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Hi all

I have 2 dogs - a 6 year old female and a 15 year old male. The male has today appeared confused and a bit unsteady on his feet. I will be taking him to the vet shortly, but I do believe the end is near for him. Even if it is not now, it can not be too far away.

The young female is very attached to him. We have always joked that he is the only dog we know that has his own dog. What is the best way to prepare her for his loss? Getting another dog is not an option that I want to consider.
 

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I'm very sorry. I know how you feel. Last year I had to put down my GSD, Nevada. Shorty was attached to her, her constant shadow. I brought Shorty with us when we had to put her down. He was there in the room with her and even nuzzled her ear after she was gone. It was really heartbreaking. I was surprised that he didn't look around for her. I really believe he knew. Once he did look, after the snow melted there was a clump of her hair out in the yard, when he found it he got very excited. Tail going, ears up looking around. I felt my heart break for him all over again. He was also very interested in her ashes when I got them back.
I did get another dog, as much for him as for me. He did not like Freyja much when she first came home, but it did perk him up. And now so many things she does with him reminds me of Shorty with Nevada.

I don't know if there is much you can do to prepare your younger dog for the older one's passing. But I do believe they know, they know death. If you can, take the female when the it is the male's time.
 

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I really believe they do understand death, at least on some level. Without a common language, there is really no way you can prep her for the inevitable loss of her best friend. She will, I'm sure be depressed for a period of time, but life does go on, and she will in time cope. You are in a difficult spot, and I wish you the best.
 

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Dogs understand what death is but you can't really...prepare a dog for the loss of a loved one the way you can a human. They don't understand the complexity of that, and it's possible they might not understand the inevitability of death unless it's super inevitable, like within a day.

But I personally think the best thing to do when a dog dies is to allow his canine pack members to see he is dead. This could involve bringing your other dog with you to the vet to have him put down, or just showing her his dead body before you bury/cremate it. When I had two Doxies who were bonded since puppyhood I knew that when one died the other would be devastated. I've heard of heartbreaking stories about dogs looking for their dead companions (human and animal) for a very long time, and being driven somewhat crazy from the confusion and grief. So when Teckel had to be put down, I made sure to bring his body home and show it to his brother Barney. Barney sniffed him all over and kept pushing him with his nose, as if trying to rouse him. It was sad, but he could smell it and knew Teckel was dead. The rest of that night he sat by the door and ran to and from us to come back as if saying "Why aren't you bringing him back in the house?!" But after a while, he moved on. He DID suffer separation anxiety and a lot of issues, but he was elderly, had never lived without another dog but hated other dogs so we couldn't get him another friend.

I hope this wasn't just me going on about my own experiences, and that it helped. If your younger dog does well with other dogs it might be good to get another companion a few months after this one passes. *hugs* I hope this experience goes as well as possible. We'll be here if you need support when he does pass.
 

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Unfortunately as others have said you cannot prepare your younger dog for the older dogs passing. Although I believe that dogs sense when their companion's health is failing. The communicate with each other in more than words. Something we will never understand. Preparing yourself is important in helping your dog with the grieving process. Knowing that her world has changed forever. My heart goes out to you and your family.
It as been almost two years since I lost my Rio to a tragic hit and run accident. Savannah was present when it happened. I have never seen or heard (and pray to never again.) the frantic running and screaming Savannah did when Rio was hit. She did not eat much, go out in the yard to potty (would go out and sit on the hill where her and Rio would sit together) and didn't want to play. I could not stand to see her like this my vibrant, happy dog. Within a month we got a puppy. I was not ready but, she needed a companion. Slowly she started to return to herself. Now her and Firefly are best friends. They run and play together. I know Savannah is ok she has taught Firefly to sit on thd hill next her. I can almost hear her telling Firefly "you know my big brother Rio taught me ...."
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for your advice. It is cancer and he may only have a few weeks left. I shall ensure the girl is with us when the time comes, and hope that is enough
 

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I'm so sorry about your dog!

I would probably do some sort of separation protocol with your younger dog. Start taking her on her own outings, start training her separately from your other dog and maybe enroll her in her own classes. Make sure she has a lot of positive experiences away from him. I would also treat it like she has separation anxiety and just start separating them while you're home and feeding her treats for staying calm that sort of thing.

If you plan on euthanizing your other dog, I would take her with you and bring her in to see him after it's over so that she can say goodbye. We did that with our family dogs and it seemed to really help our other dog to understand that she was gone.

((hugs))
 

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I know I sound selfish, but I am trying to prepare myself for the loss of my companion. Since I have 5 dogs, I'm grateful they will have each other. My 12 year old is having seizures, so I am preparing myself for the worse. I am so sorry for the predicament you're in. You can cry to me when the time comes - I'm already doing that.
 

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That's good idea. Then you can cry in to her fur and hold her tight. Sorry - I am so emotional as I just watch my dog go through another seizure this morning.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks all. I haven't stopped crying since i found out - I kind of wish I had not found out. Other than the symptoms he had the other day - which lasted for about 3 hours - there has been little sign of any illness. He coughs in the evenings - but it is only a couple of coughs. Til 6 weeks ago he was doing a 3 hour bushwalk every day, but I noticed he was stumbling half way into the walk, so have reduced it to an hour and in the park not the bush (I live in the hills so a bush walk is quite arduous)

I now have to decide whether to put him on steroids. I am worried that the steroids will kill him before the cancer. As he has no symptoms I am worried that the advice of my vet -medicate- will shorten his life. What an awful decision to have to make on my own.

My heart goes out to you jaragr. And ZoesMum, that is great advice, I will definately try that.
 
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