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Alone And Guilty


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A little over 2 weeks ago i put my beautiful 16 1/2 girl chewy to sleep.I still feel lost and guilty.I did not see signs of her slowing up and tripping the prior 2 weeks as i thought it was just her arthritis or her bad spine acting up.I just gave her an aspirin which probably made her condition worse.Chewy had a spine disease (IVD or the wooblers)the past 5 years or so and was doing okay although she would fall sometimes and walked with a sway in her back legs.She also had bad arthritis in her front legs the past couple years and that was getting worse.On the day her life ended she had a seizure i brought her to the vet who said she was in life threatening anemia condition.he said it was either cancer or an immune disease called IMHA.He said she would need an immmediate transfusion and many tests for any chance of survival but he put the odds low at something like 17% she would survive,He said if it was his dog he would put her to sleep but it was still my decision With her spine disease age and bad arthritis I thought it would be too much for her to endure and she seemed so in pain i ageeed to have her put to sleep.I somehow think i should have tried the transfusion even though the odds were so against her and at her age putting her thru all that wouldnt be fair.Everything went so fast i think i rushed into it although the doctor and my friends said i did the right thing.I feel i failed her and guilty about putting her to sleep and also not seeing signs she was sick.I also miss her so much.How can i overcome this feeling of guilt? I loved that dog more than anything and now i can only thing of how I failed her when she needed me the most.I am angry at myself for letting this happen.I know she had a long life but i cant help blaming myself for what happenned.The pain continues and it been over 2 weeks.I want to remember her as she was so happy and spunky.I know i cant change what happenned but want to remember her in happy times.Did i fail my girl?I am so lost?

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Oh No Don.. you didn't fail her at all. You did the tough thing, but that was a gift to her. You freed her from pain. And now.. she runs with the Angels.

Don we had a dog go that long too. It was very hard to put her down... but.. the poor thing was suffering as I'm sure your lil one was too. Really? There was no choice. If we had done any extraordinary means to extend her life... I doubt she would have been completely pain-free, or would have enjoyed any quality time in her life. And ultimately? We would only have been selfishly putting off the inevitable just to save ourselves from the grief. And at what cost??, more sufferring for her? Couldn't do that.

It is so hard when we lose our beloved companions. But we really are doing them the ultimate favor.

It has only been two weeks for you. That is still a very recent loss for one who is literally family to us.

It is my belief that when we pass.. our beautiful pets are there to greet us.

You know.. years after we had to put that 16 yr old down.. I sensed her around me. I'm talking maybe 5 years after she passed. I was sitting at the kitchen table doing paperwork and all of a sudden I had the feeling she was with me. I know that sounds nuts.. but.. I just kinda "felt" her presence somewhere near. And almost immediately after I had that feeling... my phone rang. I got up to answer it and literally stepped over her on my way. I automatically stepped over a dog that wasn't "there". But I swear.. somehow.. she must have been.

For me? Pets, especially dogs, cats and some horses even show us unconditional love. They are like our own personal unconditional love teachers. And we love them right back. So.. in my mind.. it stands to reason.. if I feel my passed human loved ones' love still.. I would probably still feel the love from a passed pet. Love truly doesn't die.. not even for our wonderful pets.

I'm so sorry you had to put her down.. but Don I really think.. you did the best, most loving, selfless and toughest thing for her and despite the circumstances, it was a blessing to her.

In time I was able to remember this dog when she was young and healthy and silly. Those memories returned... after awhile. She, like your pet, was with us a long time. So it took some time to adjust to life without her physically here with us. But today I have very fond memories and once in awhile, I still sense her around me, usually, exactly when I could use some unconditional loving.

Be patient with yourself Don and try to remember.. our pets are really like family, so your grief for this wonderful pet will be very much similiar to that after losing a family member.


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Thanks you so much for your support.Your words do make sense and i can see how I probably did the right thing for chewy as she was old and her body just wouldnt keep up with her mind.It makes it even harder because i know she still had her mind and love for me and yet her body was failing her and even if i gave her the transfusion and she made it she would still be in some pain,maybe get a relapse and her quality of life wouldnt be what she wanted i know she was such a spunky girl who just loved life.She was just such a special dog with humanlike qualities who helped me so much in my life and as you said showed me uncontional love.She would sense if i needed help and help me if i was doing something wrong by just making a little whinning sound.I always thought of her as a guardian angel sent to me she seemed to know my feelings always.Not to be overly dramatic but when i gave let the vet end her life it reminded me of the movie the green mile where tom cruise had to end the life of that "angel" in the execution at the end.I still dont know how I was able to tell the vet okay.Thru all this i still feel like i could have saved her but as you say maybe only keeping her here for myself.I just cant get rid of these guilt thoughts.I know i did what i did because i didnt want her to suffer anymore but still feel like i couldnt helped her one last time.Ive had other wonderful dogs but she was so special.Living without her is hard enough but the pain of having to end her life is becoming overwhelming on me.I hope i can meet my girl in heaven.Thanks again for your support it does help to hear your thoughts.I hope in time i can convince myself i did the best for my chewy

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Dear Don,

I, too, am so very sorry to learn of the death of your beloved Chewy, and I can assure you that the guilt you're feeling now is familiar to all of us who've been faced with that awful euthanasia decision.

