Man, just let the dog die in peace

The dog in question is “Jenkins”, a beagle.

Jenkins lived a long life, for a beagle. We found him wandering beside a road as an abandoned puppy back in 1995. We adopted him.

He lived a long life. Now he’s old, and a bit past the expected life for a dog of his type.

I moved out years ago; my brother moved out four years later. My parents kept Jenkins. A few days ago I got a call from my tearful mother: “Jenkins hasn’t eaten in about a week. He can’t walk anymore, he just wets himself. We took him to a vet and the vet advised that we should just put him down! His liver has shut down, I don’t think we have a choice!”

I told my parents - “Man, that’s sad. Jenkins was a great dog. Pet him one last time, tell him we love him, then have him put down. I hate to think of him suffering.”

That was last Monday.

Tomorrow, of course, is Thanksgiving. That’s when both me and my brother will be home.

I was dismayed to hear that my brother had told my parents to hold off on letting Jenkins go. To be fair, he loved the dog more than I did. He wants to see Jenkins one more time before he goes. So instead of having Jenkins put to sleep on Monday, which was the vet’s advice, Jenkins must endure at least another week (unless he dies before then.)

I can’t fault my brother for wanting to see him one last time; all the same I’m a bit uneasy at letting the poor dog suffer for another week. I can’t help but think, “Jeez - let the poor dog go peacefully. He isn’t eating, he’s miserable, just let him go.”

I feel for your brother and your parents, but I side with you on this one. My Boston Terrier, Pluggy, took up living with my mom in NH when I went to Georgetown in '93 and stayed around in DC. In '99 she developed an advanced case of Cushing’s disease and it was making her miserable. The vet advised immediate euthanasia and my mom called me to let me know the news. My immediate reaction was to hold off so I could get up there somehow someway to say goodbye but that just wasn’t possible. I told her to go ahead - there was no need to prolong Pluggy’s suffering to suit my own desires. It was a hard thing to do, but pets depend on our decisions and actions for their quality of life and it’s cruel to not let go merely for the sake of not letting go.

Before they both passed, my parents (who lived in a big house) used to adopt dogs and/or cats from our local shelter.

They became their companions, to the point of my mother cooking for the dogs (the cats got canned cat food), which consisted of egg noodles with chicken. One of them REALLY gained a lot of weight and developed heart problems. One of the other, smaller dogs, arthritis to the point where he was dragging his hindquarters.

Mom and Dad spent a LOT of money for vets, and when they became incontinent, they covered the wood flooring in the dining room with vinyl flooring to make it easier for Dad to mop up the pee and do away with the poop.

Both these dogs were 12 years and 11 years old, and my then-wife and I used to beg my parents to hve them euthanized, but they weren’t having it. Those animals were their “kids” in addition to their companions, and one doesn’t euthanize a child.

My Dad passed first, then within two years, my mother. Only then were we able to have those two poor animals euthanized.

My point is that it’s damned hard to separate a pet from elderly parents, especially when they have what was then called pre-senile dementia.

I, too, agree with GameHat. As y’all know, I’m very active in animal welfare (NOT PETA), and every Wednesday, at the shelter I support, is “euthanasia day”, and that’s my only caveat: many of these animals still have a lot of life left and deserve to be adopted and could be a very good companion to an elderly person, but sometimes “goodbye” is the best course, sad though it is.


It’s a tough call. I know, I’ve been there. My neighbor loved her dog so much it blinded her. She refused to put the dog down even though the poor dog shat all over the place. They put a harness on her so that they could assist in lifting her up because she couldn’t even pull herself up off the floor anymore. We all secretly wished that they’d put her down already.

The dog eventually died a really horrific death – she started gasping for breath and panicking. They were at their lakehouse, with no vet around for miles. Of course, my neighbor wouldn’t let them shoot her, which would have been more humane than watching her slowly die an agonizing death. It would have been far kinder for everyone involved to put her down while she was not in discomfort.

What are you going to do?

Sadly, we see a lot of euthanasias over the winter holidays because people try to keep their dying pets going until after the holidays or until a family member can come visit. What usually happens is that they realize the pet is really suffering and they end up having to bring it in on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day for emergency euthanasia. So an already difficult decision is made worse because they are forced to choose it on what is supposed to be a happy holiday.

When you make the choice to love anyone or anything it is always, always, always going to stab you right in the heart. You have to accept that going in and love anyway. When the time comes you make the choice that is best for the loved one, never yourself. You take the hit and do your best to let them off as easily as you possibly can. Anything else is selfish.

Well said, PunditLisa, Wile E and Add99

And I never thought about the emergency euthanizing.

I so wish we could publish all these opinions y’all wrote on the Humane Society’s website or some other animal welfare group.

I AM going to ask if I can link to this thread from my blog if no one minds. I currently have 31 followers and most of them click to feed the animals on the rescueanimal site. If I could link to this thread, at least those folks would see it and maybe link it to someone else and help prevent this.

