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  • When is it time?

    We have all groomed very elderly pets. I have had poodles come in that are well over twenty. Some are coherant some are not. Some can stand and some can not. We have seen blind, deaf, senile pets who can not control themselves. What do you tell your customers?

    This is got to be the hardest question ever asked on this board. I am sure we all have elderly pets and are facing the inevitable.

    When is it time to take your beloved pet to the Rainbow Bridge?

    How do you know it is time? What are the signs?

    Are we being selfish and just prolonging life that has no quality? Or should we let nature take it's course no matter what. What do the vets say?

    I hate to be the one to ask this question but I do it not only for myself but for my customers and all who are facing this dilema now and in the future. I pray it helps those who are to afraid to ask but desperately need the answer.

    Chuck

  • #2
    WOW, that is the hardest thing to talk about cause no one wants to think of it, even though they know it has to come to a major hard decision in their lives to end the life of their pet, member of their family and in some cases the only one left in their lives.
    Lots of times they do ask, sometimes they just want to know it's alright to make this hard decision, it's like giving them the permission to do it.
    I tell them they will really know in their heart what needs to be done and when, it's when the dog doesn't have any good quality of life left. Think of your dog not of yourself, do what is good for him.

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    • #3
      Well, the vets I used to work with would suggest that the owner make a list of what they consider signs of quality of life. The most common responses were:

      1. Lack of pain, or ability to control pain within reason
      2. Eating and drinking normally
      3. Able to control bodily functions
      4. Interest in family members. Enjoys attention/petting from family
      5. Interest in favorite toys
      6. Ability to stand and walk with minimal assistance

      The first three were the major ones; pain, eating, and controlling bodily functions. The other three were secondary.

      We considered a negative indication on any of the first three as signs that it's time. If the last three were negative, we also considered that as an indication that it the time was approaching. Add in pain, anorexia, or loss of continence to one or more of the last three, and we'd try to lead them into making the decision that it's time to let the pet go.

      It's a very difficult situation. I try to support clients in whatever decision they make, but try to avoid telling them it's time, or making the decision for them. If they ask, or if they open the discussion in some way, I'll lead them through the six criteria we devised, and try to help them make their decision. And like I said, I support them, no matter what they decide. Even when I think they've made the wrong choice.

      In the case of a clients pet who is clearly suffering, I'll ask them if they've discussed their options with their vet. If they seem receptive, I'll very gently and compassionately discuss quality of life issues. If they aren't receptive, I let it drop. I hate to drop it, but I don't feel it's my place to force someone into making a decision they aren't ready to make. If I force the issue, there's a good chance they'll focus their feelings of guilt on me, and resent me for forcing the issue. And that's not good for their emotional health.

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      • #4
        when is it the right time

        i groom a 14 year old english cocker spaniel every couple of months. he is blind and deaf,has moles all over his his head,always matted and his breath is like death! BUT he is a good old boy tho and his owner is a very nice lady,she even gave me a christmas card from him,it was really cute.everytime i groom him i always think it will be the last time i get to see him. im dreading the day that i will have to send her a sympathy card.

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        • #5
          What a question

          I have to say it all depends if they are enjoying life in the opinions that matter. I do quite a few very elderly since housecall grooming does well by them. A couple I woud have sent them on over the bridge, but wouldn't push it. One old fellow has lack of ability to stand (uses a wheely) and is sometimes incontinent. But he loves grooming, snacks, walks in the cart they bought for him. He is so sweet and still alert, no pain showing. Before Christmas I thought I'd not see him as he seemed going down, but just groomed him again on Thursday and he was much better.

          Long ago I had an Irish Setter who was dieing. I wanted to believe in a higher Power taking her. I had a vet come and give her meds. I am forever sorry that I didn't end her life earlier.

          So yep I just ask customers, Do you think Rufus is enjoying life? Yes, then keep on, no, then discuss options with the Veterinarian.
          Money will buy you a pretty good dog but it won't buy the wag of it's tail.