Try, for example, typing the word "guilt" in the search engine for this forum, and see how many posts come up for you.

In addition, you might find this radio interview clip to be helpful. Follow this link, and when you get to the Web page, scroll down until you come to Segment on Pet Loss Grief and Guilt:


See also Loss and the Burden of Guilt

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Those links Marty gave you there are great ones. Be assured you are no where near alone in your thoughts or feelings. It is very hard in the beginning... very painful. But I found it does indeed ease over time.

You will, in time, be able to see that what you did for Chewy was a blessing.

Just go easy with yourself and I must say I am so very grateful that you were able to have Chewy as your beloved pet. She must have been a special one, no doubt.



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Thanks Marty and Leeann,

Your comments and those linked have helped me without a doubt.I can see i am not alone in this feeling of guilt.Its been a little over 3 weeks and I still have horrible thoughts of putting my girl to sleep although I do know i was thinking of her.I just felt it was so fast she ate her breakfast in the morning and then was gone by the afternoon.I knew she ws old but i feel like i missed out on bringing her home one more time.I guess with the circumstances i still dont feel totally comfortable with my choice.The rushing, the vet saying he would put her to sleep if it was his dog, chewy lying in distress it was like i was already prepared for her dying and felt like i just had to let her go.The part of that interview of the pets hanging on for us kinda reminded me of chewy.Ill never know how much pain she was in with her arthritis because she was a tough girl my vet agreed with me on this.I know she probably wouldnt have lived much longer anyway at least not quality life with her ailments however the part of the interview where it says can you look yourself in the mirror and say you did everthing you could.Thats the part im fighting with.Did i do everything?How do you know?I know she had a long life but how do you know if you did everything?if she got the transfusion would that have been too much?or could I have bought her a little extra time?I know its too late now and basically I listened to my vet in the end although I know I still had the final say.I guess there is no answer i hope i can realize i did what was best for chewy.Thanks again and anyone else please give your thoughts

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I guess there is no answer i hope i can realize i did what was best for chewy.

Don, you will... in time. It all takes time.

Sounds like Chewy was an awesome companion.

The thoughts you are having about her last moments are natural and will ease off with time too. I think putting a dog to sleep IS traumatic. And your feelings, in my thinking, are normal given that trauma.

I accompanied a really good friend who had to put her 5 yr old dog to sleep. This was tragic really. Only 5 years old and with cancer. I remembered she fit in my hand when they first brought her home! Cute lil black thing all curled up. So obedient.. food was safe at nose level on a coffee table! When she was teething.. my friend and I were working on something for the PTA on the computer and there she was nibbling a corner off my flip flop. So gentle... I barely felt her. And I watched her grow up to be an 80lb'er as gentle as you please. She was a special pooch.

They kept her as comfortable as they could for a time after the diagnosis. And they told their kids about it and how it would eventually end tried to prepare them as best as was possible.

Well, that day...we were all a mess.. I was crying, my friend was crying.. and yes.. even the vet was crying too.

The vet was attempting to give her a sedative to calm her but I eventually had to leave the room because she wanted to greet me and play with me! (So lovable til the very end.)

Her face was all misshapen from tumors and blood was issuing from her noise with every breath by that point.

I kid you not.. I sat on the floor outside the closed door of the room praying for my friend and the dog until it was over. And the vet came out first. I let my friend be for a few moments by herself and then I went in. Well... you can imagine. We just sobbed. But... she was peaceful then and we knew.. as hard as it had been to put a 5 yr old dog down... it was a blessing to her.

But Don... that was 6 years ago... and ya know... I still have those flip flops with the munched out corner. I still wear them around the house.. and I doubt I will ever toss them out. And this wasn't even my dog! Of course I look back on her with the warmest loving feeling today and I visualize her pretty face & eyes all back to normal and her running with the Angels. But in the beginning.. it was real rough for my friend and her family and I mourned her also.

So.. yeah I would expect to be thrown completely off kilter by the loss of dear Chewy for a bit. Try real hard not to judge yourself and just allow the feelings to come up when you feel the need.

This is painful, no question.

We're here for ya.


