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kayc

Living with Loss

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I just found out yesterday that my dog has cancer and his numbers are off the chart.  Arlie is my soulmate in a dog.  I already lost my husband, it'll be 14 years June 19.  Arlie was my companion, my best friend, my everything.  He is what has kept me going the last ten years.  It was supposed to be a routine teeth cleaning, instead he's been handed a death sentence.

I don't have money and have already had a "friend" hand out judgment, I don't need that.  I need someone to sit with me as we live out what is left of his life.  I talked with someone who went through it with her dog, she spent $8,000 and a whole lot of treatments and in the end she lost her soulmate in a dog...she said if she had it to do over again, she wouldn't put him through all that.  I also have friends that had two dogs, age 1 and 2 go through it, one of them lost his leg, they went through all the treatments just to lose them both a few months later.  They said they felt they had to try because they were so young, but it was hard for the dogs to go through.

Please, I don't need judgment, I love my dog more than anything in the world, he is my baby and I don't know how I'll live without him when the time comes.  I've always feared this.  He's half Golden Retriever and half Siberian Husky, the Golden's average life span is 9, the Husky, 10-12...Arlie is 11.  He's lived with acute chronic colitis all his life, I've had to cook for him, he can only tolerate up to half of his diet in dogfood.  I have no idea how I'm going to bear this.  I don't want to be all sad around him.  Last night I laid on the floor with him and he gave me a kiss.  His kisses are so thoughtful and deliberate, he's not one to just go around kissing everyone all the time, they're more like a special gift.

The picture on the bottom was the one that made me know I was going to adopt him, he was a year old and I fell in love with his smile.

 

Arlie at Paul's.jpg

Arlie running free XS.jpg

Arlington.jpg

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Oh Kay. My heart hurts for you as I read this awful news. I totally understand your not wanting to prolong Arlie's suffering by putting him (and you) through any expensive and futile treatments. It seems to me that doing so would prolong his dying rather than extend his living. All I can suggest is to do what you're doing already: Make the most of whatever time you have left with Arlie. Take lots and lots of pictures. Treasure every moment, and do whatever you can to make these precious days count. And know that we are here with you as you go down this painful path . . . 

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Kayc:   My heart breaks for you.  I know exactly how you must feel as I have had to face this decision last fall.  I found out my beloved Maddie who will be 12 years old in August had bladder cancer.  The tumor was in a place that could be removed, but this kind of cancer always returns.  I had to make the decision on my own that I would spend the money and give her a chance not only to keep her alive, but also to keep me from giving up totally on my life.  I received comments and remarks, "Isn't that going to be expensive"? and another comment, "Why would you do this?"  I rationalized my lonely life, that unlike many women in my position, who love to travel, love to shop, go to beauty shops, etc., etc.  I get no enjoyment out of any of those activities,  and since my husband passed in 2015, my Maddie is my reason to get through each day.  I was told by her oncologist I could expect her to live comfortably for at least a year.  She recovered from the surgery well, and her chemo treatments were not difficult for her.  The last two ultra sounds have been positive, no cancer has returned.  I know the day is coming when it won't be good news, but like this grief path, I only take one day at a time and am thankful for each morning when she comes into my bedroom to wake me with her cold wet nose nudge.  I did promise her that when she got to the point where she is suffering I will not allow her to suffer.

I am only telling you my story and without any judgement.  I know where you are and wish I could say something to take away the pain.  Your Arlie is such a handsome boy and his smile would win anyone’s heart.  My prayers are with you and Arlie. Take care.  Dee

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Kay,

I'm so sorry to hear this news.  I know how much Arlie means to you.  You didn't mention what type of cancer he has, but it doesn't sound like he's showing symptoms.  One of my dogs had lung cancer, and he lived for a year after diagnosis and had a good quality of life until the last month or so.  There was no treatment available other than surgery, and he was not able to go thru that because of other health issues. 

No one should judge what you do or don't do for Arlie.  Everything you decide to do will be because of your love for him.

Keeping you both in my prayers.

Mary

 

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Kay, I am so very sorry to hear about your Arlie.  I have lost several dogs and it was always devastating!  I know. that you will absolutely do  the right thing for him.  You love him too much to do otherwise.    Gin 

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Kayc, 

I am so very sorry, my heart is breaking for you!

