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So I came onto the Dog Forum because I am searching for something... clarity I guess. My 17 year old toy poodle, Rusty, is not doing well. Physically he's "ok" for a senior. But the vet says his cognitive functions have declined so much that he has no quality of life. I get a tail wag maybe twice per month, but other than that, he doesn't do anything he used to love to do. All he does is eat, sleep and pace the house endlessly. I get down on the floor to pet him (because I think is dark, quiet world must be lonely), and he walks away. He's 90% blind (just sees light and shadow I think) and mostly deaf.

The vet (whom I trust) counseled me on euthanasia yesterday when I took him in for his regular shots, and I see the logic of it. My heart is just torn though. Will I regret it? Will I ask myself forever if I really had to do that? Was it really the right thing for him?

I adopted a puppy from the animal shelter once not knowing it had distemper. I nursed it through all the way until the neurological symptoms hit (and they caused him pain - like muscle spasms). The vet assured me and assured me it was the only thing to do (euthanasia), but I still have thoughts of "maybe if I just gave him a chance...." Logically, I know that I did the right thing, but my heart still hurts and it's been over a year. I only had that dog 3 weeks. I've have Rusty 17 years!

They say "you'll know when its time". My head thinks it knows, but will my heart every know?
 

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It's really, really difficult to make that decision. I had to do it for both my cats in the past year, and I still wonder. Especially with one, since I was out of town for a week, if I had been home and caught it earlier (my husband didn't notice kitty wasn't eating), it might have turned out totally different. But when the vet told me there was nothing else they could do, I had to take their advice. I hated it, wasn't ready for it, but it was what had to be done.

But in this case, you have to trust your vet. 17 years is an amazing life for your dog! Rusty's had a wonderful life with you, and somewhere deep inside he knows that. But now he's no longer able to enjoy life, and it sounds like he's only living in the very basic sense of the phrase. I trust your vet on this.

That doesn't make it easy, and I won't say that you won't regret it or doubt yourself--I still do, from time to time, even though I know it was what had to be done.

Huge hugs from me, and I'll be keeping you and Rusty in my thoughts.
 

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My heart hurts for you, and I don't really know the answer.

Quite a few years ago I watched a documentary and in it was a woman with dementia. She spent her days seemingly oblivious to her surroundings, she didn't respond to her husband, she didn't respond to her name. She circled round her room endlessly, stopping to look out at the window briefly, stopping at her bed, sometimes keening quietly, sometimes seeming to talk gibberish to herself. My father also passed from dementia, but by the end he lacked the ability to move, to speak, to comprehend.

I, personally, would not want to live like either of those two people, even for a short while. Legally and morally, I may not be able to make the decision to euthanize another human, but I think as my dog's caretaker, I do have that right, even obligation. If there is no longer a connection to who or what one loves, no comprehension of one's surroundings, than to me that is not a live worth living, for me or for my dogs.

I can't say what the answer is for your Rusty, only you know how much he's still 'there' with you. Don't beat yourself up, whichever way you decide to go. It's far more important that you remember and rejoice in the 17 good years you had together.
 

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This is really helpful. Just what the vet told me. I think I'm going to have to hear it several times from many sources... thank you for taking the time to tell me about that. :)
 

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My heart goes out to you, I went through something similar with my elderly boy Shadow. I had Shadow for 17 years 6 months, and he was 17 years 8 months when he passed away, I got him when I was 20 years old so I had him nearly half my life.

Going by what I observed with my boy I do not think dogs with CCD are in pain, it they are in pain it's coming from something else, in my boy's case it was severe arthritis that was brought under control by Rimadyl. That said, I do not think they have much quality of life, they are existing. Once the CCD got bad my boy did not seem to take much pleasure in anything, at times he'd still remember me, remember cues, remember that he enjoyed walks, loved to eat, but as the months wore on he slowly stopped caring about any of it. In the end he simply stopped eating and passed away a little less then a week later.

There's medicine available that may help your boy, it's expensive from what I understand, and may or may not work, but it may be worth a shot. It may be something to discuss with your vet.

If your boy starts eating less and less take it as his sign to you that he's ready to go, that's the advice I wish I had listened to, and the best advice I can give to you. Don't wait until he stops eating to take him in. Until then I'd think it's alright to let him be so long as you are willing to take care of him. Shadow started having accidents towards the end, he'd not remember or realize he had to potty, but I learned to time things and kept that to a minimum. His pacing got ever worse at night, but I could deal with it. He got "lost" in corners but I'd just guide him out. Mostly he just slept. I was content to just let him be, caring for him was no hardship and I gladly did it.

I know you're worried that you'll be wondering if you'll regret it, or if you really had to do it. My regret is that I did not take Shadow to be put to sleep. After the medicine the vet game me to hopefully get him to eat did not work I called the vet asking if I should take him in to be put to sleep, or if it was safe to let him pass away at home (if he'd be in pain), the vet said he shouldn't be in pain if I let him pass on his own. So I kept him at home thinking he'd quickly go in his sleep. It did not work that way, I don't think he was in pain though, and I deeply regret not bringing him back in to be put to sleep, and wish I had spared him those last 3 days. I learned that sometimes the greatest thing we can do for our elderly dogs is to let them go a couple days early.
 
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Oh, I'm so sorry you have that regret. My heart hurts for you. I was just googling this whole situation and it did say that some wish they had done it sooner. I think that's the key... that's what I'll remind myself. Thank you for sharing your painful story.
 
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