I think it's time...just trying to reconcile my thoughts

We have a small terrier mix, Tikka, who is 18.5-19 years old (we adopted her in 2003 and they estimated her age at 6 months when we adopted her). Until this past year, she was in fine health, still jumping on the couch, still chasing things (but slowing down).

This last year has been hard on her. She was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, she can no longer jump on the couch, and now she doesn’t want to sleep in our room anymore and can no longer hold her bladder. She still enjoys food, but pretty much sleeps the rest of the time. She fell once when getting into her bed, and laid there for awhile, sleeping, in a super awkward position and I was afraid that it was going to be an emergency time, but then she got up and was fine a few hours later.

Lately I’ve noticed her exhibiting some super strange behavior like licking the bricks of our house. She is deaf now, and rarely wants to go outside. She can no longer go for “real walks” and spends most of her time sleeping in her crate with the door open.

I know the mantra of better a day too soon, and I believe it, and she’s as old as methuselah in dog years so it’s definitely been a good life, but man, it’s still a hard decision. She’s been a very good dog, and has outlasted all of our other pups (and one grandpup!). We used to joke (when we had to replace some of her toes with titanium pins) that she was going to slowly try to replace all of her body parts in order to live forever, but I’m afraid she’s at the end now - there’s no replacing her organs. I don’t really know why I’m posting other than to just sort of get my own thoughts into the air. My husband I think is struggling with it more than I am, but it’s still sad - she’s been a fixture in our family for so long. It truly marks the end of an era, she’s just slightly younger than our youngest son, and he left home too. There’s lots wrapped up in this little dog.

But in the end, it’s her welfare I care about. I want her to go peacefully and not in pain (and I know the final stages of congestive heart failure aren’t pretty). She deserves that.

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Hardest decision anyone will ever make :sleepy:
BTDT more than once.
But we can give them peace and a dignified end, and that is a gift.
{HUGS} as you deal with this.

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Strength and healing to you OP. I know the feeling well. I try to remember that sorrowful change is inevitable in our lifetime, the passing of the seasons and all that.

She sounds like a beautiful little soul. Warm hugs from afar :two_hearts:

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I know how you feel as I am dealing with this in my dog too. She is just 11 but a big dog and I see the rapid decline that she is experiencing in the last couple of months. She has started declining food in the morning and with her being diabetic and needing insulin it is making things difficult for me.

She still eats in the evening and loves being petted and with us in the evening but sleeps 99% of the time. She has some other things going on as well but doesn’t seem to be hurting.

With your dog if she isn’t in pain and is still eating I wouldn’t rush in making a decision. I think just having the time to process what is coming in the near future will help you be “somewhat ready” ( we never are) when the time is undeniably here. At least I hope so. 1 day at a time is what I say.

Hugs to you. It is so hard.

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I’ve been through this too many times recently.

You say she’s in congestive heart failure - I assume she’s on medication for that and it’s helping. When my cat went into congestive heart failure last year, it was quite sudden and there was no question, after about a week, that the meds weren’t going to help her. So that is something to keep in the back of your mind.

For myself, it’s about the quality of life. I watched my dad struggle with the reality that his dog had no quality of life for a while. He made him go on far longer than I would have (blind, deaf, senile), and in the end he had a stroke that left him unable to walk. We can keep them going, but should we? Is it about them - or me? That’s now the benchmark I have to use to decide when to keep going, and when to let them go.

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That sounds like our first dog. In the end blind, deaf and incontinent. We had her since I was too small to pick her up and she wasn’t a big dog and I am now 5ft 7". She was given to us when she was too old to round up sheep anymore.

We ran an agistment property and we didn’t want her to get accidentally run over, so we decided it was time and took her to the vet to be put down.

Going somewhere she was excited and happy. The vet nurse looked at her and said doesn’t she eat any more. Mum replied yes she eats everything you put in front of her. The vet nurse then looked shocked that we were putting her down, so maybe change your answer that she doesn’t want to eat any more.

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OP, I think you know the answer. It doesn’t make it any easier for sure. She sounds like a good little dog and I’m sure you will all miss her. ((Hugs))

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I’m so sorry you’re going through this. My corgi had CHF and was blind from cataracts, but seemed happy. But one night he had a stroke and passed away quickly and peacefully.

I definitely would have put him to sleep earlier if he hadn’t appeared so happy.

The grief is only on our end—all they know is that they don’t feel well.

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Oh gosh, I’m sorry. Since she isn’t in a crisis, would you be able to plan it after your son has a chance to say goodbye? Perhaps family members who she has known over the years can visit her. Maybe that would help bring closure for your family and comfort for her. There is something noble in old, beloved dogs. They’ve run their race and done their duty. They’ve earned their peaceful sleep knowing what it is to love and be loved.

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A veterinarian I once worked for once told me… better a month too early than a minute too late.

That has really stuck with me, and been comforting. My last two I put down were probably a week/days early, but a minute too late was fast approaching. My last cat I was able to give him his perfect day and he could enjoy it before being put to sleep. Including letting him eat an entire raw venison steak! I miss him terribly but I’m comforted in knowing I did what was right for him.

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We kept our lovely old English setter going too long. He was 16, deaf, incontinent, and so weak behind that if he stepped in a hole he literally couldn’t get out of it. It was horrible, and my husband couldn’t let him go. My horse vet agreed to put him down here at home, and DH refused to let it happen. I was devastated. A couple of weeks later, he agreed that it really was time. When she gave him the shot, he was instantly gone. She said she’d never seen a dog so ready to go. He was exhausted and hanging on by a thread. I felt so sad for him that I hadn’t let him pass when he wasn’t so feeble, when he still had some joy in his life.

I won’t put my sweet husband’s fantasies ahead of realities again, and we’ve had good talks about that for the future.

I’m sorry you are in this place, grief is the price for love.

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There’s never a good or easy time but there is no regret worse than waiting too long. When they have a slow decline it is harder to find the “right” time. When they get to leave us still bright eyed with good appetites and wagging tails I’ve seen people find a lot more peace long term. At the clinic I held so many animals where their owners had failed at their primary duty of being a guardian and good Stewart. Their emotions had clouded their judgment and all that was left behind was a wisp of the animal that once existed. Some of those still haunt me seeing an animal kept alive solely because a person was unable to let go.

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Best thoughts as you near that point, OP. Sounds like she has had a long and loved life.

Yeah, my dad and stepmom recently had to put down their Chi that she inherited from her father. That one had CHF, was on treatment, and they even had an ultrasound planned soon next check because she seemed worse lately. But stepmom told me the morning they put her down, they couldn’t find her when they got up. Finally found her underneath the guest bed just panting, and she wouldn’t come out. Stepmom had to drag her out. That, of course, was it. They loaded up to go to the vet immediately. Stepmom said she wished they had made the trip a week earlier.

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Honestly, it sounds like you’ve made your decision but just need some time to sit with it. Since she is still eating and it isn’t close to an emergency, maybe you can plan the euthanasia in a memorable way? Have your son come home for a day, hire a photographer to capture some pictures of the family with her, get her favorite treats, etc. And then say goodbye after. I wish I had been able to do something like that with my old boy this past spring. But a sudden onset of grand-mal seizures for him made it a very quick decision with no planning.

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