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Dutchess_III's avatar

How would you handle this horrible decision?

Asked by Dutchess_III (46881points) January 10th, 2018

We took both dogs to the vet on Monday and he confirmed our suspicions. My 13 year old border collie, Dutchess, has throat cancer. Our 15 year old white German shepherd, Dakota, has dementia.

Of the two, Dutchess is in much better shape. At this point the cancer mainly affects her voice. She now snores when she sleeps (which makes it difficult to figure out who’s in bed with me, her or Rick!) so it’s obviously affecting her airway, but there is no noticeable outward change in her behavior. She runs and jumps with as much energy as she always has. But it’s growing rapidly, and it will kill her in the end. ;(

At this point Dutchess is one of Dakota’s care takers too. If Dakota goes outside and forgets how to get back (it happens once in a while,) Dutchess will lead her to the handicap ramp Rick built for her, and herd her up. Smart dog. She just runs up and down the steps, but she understand Dakota needs her ramp. When Dakota gets especially bad (it comes and goes) Dutchess goes and lays down beside her, touching her. Dakota relaxes immediately.

If Dakota’s dementia is anything like a human’s, losing Dutchess would send her over the edge, into an abyss of confusion and fear.

Do you see my dilemma?

Please give it some thought and tell me what your opinion is.

What a shitty, shitty week this has been.

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26 Answers

NomoreY_A's avatar

Hell..if they’re not suffering or don’t seem to be in horrible pain, I’d put off the (probably) inevitable as long as possible. That way you all have them with you longer and they have each others company longer. But I’d keep a close watch on the one with dementia being as you guys have young children around.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

I would pamper them till they pass on. Real meat every day.

Dutchess_III's avatar

That’s the plan, to keep them with us until we have to put them down, but what if Dutchess dies first?

Yeah. She could be trouble now…. @NomoreY_A. I asked a question about in the the Tide Pool.

NomoreY_A's avatar

Ok will check it out in a bit. Either way the ball bounces though, I still wouldn’t have her put down until I knew there was just no other recourse.

Dutchess_III's avatar

My question is, when Dutchess needs to go, do we send Dakota too?

NomoreY_A's avatar

That’s a tough call. I don’t believe could bring myself to do that, but that’s just me. I might wait a bit and see what Dakotas reaction is. Take it from there.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Oh, I wish dogs could speak..all I have is a memory of my Mom telling me that “This Alzheimer’s is just so horrible. Why can’t God just take me now? Why do I have to go through this?”

YARNLADY's avatar

I’m so sorry you have to go through this. Having been through it many times, I can only say each time is different. I would ask the vet, and try to judge how much pain they feel.

With my last dog, I kept him around much longer than family thought I should. He suffered a really bad seizure, which finally helped me to choose.

janbb's avatar

I would wait and see what happens with Dakota when Dutchess does have to be put to sleep. It’s not a decision you need to make in advance. If she is grieving too much or unable to cope because of her dementia then you will know it is time to put her to sleep too. But it doesn’t have to be decided ahead of time.

si3tech's avatar

@Dutchess_III I fee so sad for you. This must be terribly painful. I wish you well.

MrGrimm888's avatar

If you put the one down, do you do the other too? I’d say no, but the other dog will probably decline quickly without the other, as you fear…

As far as tough decisions go, this is a doozy. Worse, there really isn’t a “right” answer. Unfortunately, this type of thing is what we sign up for, when we have pets.

If done with correct dosage, and administration, euthanasia is about as good as it gets in such scenarios.

One option, would be to adopt/aquire another dog. One that could be help, and company for the older dog. This may ease some of the emotional toll on yourself as well.

I’m sorry Dutch. This sucks. I’m confident that you will make a thoughtful decision though.

The time is fast approaching for similar thoughts about my girl. I don’t know how I’m doing to do it… Hopefully, the world somehow removes the need for me to ponder this as it will be cataclysmic to me…

Peace n love Dutch…

KNOWITALL's avatar

I’m so sorry to hear this. Personally, I would put them both down at the same time, seems like the most kind, most heartwrenching thing to do, but the one left will probably be sad, more confused than ever, and die shortly anyway. :( So sorry.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Thanks for the thoughts you guys.

