When the vet won’t euthanize…end of life decisions.

Okay, it has been almost two years since we put Logan down, so I will try and put into words his last days, finally.  This is completely a personal post, about my own experience.  I am by no means an expert on this subject.  I really don’t know anyone who knows for sure.  But there is someone who thinks she does.  She is, of course, a veterinarian.  Here is my story….

Logan was 11 years old.  He was a purebred Golden Retriever.  He was the most gentle, affectionate, and low maintenance dog I have ever owned…..except for the hair!  lol  Well worth the love he gave us.  I believe this has a lot to do with the fact that he was raised by the most amazing breeder I have yet to come across, was neutered at about 8 weeks of age, wasn’t vacinated, and was raised on a raw food diet.  Vets and groomers couldn’t rave enough about his temperment, coat and teeth. This particular veterinarian strongly advised me against this.  Due to having very small children (crawling) and working full time 12 hour shifts, I couldn’t maintain the raw diet and switched to the next best thing, a quality kibble (actually the next best thing would probably be a purchased raw diet, something I may look into)

I can honestly say that Logan lived a very great life.  From following us out to the middle of the lake at the cottage in our canoe, to living in the country with room to roam, while being trained to stay on the property, (only to wander over to visit the neighbours with permission).  He slept with us every night. (unless he was sprayed by a skunk, which happened a total of 4 times in his lifetime)  He was spoiled with table scraps for awhile from my parents…which made him gain serious weight.  I had to lecture them several times…”not the bread!  not the bread!”  He eventually returned to his normal, healthy weight.

He had just turned 11. Things started to change drastically.  One night, Logan had a seizure.  He started convulsing, laying on his side, head far back, legs going frantically.  He urinated and deficated.  I called the emergency vet and they explained that he was having a seizure.  They told me what to do, and if it happened again that night to bring him in.  It didn’t.  I began reading everything and anything I could on seizures in Golden Retrievers.  Believe me, there’s alot.  Idiopathic Epilepsy, or brain cancer.  The seizures gradually continued and Logan quickly deteriorated.  We finally put him on phenobarbitol.  This seemed to manage the seizures for a short time, but made him ravounesly hungry (as he was after a seizure)  He would eat everything and everything.  He wasn’t the polite golden he used to be, the one who didn’t counter surf.  I learned this the hard way.  There was a tenderloin steak we wont discuss. ..

Eventually his fur began to look all matted, his eyes were glossed over, he went blind, and would stand in the corner and bark for half an hour.  Once he fell in the pond.  When we dragged him out he was almost unresponsive.  Some towels, a blow dryer and lots of hugs and kisses brought him back..to what he was.  Despondant, but tail wagging happy at times.

This is when I made “the appointment”  The seizures were increasing again and he was eliminating almost all the time.  When you looked in his eyes, he wasn’t there, yet he would still wag is tail as a golden does.  So I go in and see the vet.  She looks him over, determines that he almost completely blind, and orders a $300 geriatric blood test.

When I mentioned I had been doing some reading and thought it might be a brain tumor, she whipped her head around towards me, gave me the most dirty look, and said “You’re not thinking of putting him down are you??”  My face turned red.  My immediate response was “No!  It’s just, he has all the symptoms”  She said she didn’t feel anything in his lymph nodes, so that wasn’t very possible.

Home I went, feeling ashamed of myself, and giving Logan all the love I could give.  Surely enough, things got worse.  He was having more than one seizure a day, was barking in the corners more, and was mostly despondant.  He still had those moments where he would wag his tail and and smile, but you know there was nobody home.  This continued for a few months.  I finally got up the nerve to make “the call” again, after speaking to several people.  When I called the vet clinic, I asked what vet was on duty.  It turned out to be her again.  I explained that I didn’t want to speak to her, and a brief explanation of why, only to be put on hold with the vet to come on the line.  I explained the situation to her.  She had Logan’s file with her and explained his thyroid count was a little low, and that maybe that was causing the promlem, and that I should put him on this certain medication.  I explained to her that I was familiar with thyroid disorder and didn’t think this would solve the problem.  She assured me this would help and I was tired of arguing, so told her I would pick up the perscription later that day.  I have not been back since.

A few more weeks of coddling, sobbing, hugging and consoling.  And cleaning up messes.  The smell after a seizure is one only to be recognized by someone who has experienced it.  One morning, Logan wouldn’t get up from the driveway.  My parents and I had the talk.  We knew.  My mom was brave enough to call another vet clinic and explain the situation.  We made the appointment for 4:30.  My daughters were away at the cottage, but knew by his state when they left that he may not be there when they returned.

We spent the afternoon sitting with him, laying with him, and trying to rouse him and give him whatever special treats he wanted.  He didn’t lift his head.  When the time came, we lifted him together, layed a comforter beneath him, and carried him to the back of the van.  I sat with him. Again, he didn’t lift his head.  We waited at least 20 minutes in the waiting room at the new vet.  We had to discuss options of disposal, etc.  It was hard.  Again, dogs and cats coming and going, Logan didn’t lift his head.  People looked at us with that “knowing” look.  I guess they could read the looks on our faces as well.

