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Euthanized Our Beloved Dog Last Night, Looking For Support And Advice.


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Hello all. I am desperately in need of support. We euthanized our beloved 5 year old American Bulldog/Boxer yesterday after an ongoing battle with Mast Cell cancer, and I am struggling with immense feelings of guilt and sadness.

Her name was Beechums and she was about 5 1/2 years old when she passed. She was the dog I always wanted, a best friend, a family member and un-replaceable.

A police officer happened to come upon her being attacked by a pack of grown dogs when she was a stray puppy, scared them off and brought her to the pound. We adopted her two days after she got to the pound, she was about 6 mos old when we brought her home.

Shortly after bringing her home from the pound she developed an infection from the terribly done surgery and stitching job the pound performed for her mandatory spaying. She also got kennel cough which turned into pneumonia. We thought at this point we might lose her. Skipping school and work, staying up nights and virtually draining our minimal student budgets we were able to nurse her back to life.

Being a boxer she enjoyed being naughty and really enjoyed chewing, which sent her to the vet several times. Once when she chewed off part of a glass bottle someone rudely tossed into our backyard and another time when, within moments of me turning my back, she removed from a zipped backpack a bottle of Advil and ate half of the pills. Again she survived these ordeals.

She suffered from allergies her whole life, and ultimately this seems to be what we could not win against.

At one point she scratched a series of hives so badly that within days she had a serious staph infection that took several rounds of vet visits and antibiotics to finally get rid of. We also used antibiotic shampoo and cleansed her belly with rash fighting solutions from the vet regularly throughout her life. We had testing done, had her on thyroid medication and watched what she ate.

All through her life though she was happy, energetic and never seemed to feel the pain of her ailments. Always loving and always "smiling".

Almost two years ago we were at the vet for a routine visit we brought up a small bump we had noticed in between her toes. The vet said it was a fatty tumor, harmless. As it did not seem to cause her pain or problems we believed that was true.

About three months ago we took her to the vet when we noticed a strange lump that seemed to change in size on her belly, at that point we once again brought up the toe lump. The Vet confirmed the toe lump was a fatty cell tumor but the one on her chest was a Mast Cell tumor.

We immediately scheduled surgery to remove the Mast Cell. Day of surgery we received a call from the vet. He said the toe lump was also a mast cell... though previously we were told it was of no concern. He also shaved other parts of Beechums' body and confirmed she had 4 other mast cell tumors. He was not comfortable removing the toe tumor, as he believed the entire toe would need to be removed to create safe margins. We picked her up that day without surgery being completed.

At this point I found an oncologist vet in our area that specialized in Cancer Care. We were hopeful after our first appointment there in which the specialist looked Beechums over and believed the whole toe would not have to be removed and chemotherapy could eradicate the smaller less serious tumors and less intense smaller surgery could safely remove the chest and toe tumors. Knowing that the cost would still be a strain, but feeling we could not give up yet, we began chemotherapy treatment with Palladia, Prednisone and supplements.

Beechums did well for her first week of taking Palladia, all mast cell tumors shrunk significantly and she appeared to be in good health. On a Saturday night she began to act lethargic and unlike herself. Sunday during the day was the same, lethargic, not hungry and incredibly thirsty. Sunday night I barely slept a wink as she wouldn't settle. She was pacing, whining, drinking huge amounts of water and needed to go out every 5 -10 minutes.

The next morning we did a very short walk but she seemed ok, ate her breakfast and was dozing when I left for work. I was planning on going to see her on my lunch break when my husband called saying he had gone to see her and she had diarrhea repeatedly in the house, when I went over a couple hours after that she had gone again. She was barely able to stand, not interested in food and seemed to be stiff and in pain.

This went on for several days, our Oncologist suggested we up the glucose powder and stop with Palladia. We took Beechums to her regular vet as well to check her GI function and white blood cells, which had not been damaged permanently from Palladia.

The Oncologist said it was rare, but some dogs could not handle Palladia. We stopped Palladia and started using Kinovet. She did not react strongly to it but was suffering from the Prednisone use. Always thirsty, lethargic and dropping weight at an alarming rate. She also developed another scary belly rash that turned into an infection within two days of showing up and required antibiotics. They believed her immune system was compromised from Prednisone and that was why the rash got so serious so quickly.

Second to last visit we had with the Oncologist we stopped Prednisone. In the last three weeks Beechums started to become her old self and was playing, eating and putting on weight. However her tumors no longer seemed to be shrinking and the one in her toes looked to be growing again.

This last visit we discussed with our oncologist that her white blood cells were down and that we would have to cut down her Kinovet dosage. It became clear she could not stay on Chemo drugs that much longer before her organs were affected. We also discussed consulting a surgeon, at this point the Oncology vet said she may have been incorrect, the entire toe, or leg may need to be removed to create safe margins for the toe tumor. We agreed we would continue with chemo for the next month and discuss our options with the surgeon during that time.