I too have lost many of my fuzzy babies over the years, each one was devastating. The last one was Jackson who also had cancer. Lost him less than a year before losing my husband. 

Things like this just make me hate the world sometimes, why must out hearts always be ripped apart!

Your immense love for him will guide your path and you will make all his days the best they can be. Arlie is blessed that you are his mom and you’ve given him a wonderful and happy life.

Sending you and Arlie prayers and blessings.

 

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I hope for many trips to the park this summer.
It's in his tummy/chest area.  He is having symptoms, I just didn't realize what was going on, now it makes sense. He's losing his appetite, it makes him nauseous and he'll progressively vomit more.  I just have to watch for how he's feeling because I don't want to put him through misery just so I can have him longer.  At this point he still has quality of life.

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Kayc, just wanted to send some love to you and Arlie.

Take a deep breath, then go on to give you and Arlie as much special time as you can while you can.  Arlie's soul will always be connected to yours.  And when the time comes, George will be there to greet Arlie. ❤️ 

You and Arlie chose each other for a reason.  Unconditional love.  And the love is eternal.

We'll be here right here with you.

Hugs, ~Shirley

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Oh no, Kay! What shocking and sad news this is!! I'm so terribly sorry this has happened to your cherished Arlie and you. 😢 💔 Arlie is SO handsome and sweet-looking, and I'm sure your heart is totally breaking. Of course these things happen, yet I'm still gobsmacked that this awful news came about so suddenly, and when you least expected it.

Unfortunately, I also learned years ago that even basic blood-work, especially in animals, doesn't often flag cancerous conditions until they're already fairly advanced, meaning the cancer has been present for quite awhile already, sometimes years. It's so sad but true, but I've heard it happen like this time after time. 

I can certainly understand your position on not resorting to "heroic measures" in Arlie's case, so yes, regular quality of life assessments will be of high importance now.

No matter which route you take,  you may want to check out Dr. Ella Bittel's site on animal hospice care-giving -- https://spiritsintransition.org/  I believe I posted about her work here before, but she has since vastly expanded upon her offerings. She has comprehensive Resources pages here https://spiritsintransition.org/resources/ and here https://spiritsintransition.org/additional-online-resources/.  Ella also has a different Quality of Dying Checklist, informed by her own knowledge and definition of hospice for animals.

There are also apparently financial assistance programs for U.S. veterinary services, a U.S. house call/mobile vets listing, and so much more. I'm not familiar with what-all the following involves, but I see her Additional Resources now also include:

"Georgia’s Legacy Canine Cancer Resource is designed to help those get started on their personal journey whose dog has been diagnosed with cancer. It provides key resources, useful tips, holistic treatment options, answers to frequently asked questions and basic information about canine cancer and pet loss issues."

I recall there was a vet she was liaising with before who offered hospice care help by phone in the U.S., if that's still available. There is also Brighthaven (under Additional Resources), a fantastic hospice organization for dying pets, from where Gail (its founder) also now offers paid consultations to assist in supporting animals in home hospice care-giving. 

Had Dr. Bittel's detailed help been available to me when I was losing my Sabin to rapidly-metastasized cancer, it would have been a huge help in my care for him, but there just wasn't anything like this available at the time. (and even most integrative or holistic vets aren't aware of all these aspects) So if nothing else, I'm hoping some of her info might help you with best practices and considerations to support Arlie and yourself, potentially providing more quality time with him with less worry, confusion or regrets.  

Marty mentioned taking lots of pictures, and I'd add that to that voice recordings of your dear boy, too. Thankfully, I was able to do some of those of my Nissa's various talk, but never thought to do that for my Sabin, and I still massively regret it. Hearing their voice is a treasure that can help you feel that much closer to them later.

I know how close Arlie and you are, Kay, and you've already been through so much heartbreak in you life. I truly wish you didn't have to suffer any more. I'll be thinking of you both, and hoping for the best there can possibly be. 💞

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Well it happened again.  My "friend" left a message on my machine yesterday saying he wanted to know how I was doing.  I called him back, told him I'd gone to my son's, etc. and he didn't say a word.  I said, "You're awfully quiet, what's up with that?"  He said, "What are you DOING for Arlie!"  He sounded harsh and cold, it was definitely judgmental.  I told him I'm not having this conversation and hung up.  We're done.  Why would someone want to make you feel worse?  It's social ineptness at best, arrogance through and through, but I definitely felt he crossed boundaries that aren't his.

