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Stacey28

RIP My Sweet Girl

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I'm really having a hard time coping with the loss of my dog, Haley.  She passed away on Christmas day.  She was 8 years old, I had her since she was a puppy.  She came into my life at a time when I needed something solid to lean on.  She fixed parts of me I didn't even know were broken.

On Saturday we went to the park to play ball as usual, it had snowed the night before and I noticed a couple of times that she slipped and her back legs went out from underneath her.  This has happened before she wasn't limping or showing any signs of distress so I thought nothing of it.  Later in the day we were getting into the car and she wasn't able to jump into the back seat.  This is a dog who loves to jump so I knew something was up but she appeared fine in all other aspects.  Later on that night, she refused to walk down stairs. 

The next day, she was having difficulties walking and was leaning over to one side when standing still.  I took her to an emergency clinic where she had been before but they were too busy and sent us to another clinic.

The vet initially thought it was an abdominal obstruction because of the way she was standing with a hunched back.  He took x-rays but couldn't see anything in her stomach.  He then looked at the spine and said that maybe he saw something but he couldn't be sure.  He then said that maybe there was a hairline fracture on her pelvis.  He did suggest various tests and to keep her overnight for observation but since this was an after hours clinic, the prices were severely inflated.  It was Sunday and my regular vet's office was open on Wednesday so I figured I could consult with her when she opened.  He gave me some pain meds to keep her comfortable and we went home.  He said he couldn't give her an anti-inflammatory without doing a blood test that cost about $300.

The next day, she was completely paralyzed from the waist down.  I rushed her to the clinic that had turned us away the day before.  The vet immediately took us in and explained that she had a herniated disc in her spinal column and that the nerves surrounding it were quickly dying.  We rushed her to a university vet clinic in another city for surgery.  The vet gave her a thorough examination and informed me that she only had a 50% chance of ever walking again with a long recovery period being confined to a cage.  He indicated that because of her age, we might have a few more years with her but she would probably develop other issues during that time.  He also said that the surgery could even make things worse for her.

She was a busy, active dog who loved to run and it just wouldn't have been fair to do that to her.  Had the odds been 75% or higher I would have definitely gone for it, but her mental and emotional health had to come first. She was suffering so I made the decision to euthanize her.

The guilt and anger are almost overwhelming at times.  I'm mad that the clinic turned me away and I'm mad that the 2nd vet wasn't experienced enough to tell me what was going on and seemed more interested in how much money he could get out of me than he was my dog's well being.  I know that paralyzed dogs can go on to lead happy lives but the rehabilitation it would have taken to get her there would have been intense and costly.  She would have needed 24 hour care for months.

Part of me feels selfish that I didn't at least try for her but I also feel that it would have been selfish to prolong her pain and possibly make it worse.

She was my best friend, I miss her so much.  It feels like she just slipped through my hands.

 

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Hi @Stacey28, I am so so sorry to read your story and for your loss of Haley.

There is no doubt about it, you and Haley would have been in for a very long and ugly period of surgery, recovery, potential complications, and a tremendous amount of worrying and suffering. I know you are angry - I don't blame you. The vets do the best they can (in most cases) but they miss things too unfortunately.

This is very sad and tragic, but you did do the right thing. I hate that these things happen to our animals and it's always so hard to get answers and of course they can't share when they feel bad until it really shows, and it's usually too late. Please do not feel guilty. You did the best you could at every turn. I know you will question that and come up with all kinds of what-ifs. Try not to do it. 

The anger I know all too well. I lost my cat suddenly 4+ months ago. You are probably still in shock (I was the first few days). I wish I could you something that would make it all better somehow. Nothing prepares you for this. I had to come to this forum to vent my feelings, frustrations and anger. And of course cry, which I have done a lot.

My only thought is at least Haley is not in pain anymore. That said, I understand where you are at and so much wish you were not here. But I hope you find a little peace in sharing your story. We all understand what you are going through. 

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Thanks @AJWCat I am definitely still in shock. I can't believe how quickly her condition deteriorated. Slipped in the snow one day and gone 2 days later?! I can't wrap my head around it and I miss her so much. She was my comfort through tough times and now she isn't here anymore.

We spent so much time together, just the two of us taking road trips, camping and hiking. Staying in cheap motels and sleeping in the car or under the stars. She loved to be out on the trails and would run circles around me. We had our own language and I could direct her by just pointing my finger. The thought of taking a long drive without her leaning against me is too much.

She made me laugh every day and brought so much joy to my life. I know I gave her a good life but what she gave in return was immeasurable. We were a team, a force to be reckoned with. She had the heart of a lion, she was my hero.

She must have been hiding her pain until it overwhelmed her and even in that state, she would try to jump up ready to go when I picked up my coat. She may have been a good candidate for rehabilitation but now I'll never know.

I guess what it all comes down to is that I just can't believe she's gone. I've owned animals all my life and I've been grieving the anticipated loss since day one but I also thought I'd get to see her live into old age and she'd give me a sign when the time came. This was a cruel twist of fate.