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Thank you so much for your support.The story about your friends dog is really tragic but it did give me some light on the subject and how horrible it must be for anyone to go thru this let alone having to put a young 5 year old dog to sleep.He sounds like he was such a lovable guy i hope your friend made out okay as i know this stuff can really haunt you.Im glad you still have those slippers it says alot about the kind of person you are.It makes me feel a little better knowing you think i made the right choice for chewy as i can tell you are a caring person who loves pets as much as i do.I guess everything went so fast makes it worse.I know she was getting old and i was kind of perparing for her to leave me but not so quickly.She used to follow me everywhere but in the last few years we had to keep her out of some rooms with tiled floors because she would slip i know she didnt like it but it was for her own safety.She used to have the run of the house and its a shame toward the end she was so limited.sorry to ramble but just thinking of her so much lately.But thank you so much you have really helped me as im slowly trying to see thatmaybe I couldnt really save my girl even though i wanted to more than anything.I still have that ugly thought of her lying there after she was put to sleep but i guess that may never leave me.Its a shame we have to go thru so much pain by loving so much.thanks again

Edited by don
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  • 2 weeks later...

Our friends have made out really well. They did indeed adopt another dog in time. (I'm thinking now.. maybe there was about a 3 month gap in between. Which.. mind you, everyone is different and every loss is different, may not seem like long enough to some folks. But for them.. it was right. They had known for about 4.5 months before they had to put her to sleep that the she was terminal. But like I said.. we are all different and you will know when or if it is time to get another companion.)

This new dog of theirs has a completley different temperment and personality... which I think is kinda helpful.

This one is a nut for sure. lol (Deathly afraid of house flies apparently. But finds bull frogs fascinating and wants to swim in the pond with them. She is a stitch to watch!)

My husband calls her the "Reindog" cause she runs like .. run, run, run, LEAP! run, run run, LEAP!. :) The differences in the two pooches are good. We can easily preserve our memories of her beloved lost 5 yr old. And this new one made/makes us all laugh when we needed to.

Don you telling us how Chewy had to avoid the tile floors reminds me that my sis may be about to go through all of this too. Her 10 yr old Golden Ret. has been being treated for hip dysplasia for at least the last 4 yrs. She has had two strokes as well. The strokes she has managed to recover from nicely. But her hips... the poor thing. My sis says she doesn't even get up with her husband in the morning anymore (which used to be one of her favorite things and one of her most exuberant times). And she says she limps through the day quite frequently now... even on the meds from the vet. My sis has no desire to see any animal suffer.. so she has told me she is thinking that the time may be approaching soon for this Golden.

They adopted this Golden a few months before they had to put their other older pet dog to sleep. (Again for whatever reason... the personalities of the older dog and their Golden were vastly different.)

And sis is now already looking for another dog. So she is preparing.

That's the way they handle it.. They have a newer dog in the house for several months before the older one goes. For them & their daughter.. this way seems to work.

But soon her heart will be heavy too with the loss. They have had to make certain changes in their house too to accomodate this older retriever. I'm hoping the poor thing can be kept comfortable for awhile still though.

Pets are just part of our families to me. They enhance & challenge our ability & capacity to love. I remember my Dad telling me it was so important for children to have a pet so they could witness, as much as any human can witness, unconditional love. And I think he was right.

The dog we have now, we adopted shortly after finding out that our friend's dog was terminal. And our kids witnessed first hand what the loss will be like when the time comes for us to help her into eternal rest. (Edited just to add that the dog we have now is very much like the dog I had growing up in personality. I guess we all end up with what we are supposed to huh? )

And both of our kids have stated.. it is way worth having the pet to love even though it is going to hurt bad when they pass. And I think they are right too.

Hope you are doing ok Don and know I'm keeping you in my thoughts.


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The horrible pain of losing someone we love so much is something i would take all over again if i could have another 161/2 with my chewy.Even though I am still depressed over her and still have some doubts as to if i did the right thing by putting her to sleep.I guess it happened so fast i think maybe i should have not have made such a life decision as quick as i did.I think that is why i still have questions about putting her to sleep.It was almost like it was out of my control even though it was my choice.I did what i thought was the right thing what you hear people say you should do but somehow i have guilt.Chewy was such a fighter so i still am somewhat angry at myself for letting her go so easy as i just said okay when the vet asked me if i wanted to go ahead with it.I know she was in bad shape and i did trust my vet who thought it would be best to put her to sleep but he also left the door open just a little for a transfusion and tests so i think i will always wonder if i could have saved her and given her a few more months.maybe i just wanted her for a little longer for myself i dont know.I do know i still hurt by my choice even though i see logically it was probably for the best.I just wish i could just mourn her and not blame myself but for some reason i keep regressing and feel responsible for ending her life.i do feel better some days but i still have those days where i hate myself.its been about 2 months and though i feel a little better i still have the pain of seeing her eyes close and i gave permission for the vet to do it.I know she wasnt gonna live forever and she probalby wasnt gonna get much better but i still cant shake this horrible feeling.Thanks for listening and all your help as i do appreciate taking the time to respond with helpful words.