This is hard enough.

The last two mornings Arlie has been eager to eat and finished his breakfast without coaxing, I take that as a miracle.  Any day I have him in my life and feeling well is a good day.

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Honestly, it drives me nuts that proper and respectful communication skills haven't been taught in schools all along, so we all must suffer for its lack. It's starting now, though, with some professional people on a real mission to do just that, so as to drastically change how we relate in relationships, in healthier and more loving ways. HOWEVER, this was decidedly NOT THAT, and I'm glad you made your boundary swiftly crystal clear with this "friend"!  Displaced anger and frustration, potentially arising from a place of affection for Arlie, which this may have possibly been (just wildly guessing here), is still no excuse for acting so abruptly critical, along with a total lack of empathy or gentleness in tone or approach. UGH! There are too many people like this in the world and so many of us have had more than "enough!" of them. There were so many other ways he could have expressed whatever was really behind his words, but he chose not to utilize those.

Now he's given you more negative feelings to have to process, on top of your anticipatory grief. So yes, looks like another re-writing of that address book is sadly in order. Double UGH. Just when you need friends the most...

You're right, Kay, every day that's good is something to be able to FEEL good about, and to keep caching up in your mind and heart for the days when it's harder. Your feeling good will also of course help Arlie, too. I'm so sorry this "friend" has made it all more difficult for you. A few expletives are rearing their heads in mine, and I suppose I could have just said, short and sweet, "What a jerk!"

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Kay,

I'm so sad for you and beautiful Arlie. I know you are best friends.

Life is far from fair. I hope you will have many special days in the park. Pay no attention to those who would judge you, only to those of us who love you.

Thinking of you,

Karen

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2 hours ago, Maylissa said:

Displaced anger and frustration, potentially arising from a place of affection for Arlie, which this may have possibly been (just wildly guessing here)

He's never shown any affection for Arlie.  He only likes HIS kind of dogs (German Shepherds).  No, it basically boils down to social ineptness and arrogance, always thinking HIS way is the best.  The friendship is over, he never apologizes or changes, so I'm done.  I just don't need this in my life, no matter what is going on.

I just wonder how many others have faced this when they're already emotionally fragile, it's really horrid at this time.

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Okay then, good decision to leave this friendship behind, when no good can realistically come of it! That's showing strength in your own convictions, and you're better off without this sorry dude.

How many others have faced this? TOO MANY!...including myself. From supposed friends, to relatives, to lots in between, and even from my own spouse, who has often kicked me when I'm (the most) down. Sometimes I haven't even found out about the gross level of betrayal meted out against me until years afterwards. It's particularly devastating when it just keeps happening. And "my way or the highway" types are incredibly draining and harmful indeed.

I hope someone more suitable to the task appears in your life to help you through this. But if not, at least you can know you're acting supportive of yourself, and that's what really matters the most.

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15 hours ago, Maylissa said:

I hope someone more suitable to the task appears in your life to help you through this. But if not, at least you can know you're acting supportive of yourself, and that's what really matters the most.

That's one thing I've learned in going through grief, right here!  When we've lost the person who would have been that to us, it's important to learn to be that to ourselves.  Self-care, so important.  Sometimes that's eating right, sleeping enough, etc. but sometimes it's standing up for ourselves and who we allow in and who we don't.

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Thursday eve. I went to one of those high pitched sales things that sells scents, diffusers, pills, etc.  Starting kit $780, up to $1500, yeah right.  Cheapest thing was $57, I passed.  But I did learn something, I can give my dog Milk Thistle and SAMe for his liver!  I take them both myself and checked the ingredients on line, they're both okay.  I started him on the Milk Thistle yesterday and if he does okay will add the SAMe in a week.  (Never start on two products at the same time, if something's wrong, you won't know which one it is).

It'd be great if that would help, plus the SAMe is also good for mood elevation and joints as well as anxiety.  So happy to discover this!

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