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I had my beautiful border collie put to sleep


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Poppy my beautiful collie was diagnosed with a failing liver when she was 13. I was told she had 3 months to live. But with TLC and diet she pulled round. The vets couldn't believe it and said her liver must have regenerated. The next 3 years we did everything together but she started declining about a year ago. Her liver.was slipping again and her kidney enzymes were going up. It was a daily battle getting her to eat enough of the right things to keep on weight. 6 months back she had a seizure. Vets weren't sure if it was a stroke. But she came back from that in 3 days. 2 months later she had a small one and 2 months later a really terrible one. She was kicking and screaming. The vets gave Diazepam and she surprised us all by pulling round though it took a week and it seemed her vision was worse (she was already deaf). I questioned whether I was right to keep her going but she regained some spark and seemed determined.

However a while after she started a real decline. Her walking became slow, she would only eat a few morsels of anything and was getting even thinner, she was wobbly and she slept a lot. Then one day she didn't want to play and it seemed a couple of times that she was uncomfortable or in pain. One afternoon, when she had been lying here for 3 hours and had pressed her head against the wall - a sign of liver toxins affecting the brain. I called out the vet. She didn't want to get up for either of us. At 16 years 9 months and with no prospect of a magic cure, we decided enough was enough. But this is the thing. She didn't react to the needle giving the initial sedation but as it started to take effect she started trembling and kept trying to get up till she eventually collapsed with her head on the vets knee. Then when the euthanasia shot went in, I cradled her head and it took several gasps before her heart stopped.

I can't forgive myself for this ever. She struggled and was frightened, she wasn't ready and I killed her. It is a week later and I can't stop this terrible moment on replay in my head. I just wanted to help her but I can't tell her and now I am left in an empty home with a freezer full of home cooked food and her things all around me. The guilt and the loss are like a knife in my heart and it never goes away. Everything seems so pointless now and I can't stop crying. Please help.


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My dear Chrissy,

I'm so sorry to learn of the loss of your beautiful Poppy, and sorry too that her death was such a traumatic experience for you. Unfortunately, when an animal's organs are shutting down, the body cannot distribute and process medications as it normally would. I suspect this is what happened with your Poppy, but a conversation with your vet might help to put your mind at ease. That said, I can only tell you that I've yet to meet an animal lover who has not agonized over the experience of choosing euthanasia for their beloved companion. It carries with it an enormous load of guilt ~ and well it should, since it is such a momentous decision.

I invite you to read these articles, which I hope will help you better understand what you may be feeling and why:

Pet Loss: Why Does It Hurt So Much?

Guilt In The Wake of The Euthanasia Decision

I also encourage you to listen to this audio clip, which I hope will bring you some measure of comfort: Grief, Guilt and Finding Support. When you get to the site, scroll down till you come to 
Radio interview with Marty Tousley on Contact Talk Radio 
Segment on Pet Loss Grief and Guilt 


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Dear Chrissy,

I too, am so very sorry for the loss of your fur-girl, Poppy. It is obvious you were very devoted to her and doing everything you knew to not only keep battling for her life through the years, but to make that merciful decision in her best interests when it appeared it was “time.”

Regarding her final moments, I can’t help but agree with what Marty conveyed to you about organ shut-down. I’ve suffered some painful experience regarding that, with the euthanization of my own fur-daughter, who was quite “far-gone” at the end with failing kidneys (at the least). So in light of how at least some of Poppy’s ailments involved her liver and kidneys, both major “filtering” organs, it wouldn’t be surprising if that was indeed a factor in what happened, in which case you simply didn’t know, and weren’t informed about such possibilities. 

I know how ‘impossible’ and painful it is to have to relive such final, tortuous visions in your memory, with the guilt and doubts eating you up alive, and even to feel that “knife” in your heart. You may be as sensitive a person as I am, where that heart-pain felt during grief and mourning is not simply a metaphorical expression, but is actually physically experienced. (my heart felt like it was simultaneously being both stabbed and crushed)

I won’t try to talk you out of not forgiving yourself though, as that is such a personal journey we each take, and it may take quite awhile to achieve, if ever. Self-forgiveness can be one of the toughest battles of grief and loss, and there are certain things I still don’t wholly forgive myself for about each of my furchildren’s passings. But the fact that we feel that deeply guilty in the first place does speak well to our authenticity, humility and good character, regardless of whether or not we can feel charitable enough to forgive ourselves for what we perceive as our failings. That said, I too would encourage you to have a chat with your vet about what happened and see if that can spread some light on what happened. There's no sense suffering for things that you didn't know about, or that were beyond your control, when there's enough to suffer with besides.

I also highly relate to the pain of living with all the home-cooked food and countless other things left in an “empty home” after such massive loss. It took me literally years to finally just move some of my kidlets’ things around (not until I was forced to), much less put most away in storage…but I’ve never gotten rid of any of their things, from supplements, to meds, to healthcare implements, to toys, beds, etc. It also took me years to not cry as much, and in the beginning, for each of them, it was all I did.