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          • #6
            I've never had someone ask me for my opinion, but I've seen some where you have to wonder why keep them going? There's an ancient maltese (I think?) that is brought in at work on a somewhat regular basis. The dog is blind, deaf, has seizures, bites, pees and poops on himself, and can barely stand. Maybe he does better at home, but from the looks of it, he's not enjoying life.

            On the other hand, I myself have my beagle, though she lives at my parent's house in VA. She's 17-18 years old and has had several close calls, but I can't bear to let her go. Though, I do believe she still enjoys life, she likes attention, chewing on bones and stuff, and being taken out front to roll in the grass.

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            • #7
              I would have to keep my mouth shut if a customer asked.
              I know people will probably get on me about this and I know sometimes it has to be done. BUT I feel that if a person feels and acts like this dog is a member of the family and treats it more like a child than a dog how could you ever put them to sleep? I had a dog who was very sick for a year. She was more like our first born child. I spent $10,000 (that we did not have) on her giving her the best care that she could possibly have. People thought we were crazy and would ask why don't you put that dog to sleep. My answer, would you put your child to sleep? Yes it was hard but we took care of her. She was only 9 when she died. If she would have been 17 and just old I would feel the same way.

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              • #8
                I am facing this now,I am having De Ja Vou,I mean really, down to the funny avatar you display.I will know more tomorrow...I read a book once from library...how you know. Take your time..don't rush ...no regrets. Bills to pay tonite..no matter what...then grocery gal forgets my stamps I paid for!

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                • #9
                  I always tell my customers that they know their dog better than anyone else and that they will know when it is time to say goodbye.

                  The hardest discussion I've had with a customer came well over a year ago. I had groomed Max only 2 or 3 times. The family had 2 young children, one of which was crawling. Max was a old dog and a serious biter during the grooming process. I raised the issue with the owner that, in my opinion, Max was to unpredictable to have around young children. (The owner in an earlier visit had told me that once they were on their way to the vets to have the dog euthanized but they couldn't go through with it.) I could just imagine the baby grabbing Max by the tail or by the ear and Max taking a chunk out of the baby's face.

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                  • #10
                    three things

                    I always go by the three things.

                    three things that make your dog himself.

                    My doberman lefty loved buttered toast in the morning.
                    He always barked at the door three time in a row to be let in,
                    and he always got all excited if you asked him if he wanted to go
                    out to the barn and be the FARM DOG!

                    When his heart started to fail, he started not wanting to bark anymore
                    due to discomfort, and coughting.
                    He no longer wanted to eat even the toast, and
                    FARM dog, got no reaction.
                    I knew it then.
                    Those tired eyes no longer focused on us, just his inner misery.

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                    • #11
                      I don't know how it is with other people, but when I looked into my Champ's eyes one day I just KNEW it was time. His eyes told me "Mom, I'm tired, I'm in pain, please help me". Can't say anymore, losing a pet just hurts too much.
                      don't find yourself up a creek without a poodle.

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                      • #12
                        If you do not know it isn't time.

                        Thanks everyone,

                        I am sure this thread helped alot of people understand what they are going through and how and when to make that tough decision.

                        My dog Russell almost died when given a drug by a local vet for his arthritis. She perscribed Anaprox whic right on the lable says do not use for dogs or cats.

                        The vet raised horses so she thought she was doing him a favor. Anaprox should only be used with horses and humans. What it did was strip his own protective coating from his stomach and allowed his stomach acid to perforate his stomach.

                        He started throwing up blood and we went back to sewe the vet. She wouldn't even see us personally but sent out a tech with a "Release Form".

                        We didn't sign and immediately took him to a vet who said, "Rush him to the University of Pennsylvania Veterinay Hospital immediately. He saved Russells life. The other vet would have burried her mistake.

                        Being so strong from years of cathing the frisbee Russell was the only dog in the U of Pennsylvania history to survive a perforated ulser. He was is Intensive care there for ten days.

                        Both of us were very shaken up, crying and trying to deal with his loss so the U of P had a "Dog Physciatrist" named Dr. Jamie Quackenbush, no lie. He was all of 4 ft. tall and he counceled us.

                        We asked "When do you know it is the right time" He asnwered very calmly an directly. "When the time comes you will know. If you do not know it is not the right time". Very simplistyic and he was right.