There is a huge hole in my life now that only she can fill.10403044_10152057571856980_3124148758648769274_n.thumb.jpg.1431f60af862b03a508837abd9c47b6d.jpg

 

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Oh Stacey, my heart is breaking for you.  I would have had to make the same decision as you, I can't even lift my dog and have no one to help me.  Of course you're in shock, this was so sudden and unexpected you haven't even had time to process it.  The pain will lessen eventually but you'll always remember and miss her.  Dogs are such wonderful companions, they can be one of the hardest losses we can have.  

Please keep in mind that guilt is a common grief response, especially for our pets as we feel responsible for them.  These articles have been helpful to me and I hope they are a comfort to you as well.

http://media.wix.com/ugd/0dd4a5_e934e7f92d104d31bcb334d6c6d63974.pdf 

http://www.pet-loss.net/guilt.shtml

I just ordered a memorial stone for my cat Miss Mocha, even though I didn't have a body to bury, I wanted something commemorating her with the others I've lost over the years.  
https://www.personalcreations.com/product/pawprints-in-heaven-memorial-marker-30192930?q=30192930&start=&spell=&srchSuggestion=y&trackingpgroup=pid If you do order, first google their promo codes, you can usually get something off that covers the shipping.  They do a great job, I even have one for my husband where I spread his ashes in my backyard.  It's where I want mine to be spread when my time comes.

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Stacey, she is so so sweet. What a cutie. I know - it takes a while for your mind to even wrap around what has happened. I too was in disbelief at times almost like, how do I rewind this... this is not really happening is it? It was a cruel twist of fate.

I had my own too though my cat was older. You didn't get the time you both deserved. Please read the links KayC shared above. I hope they help a little. I am so sorry you are going through this, I know how incredibly sad you are. :( 

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Thank you @KayC and @AJWCat for your kind words. It really does help to talk (and cry) it out.

That is my favorite pic of her.  There would be times when I was driving along and I'd look over to find her just staring at me like that with that goofy grin on her face. I knew she loved me just as fiercely as I loved her. That's what makes dogs so amazing, they don't hold anything back. She taught me so much.

In the end, I am a better person for having had her in my life no matter what the outcome was. If I laid down on my back on the grass, she would come and lie down right beside me on her back too and we'd stare up into the sky together.  The first time she did it it I laughed and laughed but it was such a sweet and tender moment. I think I will cherish those memories the most.

The hardest part is that it the whole ordeal seems to be running on an endless loop in my head from start to finish. I guess it's part of trying to process it and deal with it but no matter how many times I relive it in my head, the ending is still the same and another wave of grief washes over me.

I've been reaching out to family and friends who are dog lovers and owners and the links you provided were a source of comfort too. I'm not a stranger to loss but this one has brought me to my knees.

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That picture of your dog...that is a dog I could adopt in a heartbeat, look at that smile! She's adorable and so happy!  But you know what?  YOU gave her that life!  You are the most important person in her world, and I'd lay wager she's waiting for you, while she's happily playing with other dogs in heaven.  

 

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18 hours ago, Stacey28 said:

The hardest part is that it the whole ordeal seems to be running on an endless loop in my head from start to finish. I guess it's part of trying to process it and deal with it but no matter how many times I relive it in my head, the ending is still the same and another wave of grief washes over me.

I've been reaching out to family and friends who are dog lovers and owners and the links you provided were a source of comfort too. I'm not a stranger to loss but this one has brought me to my knees.

Wow Stacey you are writing my exact process. I played out my ordeal over and over too. Like somehow in the loop, like rewinding a movie, you can pause and insert something else, a new ending. It's our desire to fix it I think. But then you are right, you relive the passing, and the grief starts from the moment you actually lose them.

I made myself a little crazy. I had to distract myself with nonsense, tv, reading, etc. It does diminish though because your brain finally adjusts to reality and gives up. :( I hope today is a better day. It really is one day at a time. "Learning to live with a little crack in your heart" is what I shared with someone here this morning. It is the perfect analogy. 

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18 hours ago, Stacey28 said:

The hardest part is that it the whole ordeal seems to be running on an endless loop in my head from start to finish. I guess it's part of trying to process it and deal with it but no matter how many times I relive it in my head, the ending is still the same and another wave of grief washes over me.

I went through the end of my husband's life like a loop, it haunting me.  It took a long time but for the most part I was finally able to let it rest, at least so much as not to haunt me.

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I looked at the calendar today and thought "has it only been 3 days?!". It feels much longer. Then again, everything feels a little off-kilter. The tears keep coming but they are quieter now.

Thankfully, the shock is starting to ease and I'm finally starting to eat proper meals again so that's progress. I spoke to her regular vet today and we went over her medical records. She assured me that I did everything I could have in the circumstances. I asked for an autopsy to be done by the university and the vet agreed to go through it with me when I receive it. I think it will help a lot to know exactly what happened from a medical stand point.

I've been trying to distract myself with nonsense too but I don't have the attention span for much. I've actually been spending a lot of time reading these forums and while it is sad to see so many people grieving over their pets, it's comforting to know that I'm not the only one to have struggled with this.