And as I often do, if you’re ever open to it, and ready, I suggest talking to your dear Poppy as you grieve &/or writing her a letter, to express anything and everything you wish you could have told her at the time. It is my belief, and my experience, that our beloved animals are not really gone (only from the physical) and do hear and understand  our words and our hearts. And if that’s not enough to help you along the way, you may want to also consider utilizing a professional Animal Communicator at some point, as a go-between to have those conversations you yearn for.

Again, my deepest condolences go out to you.




Edited by Maylissa
added text & grammatical error removed
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Thank you for your kind and thoughtful words Marty and Maylissa. The vet said the gasps were the organs shutting down and she was already dead.  But even if she wasn't then I can accept she was barely aware. What hurts more is that her suddenly trying to get up was clearly her struggling against the sedation when she felt it taking place. Even now I think maybe I should have asked the vet not to continue - and she might have slept it off and gone in her own time. Maybe the sedation should have been more in her case. She was always a determined dog. I can't expect the vet to offer more than reassuring words. They had been amazing caring vets throughout her last year.

I try to tell myself that she was going downhill fast and suffering with little quality of life. She wasn't well that afternoon and could have gone at any moment with a heart attack or the one final massive seizure that I was dreading. I know all that and can feel a little better while that perspective stays with me but then I get the replay and feel terrible all over again. A contact who has been in that situation said it it once happened with one of her dogs and it doesn't mean you did the wrong thing.

My neighbour just had a loved elderly dog put to sleep. It had been suffering from cancer and had had a terrible episode when it was shrieking with pain. But by the time they put it in the car to take to the vets, he was sitting up and looking round. She had second thoughts but her husband persuaded her that continuing on that journey was the right thing to do. She is at peace with that decision - though her dog didn't struggle to get up. I wish I could feel the same.

I chose not to keep her ashes but I put some fur and her lead in a jar with her collar wrapped round. In time I will have keepsakes made with her photos.  Leftover tins have gone to an animal charity. Meds have gone to someone else with a sick dog.  But there is still a bed in each room for her and her toys are still around. Part of me hopes if I leave them down she might appear briefly or at least feel at ease if her spirit is visiting. But there has been nothing - just a terrible emptiness. I have thought about an animal communicator but I suspect most are just charlatans. I also thought about professional grief counselling.

It is reassuring to know that I am not the only one who suffers. I told a friend, a fellow dog owner, who seemed to think that it could all be fixed by settling down under a duvet for an evening with a weepy movie and something nice to eat. I don't even want to eat. I am sure my neighbours think 'Why is she still crying a week later?'.

Everywhere I go, everything I do is a reminder of what we did together. Everything was together.

I guess it will take time

Thank you again



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I am sorry for your loss, I know the pain is deep.  Our dogs truly are our best friends.  I experienced this with my Lucky 8 1/2 years ago.  Lucky was anxious in life, and so it wasn't completely surprising that she would fight even our trying to help her with passing.  The vet assured me that it was not pain, that some animals do just go down this way.  I feel I made the right decision for her as she was getting deaf, had been incontinent for the last two years, and had stopped smiling the last two years (she was Whippet/Dalmatian and the Dalmatian part of her "smiled").  She was arthritic and it was getting hard for her to walk, she was falling and it was painful.  When she started whimpering in her sleep, I knew it was time.  I could have kept her alive a little longer, but why?  She no longer enjoyed life, she was in pain and life was getting difficult and burdensome for her.  She is at rest now, no longer in pain...and neither is your beloved collie.

That you kept her alive for over 16 years is quite a feat.  Especially since she fought to live, to enjoy what she could.  But we can't keep them going forever, much as we wish we could.  You gave her an amazing life, you can look back on the things you enjoyed together and know you were the best mom ever.

Why are you crying a week later?  Because you miss her.  Anyone who has ever been attached to their dog understands, the opinions of the others are a moot point.  Of course you are grieving, when the time comes I have to let go of my Arlie, I will be a basket case.  And people will have to understand...or not.  

I'm glad you had a good life with her.  I hope you find this video of some comfort, The rainbow bridge:


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  • 1 month later...
On 2017-02-28 at 0:51 AM, Chrissyuk said:

I have thought about an animal communicator but I suspect most are just charlatans. I also thought about professional grief counselling.

My apologies, Chrissy, as I never got back here to add that at least one Communicator I can recommend is Teresa Wagner at: 


There are others, too, who have proven their skills, but Teresa's heart is also superlative when it comes to imparting the messages and "feel" of a telepathic connection with your loved ones. I don't think you could go wrong by her services, and certainly your heart couldn't be in better hands. Some can be technically excellent in their communications, yet don't even sound empathetic, which is essential at such times.

As for counselling, I'd suggest that first and foremost, ask directly of anyone you're considering, what their views are on animals as a whole, to ensure your own perspective on your relationship with Poppy isn't disrespected or minimized, or even pathologized as "sick" in some way(!), before you book with anyone. Many therapists out there can do more damage if they aren't well enough aligned with or trained specifically to deal with "animal loss" and bereavement.

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