How Do We Know When It Is Time To Say Goodbye? Pet Hospice

14th Sep 2017

How do we know when it is time to say goodbye? Pet Hospice

How do we know when it is time to say goodbye?

Pet Hospice

I find it very difficult to write this post because it has only been two months since the question of Compassionate Euthanasia came up in our home. “How do we know when it is time to say goodbye?” Just as important a question, “How do we find peace while making this decision?” Neither question is easy to answer and the way you answer will be very specific to you and your family. Through our process, as difficult as it was, we found peace. This is our story.

Shasta Finds His Forever Family

In November 2013 we were blessed to find Shasta and rescued him as a senior. Within the first few months of joining our family, he was diagnosed with arthritis (see Diagnosing Shasta) and later with Cushing’s Disease. In spite of his health challenges, he had almost four wonderful years with us (I’ll have upcoming posts related to our good years).Pet Hospice-Shasta's Photo Collage

Aging Shasta

Around April 2017 we started to notice him slowing down and saw other signs of aging. His vision declined. His movements became slower and he was more cautious about jumping on or off furniture. His appetite also changed, more specifically he became a picky eater whereas he used to love everything and was very food motivated.

In May 2017 at BlogPaws there was a turning point in his health. He grew anxious and his appetite rapidly declined. He responded really well to acupuncture with Dr. July Buzby.  Since she also knows Shasta well, she was concerned about how fragile he seemed and recommended we take him to an Emergency vet in Myrtle Beach (we researched where to go using AAHA). We wanted to make sure he was not having an Addison’s crisis (this is the opposite of Cushing’s and can result from treatment). Thankfully, he improved though he never returned to where he was prior to this episode. We were grateful when he regained his appetite, desperate to eat but a bit off balance from his new medications.Compassionate Euthanasia-Shasta eating medicated

Unfortunately, on the flight home, I realized our travel days together were at an end. He was anxious at new locations and took longer each time to orient himself. This was a painful realization since he loved traveling and always wanted to be with us. It also meant his pet therapy days were over. He still loved our walks, being with us and eating, although pickier as I mentioned before. He remained happy and comfortable until early July.

The good news was I had already started conversations with Treatibles at BlogPaws. They make CBD chews, oils and gelcaps (I promise a whole post in the future as I love them). We intended to use it for Shasta’s anxiety and arthritis pain but ultimately the oil kept him calm and comfortable during the last week of his life.

Wednesday, July 12, I called Dr. Buzby and asked her THE question, “How do we know when it’s time to say goodbye?”. She suggested we think of the top three things Shasta enjoyed doing. When he lost the ability to do two of these things, we would know it was time. I bawled while at the same time felt comfort that there was something so concrete to help us make this painful decision.

Shasta’s Last 24 Hours

That night Denton and I discussed the new information from Dr. Buzby. We realized Shasta had stopped playing with his squeaky toys probably all the way back in late April (one of three). He had also stopped going for walks and eating over the prior week (two and three of three). Heartbroken, we knew we were not ready THAT night, but the time was soon.

We cuddled and loved on Shasta all night and, thanks to Treatibles, he was comfortable. When the alarm went off the next morning his breathing was shallow and rapid. We knew the end was near, we held him close and told him how much we loved and would miss him. We assured him that it was OK to let go, he didn’t need to fight anymore and that we would see him again someday. Within two minutes he passed peacefully in our arms.

The Rainbow Bridge Poem-Harley and Shasta

Finding and Sharing Peace

Though we did not have to make the appointment for Compassionate Euthanasia we were there. There is NOTHING that will heal the crushing heartbreak, but we did find peace. I have shared the concept regarding their top three favorite activities with fellow pet parents facing this painful decision as well as with those who have already made the decision for Compassionate Euthanasia. Those who have made the choice tear up with me as they make peace with their decision. Those in the process also voice how grateful they are for a better method of determining when it is time to say goodbye.

