Doggie experience and advice on etiquette please!

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Mattsmom277, Jul 22, 2011.

  1. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    I've lived in the same place over 7 years now. Direct across from me is a woman who has become a dear friend. She lost her husband about 2 years before I moved in. She has two adult kids who live out of town and no family in town. She has a extra strong bond with her dog and she also has a cat. As our friendship deepened we've taken to adopting her on family dinners, holidays, birthdays, bbq's etc. She used to kennel her dog when she'd go away to visit her children but a few years back the dog caught kennel cough and with her increasing age, it was hard to get it under control. Since then I've asked her to not risk the kennel again, not to mention the expense. So for many years now I've been her dog and cat sitter. I love both of her animals. Her cat is skittish but the dog is a warm doe eyed girl who we all adore.

    Anyhow, it's been obvious that the dog is declining and fairly quick. My neighbor built a ramp (she's nearly 70, she did it HERSELF, I wanna grow up to be like her!!) off her deck from her bedroom when it became hard for her dog to do stairs. Despite arthritis and hip dysplasia the dog has always seemed still very happy, coping with her new limits etc. But in the past few months she has changed. She doesn't greet me at the door anymore. Last time I dog sat she never once went outside, refused food all day, stayed on her dog bed the entire day (from early morning to late at night). I thought it was her time, she was that down, and stayed with her in the house until my neighbor came home. I thought what a trickster when she got up and wagging tail greeted her "mom" after refusing to acknowledge me all day.

    My neighbor had her to the vet this week and a mass that is cancerous was found above her back leg, along the hip on the left side that has been causing her the most issues with mobility. I haven't been inside my neighbors house for a few weeks, and I have seen the dog but outdoors and I greeted her but she was laying under a tree so I let her be. The vet gave her pain medication and said to prepare to have her put down. My neighbor spoke to her children and to me and one other neighbor and none of us thought the dog needed to be put down right then since she seemed relatively comfortable and still enjoying life. The thing is that none of us have had much contact with the dog for at least a few weeks - month.

    So I'm pet sitting today and I went by about 9:30 to give her medications. There was a note to me to say that she won't eat but to try but not stress it. It said she will eat her pill in peanut butter but that's the only thing she is showing interest in (she has a PB fetish this dog). Well she didn't greet me and she wouldn't even take the PB which meant she didn't get her pain medication. I felt so sad for our furry friend, her eyes look glazed. The scary part for me was the SMELL. Now my neighbor is a clean freak and the house is always spotless and smelling fresh, never before could I ever tell she even had pets. It was so bad when I walked in that I thought she had soiled somewhere in the house but sadly she had not and it must be coming through her pores, perhaps from the cancerous mass? I don't know. Her breath? I don't know. I just know that in order to not be sick to my stomache I opened some windows in spite of the a/c needing windows shut, and I sprayed deodorizing spray.

    Sadly, I think had her kids, myself and this other neighbor known this was the state of my friends dog we would have advised her differently Wednesday about putting her down. The poor thing is very uncomfortable, no interest in food or her treats or PB, without medication she will suffer more. Ive been back twice today, going about every hour to check on her, see if I can get her to stand up and greet me, try to get her to drink (bring the bowl to her). I've put ice cubes in her water in case that makes it more appealing in this heat.

    I feel horrible having advised her not to bring her back to the vet just 2 days ago. How on earth do I tell her that I do think it is time? I hate like heck to be switching my mind on my friend but her beloved pet is now past enjoying even basics of life. It is her time. If I can get her to come outside with me at all today I'm going to take some pics of her under her favorite weeping willow tree and have it framed later on for my neighbor, and a copy for easy child who will be so sad to lose our furry neighbor. :( :( I don't want to upset my neighbor, but it's time. What on earth do I say???
  2. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    The only thing you can do is be honest and tell her that you made a mistake. You thought, based on her behavior that day around you, that the vet was making a mistake. But now, having seen her inside her home, refusing even her favorite treats, and clearly in so much pain, that it truly is time to take her to the vet. Take those pics, be there for your neighbor as she grieves - as she will allow you to, and support her in whatever her choices.

