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I need forgiveness from my dying dog


TINA DOUGLAS

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I just euthanized my 16 year old Jack Russell after watching him decline over 2 years from Degenerative Myelopathy. (a progressive disease where the brain can no longer connect with the nerves in the spinal cord). Watching him slowly lose the ability to walk over these past 2 years was a living nightmare for me. The past year was hard, the past 6 months were harder and the last 2 weeks (he died 12/16/20) exhausted me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I lived for this little boy and dotted on him since he was 10 weeks old. Shortly before he died I started losing my patience by yelling at him because I think I was angry that he was about to leave me. No, that does not make sense but exhaustion does crazy things to us. He was not sleeping well and was getting up 2-3-4 times a night. I have been consistently sleep deprived for at least 6 months. I found myself even losing patience with my husband. I look back now, and i am ashamed that for a few moments I was not there for him in his final weeks when he needed me most. Other than those few moments I tended to his every need and gave him so much love. But still, I feel so guilty that I was not more patient and compassionate to him. This is a very private and sensitive subject and not something that anyone freely wants to share. It is like a deep dark secret to me. I just want to know that I am not alone in the way I dealt with my sweet boy's decline. I am surprised at myself and yes, angry and disgusted with myself. Please share any similar stories. I am suffering so.

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As we often say here, my dear, guilt is a feeling, not a fact ~ and just because you're feeling guilty does not mean that you are, in fact, guilty of whatever "crime" you think you have committed in caring so well for a companion you loved so much. Round-the-clock caregiving is exhausting, whether the recipient is human or animal, and you are only human. As you say, you've been living a nightmare these past two years, and haven't had a good night's sleep in months. I hope that in time you will come to realize that you gave all you possibly could give to your beloved dog, and will find a way to forgive yourself. 

I invite you to read the articles you'll find on these pages, in hopes that their content will speak to you in a helpful way:

Pet Loss: Guilt In The Wake of The Euthanasia Decision

A Dangerous Villain: Guilt

Comfort for Grieving Animal Lovers

In Grief: After Caregiving Ends, Who Am I?

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Tina, I pray you will forgive yourself, even as he already has.  They live in the moment and forget quickly unless it is traumatizing abuse, then that stay with them.

I, too, was my Arlie's caregiver.  I got up at 4 am to cook for him, I walked him twice a day, every day, I gave him belly rubs, loved him more than anything in the world.  6/6/19 I took him in for a routine teeth cleaning & they did blood tests as a precautionary measure...the next day I found out he had inoperable cancer and his liver shutting down and instead of a routine teeth cleaning, we got a death sentence.  I provided the best care I could give him.  Two months ten days later he was euthanized.  I prayed I'd know when the time was right, and everything seemed to point to then.  He even knew he didn't have long and wanted to go see Sammy, his best friend dog, down the street.  He slowly made his way there, I knew it was something he needed to do.  He tried to go through the motions of playing with her, but I knew it was hard.  He had a hard time walking home but he slowly made his way home, stopping for breaks along the way.  That was just a couple days before he died.

Arlie always ate early in the morning and then again about 5.  One morning he didn't want to eat, instead he went in his doghouse.  I remember in my ear hearing the vet telling me "As long as he keeps eating..."  I was terrified.  I pulled him out of his doghouse and made him come eat, when he didn't feel like it.  That haunted me.  I regret that more than anything.  How would I feel if I was dying of cancer and someone forced me to eat, to get up, to move, when I didn't feel like it?  I was pretty mad at myself for that.  I know it was out of love and desperation, but that doesn't excuse it.  

But I also know he's forgiven me and I've had to too.  He knows how much I love him, always have, always will.  I think he keeps everything in perspective.  It doesn't make what I did alright, it wasn't by any means.  I'm also ashamed.  But I also know as caregivers we're not perfect, we're struggling to process our emotions, we're sleep deprived, we aren't always ourselves.  I'm glad they know we love them.

Your beautiful sweet dog has passed to what is next for him and someday we'll be with them again.  I look forward to that, the hope that we have gives me the impetus to keep going.  We'll be together again and that's all that matters.

Right now we have to be our own best friend.  And that means giving ourselves the gift of understanding, patience, love, forgiveness.  Even as they would.

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Thank you to those who have responded to me. That you should take the time out of your own personal lives, and take a moment to address my pain is truly appreciated. I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that I am not perfect.  I gave my beloved baby boy 5,840+ wonderful and loving days. I know I have to let go of the 2 days that I was impatient with him at the end or I will be "stuck". I know he would be sad to know how sad I am about this. I wrote him a letter and asked him to forgive me, and I asked God to help me forgive myself. I am dealing with it, and I know in time these bad memories will fade and be replaced by only love, peace, and serenity as I remember my Louie. 

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I am glad to hear you will be working on forgiving yourself, I've had to also, although I still regret it.  Peace to you, until we can be with them again!

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