Thanks all of you. These are very well thought-out posts. :slight_smile:

GameHat, how’s Jenkins doing?


My inlaws kept one of their dogs alive far too long. He wasn’t getting around well, he just looked miserable, he was incontinent and unable to do his business (even when outside) in such a fashion that it kept his fur out of the way and clean. I wouldn’t have judged him as having any happy events in life left, except that he did try to greet people - and even then I hated seeing him try because you thought he was going to hurt himself trying to get up. They wouldn’t do it for so long.

(Then earlier this year, my father-in-law put down their dog because now they are old and have health problems, this interferes with them being able to take care of the healthy dog, and he didn’t want anyone else to have the dog, not even his daughter who owns two of the same breed and has a huge house and yard. Asshole.)

I have had to make this decision a number of times with the ferrets I’ve owned over the years, and the first one was a call from the operating room while I was at work, telling me that there were tumors everywhere in the abdominal cavity. I told the vet to just put her to sleep. I wanted to see her one more time but couldn’t see the sense in having her stitched back up and allowed to come out of anesthesia, probably confused and in some pain, just so I could see her before she was put back under.

One of the vets I’ve seen called well-considered and well-timed euthanasia to often be “the last loving act of an owner towards a pet.”

My sister still has the cat she got when she got married-20 years ago.

Every time I go over there, I try to give the poor thing some attention. She still eats and shits, can still get around, but they have her exiled to the garage and frankly I don’t know if anyone else (other than me) ever gives her any TLC. Her fur is all matted-my sister gives excuses when I ask her why she doesn’t brush her or anything. Fate worse than death in some ways.

That’s horrible. :frowning:

I’d consider it to be “the last loving duty…”

An owner who puts their own wants above their pet’s end-of-life needs is failing in their responsibility to their pet.

The same holds true for people who hold an activated Medical Power of Attorney for another individual who is at the end of their life.

I was raised with the attitude that if you are taking on the responsibility of a pet, you are agreeing to take care of the animal. This includes not just feeding and annual shots, but emergency things that could crop up. For these, the question was, “after this is taken care of, will s/he have good quality of life again?” If so, we did it. I don’t know how many thousands of dollars we spent on Mira (we had her from when I was 6 till a couple of months before I turned 22), the cocker spaniel that had torn ligaments, a neighbor attempt to poison her :eek:, and more. But each time, she’d be fine afterwards.

Our cut-off is whether the dog will still be in pain. We had her put down after she got an irreversible complete loss of balance. Her eyes were moving all out of sync, she couldn’t even move her head without looking like she felt as if she was in a clothes dryer. It hurt HORRIBLY to have her put down, but keeping her alive at that point would’ve been absolutely selfish. Not in the best interests of her health, but because we didn’t want to let her go. That’s more cruel than having an animal be put to sleep.

Brilliant and eloquent.

I’m torn with my situation.

I have a 15 year old cat that for the longest time due to his habit of eating everything he could got quite fat. He suddenly lost a great deal of weight. Then one day he started acting peculiar (wandering in circles drooling vomiting) I took him to the vet and it seems he had a growth in his stomach.

That was it, the operation would likely kill him and was too expensive so I decided to have him euthanized, but I wanted a few days to see him off. In three days he suddenly perked up. He ate like a horse stopped wandering and acting weird and began to groom himself and purred and acted like his old self.

That was three weeks ago. I have not seen outward signs of suffering (Hiding, refusing food or water) so I, selfishly I guess, decided to put it off.

He stopped the vomiting but had not gained back weight. He looks bad, Skin and bones. Recently he stopped grooming and smells bad with crusty food on his chin and nose, but still he eats great quantities, moves around well enough though with less energy, is still affectionate and responds normally. He goes to his litter box though has used the floor around it instead.

I have decided today to put him down… though I feel guilty as because I’m not sure if he is suffering or not… I worry maybe I’m blinding myself to it. I feel guilty that I am taking him off to be killed when maybe he may have more weeks left to him. Then again I may be doing more harm waiting for him to start suffering before I do anything.

I guess I just need Someone to tell me I’m doing the right thing.

You are doing the right thing.

Caveat: It’s kinda hard to say that for me as well, because I can’t see your kitty, but if YOU are satisfied, you’ve done all you can do for his illness, then make an appointment and spend a few minutes with him before, and talk to him in soothing tones.

It’s going to be hard, I guaran-damn-tee you, but you have to be strong.

One doesn’t have a pet/companion for 15 years without there being a very strong between them.

I’ve got tears in my eyes even as I am writing this, because D and I had to do it twice when we were married before.

kingpenvin and GameHat, y’all are in my thoughts as I write this.

Remember the Rainbow Bridge, and PM me if you need to, okay?

Thanks and hang tough.