                        Like alot of posts in this thred you have all written he was right. Russell had a massive stroke two years after his fight with death and we rushed him to the vet, the one who saved his life. Up until that time he passed all the tests written about.

                        He gave and accepted love, ate, played, etc. But at the vet hospital he was unable to sit up streight kind of leaned over and was trembling terribly. You could see the despiration it in his eyes. The vet said that he could possibly save him but he would never be the same because of the stroke.

                        We looked in Russells eyes and at each other and we knew it was time. It was the hardest decision either of us ever made in our lives (crying now). We did it for him. We stayed till it was over.

                        I kind of made peace with his loss a few years before, when he was in intensive care but Beth could not get over his loss being his nurse for 2.5 years. Not until she started working with pets as a bather. You never really get over it but you make peace with yourself.

                        We had Russell cremated. Beth made an Urn out of clay in her pottery class and Russell is on our Credenza. We will take him with us when either of us go. He made such a difference in our lives. Sorry for the blatehring but just couldn't stop.

                        I hope this thread and "Knowing when" allowes you all to experience and enjoy all the rest of the time you have with your beloved pets without the doubt clouding your minds of when.

                        This one was for you Russell we love you and miss you.

                        Chuck

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                        • #13
                          Thanks

                          for sharing Chuck. A tear helps keep perspective in the morning.

                          As far as member of the family, as I get older and have experienced many loved peoples deaths and dying, I hope that if I got to such a state of misery, that I could at least end my own life (without having to move to Oregon). It interests me, one usually would be thought of as cruel keeping a dog alive past it's ability to feel any good but mostly pain and misery. One would be a murderer if they did ended their Aunties life in a similar state. Well that is a whole other line. But as I said keeping my one dog in such misery thinking God would take the dog when God was ready still can haunt me. She would have been so glad to not be in such a bad state. Again, I hope to be able to end any misery I might have in the future if there is no way out over the hurdle.
                          Money will buy you a pretty good dog but it won't buy the wag of it's tail.

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                          • #14
                            Once Upon A Time when I was 19 and working at a resturunt in Medford. This place used to be a farm house with a barn and everything till it was developed. We had CATS lots of feral resterount cats. The one I will tell you about was Ballsey. He was a Black short haired tom. You could look at him and be amazed that any cat could be so Majestic and Reagle. Well a few years before I started there he went AWAY. No one saw him for years. ONe summer day he strolls back to the kitchen door like he was never gone. But oh how you could see how BAD a jurney he had. Horse kicked in the face scrawney mangy looking. But in his eyes you could see the Glorious cat that he was. Well we fed him nurses him but to no avail. I was petting him outside when a lump on his back Exploded. Maggots stench of death. Right then I took him to the Vet My vet my meger pay. She ran tests and found he had FLIV. He was so sick and dehydrated that she could not find a vein so Euthanazia Pink went stright to his heart. He curld up in my lap as he died and was finally at peace. He came back to us so we could finish his jurney for him. All thease years later I still rember how wonder ful he was even though he was so sick and beaten.
                            I Don't know how that will help to let people decid when it is time but our animal some times do it for us. There is a look in there eyes even when we want soo bad to denie it. I only knew Balsey for a few days but I won't forget him.

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                            • #15
                              I am going to Amsterdam for that flight home!

                              Arrooh,

                              Thanks for the empathy. I understand what you are saying. Having to face my death when I had lung cancer a few years back I made up my mind. When it is my time I will not suffer myself or my family. I will go over the Rainbow Bridge to be with Russell at my own discretion. No one will tell me that I can help my pet but not myself.

                              I am the master of my own destiny and if there is not other recource I will go with my dignity still intact feeling no pain. My God is an understanding God and will greet me with open arms.

                              I just wish I could have done the same for my dear mother who died in prolonged excrusiating pain with terminal pancreatic cancer. The hospice nurse told me that God's gift to cancer patients was Morphine. We just couldn't legally give her enough to spare her undue misery.

                              That will not be the case with me. Thanks again and see you soon.

                              Chuck

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