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It was almost like it was out of my control even though it was my choice.

Well Don.. it was out of your control... unless you have discovered some sort of secret fountain of youth for pups. :)

I think I know what you mean though when you say it seemed to happen so fast. Could it be that maybe that is what is bothering you more than the guilt of having her put to sleep? Like was it done fairly quickly ... in the same office visit?

Like when you left your house that day with Chewy to go to the vet... while you were driving over there, were you thinking that you wouldn't come home with her? That perhaps that was a serious possibility? Or didn't you have those thoughts until after you were already IN the office visit?

Because that may be why you are feeling like it was so rushed. I mean it wouldn't have changed the facts of her condition nor probably the out come if you had had those thoughts beforehand... but it certainly makes it understandable why you are struggling with that particular aspect of it.

If this is the case... I'm sure no doubt it felt like it was all over too quickly. But even if you weren't having conscious thoughts that that day could be it for Chewy... I'll bet somewhere inside you you had an idea that the time was approaching.

But feeling like it was rushed could certainly make this passing a bit more traumatic for you. So what you are feeling... even though I know it hurts.. is probably "normal".

Ya know Don... maybe talking to the vet might help you. Let the vet know what you are feeling about that day. For one.. it could help him or her in the future with other clients. And for two .. he/she may be able to explain things a bit more in detail for you as far as Chewy's condition & passing goes. They may be able to affirm you in that you made the right choice for Chewy.

I'm glad you are feeling a bit better at times though. But still having those horrible thoughts of ending her life from time to time... I dunno Don. But I wouldn't call that a "regression".

I think that grief doesn't only go in one direction. One can have a few good days and then feel absolutely horrible for a bit. Then that passes and one feels reasonably good again for a few... and then maybe a few more rough days come. Grief isn't necessarily "one way", you know what I mean. I have found that the string of good days just gets a wee bit longer over time. And there is more space in between the tougher days.

So still think positively about your progress.. because I do indeed think you are making some.

And keep us posted.


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Hi Leeann,

thanks for your support again On the day chewy died I actually thought she was dying as i thought she might have been having a heart attack.So when i went to the vet with her i almost "assumed" she was going to have to be put to sleep.So when i say it was out of my control it just seems like i made up my mind before all the facts were in.Thats why i feel i rushed it a bit even though the vets prognosis was so bad i think in the back of my head i already had myself prepared for her to go.now i think maybe i just let her go without really thinking everything through.Yes i was preparing for her to leave the past few months as i knew her time was limited so i think maybe seeing her get that seizure and her so weak that i just probably was thinking this is it so ill let her go.It was almsot like i had gotten the courage to let her pass and now i was frozen with that choice and didnt fully consider trying to save her even though i know she was in bad shape and when i look at the facts she probably wasnt gonna make a recovery but i just feel like i decided too quick.Like i just said okay to the vet like it was just an expression when i was ending her life.thats why i feel i rushed.And no i dont have a secret fountain of youth for pups. Good point though as i know her time was coming to an end and even if i had more time to decide the choice or outcome would probably be the same.I guess im just thinking like maybe i let her go so quickly because i didnt want to go through this again i just doubt myself sometimes.I did talk to my vet a few days after her passing and he kind of assured me i did the right thing saying what she had and with her ailments and odds there was little hope but did say i still couldve tried a transfusion if i felt "rushed'.i did say if i had brought her in a few weeks earlier she could still be alive but he said maybe that was a blessing in disguise as it may be better for her and her ailments that we let her go.He said had to put his own dog to sleep and that doesnt mean he didnt love him so in a way I understand somewhat.Boy im rambling on aint I? maybe i just miss her so much im imagining things.i do know i miss her and i do feel a little better.Leeann Thanks for taking the time to read and respond it really does help me. Don

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Glad you did indeed speak to the vet. Sounds like a real good vet you have there by the way. You aren't "imagining things". All of your feelings are real and they are just that... your feelings; not right or not wrong... just your feelings.

Don itsounds liek to me that you are indeed getting there, bit by bit. And I think what you are feeling is all well within the norm for the loss of your Chewy. I'm thinking we all kinda move through this grief process in our own unique way. The bottom line though is it IS painful. And the missing.... well.. I think that will always be there on some level.

But I'm hoping as time passes you have more easier days.


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