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Anticipatory Grief(dog with cancer)

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Hello everyone. This is my first post. 


So I had just moved here to Oahu with my husband(active military) this past January from California. First time ever living out of state. I was struggling to adapt to this place despite how amazing it is. We decided one day on a whim to adopt a dog. This was around this past March. We rescued a beautiful and loving hound mix brindle named Bruno. He was such a skinny little thing but still had such a happy go lucky personality. 

My husband had to fly out back to California for a yearly training a little bit after we took Bruno home, so it was just me and our pup for 2 and a half months. Within those months we bonded and grew closer. He helped me get through those grueling few weeks without my husband. Especially since I knew no one out here yet. 

Fastforward to this September. I noticed he had a small lump in his nose. I ignored it for a bit but then noticed it getting bigger over a course of a few weeks. We took him to the vet to check it out and they said it was either(forgive me, my vocabulary is crap because this grief has my mind all jumbled) malignant (I hope that’s the word?) or cancerous. I stayed positive and thought, hey maybe it’s malignant. But i got that awful call saying it was indeed cancerous. He was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in his nose. I was told this while I was at work and it was already just a busy and stressful day.

So we were referred to an oncologist in Honolulu. His options were a medication called Piroxicam, surgery, and chemo. Piroxicam was the only thing we could really afford. Looking back I really wish we went through with the surgery but it’s too late now.

Anyway, we gave it at least a month or so to see if the medication was effective. He only got worse from there and long story short, we were just given the most expensive and most painful options for him. Pretty much a dead end.


Life has just been so turbulent for my husband and I since then. Some days we are okay or at least try to be and others our hearts just crumble. His nose has gotten so bad to where he’s starting to scratch it a lot. Me and my husband have already discussed putting him down because we can’t do anything else to save him now. But I just hate how it’s hard to tell when would be a good time. When is it too early? When is it too late? I mean I know he is in a lot of pain but he is also still able to go for walks and eat normally. I don’t want to end his life when he is still able to enjoy life but I also don’t want to have to wait too long and have to put him down without my husband. My husband has to go for another training next month and I’m afraid of Bruno getting to that point where I have to put him down by myself. All the uncertainty has just been giving me so much anxiety that sometimes I feel like I can’t breath. I need some advice, support, just anything from anyone that went through the same thing. I just feel so broken right now...







UPDATE: So with just research, other opinions and heavy,emotional discussion with my Husband, we have decided to put him down this upcoming Sunday. Though he is still able to walk and eat, it just seems day by day he gets worse and suffers more. It breaks our hearts each time we look at his scratched up nose. He also has been sneezing up blood a lot more frequently... We just do not want him to get to the point where he just hates living through the pain. Guys, I am so scared. The mention of even putting him down put me into a mental breakdown that I have never felt before. I'm scared of how I will be when we actually do go through with the process. And I just find myself crying every single day. I just feel so horrible..

Update 12/11/17: sorry I haven’t had a chance to reply to all of your loving and supportive comments. Thank you all for your comforting words. Today my husband and I let our angel cross the rainbow bridge. It had to be one of the most heart breaking things we’ve had to do. Leading up to this day, we took him out every chance we got, my husband made him steak and rice and every single day I told him every single thing I wanted to and let him know numerous times to give my husband and I a sign that he is okay after he is gone. What do you know, moments after we left the vet, an egret flew very low and closely to our car. For a good minute. We took that as his sign of letting us know he is okay. I’m relieved he is no longer in pain but I of course still miss him so much...

Edited by jsalas408
Recent update in the topic.

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Hi @jsalas408, oh my what a sweetheart he is! I am so sorry you guys are going through this.

I am sure you have done your research on this, I guess my advice is, to ask your vet. It is obviously aggressive and maybe annoying for him but until the cancer is really affecting him greatly...  internally... it's hard to know when is the right time.

I had two older cats that both got lymphoma - one in one year, and one the next year. It progressed slowly with medication. Eventually, the cat got worse, hunched over more, hiding, very obviously not the same, just not enjoying life. I couldn't do it... selfishly probably waited too long for one... and then for each one, I had a day where I just could tell - it was enough. And I literally called the vet and went in that day.

So, I kind of feel like you will know the right time - but if you want your husband there, well, you might have to do it a little "early." But sadly, it is inevitable so whenever you do decide, just please don't drag yourself through feeling guilty. You had a short but wonderful time together. He will go with you there at his side and totally loved.   

Sorry I am not of more help. My heart is breaking for you. :(     


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I am so sorry.  What you are facing is the hardest thing we could face.  My son's dog, Skye, lived with me half his life when Paul had jobs or schooling he couldn't have him with him.  When Skye was middle aged we noticed him turning his front paws under, took him to the vet, he had a crippling disease.  Paul, an engineer, made a walker for him but it was complicated by it being his front paws rather than back ones.  In time he couldn't maneuver, and we'd take him for walks in a wagon.  Skye was always happy happy.  He became incontinent.  He had a rectal tumor.  I talked to Paul about having him put to sleep, he put it off.  One day the tumor burst.  I can't even imagine the pain Skye went through.  They rushed him to the vet and had him put to sleep, a little too late.  Animals are stoic.  They try not to show the pain they're in, it's part of the "survival of the fittest" instinct.  We miss Skye, even now four years later, we think of him all the time.  He was my first granddoggy, and very special.

Usually I weigh their quality of life with their pain, which ones seems more weighted?  I don't like to see an animal suffer for our sake.  But it's hard too, damned hard!  We agonize with questions afterwards, did I do it too soon?  Too late?  None of this helps but it's common in grief.  We do what we feel is best for them, not for us.  But there's no easy definitive answer.  We have to listen to our inner voice telling us when it is time.  God be with you as you agonize over this decision.  Know our hearts and prayers are with you.  One thing I know, Bruno was fortunate to get you and be in your home.  You gave him love and every dog needs and deserves that.

Here is a picture of Skye sitting weird, he was indeed special.

Skye sitting weird.jpg

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jsalas408 your Bruno is so sweet, my heart is breaking for the three of you ...It is one of the most heartbreaking things in life to know that a pet has no future and we make that painful decision. Oh I know the terror, the agony of knowing soon will be the end. Of what life will be after this.

I won't tell you to cherish every moment with him, I know you will. But as much as you can,as hard as it may be,try to live in the present and not let your fear creep into these precious moments.I know, easier said than done. But see it as a present to Bruno and yourself.Because these moments will live in your memory.

I wish I could say something to help you, to ease your pain and your fear.I am so so sorry....May God give you strength and peace during this difficult time. Post here when you feel like it and let us know how you're doing. We are here for you.






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Thank you AJWCat...Many times when  I read your posts or KayC's  I feel you express my own emotions so well....I am so sorry for your kitties.

KayC  your Skye looks so adorable, what a sweet face and loving eyes...He sure was special .I am so sorry he's not with you anymore. It so incredibly hard to let them go...




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Our Skye was "special", he was a Siberian Husky who reminded me of a Down's Syndrome child, he was simple but very very happy, sometimes he'd blank out and stare at the wall, but always, happy happy.  He was completely guileless.  My first granddoggy, he will always be special to me and I'll miss him until the day I die.
It helps me to think of the Rainbow Bridge...perhaps it varies a bit from the video, but I do think they're in that other place and they're happy and we'll get to be with them again someday.

I do think we'll know inside when their "time" has come and I pray that strengthens your resolve as you do what you need to do to help him through this, just love and appreciate each moment with him between now and that time.


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