3 Questions to help you find peace with Compassionate Euthanasia #compassionateeuthanasia Click To Tweet

I also love Lap of Love, mobile veterinarians who focus on veterinary hospice, in-home euthanasia and consultations for your terminally ill or elderly pet”. This video with one of their founders, Dr. Dani, is one of the best discussions about Quality of Life Issues I have ever heard.

Find peace while making a heartbreaking decision-Pet Hospice, knowing when to say goodbye

We will eventually share and honor the love we have for Shasta by rescuing another.  I do not plan to rename Shasta’s Yorkie Yap or Shasta’s Swag and Dog Deals but will introduce you to the new contributor when we adopt our next furry family member. In the meantime, I will continue previously planned posts with information gathered while he was still with us.

Until Smiles, Barks and Wagging Tails Return….Vet Care Disclaimer for Denise's Dog Dish

Have you experienced this same situation and faced THE decision? What do you think of the three questions?

24 comments on “How Do We Know When It Is Time To Say Goodbye? Pet Hospice

  1. I am so sorry for your loss of Shasta. I really appreciate this post though. Our Sheba was the first dog that we had to make that decision for, and it makes me feel better to know that the three things was appropriate for her. She no longer wanted to play, and no longer wanted to eat anything. I had promised her that we’d let her go when that time came, especially that she didn’t play, since that was her favorite thing.
    We never made that decision for our beagle Kobi who we lost almost 3 years ago now. But he was a totally different dog than Sheba….a laid back couch potato. He died peacefully at home on the bed with our whole family and I know that was right for him. I guess my point is that every dog is different, and so is every decision. But the top 3 still applied to him too…all he had given up was eating…he still wanted to be outside in the yard, and with his family. I will share that with others I know as well if they are faced with that dreaded decision.

    • Knowing those “3 things” really helped bring peace during one of the most difficult times we’ve experienced. I am glad they’ve helped you know too. Having our story help another family means the world!

  2. You gave Shasta the best last years as a senior dog anyone could ask for. I think the 3 questions are a smart indication. It is so hard to tell when the time is right. If you wait too long your beloved pet is in pain and misery and no one wants that. I had to let my cat Maggie go when she was close to 19. It was a hard decision and I always wonder if I could have waited a few more days or weeks but I know she’s at peace, not suffering. It’s a blessing that Shasta passed peacefully in your arms, with your love the last thing he saw and felt in this world. Thank you for sharing Shasta’s story with us, I know how hard it must have been to write this. I know it will help people.

  3. I definitely should have started with a different post this one has me in tears! This must have been an incredible time to go through, I don’t even want to imagine. But you did a beautiful thing years ago when you took Shasta in knowing that there might not have been that long to spend with him. I hope when the time comes I am able to make the right decision too. I have just recently started using CBD for my pup’s thunderstorm anxiety, I’m glad to hear you’ve had good results with it, I wasn’t sure if I was making up that they were helping or not!

  4. What a hard post this must have been to write, but I’m sure others in similar situations will find comfort in it. Just today at Rita’s vet checkup, there was a woman in the waiting room with 4 little poodle mixes, one of whom was quite old. I could hear her talking to the vet (not sure why they were doing that in the waiting room??) about how to know when. He was giving her advice about more bad days than good, etc. Poor lady. I could see she was very sad about it. So hard!

    • It was very difficult to write but knowing the information gave me so much peace I knew I needed to share it. When I went to the vet’s office to pick up Shasta’s ashes I started crying, with a full waiting room, a women approached me and asked if she could give me a hug and then cried with me too. She may have been a stranger but she was a fellow pet parent and I was so grateful. It must have been an awful conversation to have in the waiting room… my heart goes out to her.

  5. I am so sorry for your incredible loss of little Shasta. Having written about euthanasia myself, it is heartbreaking to think about, let alone go through. What a blessing Shasta went on his own terms. Continued prayers for healing.