When it was finally time, we had to carry him on his comforter hammock again.  The vet spoke with a very foreign accent, and was hard to understand, but it was evident he had a hard time finding a vein.  He explained that the dog was full of cancer, and his veins were totally collapsed. I understand he cant make a definate diagnosis from just that, but we also knew.  He tried to bite us when the vet tried to find a vein.  It was a very horrible experience.  Eventually they muzzled him.  My parents were with me at the time.  When they injected the big blue tube into his front leg, we held him tight and sobbed.  It took a long time.  He seemed to be fighting.  That bothers me to this day.

When it was over we left.  Everything had changed.

I continued to receive a $40 vet bill from the original vet for phenobarbitol.    I refused to pay the bill.  Not only was I a single parent financially struggling,  I was bitter.  The last bill I received was in Dec 2011.  They would be going to collections.  I still haven’t paid this bill.  I never will.  I have never stolen, and always paid my way in life.  I don’t feel shame.  I am taking a stand for all the proactive pet owners, and against all the veterinarians who don’t understand.  It was time…..It was time.  Right?

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12 thoughts on “When the vet won’t euthanize…end of life decisions.

Add yours

  1. Never doubt yourself about doing the right thing for the furry loves of your life. What a wonderful post and wonderdog Logan sounds like. We are so lucky to be able to provide our little furry friends with the compassionate end that I wish we could give humans when they are in that same stage of life. I look forward to reading many of your blogpost now that I have found you. – DogDaz

  2. What a terrible ordeal, and written about with such emotion: it’s clear you loved him very much. I hope your experience with the vet was abnormal, as such a lack of empathy is unforgivable. Any responsible owner is the best person to understand and evaluate their own animal’s needs. Thank goodness you were able to pluck up the courage to make the right decision on Logan’s behalf x

  3. This post touched deeply, we went trough the pretty much the same thing with our 15yo Epagneul Breton, the best dog on earth, vet only wanted to collect bills for meds, or having the dog under supervision, was too much. We went to different vet and he understood it was time to put him out of his misery, that wasn’t the kind of life 15 years companion deserved to have. Was the right thing to do, let him go peacefully.

  4. My heart goes out to you. I fully understand your pain! You did the right thing. I wish there was some way you could send the vet a bill for services not rendered!

  5. He was fighting for his life because he didn’t want to die.

    You should have tried everything possible to address the issue and find out what was wrong. If it was a fatal condition then it was time to order pain meds so he can live his last days without pain, and given lots of treats and love. Until dieing a natural death.

    It’s not your place to decide whether an animal should live or die. Thou shall not kill.
    You’re not god btw. And what if there is a new medical discovery that could have saved him? You’ll just never know.

    You think you did well, but he never asked you to kill him. If he wanted to die he would have given up and his body would give up much like humans. Instead he was fighting to live… And put to death Tamar way criminals in prisons go. Humane? A muzzle? No.

    Next time take the pain meds and let him die a natural death in peace.

  6. Logan fought because he knew you were going to kill him. I agree with Anne. It isn’t up to pet owners to play God when they haven’t explored all the options. My cat has cancer. We refuse to put him down despite the vet’s firm recommendation. The cat is active, eats well, and enjoys life. If that changes, I will make him as comfortable as I can until the day HE chooses to leave us–not a minute earlier. A natural death is possible if you truly love your pet, just as a natural death is possible for your human loved ones. Would you muzzle your grandmother and shove a tube into her leg while she fought for her life? Of course you wouldn’t! Why, that’s murder! Uh huh. And MURDER is what you did to Logan.

    1. I can’t believe you’re saying this. If an animal is suffering, “not there,” ect., you would keep it alive and in progressively worse pain? THAT is inhumane. You can’t keep a pet permanently numb, that would be the same as keeping it in a coma. Is there any joy in that? I don’t think so.

      The reaction of thinking an animal is not wanting to die is anthropomorphitizing. Animals get overexcited being in an unfamiliar environment, it’s a natural reaction. OP, I hope you take comfort that you did do the best possible service to your beloved Logan, even if it didn’t outwardly appear that way.

      To the two negative posters, shame on you for prolonging your animals’ suffering and taking it out on the OP for “playing God,” you are uneducated and cruel. It’s one thing if an animal passes away in its sleep from old age, it’s another thing if it can’t get up and urinates all over itself and you wait until it dehydrates/starves to death.

  7. I am here because I am going through something similar with my cat. I have never felt as bad as I do right now after a vet telling me that they don’t do “convenience” euthanizations. After making this heartbreaking decision, to have someone say that to me … I am gutted. And my cat is still in misery. Please ignore those selfish people that are judging you here. You know what is right and you did that out of kindness for your dear Logan.

  8. Thank you for your heartfelt story. I am currently going through a similar situation. I have a 15.5 year old Lhasa Apso (and a 13 year old Golden Retriever). My Lhasa has been on thyroid meds since she is 1 year old. She also suffers from a collapsed trachea, scar tissue and hardening of her lungs, leaky heart valve and pretty bad arthritis. She coughs constantly all day/night. I have made “the appointment” twice only to be told she needs $450 blood work done and $750 dental cleaning. She had her dental work done less than a year before this. These 2 different vets just want to keep making more and more money on my dog while she is suffering. They refuse to help me take her out of her misery. All they do is prescribe more and more medicine that either works for a very short time or not at all. They play on my guilt and make me feel awful for wanting to put her down. I don’t know how much more I can watch and hear her suffer. This is so agonizing for me, my dog, and my family (I have 4 children). Please know that you did right by your beloved dog and have no regrets with your decision! For those of you who posted negative comments about this persons decision, SHAME ON YOU!

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