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I Cant Stop Feeling Like I Failed Him


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Almost two wonderful years ago as I walked the kennels at our local pound I found him. The most amazing large lovable dog, an American Mastiff. He lay there with his head down and a depressed look on his face. The moment we went over to him, he slowly got up, came to the gate, and licked my daughters face. I was hooked!!!! After several million miles of red tape due to some thoughts of aggressive behavior Charlie was our truck and on his way home.. He turned into my best friend! He wouldn't walk into a room or even forward unless his mama was by his side. I truly fell in love with this 130 lb dog as did the rest of my family..

On Feb. 20 we woke up and found that Charlie's stomach was huge.. severely bloated. We instantly called the vet and made an appointment for our boy. He appeared to also have a hard time breathing. We got to the vet and she instantly took him for xrays and a abdominocentisis. It was at this point my world shattered. Charlies belly and lungs were full of fluid and there were masses in his abdominal cavity and possibily more in his chest! NO! He's only 2 1/2! I couldn't even comprehend. My vet realizing this was news that was not being processed well she offered to take him for an hour, put a drain in and see how much fluid she could get off. However before we left she brought up that there really were no options at this point and euthanasia was in the future. I left Charlie with her went to my car and cried. My whole family cried. Then I got determined. I wasn't ready to give up on my friend. He was just a baby.

We went back to the vet and found she drained some fluid off and Charlie was breathing better. Being in the medical profession (both my husband and myself are nurses) we wanted to try medicines. We listed off steroids, diuretics, antibiotics; anything was worth a shot. So we were sent home on a slew of meds and gods mercy. It worked for the first few days. We went back to the vet 3 days later, Charlie had lost almost 10lbs of fluid and I was feeling hopefully. Then it just stopped. Tuesday morning we woke up in the middle of the night and Charlie couldn't hardly breathe. The swelling had increased again. We had lost.

I called the back up vet because my vet was closed on Tuesday. I wanted to see what could be done. Maybe drain more fluid? In my head I knew it was time. I gave Charlie a bath and brought his bed to the back up vet. She came in and looked at him and determined he wasn't breathing well and wasn't oxygenating. The fluid had increased in his lungs and his blood pressure was pretty much non existent. If we didn't help him pass now, he was going to drown in his own fluids.

I took him outside one last time too feel the grass, smell the air, see the sky, and then my husband brought his bed in and we prepared for him to fall asleep, only it was no a peaceful event, it was a traumatic horrid thing. Due to his low blood pressure they couldn't get an IV in his legs so they had to use his jugular. There was no preanesthesia used. The vet came in and just shot a syringe of medicine in his neck and he started thrashing around. It was horrible. She said "oh I guess I need more." what?! Charlie jumped up and ran to the corner of the room. My heart was breaking. She came back in with a muzzle because he snapped at the tech when the tech tried to pick up his butt. They put a muzzle on him and I slowly talked him back to the bed to lay down telling him it was ok and that I loved him. He came to lay by me and they injected him with the second round. I then told them all to leave. I sat there with my dog, my best friend and watched him take his final breath all while apologizing to him. I failed him and then I killed him. (I will NEVER step foot in that vet office again, I am pretty sure that isn't how its suppose to go)

This guilt is something I have and cant get past. I miss him so much. Nobody understands. He was my friend. Best dog I have ever had. Loved my children, loved me, shared our home, shared in our laughs. It just hurts so much.


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Dear CharLiesMaMa,

I feel the intense pain in your post (I'm an empath), and am so terribly sorry for both your loss, and all that you and your treasured Charlie went through. I can certainly understand how you feel, including the guilty feelings such tragic events induce, as well as the horrific final images and other feelings one is then left with. :( Since there are no "do-overs" possible that we know of, in a word, it's just inner "torture."

When the medical system and vets let us down so badly (no, I'm not going to blithely excuse either here, even though I'm aware you and your spouse are nurses within this system), it is often too much for us to bear, particularly of course when it takes the very life of someone we loved so dearly, and so unpeacefully no less. I have suffered the same kinds of effects caused by very similar types of trauma as you now have suffered, too (although Charlie's story is even worse than mine in some ways), and additionally have also learned of far too many other people and their precious furchildren who have been the unwitting victims of the same sorts of failings. (in my case, mainly with my beloved furchildren, but also with my mother) I'm not sure if you know how appallingly common this kind of thing is in reality, but suffice it to say, you're sadly not alone.

Even though I can well imagine the insta-relief you might be hoping to find...as many of us do...these after-effects are often not easy to live with or heal from, and for some of us, they may never heal completely in this lifetime. They do end up "shaping" us, though, and if we're persistent, still in positive ways. At the very least, depending on the process and whatever means we choose for self-healing, we can certainly mitigate and make them more bearable. I could suggest to you many different ways and avenues to consider, but some or even many you may not be amendable to. So instead, I will just say that in the end, the path to healing is through individual preference (and I'd say even one's very "soul path"), and any "silver linings" we may come to recognize and learn by along the way, are formed by whichever path/s we choose to take...those that are right for us.

