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Two Sweet Shih-tzu's


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I am the mom to 2 sweet little shih-tzu's. They are Sophie and Rocky. Sophie has been with me since she was a puppy. She turned 16 this past October. She has been with me through many changes in my life. She is the sweetest little pup you could ever meet. Rocky was a rescue. I inherited him about 9 years ago. He is not quite so sweet to other people, but he and I share a special bond. I believe he is about 15 years old. 

Sophie has survived liver failure, and is now in heart failure. She is on a medication that has helped her survive about another year. I have cherished every moment. She now walks around like she has alzheimers. She walks in circles and bumps into walls. She has fallen down the stairs several times - this terrifies me! The vet feels she has probably lost her sense of sight, hearing, and now smell. When I pick her up she snuggles right into me. She knows me. 

Rocky has a very fast growing fibriod cyst growing on his rear leg. It doesn't seem to bother him too much. The vet said that she would not be able to remove it as there would not be enough skin to cover the area.  She told us that the cyst will eventually rupture and can be a very bloody mess. He is having difficulty chewing his food - I am sure he has some terrible teeth. His heart is weak as well - he occasionally has a seizure if he over-exerts himself - like running up the stairs. His breathing is becoming labored. 

They both eat - but only if I add something yummy to their food - which I don't mind doing at all. 

My wife and I are likely going to euthanize them. We are afraid Sophie is going to hurt herself falling down the stairs, or have a stroke or heart attack. We do not want Rocky to have to suffer if his cyst ruptures. 

I think that we are going to do this with both of them together - at home. This is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. The anticipatory grief is so overwhelming - I can hardly function. I wake up at 2 am and cry - and then have a hard time falling back to sleep. 

Please tell me this gets better - maybe after it is done? This is terrible. I feel like I would rather die than live through this. 

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I've been there too many times, it's very hard to go through.  Try not to think about what might happen, try to stay in today and enjoy each moment you have with them now.  My dog is nine and that's the life span for his breed.  So far he's doing well except he has a lot of cysts.  he has one on his back paw that also can't be removed because of not enough skin.  It's only bled once and I took him to the vet and she didn't seem to think it'd be a problem except messy, which I don't mind cleaning up. 

Could you put up a child-proof gate across the stairs so she can't get up and down them without you carrying her?

My heart goes out to you.  I had to put my dog Lucky down several years ago and it was a very tough decision.  The criteria I used to decide when it was time was when her quality of life diminished so much.  She had arthritis, was going deaf, was incontinent the last two years.  She was Dalmation/Whippet and Dalmations "smile", showing their teeth, it's really cute...the last two years she no longer smiled. :(  When she started whimpering during the night, I decided it was time.  I didn't want to keep her alive just for me if it meant her suffering.  Afterwards I wondered if I should have let her live a little longer, but it really doesn't pay to second guess yourself.  Make the decision you feel is best for them, you'll know when it's time, and don't look back.  Remember all of the wonderful times.  I know it's painful, very very hard at first, but eventually it sinks in and we begin to adjust.  That doesn't mean you'll ever stop missing them, we don't, but we do learn to live with it without so much pain eventually.


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My friend, this is one of the most difficult and painful decisions you'll ever have to make, but I hope you will come to think of it as a selfless act of love. As Kay says, it's important to ask whose needs we are meeting in these circumstances: yours, or those of your cherished animal companions? Ask yourselves: Are you prolonging their lives ~ or prolonging their suffering and deaths?

I invite you to read these articles (including those listed at their bases):

Anticipating the Death of a Cherished Pet

Pet Loss: Guilt In the Wake of the Euthanasia Decision

Pet Loss: Is It A Different Kind of Grief?

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I just had my dog put to sleep and have asked for help on another thread but I thought maybe I could help. My border collie had a failing liver. A special diet and supplements kept her going for long after I was told it was hopeless. I belonged to a Yahoo dog liver group and they were a great help. The symptoms Sophie has sound very much like hepatic encephalopathy - due to the brain getting poisoned because of the liver not removing toxins. Sometimes antibiotics can help - as does giving food in several small meals but also here in the UK we give lactulose which absorbs excess ammonia. Not suggest you re-think euthanasia, but it might buy some quality time.

I wish I could tell you it gets better but I made to decision to euthanize a week ago and am still working though it. I do so much know what you are going through. Hugs from the UK.

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