We've just made the arrangements for Buster. Tonight is our last night with him.

We're both wrecks. The pain is very intense.

It's also confusing because Buster, right now, seems happy and well. To look at him, you would think he's totally fine. But glaucoma has no outward symptoms. According to the readings, he'll soon be in serious pain. The surgery doesn't seem like a viable option, given the chances of recurrence and complications, and given Buster's general health. In my head, I know it's the right thing to do. My heart, however...

Here's a story. In all my years with our dogs, through all their health care and surgeries and recoveries, there was only one thing I ever regretted. When our little terrier Clyde got sick, we were away on vacation. We never learned the seriousness of the illness, and didn't come straight home. By the time we returned, she was desperately ill. She was hanging on til we got back. We rushed her to the hospital, and she never came home.

I wasn't there for her. I wasn't there to alleviate her suffering. I let her down.

Everyone told me all the right things, all the things I would tell anyone else. You made the best decision you could at the time, given the information you had. You couldn't have known. You did the best you could. I listened and nodded. But I never really forgave myself. I just lived with it.

That experience colors my view of what's happening now with Buster. If the choices are letting him go a little earlier, before the inevitable pain and suffering (from the glaucoma or from the surgery) begins, or a little too late, once he has already suffered, I can only choose the former. I can't let him suffer.

So. There it is.

I thank you all for your thoughts and prayers and wishes.


Lone Primate said...

I'm sorry, Laura. I guess we're all thinking of our own pets we've loved and lost, and we're aching for you. Even though I don't know Buster myself, it's a bitter thing. You're strong and brave even to be able to talk about it. The mind shrinks from contemplating what you're going through right now. I want to say something sage that will ease your mind, but of course there's nothing. All there is is empathy and understanding. We're thinking of you all tonight.

James said...

Once again, if you need anything, let us know.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

My condolences, I really feel for you.

It's never an easy decision, even if all the facts seem to say its necessary. Even if Buster were suffering right now, the decision wouldn't be any less painful.

David Cho said...

I am so sorry. I cannot imagine.

Thanks for sharing.

Peregrinato said...

In my "line of work", we consider this time you have with Buster the most precious, sacred time you can have. You will never forget these moments, which will be painful, but rich and genuine. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers during this time.

Kyahgirl said...

I'm sorry Laura and Allen.
I know how much it hurts to have to make this decision. There isn't anything to make it easier except knowing you are doing a very loving thing for Buster.

When my Kyah was near the end, I knew she needed to be released as soon as possible but my husband had to work all night. He begged me to wait until morning so he could come home to say goodbye. I asked him if he could come home in the night if I could get our vet to come over but he couldn't get away. I laid on the floor all night beside Kyah, just touching her as she laboured to breath. When Ron got home we took her to the vet right away. She had just been hanging on and went very peacefully. For a long time I beat myself up, wondering if I shouldn't have pushed to do it earlier. I know how a person can torment themselves. Anyway, my husband was so grateful to be with her at the end that its hard to judge.


mkk said...

Laura and Allan,

I was so terribly sorry to read about your painful decision. I didn't log in yesterday, so it really came as a shock. Never having been in that situation myself, I can only imagine how awful it must be for you. I'm thinking of you and sending you big hugs across the miles.

L-girl said...

Thank you all so very much. I've been reading these comments to Allan, although I keep choking up and being unable to speak. I would like to answer you all individually. Let me just say everything you're saying is true, and profound, and deeply appreciated.

And p.s. Kyahgirl: you did the right thing. You did.

nataleo said...

Buster is a lucky dog to have a family who cares so much for his wellbeing. After I read this post, it moved me to call my friend who had gone through this last December. We reminisced about Rufus....thinking of him always brings a smile to my face, along with a heavy heart. It's amazing what animals do to us :)

Thinking of you...

gito said...

this is so sad laura, it broke my heart reading it! I know exactly how you feel today. A few days ago I had a different experience with my dog. I was taking her for a walk on of the busiest streets in town like I always do and in the way back something happened! she saw another doggie walking by her and she went just bananas and I couldn't control her that her leash broke and run away to play with the other dog! so anyways the other guy with the dog got freak out and took his gun a try to shoot my dog! with his freaking gun! and I stood right in between with out even thinking about being shoot or something! so finally got her away from his doggie and they just walked away.....anyways this might not mean anything but I just feel like sometimes we put our needs behind and just think for their needs. sorry about all this

Annie- Live For Today said...

I'm really sorry for your lost, Laura.
And I don't know whether I would be able to make the same decision, if I were you.


Crabbi said...

Laura and Allan,

I'm so sorry. My heart hurts for you both.

G said...

So sorry to hear this, Laura ... it takes me back ... wow.

You are making the right decision, though, hard as it is. You can take some comfort in knowing you gave B a happy life, when he may never have made it at all, had he not found you and Allan. You were able to save his life, and give him happy years he'd otherwise have not had. That was your gift to him then, and the gift to him now is saving him from the pain and misery of a worsening condition. It's better he goes this way, than to suffer at the end, difficult as it is.

I remember the last time I saw my last dog. Well, okay, she was the family's dog - but everyone agreed she was really my dog - there is always one person they bond to most, and in this case it was me. She used to poke my door open at night, hop on the bed and curl up beside my feet - she wouldn't do this for anyone else.

Anyway, I was leaving for university again that autumn, which meant moving to London. At this stage, she was older, and I had a feeling I may not see her again. Normally, if someone was leaving, she would simply lie on the landing and watch them walk out the door. But this time was different. As I leaned on the bottom step, tying my shoe, she came down the steps and licked my forehead. At the time I thought nothing of it, just petted her and said goodbye, but I've come to realize she was saying goodbye. She knew. A week and a half later my brother called to give me the news ... they had taken her to the vet for an operation, and her heart was too weak to handle the anasthetic. No one held the vet responsible (and I never will either) ... we all agreed that she was close (her health had been failing) and that it was a better way for her to go, a peaceful, painless way. Had that not happened, my brother or someone else likely would have found her the next week ... and no one wants that ... god that would be awful ... let alone to wonder if their pet suffered.

It's funny - we relate these tales, yet no reason in the world can take away the pain. And when we realize that, that all the logic in the world can't dull the loss, that is the moment when we know that we really, truly, loved. And you can bet that B felt that loved, and lived a happy life because of it.

Peace - my heart goes out to you.
- G

dogsled_stacie said...

oh my gosh, g, that was such a touching sweet, yet sad story about your dog saying goodbye. I'm reminded of the day I left my family's dog (who also was mostly my dog as well) the day she was being put down. I remember her looking at me leave like she knew what was up. I still to this day regret that I didn't go to the vet with her (15 yrs later), but was so distraught I didn't know what the hell to do. I guess we all kind of second guess ourselves...

L-girl said...

G's story really touched me too.

DS, you did the only thing you could. I understand the regret, but you were young and distraught. If that's the worst decision you ever make about your animals, you're doing great.

Thank you for your very kind words in the other post. That was great.