    She sounds like a great lady. The ramp thing reminds me of my great aunt H (the one with her husband in the ziplock in the basement in a file cabinet - well his ashes anyway). At the age of 89 she decided her basement needed to be painted. So she did it. She said the roller was too heavy so she used a brush. A 2 inch one! It was a pretty big basement too! She didn't stop mowing her lawn until she was 92 and had three bad falls. I want to grow up to be a combination of her and Eloise. Heaven help my children!!!

    I am sorry about the dog, but the smell is a sign that the sickness is truly terrible. I am sure your neighbor will understand that it was an honest mistake and you are thinking of her furbaby.

    The pictures are a great idea. You could take a photo from when the dog was healthier and make an enlargement and frame it - I am sure it would be a nice idea.
  3. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Well, honestly? The dog could have possibly declined this fast depending on if the cancer is rapid cell or not. Sounds like it probably is.

    I'd try to do it as gently as possible, but I'd be honest with my opinion. It will be up to your neighbor what she wants to do. I had to do this with mother in law over her much beloved dog. It's not a job I ever wish to repeat.
  4. keista

    keista New Member

    So sorry.

    My neighbor kept his dog for 2 years AFTER he got recommendations to put her down. Poor thing could barely walk. Neighbor KNEW it was the right thing to do, just could NOT bring himself to do it.

    I would gently tell your friend that you did err in your recommendation, but ultimately it is her decision to make.

  5. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I would, too. Just tell her after seeing the dog, you've had a change in heart. I'd also offer to assist her, if you can. Some people just can't bring themselves to take that final drive.

  6. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Thanks all. I guess I just needed a nudge, I knew I had to tell her. She'll be home late this evening and I'll watch for her car and go over and speak with her.

    Just after 5p.m. she finally got off her dog bed. I thought for a minute she was going to need my help to straighten up but she finally got on her feet. She followed me outdoors and spent a few minutes in the yard then went in and finally showed interest in her food dish. But when I checked she ate no more than a bite or two of her dinner. She then went straight back to her bed. She did lift her tail and wag it twice at the 5p.m. visit, but the entire time outside she had her tail tucked down between her legs which broke my heart. And a few times I thought her back leg/hip was going to give out on her. She for sure was not this bad a few weeks ago. Sadly my friend needs to hear it I think that the time is now. She would never want her girl to suffer without enjoyment of life.

    I guess this was my last dog sitting adventure. :(
  7. Star*

    Star* call 911


    I think if there is a way to call her vet explain what you see and ask her VET or have the vet technicians ask her some of the questions you are asking us? Like Mrs. S - is the dog able to X? Does she have a foul odor? Is she accepting food? Is she mobile?" If not then ask them to ask her to bring the dog in for a routine follow up visit. The heartache of loosing a pet naturally is hard enough. I understand having to tell the truth to a friend, and that is being a good friend indeed, but when it comes to the lives of our children it may be more than she can bear. Coming from a vet or vet tech may be easier for her to 'deal' with in terms of reality and memories.

    Just a thought.
  8. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Poor girl. They can go downhill so fast, and the smell might be the same one I describe as "death smell." What I have found is that not everyone can smell it, or it smells more like dust or just musky to them.
  9. skeeter

    skeeter New Member

    we were advised to put our down right away (or amputate the leg, which I couldn't do to a 13 year old dog) because the cancerous mass had made the bone extremely brittle and it was just a matter of the wrong move to snap it. The mass was in his shoulder blade area.

    It's a rough call, but I think it's time to be done.
  10. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Thanks all. My neighbor called when she got in last night. I explained that since it had been several weeks since I'd been close to B (the dog) I was surprised to see such a decline. Explained how long she stayed in bed, her difficulty and pain on trying to stand, her weakness in her back end when standing still and inability to get her to enjoy food or even take medications for pain relief. Told her about her tail down when she came outside with me. I'm hoping that after a sleep my neighbor is more receptive today. She really IS a fantastic pet owner and has spent so much at the vet and on home made food etc to keep her girl healthy and in the best shape she can. She really is her child, Know what I mean?? Yet she was very much in denial last night so I didn't push it but I did say that I'm so sorry, it is obvious the vet is correct, that it is time to quantify her quality of life and from what I saw, she no longer has joy. I really hope that today when I see her that she is more open to it. I do believe she is but was unable last night to say so to me. I do appreciate the thought of calling the vet myself, I hadn't thought to do that. I do plan on Monday morning to call them if I see my neighbor unable to make the decision. We share a wonderful vet and I am sure they would call her if someone called with care and concern. They know how much she loves B and I'm sure can approach here tactfully and help her understand. I am also going to mention to her that I'm more than able to accompany her for that final drive so that she needn't do this alone. :(
  11. Star*