Right before we left the Oncologist said she wanted to do a steroid injection into the chest and toe tumor. She warned it might make them appear to get worse for a few days, or a week, but would then help with mass shrinkage before we saw the surgeon to discuss options. At this point we were already starting to think removing the leg was not an option because it would affect her quality of life and thinking we might need to discuss stopping chemo and starting Hospice care.

Beechums received the shots, two minutes after the shots were administered she began vomiting. She violently vomited over 5 times in a minute. She then lay down and pooped without seeming to notice what she was doing. Her skin was turning bright pink, her breathing labored and she was becoming unresponsive.

She was taken to the emergency area and we were told she was in shock and in critical condition. She was stabilized, then critical again. Then stabilized.

Finally about an hour and half after the shots were given we were counseled by our oncologist that what had happened was the shot prick had caused the mast cell tumor to degranulize, releasing hundreds of histamine cells into her body causing the shock. They likened this to having a bee sting sitting there all the time on your body, at any moment waiting to "explode" and causing anaphylactic shock.

We were then visited the Emergency vet who was caring for Beechums. She told us they would like to keep Beechums over night for monitoring, because of the trauma she had just endured her body had all kinds of things could have happened such as permanent damage to her kidneys and liver and she might slip into critical condition again. The cost to keep her there and run tests was extremely out of our reach and we were upset to hear she might have suffered unknown permanent damage.

The emergency vet also told us this type of shock could happen again at anytime if any of the tumors degranulated again, which could happen from Beechums hitting her foot while running, Beechums bothering the tumor or anything like that.

She also told is it was very likely we would have to remove Beechums entire leg to remove the tumor, and because she had multiple tumors that she was at higher risk to die from complications if anthesized.

All throughout this process we kept in mind none of this was foolproof, and because Beechums had multiple tumors, one of them rather advanced, she was at risk for mast cell cancer to return even after safe margins removal.

The cost for leg removal would have been vastly beyond our budget, it was a struggle for us already taking her to Oncology appointments every two weeks and affording her chemo drugs and the home cooked cancer diet meals we were preparing for her. We had held out hope surgery could be as simple as a toe or quick tumor removal, which still would have been costly but within our means.

After these discussions with the vets I felt I had to ask about Euthanasia.

After an agonizing conversation with my husband and sister, who are also Beechums parents, we decided it was best to put her to rest that day.

We debated very deeply the possibility of taking her home then, stopping chemo and starting hospice, but were sick at the thought again of her going into shock alone, which was a possibility. Most upset at the thought of her going into shock while we were at work and she was at home alone, dying then slowly, scared, painfully and by herself. We thought too about doing Hospice and waiting for cancer to spread to her organs and her to not be able to walk anymore when the toe tumor got too large, what kind of quality of life was that?

I felt at peace with the choice we made yesterday. Beechums was pretty sedated from her earlier brush with death even though earlier that morning she had been playful and full of energy.

The moment the vet was putting the drugs that would stop Beechums' life into the IV I no longer felt peace. I felt like screaming and telling her to stop, I felt the greatest grief I've ever felt, promptly followed by the deepest regret and guilt. I now feel like I betrayed my best friend.

I have been playing over those last hours in my head since then, wondering if we made the choice too soon, if we should have done Hospice instead. She was going to have to be euthanized within the near future, but before the episode at the vet's she still had moments of being herself, she still had joy in life and liked doing the things she loved.

The choices that seemed so clearly right with Beechums quality of life in mind yesterday; that she might have suffered permanent organ damage, that I was not going put her through the trauma of removing her leg, that Hospice meant she would die slowly and possibly lose the ability to walk when her toe tumor got too large, and above all the fact that she could have gone into shock again at any point and died alone, all seemed to lose their resonance.

I walked her almost every day. I spent time with her often. I pet her. I played with her. we took her on trips and car rides and hikes. We "saved" her multiple times, we tried chemo ... but this all seems to me not enough now. I can only think of the nights I should have gone home to her earlier, the days I should not have skipped her walk,that I have failed her by not being able to provide the top of the line care she deserved by not having the money to get it, and above all the fact that I might have chosen to end her life too soon.

Beechums was beautiful, she was jolly, she was fun, she was loyal and she was constant comfort in my life, seeing me through some terrible times. I miss her now, and I will miss her forever.

Any advice, kind words or similar experiences to help me through this would be deeply appreciated.


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I am so sorry for your loss, to me, losing a dog is one of the worst things someone could go through. It sounds like she had a happy spirit and just didn't let life get her down.I wish I knew something to help your heartache, I have been through it and I know of nothing but time. You have a lot of love to give, perhaps when the time is right you could find another dog to give your love to...I know it'd never be the same, but we have a capacity to love and share. I lost my whippet four years ago and a few months later I got my Husky/Retriever. The two couldn't be more different but I appreciated their differences and loved each of them for who they are.