 

 

 

 

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I thought I heard her tail thumping on the bed this morning but when I opened my eyes, I was in an empty room.

As hard as it is, I thought I was adjusting to her absence but now it appears that my mind wants to play tricks on me. I didn't break down or anything but the ache in my chest has intensified. God, I loved that sound. Dogs say so much with their tails. When I came home from work her little tail (her whole back end really!) would be going back and forth a mile a minute banging off doors, walls and tables. I smile just thinking of it! I used to tell my son that she wagged so hard because she couldn't contain all that love and it had to come out somehow or she'd burst into a million pieces. What a silly girl she was!

A friend of mine asked me what would I have wanted Haley to do if the situation were reversed. Looking at it that way really helped to give me some perspective. Without a doubt, I would want her to put me out of my misery if she had the power to do so. I still have a long way to go but it is an important step towards forgiving myself and accepting the choice I made.

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Stacey,

You are going through the whole gamut of grief.  We think we're doing better only to get knocked down by another wave of grief often when we least expect it.  I've learned to ride the waves, allow myself to feel what I feel, and it will let off and I'll do a little better before getting knocked down by another one again.  Usually the waves start coming less frequently with time and less intensity.  In the early days we're trying to adjust to the change in routines that we get get hit with, like when you wake up in the morning expecting to feed them and then remember...it's hard.  When I lost Miss Mocha I would expect to see her at the patio door...only she never came.  I was used to her pushing up against me when I slept, I found it hard to sleep without her.  Our bodies do adjust eventually to these changes, but we continue to think about them and remember...

I love your sharing about her tail.  It's so true, I love the tail, it's like a second way of smiling!

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KayC is so right about the waves. I remember posting a week into my loss I took one step forward and two steps back it seemed. Three days seems like forever because time really slows when we are so sad. Happy times fly by. 

I didn't do an autopsy on my cat, I kind of wish I would have to know precisely. I was so despondent in the moment, he was gone and I didn't care about any detail beyond that.My husband prefers not to know - ultimately whatever he ate or got into was our fault. 

I am glad that you were able to talk to the vet, and that it will give you some closure in that regard. 

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Aww, I can feel how much you two still miss your fur babies. We were so lucky to have such loving and amazing pets.

Part of me has been hoping that the autopsy will show some serious defect in her spine so that I can absolve myself of this nagging guilt but even if it doesn't, I already feel that I am making strides towards coming to terms with it.

I was changing the sheets on my bed earlier and my cat Smokey was being a bit of a ham sitting in the middle of the bed acting like he was in charge, as only cats do. I couldn't help but laugh and it felt so good. I've kind of been neglecting him the past week being wrapped up in Haley and then my own sorrow, so I took a few minutes to cuddle him and thank him for being a part of my life. Kitty purrs have healing powers too.

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That they do! (I think research proves it!)

I am finding a little solace in our new kitty. You are so right Stacey, we've all been lucky to have had these incredible animals in our lives. Good way to look at it. 

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23 hours ago, AJWCat said:

ultimately whatever he ate or got into was our fault.

Are we then to blame for our animal's death?  Am I to blame because I let Miss Mocha outside that day?  She was in great health, it was a beautiful day, I was outside all day...I had no way of knowing it'd be the last time I saw her.  I thought it was a day like any other.  Yeah, I could have bubble wrapped her and kept her in a cage and maybe she'd still be here, but what kind of life is that?  She came to me, abandoned, stray, used to being outside.  If I'd forced her to stay indoors 24/7, she would have been very unhappy, and ultimately would have found a moment to sneak past me and out the door.  

I don't know that we can blame ourselves for everything that happens.  Sure we feel responsible for them.  We wish it hadn't happened, whatever the tragedy.  We try to protect them, try to foresee any possible problems and alleviate them.  But we can't always protect them from everything in the world.

We need to let go of the guilt that shames us because it defines us as something we are not, when ultimately all of us die some time or another, and none of us know for sure when that will be.  Perhaps if it's not one thing it'll be another, all we can do is our best.

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I know of course you are right - bad slip. Blame is an insidious thing and a bad habit of mine. Need to still work on that. It does not help me feel any better.  

I will say, the vision of Miss Mocha bubble-wrapped is pretty funny, and no she would have run at the first chance if you'd keep her inside. You provided her a wonderful life, exactly as she wanted it.  

 

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It's hard, our instinct is to hold them to us, but sometimes we have to let them go so they can be free to be who they are.  I know this goes against Jackson's (My Cat from Hell) teaching.  He'd say put up a fence and have barb wires turned inward at the top so they can't climb over it.  We don't all have the resources to do that but we do care about the animals we rescue and give them the best homes we can.

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I used Miss Mocha as an example because I knew you would not blame me for her death.  But sometimes we are kinder to others than we are to ourselves.  It's good to extend to ourselves the same understanding and patience and care as we do to others...another lesson I've learned in my grief.

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You are right of course I don't... I feel like I have nothing but understanding and compassion for everyone, but myself. It is a problem, thanks again for pointing me in the right direction.   

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I don't think it comes naturally to us, but is something we learn to do, at least for me it was.

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