I decided.

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I had the same experience with my vet. Seamus was losing his hind end. My vet told me I should consider it soon. But even when he could not walk for three weeks he was bright and happy. I would not give up since he would not. I ended up taking him to a veterinary acupuncturist. We went twice a week for a month. He got laser, PEMT, and electro acupuncture. It cost and arm and a leg. But, he got another 4 months moving on his own until an infection took him from me last week at 15 and 4 months.

 

Trust your gut. Vets often just don’t get it

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Vets often just don’t get it

And more often they do. They don't look through the same emotional glasses at the animal as the owner, and see the suffering that often ís there, even when the loving owner doesn't (want to). Btw, I am not saying that this is the case here..

Your "guts" i.e. your emotions are not always the best place to look for advice in making these kind of hard decisions imo.

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To me my gut is instict. NOT emotion. Most dogs are not the same at the vets office as they are at home. If I had listened to my vet I would have missed four wonderful months with Seamus. Except for the last 5 hours he did not suffer.

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To me my gut is instict. NOT emotion. Most dogs are not the same at the vets office as they are at home.

This!

 

Ive had dogs act better and worse at the vet than they are overall at home. Ive taken video of my Kenzi at home because she acts better at the vet than she does at home. Tess is an outgoing, bold and bouncy at home and very sweet but calm and reserved at the vet.

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Quality of life is my criterion too. I have never actually been told that I *should* put an old dog down. My vets have always trusted me to do the right thing at the right time. But having worked for vets and having numerous friends who work for vets, I can say that it happens way too often that owners refuse to put a pet down, despite all medical indications to the contrary, because they can't face doing so. The extremes are the people who insist that a dog be brought out of anesthesia during a surgery that finds something like inoperable cancer so they can say goodbye. So if I encountered a vet who suggested my dog was coming up on that time and I didn't agree, I'd either just nod my head and continue to do my own thing or simply tell my vet that I disagreed and that I'm fully prepared to do the deed when I believe my dog's quality of life has decreased to the point where such a decision is necessary. No need to feel guilted by a vet, and when something like that happens, just try to remember that vets likely see far more owners who hang on too long than the opposite.

 

J.

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If I had listened to my vet a year ago, my 12 year old would be gone. Georgia had what we think was a stroke last year. My vet was basing her opinion on what she was seeing in front of her. Granted GA had a few really bad days...ok it was a couple weeks before she really started turning around. And she had lost so much weight. But my gut, not my heart told me to give her a minute to catch her breath. Yesterday she outran the 6 year old to get the ball and then played keep-away. My rule of thumb is when there is little joy, or when they are consistently having more bad days than good, it time to consider...well, you know. It sounds to me like you have a pretty good handle on things. And that Kit is still having a good time. <3

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It must be tricky for vets to discuss such a difficult subject with loving owners. My vet has never broached the issue with me. Though he is always supportive of my decisions, I am definitely the one driving that bus. I find this a rather agonizing decision because generally the dog's decline is by inches and I dont know that I always get the full picture because I am so close to the situation.

 

So I do what you do. Go by quality of life and monitor things. Sounds like your Kit is still enjoying life which is so fantastic. With my Sheltie in her last year, I looked at whether she was still enjoying her three favorite things -- food, barking and hanging out in the yard. I didn't count whether she enjoyed the company of friends and family, because I see that as love and these darn dogs love us to their last breath.

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jvw: I am so sorry that you lost your Seamus.

 

Thanks very much to all of you for all the comments and support. I agree that "gut instinct" is entirely separate from emotions, as I have many times had the experience of my instincts telling me one thing when my emotions would rather believe something else. And I know I ignore those instincts at my (or someone else's) peril.

 

I know that the day I chose for Jester was the right day, even though I didn't know it when I got up that morning. Part of me hated myself for what I was doing, because he still wanted very much to be alive and to enjoy things. But he was too compromised physically to be able to do anything he enjoyed any longer, except eat. He ate an entire cooked chicken breast just before I took him to the vet.

 

These dogs have so much heart. They just never give up. It's hard to be in that position of sort of having to give up for them. It is the only bad thing about dogs.

 

Thanks for supporting me in knowing my dog. Kit is still such a delight, and while she sleeps a lot when she is awake she is mostly having a good time. I watch her very closely and don't see pain in her eyes. She will be with me for a little while yet...... :wub:

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When we lost Buzz to bone cancer, right before the last chemo treatment the oncology vet asked me, "Do you really want to put him through this again?"

 

I wish I had listened to him. A few days after the treatment, I realized Buzz was whimpering in pain in his sleep. He was put to sleep that day.

 

It's very, very hard to know sometimes.

 

Ruth & Gibbs

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I'm reading every one of these posts with a combination of wanting to learn and understand, and feeling tears at the back of my eye lids as I have two that are fifteen - Megan will be sixteen in August and Celt in November. While both are still very active and doing well, I can see the signs of aging and know it will all be downhill from here on out.

 

Deb Crowder, who has been on these boards for many years, said it best of all about euthanasia - "We do it for them because we love them that much." I try to keep that thought at the front of my mind when I think about my old guys, that it's the love for them that motivates us to do what is right. We can't substitute selfishness on our part for putting their welfare first. It's a hard thing but a blessing to usher them peacefully out of a diminished life (or pain, or fear, or whatever) when it's time.

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We lost Max not long ago to cancer, he was 12. bc mixed breed.

it was really hard, but knew it was time.

I think you will know then the times comes, we all more or less do. Some people just dont, cant let go and wait to long.

Had friend that did that, and really felt bad for the dog.

Am glad to hear that Kit is doing so well at 16.

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  • 1 month later...

Thanks, Moosikins.  Lately she is eating very well; eating all the food at each meal, and her elimination is normal as well. I am proud of her, as she is fully 16.5 years old now.

She is even going for short walks each morning with me and the other dogs. Of course, at this time of year that means rolling out of bed at 4:30 or 5 and taking the dogs out before anything else, even coffee. This morning it was 89 degrees at 5:30.  The main thing is she is still enjoying life.  I aspire to be that good at living when I am her age!

 

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Talk about feisty old girls - this morning, our Megan, who will be 16 in August, and always a flirt who loved to tease younger male dogs, was getting on her inner cougar with the guest hound. I only wish I'd gotten video!

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