No. No more dogs, @MrGrimm888. I don’t want to deal with the house training and the vet bills and not being able to be away from home for more than one night without boarding them. And the inevitable death. It all hurts too much.

MrGrimm888's avatar

^That’s understandable.

janbb's avatar

@Dutchess_III That’s what I decided after Frodo. I’m sorry you are facing this terrible time.

Dutchess_III's avatar

It’s been a miserable week. Rick’s best friend died of cancer on Tuesday, after a 3 year battle. Of everything that’s happened this week, that was the worst.

But the dogs, which we determined on Monday, didn’t help.

My daughter, the mother of the twins, unfriended me because she didn’t like something I said on FB. It’s not the first time, but for some reason it’s really hurting this time.

I was called to interview for an AWESOME job yesterday…and woke up to a very kind voicemail telling me they had gone with another candidate. I know it’s because of my age and that hurts.

I was SO looking forward to going to Rick’s company Christmas party in KC this weekend, and, above all, getting to hang out with my son by another mother and his wonderful wife and my grandkids by another grandmother on Sunday, but with his friend and the dogs it’s best if we don’t leave. I could have used a party.

</crying on everyone’s shoulders.>

NomoreY_A's avatar

Cry on mine all you want Dutch. All that had me on the verge of crying myself. Damn, how much can a person take?

Dutchess_III's avatar

((( hugs))) @NomoreY_A. This too shall pass. Thank you.

NomoreY_A's avatar

You’re very welcome. But that doesn’t make me feel less like a wuss for being on the verge of tears reading that. And stupidly admiting to it in public. I need to go see a shrink.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I’m sorry sweetie, truly. All at the same time can be very overwhelming, day by day. I wish we lived closer, I’d watch your babies like they were my own. :(

Dutchess_III's avatar

We’re coping. Dakota had a pretty bad spell for most of this week. I assumed it was because we had changed her meds on Monday. Dummy me, didn’t realize that it was probably due to the fact that Rick was out of town, Tues-Thurs, on sales calls. She improved the instant he walked through the door. I told him he can never leave the house again!
It must be pretty awful for her when we both are gone.

And we will both be gone tomorrow, for his best friend’s funeral.

Going in and outside has become a ballet. She can no longer sit, only stand or lay down. She’s usually laying down, and getting up is a struggle. When it comes time to go out if, she’s lying at the back door tapping, it usually means she just wants us to open the door so she can smell what’s going on outside, so I’ll do that for her for several seconds. If she’s standing and if is Dutchess is standing near, then she really does want to go out. If it’s just Dakota standing by herself, more than likely she’ll sniff the outdoors and then lay down! Dutchess tries to talk for her. She tries to mediate. She tries to take care of her too.

Anyway, Dakota was standing, and tapping at the door, with Dutchess behind her, so I opened it. Dutchess went barging past her and flew down the steps. Dakota followed her without thinking, but then stopped at the steps, confused. She vaguely remembered that she doesn’t use steps any more, but didn’t know what to do.
Dutchess stopped her sniffing in the yard and froze, looking at Dakota in concern.
I managed to get Dakota back in the house (she’s a big damn dog!!) and we started over. This time, as I was pretty sure she would, from habit her body moved left to take her down the handicap ramp Rick built for her.

We’re coping.

It hurts my heart to hear Dutchess’ strangled barking. It hurts to hear her snore. But she still seems to be just fine in every other way.

I’m trying to think. I told Rick we should buy a case of canned dog food. I can’t help but wonder if the dry food hurts Dutchess’ throat. But would changing diets affect Dakota’s bowls in a negative way? Maybe I should ask a question about that.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I kid you not, in the time it took me to post this (and I’m on my desk top typing 60 wpm) I opened the door no less than 3 times for Dakota! Just a second ago she was standing at the door tapping. I sighed, got up and saw the cat at the door. She just wanted me to let the cat in. Now
Dakota is lying down and the cat is touching her nose and rubbing on her.

YARNLADY's avatar


MrGrimm888's avatar

Dutch. A change to soft food usually will cause diarrhea. You could try getting a prescription diet, higher in fiber, and with better ingredients. But that food will of course cost more…

Again, you have my sympathy, and we’ll wishes…

snowberry's avatar

Compromise by soaking the dry food for a half hour before you feed her. That should soften it up and yet not cause diarrhea.

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