Charlie was/is such a sweet-looking boy, and deserved far better than what he got at the hands of that (yes, ignorant and poorly-trained) vet. I just can't tell you how very sorry I feel about it, having learned far more than I ever wanted to know about such things. But please believe that he would never blame you for what happened, either, because he loved and still loves you, and more purely than most humans ever can, given our usually larger load of "baggage." (and no insult to your human family intended) Hang onto that as you grieve, and try asking Charlie to show you that's true, by whatever means he prefers. I'm sure at some point, he WILL. Your love for him, and his for you, will always be preserved and remain eternal, no matter how else things may look on the surface. It is a foundation you can truly count on. :wub:

Healing blessings to you, Charlie and your whole family, and a little prayer for Charlie, if I may...

May Charlie have been gently guided back to Love, and to the Light, and may his soul be healed of all trauma, in all times, across all dimensions, and forevermore.

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Dear CharLiesMaMa,

I am so sorry for your loss. I feel so bad for your pain because everyone of us on this site knows exactly what you are going through. You will get through this and the first step is doing exactly what you did and that is come to a site such as this and tell your story. We have all done so and it does help to know that there are those of us who know your pain and care. I am sorry that you feel this guilt that you contributed to the loss of your best friend. I believe it is a natural reaction that we feel this way because we felt we did not do everything possible. In time you will stop beating yourself up. I finally decided after awhile that I did what I felt was right and not because I didn't try everything humanely possible. You will too in time.

I can tell you what helped me. I went through the heart wrenching stories on here and I bawled like a baby but I also knew I was not alone. It has been 3 years today that I lost my very best friend and I still miss her dearly. I still see her laying in her special spot, on my robe. I still will not go by the veterinarian clinic, I will avoid that area like the plague. I don't think I will ever, ever go by there again but I am now done beating myself up.

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Charlie's Mama,

I am so sorry for your losing your best friend and companion. You're right, 2 1/2 years just isn't enough and it's not fair! It was not your fault, you tried to save him. I had a dog put to sleep that fought it and did not go peaceably either, but I don't think it was the dosage with her, I think she was just so scared, she was nervous her whole life. I hadn't expected that, I'd expected her to just quietly drop off to sleep, but that wasn't what happened. I have memories of the frantic look in her eyes and I couldn't calm her or reassure her. I think I know how you're left feeling. Let me assure you again, this was not your fault. His upset might have been partly the medical situation he was already in. I don't think the sleep serum is unsettling to them in and of itself, it's not supposed to hurt, just make them very groggy until they are gone.

I want to tell you that you gave your Charlie the very best possible life. Their lives are not measured in quantity of years, but in quality of happiness and relationship, and that he had with you. I am so glad you found each other and had that time together...I'm just so sorry it ended too soon. My sympathies to you and your family.

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Thanks for all your kind words. Its been two weeks, the sadness runs so deep. We got Charlies remains back along with a couple cards from different vets we saw. It just makes me so angry. I miss him so much. I miss his dopey walk with his head swaying, I miss how he needed a hug and a kiss before he would go to bed at night, I miss how his 130lb body would spin in circles when he got excited, I miss my dog. Things have slowly improved. I have smiled a bit with my baby lately. I try to be happy with her. My husband doesn't truly understand what I am going through but he tries. I have written a letter to the vet about my experience and plan on sending it to them. I feel like families shouldn't have to go through such things. Its hard enough when that time comes, that situation only amplifies it. I hope maybe it will open their eyes to how sensitive of a situation it is and how unprofessional they treat it.

I will forever cherish my time with my boy. I just truly wish he had a chance to grow all gray in the face and be lazy like an old man should be. I look forward to the day he runs to me when we meet again.. until then I think I will forever long for my big boy..

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I'm so very sorry that this happened to you, and even more sorry that what should have been a peaceful death turned out to be so awful for both of you. It's good to know that you've written to the vet, and perhaps some good will come of all of this, so that someone else won't have the same horrid experience as you have had. I'm just so sorry. Because you are a nurse, you know how this should have gone, which I'm sure makes it all the more painful for you.

I pray that with time and effort you'll find a way to forgive yourself, because of course you did nothing wrong, and you did do everything in your power to do everything right. Still, guilt is a feeling, and no matter how rational we may be, we cannot control how we feel. So go ahead and feel guilty ~ I won't try to talk you out of it ~ but know also that just because you are feeling guilty, it does not mean that you are, in fact, guilty as charged.

I've written a lot about guilt in grief ~ I'm hoping that you may find one or more of these pieces helpful:

Grief and the Burden of Guilt

Guilt and Regret in Grief

Be sure to follow the links to some of the Related Articles I've included at the base of these articles, too.

Finally, you may find this interview to be of interest:

Radio Interview: Segment on Pet Loss Grief and Guilt

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I understand. (((hugs))) I didn't realize yours was such a big boy, about the size of my Arlie.

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