By: Jane

Apr 11 2011

Category: Uncategorized



I was up awake for the better part of the night last night. Steve was trying to sleep in the recliner chair; I, sometimes on the sofa, sometimes on the floor. Our beloved Golden Retriever, Dakota, is pushing 12 years old, and is often restless through the night. We sleep downstairs with her these days, because she needs to go out every 3 to 4 hours, but is no longer able to walk on her own. Her back legs are no longer functional. She has always loved to swim, so last summer we got her a little life preserver so that she’d still be able to enjoy the pool.

Last night she spent a lot of time panting. The vet says that it probably means that she’s frustrated. He doesn’t think she has any sensation at all in her back or hind legs. But I’m afraid that she’s in pain. I don’t know how to calm her…I lie on the floor with her, scratch her behind the ears, give her the water dish. Some nights, she’s ok, but other nights, she just can’t relax.

In all my years of having dogs and cats, I’ve never had to make the decision to put a beloved pet down. I don’t want to keep her here if she’s suffering, but I don’t want to take her life from her if she isn’t. How do I know? What do I do?


10 comments on “Dakota”

  1. I had a Rottweiler named Buster. He was an old Boy of about 16. His legs began to go, and he had many digestive issues. The first time the vet told me to put him down he was 13, and I decided there was to much light in his old eyes yet. He lived another three years, some good days, and some bad days. He was faitful to me so many times, and it was my turn to be faitful to him.
    The night he died, he had not been well all day. I turned out the light to go to bed and he bagan to bark these one woof barks. I got up and came down and lay next to him for the next six hours. He would relax only when I held his head and pet him, and sang. I sang every song and hymn I knew for hours. When he finally went it was so sad, and wasn’t easy. At that point I decided that I won’t ever let another animal suffer like that again. Two years ago I put my beloved Bonnie down. It was the hardest thing I have had to do in a long time, and I grieved for almost a year. She was a light and a joy. But, she suffered, and I suffered with her. I waited until I knew without a doubt that she would have died anyway, and I didn’t want her to go through it alone.

  2. I would only do it if I knew there was suffering. Does she wince in pain or is she just moody sometimes? I would think that she probably is very frustrated. Have you guys thought about those wheel-cart things they make for dogs that can’t use their back legs? I’ve seen them on TV on different shows and they really give the dogs a new sense of mobility.

  3. Jane,

    You know I understand having gone through such a hard choice ourselves this January. It is amazing how much we are able to care about and for these furry family members. They really are a gift from God. It is so hard to know if they are suffering or not since they can’t tell us. We did not have to determine if Molly was or not since her mass bleeding internally was going to take her that night anyhow. Despite the panting how does she seem mood wise? Face looks sad or happy? Tail wags? Her face in the photos from last year look happy to me, and I think the swimming idea was fantastic of you. Jensop’s suggestion about the wheelchair is also something to consider to allow her to move around. Again, however, it is about her quality of life, but I think she will let you know. You have my heartfelt prayers.

  4. Thank you<,Jenny, Jen and Greg, for taking the time to respond. I've been in or near tears all day, because for some reason it's just hitting me today that she's not going to live forever, and maybe not much longer.
    She still perks her ears, still eats well, waits expectantly for her biscuit after she comes in. She does not want to be left alone. If no one is in the room with her she barks until someone comes. If no one is home, I'll come downstairs to find she's scootched herself under the coffee table. I think she's hiding. I believe she knows that she's helpless.
    It does seem to be true that she has her good and bad days. She adores Steve, and when he comes home I do see her "happy face." She also enjoys being outside for SHORT periods of time, and sometimes I see her "Happy face" then, too. She'll still catch the ball, although she doesn't seem to know what to do with it then, because she can't retrieve and bring back any more.
    Jenny, in hindsight, do you think the vet was right when Buster was 13, or was it somewhere between 13 and 16 that you would have let him go?
    As for the wheel chair, Jen and Greg, a) She's incontinent. I guess we could put doggie diapers on her. b) When her sister died almost 2 years ago she became very fearful and would not leave the yard. Our backyard is so lumpy and bumpy I don't think it would work. I have checked into them, and even on ebay they're hundreds of dollars, for something that I'm not sure would work.
    Thank you SO much for responding. You have no idea how comforting it is. Or, maybe you do. :0)

    • Jane,
      Looking back I would have put him down about 5 months before he died. He could not eat anything without it coming back up. He painted almost constantly, which created a sound horrible sound. He was so good to us (Saving my daughter Joy from being attacked by another dog, tracking Sara when she got lost once) I wanted him to pull out of it. Unfortunately, my love for him became a little one sided, because I needed him when he needed heaven. My prayers are with your family.

  5. i think it’s one of those things where you know when you know. If right now you’re not sure then it’s not the time. You need to be at peace with the decision otherwise it will haunt you. Naturally it won’t be easy to make the decision, but I think you’ll know if it is the right one. One of those times to trust your gut. Your dog trusts you too, and knows you love her.

  6. He sounds like he was a wonderful dog, Jenny.

  7. You’re right, Charlie, and I’m not at peace about it yet. This afternoon we sat out in the backyard for well over an hour. It was a nice day here, and she didn’t want to go in. So we just sat and enjoyed the air…she napped a little. I don’t think it’s time yet.

  8. Hey,
    I am so, so sorry about your beloved Dakota. We have always had pets and as a result, we have endured their loss. There was one year after losing two in the same year, that we didn’t get another one. But somehow, through the sorrow, there are those joyful memories. We usually have our dog cremated and place their ashes in a special container with a picture. Our most recent loss was Daisy, about 2 years ago, who at the young age of 5 developed epilepsy. We did all we could for a year, but when this super active Boston Terrier had to be carried outside several times a day, we knew it was time. I could cry even today. Each pet such a part of those years we all shared as a family.

    Today, we are back up to 3 dogs & 4 cats. It’s a menagerie and we wouldn’t have it any other way. They are all strays and rescues and all beloved. God even provided us with another Boston Terrier, a small feisty male named Rocky. He’s Daisy’s baby brother for sure.

    I know you have already endured much loss and Dakota has been one of the anchors. She has loved you much and you her. And love is good.

  9. Thank you for the reminder, Irm, that love is good, and that ultimately, the whole experience of having, knowing and loving Dakota has been a good one. It’s easy to forget that when life has become painful for her,(and therefore, for me), and to say, “I’m never having another dog.” Steve has already moved beyond that and says, “Maybe someday.” I’m not quite there yet.
    I’ll have to post a picture of her with Michael. He named her, loved her, and she has indeed been an anchor in the stormy sea of his death. Losing her might possibly seem like another little pice of him is being lost.
    Her sister was Montana, (he named them both). We lost her 2 years ago to cancer, and we survived. But we still had Koti to love and care for. Montana’s ashes are in a lovely wooden box with a name plaque, as Koti’s will also be. It may sound stupid to some people, but they are so beloved to us that I suspect they’ll be buried with us.

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