I wish I could give you a hug and somehow make the pain go away. I don't know your beliefs, but I believe we'll be with our beloved dogs again someday. Have you heard of the Rainbow Bridge? I've posted the link in a couple of other threads here, I hope you'll visit it.

It helps to talk about what you're going through...another person on this site has been telling in chapters about his dog's life. It helps to share what you have experienced with her, I'm sure you have many special memories. I hope you will come back and post whenever you want. There should be more people on here tomorrow and throughout the weekend.



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Hi and I am so sorry for your loss!!!

I WISH we were made to take a class as children to teach us how to handle this.

First to separate your grief from your guilt! that part of you that uses guilt to punish you for all you have ever done wrong is using your heart and your deep unending greif to make you feel bad and only you can stop it from doing that to you.

That black grief is going to take as long as it takes. You know, that sweet soul was so lucky to have you! You got her medical care and a vet, you shared a WONDERFUL life together. She wont be replace able but I hope a some point you will find it in you to open you heart and home to another four legged companion you have a chance at a wonderful life with you. My therapy dog Bo Bear went over night and died as I was taking him to the vet. Before that my Junebug and lymphoma that would have taken her in a month and the cancer vet got her one more year that was just wonderful. Sigh, it is never enough time, for sure. I wish there was something more that I can do but listen to the stories of your happy time with her! Have you thought about doing some kind of memorial - a website, or picture?



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Hi CJ,

Thanks for your support. I am sorry for your loss as well. It sounds like you are an amazing owner with so much love to give.

This has been so very hard and really helps to just get it out there and write down the story and my current feelings.

My sister and I are planning on putting together a picture book of Beechums online that we can then get printed.

I am trying to concentrate on the positive times, there were so many as we took her almost every where and did things with her all the time, but I just feel so sick with guilt and it always knocks the good memories away. I keep thinking I want to go back to that day and opt to give her more time in Hospice care, she still enjoyed life. I know that the choice I made that day was with her mind, but right now with the with pain of her being gone and the strong desire to see her the reasons don't seem right anymore. I know that time heals the wounds of loss, and that one day I will be able to think of her with smiles and not tears, I just don't feel like I will be able to ever forgive myself from thinking we made the choice too soon.

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Hi KayC,

Thank you for the kind words. I am sorry for your loss as well.

You are right, time does heal the wounds of grief. It never leaves us but it does dull and the happy memories come to us more than the bad. I am waiting for that to come, but I am struggling most with guilt. Guilt that I made the choice too soon.

My sister and I got Beechums together when we were in college, we all lived together for over 4 years, in the last year I got married and my sister got her own place. As she was living alone, Beechums stayed with her for protection and company. I still saw them every day. I hurt most for my sister now, her house is full of Beechums things and now she is all alone.

My husband and I still have our 9 yr. old Boxer mix and Linx cat at home to give love to, but I fear the end is near from them as well as they are both beginning to suffer from arthritis.

I will always be a dog parent, and will adopt again, I just don't know if I can ever love another creature as much as I loved Beechums. She was so special to me.

But I think you are right, when the time is right my heart will know, and I will be open to love someone else, as different as they may end up being from her.

Thank you for suggesting Rainbow Bridge, I will check that out today.

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My friend, your Beechums is adorable.

I think that all of us who've faced the horrible decision of euthanasia for our beloved companions understand and have experienced the guilt that goes with that god-like decision.

How could we NOT feel guilty? We are deciding, intentionally, to take the life of someone we love beyond description.

And how could we possibly know for sure that we picked the "right" time? Is there EVER a "right" time for a decision like this?

I hope you will click on this post, and follow the links embedded there. Please take the time to listen to the interview, too, as it contains what I think is a good discussion about the guilt that accompanies making the euthanasia decision: Massive Guilt Over Dog Death

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Your Beechums is truly adorable! Thank you for sharing that picture with us. I think your idea of an album is a great idea. I bought the stuff to do an album on my husband, and still haven't been able to do it, and it's been over seven years, but I will, when the time is right. It's painful to look at the pictures and remember, it's just hard, it's such a vivid reminder of all you're missing.

I wish you well in your grief process as you struggle to deal with feelings of guilt. My personal feeling is that guilt plays an essential role in our lives as it points us to needed change, but if it lingers beyond that, it is no longer guilt but "shame" which is attacking us and holding us down and keeping us from being all we can be. I have learned to listen to guilt so I could learn from it, and then when shame comes knocking, to say "NO" to it and not allow it in. It has taken me many years to learn this, so that I can incorporate positive changes into my life and not suffer unduly from things I cannot change. You did your best with Beechums and those positive memories will come, just as you know they will, and in the end, that is what you will be left with. I know the process is not easy, it does take time and isn't fun to work through, my thoughts are with you as you make your way through it.

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