  6. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m comforted Shasta was comfortable in your arms and your home when it was his time. Unfortunately, I had to make the choice to help my previous cat cross the bridge. I knew the night she stopped eating her treats was the end. It was the hardest thing I ever did, but it was done with love.
    Sweet Purrfections recently posted…Sunday SelfieMy Profile

  7. I am so sorry for your loss. I remember Shasta’s vet trip at BlogPaws. I am glad he took that last trip and got to spend 4 wonderful years with you. I love Dr Dani – I met her at Global Pet Expo where she was honoured for her work and compassion. I too considered the 3 things with Cookie, Nala and Isabelle. I also considered pain and recovery potential at their age from treatments. Cookie the lab was 13.5 and had awful cancer and terrible arthritis and was really suffering (Treatibles might have helped). We made the difficult decision with her – she went so peacefully in my arms after suddenly regaining her appetite momentarily and eating a whole bar-b-q chicken- it was difficult and so sad but I believe it was the kindest thing to do and we had great support from our vet. Isabelle was 17.5 and started having seizures and losing weight. She became almost paralysed. I rushed her to the vet and the vet suggested it was time but then she popped her head up and clearly was not ready. Nor was I. We went home and she waited for the girls to say goodbye then passed peacefully in my arms at 3 in the morning (for some reason I woke up and went to her). Nala the cat was 19.5 and got kidney issues and stopped eating. I hand fed her tiny bits of meds, special food, treats and water. I should maybe have done more for her sooner but she passed in my arms on the way to the vet with the whole family.
    Talent Hounds recently posted…Exclusive Videos and Photos from Fall Canadian Pet Expo that will make you wish you were there.My Profile

    • I think the most important thing we can remember is that we know our pets best and we need to be kind to ourselves during and after. I know regardless of all of the information, I still find myself looking back and questioning myself. I try to nip that in the bud as soon as the thoughts invade and refocus on all of our wonderful times together.

  8. I didn’t know that Shasta had to visit an emergency vet in Myrtle Beach. This post must have been so difficult for you to write, but I’m sure many will find this so helpful. It has been many, many years since I’ve had to choose compassionate euthanasia for a pet, and the top 3 things would have been helpful then. Sending you lots of hugs.
    Lola The Rescued Cat recently posted…I Write to Save Lives #RememberTheRescueMy Profile

    • We were at the Vet during the Sip and Paint… It was definitely difficult to write. I probably would have waited even longer but the more people I’ve shared the top 3 things with and seen their reactions of release from guilt the more I knew I shouldn’t wait… ???

  9. A beautiful tribute to Shasta, it is never an easy decision to make as a pet owner, but I like the 3 favourite things way. I am also interested in CBD for pets, I have started taking it myself and am about to research it for dogs, with an idea to help our terrible anxious rescue girl. We are in the UK but I will still look at treatibles. Thank you for this post. x

  10. Your post seriously made me cry! I love my little Babu to bits and he is already 14! I cannot think of a life without him. So sorry for your loss, I am sure Shasta is always looking down on you from her puppy play field somewhere!
    Paroma Chakravarty recently posted…An Offbeat Guide to the French Riviera: Top 6 Things to do in St. Tropez Beyond it’s NightlifeMy Profile

  11. I’ve heard of the three (or five) favorite things method before. I think it’s a good gauge. I’m glad Treatibles made Shasta’s last days more comfortable.

  12. Thank you so much for this post. It’s very insightful. It’s so hard to ever know when it’s “time” because our emotions get in the way. We never truly want it to be time. <3
    Shelby Gottschalk recently posted…What I Learned from Hurricane IrmaMy Profile

  13. I am so glad you are going to keep the name. I remember being faced with the same decision after Pip passed and so happy I kept his name.

    I am also so glad Treatibles helped Shasta so much – and of course, happy I was able to spend some time with Shasta in Myrtle Beach.

    When you are ready, I know the right dog will find you guys – and what a lucky dog he/she will be!

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