    Star* call 911

    MM -

    The reason I suggested you calling the vet is because recently when Casper was "thought" to have a cancerous mass - and the interim vet and DF were standing in the room having this GRAND discussion (said with MUCH SARCASM) about PRICE, QUANTITY vs QUALITY of life and choices - I can only tell you that what I felt towards the VET and DF wasn't reason - it was RAGE. I LOVE my Casper as if he were my child. For me there has been SO MUCH LOSS in my life that I realize I'm not off the nutt truck - and I KNOW that he is a canine. I'm not hording cats or trying to take care of all the worlds strays (SHUT UP ABOUT OLIVIA ALREADY) but I've had a lot of personal tragedy, and I have gone through a great deal of therapy to find some level of normalcy in my life. However - even AFTER finding normalcy? There is life - and life goes on and tragedy happens - Dude still did things that hurt, there were dreams that crushed me. I buried Steven. I was let go from a job I once again poured my heart into and was 'laid off' then to find out I was replaced not for the reason I was told but because I was fat. Nearly two years of struggle later? I'm still unemployed. I watched DF's health deteriorate and go right down the tubes and I'm left standing here picking up the pieces - so yeah....when I FALL APART? I hold the dog.....he's what keeps me sane. He's who I cry to....He's who holds all my secrets. He's who looks at me without judgement and says "I love you will be okay - and not with a SINGLE word....with just his eyes, or a tilt of his head, or a sigh." Then I know it's going to be okay. So I don't necessarily want someone that I love coming to me and saying "It's time to let his life go and put a needle in him it's the humane thing."

    I can make that decision -I know it's the right thing, but I swear I'd rather (in some weird way) have to harbor feelings of dislike towards the vet - than my friend or loves. I know what they were saying needed to be done if that was it---but I did NOT "NEED" to hear it from DF ....I just needed to hear "We'll do what we can to make his last days comfortable and I'll help you with whatever you need to do that." from him. Not -"You know it's time." ----From her (the vet)? Yeah - I don't know her so if I had to deflect some anger at the situation for a moment for some THING taking the love of my life - my best friend from me - even though I KNEW in my heart it wasn't HER and it was the cancer? I really would have appreciated him just keeping more towards support and less towards the "you know it's the best thing for the dog." -he wasn't communicating anyting to me -and I don't remember what he said - but I remember how he made me feel.

    Let the vet take his roll in this and just support your friend - she's going to need you more than you know. Her heart is about to be ripped out and it's going to leave a huge hole. (A hole about the size of her dog)

    Hugs & Love
  12. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Awww thank you Star for all of that. I do think just because of the history of her and her dog, she'll be back soon to the vet anyhow, its her way and she trusts the vet. I haven't seen her yet today but I know my friend, she'll be stopping by today at some point or tomorrow maybe, to see if I say anything more. I think you hit the nail on the head regarding how she'd view info from vet or outsiders so to speak. She knows in her heart she has to let go, she's not ready, and she's able to try to keep B comfy and maybe in her mind she's spending a last weekend of something with her furry friend and confidante. I'm going to let her set the tone about B I think in our talks. And do as said, be supportive, offer when that time does come to go with her if she'd like someone else there, and I do trust she wouldn't let her B linger in awful torment out of denial. I believe she's got her own mind set about a tiny bit more time and this is her goodbye phase. I feel so horribly for her, I know she's in her house right now purely focused on B. This is a woman who has a cat and dog bed in every room, who has 2 boxes in her laundry porch. One has lined up bags of dog treats, one of cats. She rotates from back to front for a few days each, to make sure they don't get bored with the same brands or flavors. She has handcooked every meal for her dog for years to maintain her health. Fresh ground turkey, white rice, mixed in with a measuring cup of kibble (everything is measured for the right amount as per vet). She isn't some wack job ;). She simply adores her pets and takes care of them with proper attention and values them.
  13. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Just sending comforting thoughts and strength for all of you.