You are absolutely doing the right thing. It’s not easy, but it’s the right thing.

I’ve been on both sides of this one. No one can tell you the right thing to do, you have to go with what’s in your heart, I think.

I have been advised to put a pet down before, and always followed that advice believing the vet always knew best. Then a series of circumstances came into our lives that challenged that belief, or, at least, my ability to follow such advice.

Firstly my dog began to seizure, first once every few months, gradually increasing until the only action was clear. My husband took him to the vet and they put him to sleep. It was so hard, as I’m sure you all know.

A few months later my Mother In Law, passed in our home. After 6 years of being her primary caregiver, 24/7, it rocked my world. Even though I’d known, all along, how the dance we were doing, would end.

A few months later my cat, at fifteen years, developed tumors, many. But the vet said it wasn’t causing her any discomfort. I kept close watch on her, and besides slowing down a little she was doing okay, could eat and poop and get around just fine.

But then, that changed too. She couldn’t get around as well any more. I had to help her up onto the furniture, she was moving very slowly when she moved around at all. I knew what was happening, but, by then I had some severe ‘house of death’ issues.

I made it very clear to my hubby that until I saw signs of pain or distress I was NOT going to consider putting her down. When my friends suggested “it was time”, I ignored them. Yes, she was going to die, I got that, but that didn’t seem enough reason to end her life, to me.

So I kept her with me until the very end. And she was fine up till she had a shudder and was gone, all in about 2 minutes. She did not whine or cry out or seem, in any way, to be in pain.

When it was over, I was extremely glad I had gone against the conventional advice and did what was in my heart. I showered her with love during her last month, and did not consider it a hardship to have to lift her. I did not have to, but would have happily dealt with incontinence just the same.

Every case is different, of course. And I was prepared to race to the emergency vet clinic to have the deed done, should the need arise, but it just didn’t.

I have friends who put their extremely old cat down because they were convinced she would not survive another long car ride to their cottage, and there would be no access to a vet, once there. She was otherwise, old, slow moving, in the latter stages of her life, but not in any discomfort.

I don’t judge them for what they chose, but I could not have done that.

Well, here’s an unhappy update to the OP.

I got home on Thursday afternoon. Now - I had been expecting the dog to look pretty rough. What I wasn’t expecting was how bad things were.

He’d dropped to 34 lbs. At his peak, he was 74.
He hadn’t eaten in 5 days at this point. I also learn from my parents that he hadn’t been able to keep water down for about 24 hours.
He can barely stand. Mostly he just lies on the floor wheezing.
He smells unspeakably bad. He’s so weak that he won’t even get up off the ground - he just defecates, urinates and vomits all over himself. My dad does bathe him every few hours, but the retching and vomit are more or less constant
He’s gone deaf
His lungs are filling with fluid and he’s having a hard time breathing

At this point I was pretty angry. My mother is in tears over his state (and she’s not the most emotionally sturdy person) so it’s through gritted teeth that I suggest that maybe the kindest thing to have done would have been to have had him put down when last they were at the vet. “Oh, it’s terrible, but the vet said he wasn’t suffering so we made the appointment for next Monday.”

Next Monday. At that point Monday was four days away. And the dog can’t even drink. I’m able to coax the poor thing to get a bit of water down on Thursday night.

Friday is even worse. The dog can’t stand at all. And now every few minutes he shrieks in pain. I’ve had it. Call the fucking vet. This is cruelty.

Fortunately my father knew the vet pretty well so the vet agreed to come into his office on Friday (a vacation day for him). After a tearful goodbye, the poor beagle finally gets to rest.

Sorry, guy. You were a good dog. You didn’t deserve that last week; I hope it wasn’t as terrible as it looked. You were loved until the end, even if some of our idiotic human sentimentality made you suffer more than you had to.

My husband and I had a conversation some time ago, agreeing about end-of-pet-life choices. I’m glad we did.

I came home from work one day and couldn’t find our Abyssinian. She was curled up on the basement floor, and when I brought her upstairs, she couldn’t stand. I went immediately to the vet and they took us in (bless them) even tho it was their break. Every single vet in the practice examined her in turn, and determined that there was nothing they could do. The back end of her body was dying, and even extraodinary measures couldn’t have helped her. Their kindness was amazing, and that made the horrible decision somewhat easier to make.

Now we’re watching our older dog, since she’s already outlived the lifespan several vets had given us. She’s blind in one eye, mostly deaf, and occasionally she stumbles when she walks. Still, there are days when she bounds around like a puppy, so she’s not on death’s door. But when it’s apparent that her time has come, we’re ready - at least as ready as anyone can be. We won’t let our girl suffer. It does help that we’re in agreement about that decision.

GameHat, I’m so sorry you had to go through that.

GameHat, you saved Jenkins three days of increasing suffering. I’m so sorry for your distress, but thank goodness you were there to push it to an end.