Discussion in 'Help Me! I Need to Talk to Someone.' started by ZasuArt, Dec 5, 2011.

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  1. ZasuArt

    ZasuArt Well-Known Member

    Those of you who know me may be aware that while I have no human children, two much beloved, elderly mutt-children are the beneficiaries of all of my maternal energy and that of my partner. Butch Aroo, my 15 year old shepherd mix, was diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy a couple of years ago, which is paralyzing his hindquarters. He has already lived about a year beyond his estimated prognosis, and until very recently, seemed to be happy in spite of his physical challenges. We've noticed him deteriorating much more rapidly over the last couple of months, and after a really rough weekend, it has become clear that it will soon be time to make that impossibly difficult decision to end his suffering. He still has his appetite (which is really good), but he's lost almost all control over his bowels (which I have no problem cleaning up, but is so humiliating to my poor boy), can't get up without help, and frequently falls once he's up (we have a couple of harnesses that we use when absolutely needed, but he HATES them). He used to take these falls in stride, but now he just looks exhausted. And while he used to be fairly content just laying down relaxing, he now can't seem to find a comfortable position for more than 5 minutes at a time, and needs to be helped up, re-situated and helped down again. My heart is breaking... it could be today or 3 days from now. I think we're probably facing less than a week with our boy, and I'm completely devistated.

    As some of you know, I put on a happy face, but I am already in a terrible, nearly hopeless state. We're broke and on the verge of losing our home (I have to find a miracle solution by the 27th of this month or it's a lost cause), our finances are a complete disaster, and my inability to cope with conflict has backed me into a corner and is threatening my marriage to my soulmate and partner of 12 years. I have no idea whatsoever how I am going to survive this. As sad as it sounds (probably pathetic to those of you who don't have a parent-child relationship with your pets), Butchie is 1/3rd of my tiny, tenuous reason for living right now. I really don't think I can hold it together and do this.
  2. Sadeyes

    Sadeyes Staff Alumni

    I do know exactly how you feel; my favorite furry was put to sleep last Christmas Eve. I called him '24' because I thought I would put myself to sleep the day after he died. Well, here I am, and through the kindness of loved ones, both IRL and here, I am doing my best (and btw, I have a degnerative neuropathy so I maybe somewhat like Butchie in the future)...please know that there are so many people who care about you...we cannot take away the inevitable pain, but we can help you fill the void with caring...with heartfelt understanding
  3. 1Lefty

    1Lefty Well-Known Member

    What Sadeyes said. I'm sorry for the pain, and I can't do anything about it but be here for you. Take care of yourself,
  4. *sparkle*

    *sparkle* Staff Alumni

    yes, animals can be a full member and part of a life and family. im sorry your going through this :( i wish i could do more. remember that you are wanted by other people and that other people care :hug:
  5. BK_Jetsfan

    BK_Jetsfan Well-Known Member

    I am so sorry hon!!! Much love to you and the missus as you guys go thru this.
  6. ZasuArt

    ZasuArt Well-Known Member

    Thanks so much Sadeyes, Lefty, Sparkle and BK. I saw this documentary years ago called "A Letter to True" (quite literally, Bruce Weber's love letter to his most beloved dog, True). At the end of the film, Weber describes how when it came time to release True from his misery, the vet came to their home to do it. And how it seemed to give his other dogs a sense of closure to be there and be with his body afterwards. ((of course, I'm weeping uncontrollably now... I tried to tell my vet about this last month and couldn't even manage to get the story out.)) The dog who was closest to True even laid on his body for a bit, saying goodbye. My vet (who is wonderful in every other way) has a very strict policy, and won't come to the house. So I'm looking for well recommended traveling vets today. I know it will be more expensive... and we've never been more broke... but I feel like I owe it to both of my boys to make it as peaceful as possible. And I know that Jack is going to have such a hard time with it as it is.

    I looked for that clip from "A Letter to True", and couldn't find it, but here's the trailer. It's one of my all time favorite docs...

  7. ZasuArt

    ZasuArt Well-Known Member

    Getting ready to log off for the day, but for those who care, I just wanted to let you all know that Butchie has actually gotten a bit better this afternoon. At the very least, he seems to be comfortable. So I'm relieved to tell you that (knock wood) it doesn't look like we'll be saying goodbye today! I'll keep you all posted. Sending hugs... :grouphug:
  8. ZasuArt

    ZasuArt Well-Known Member

    So pleased to report that Butchie did relatively well last night and seems to be even better this morning. He even barked at a cat in the neighbor's yard this morning, and sort of trotted towards the fence without falling (with his almost useless back legs bouncing willy-nilly behind him... sort of comical, really), which is something he hasn't done in a very long time. I see a tiny glimmer of spirit in his eyes today, and yesterday at this time I was certain that I would never see it again.


    He's not quite as happy as he was in this pic (taken early this past summer), but I think he's glad to be alive. I wish I could say the same for myself, but it helps to have a tiny bit of hope that it's not quite time for my boy to leave us. Butchie is the smiling fuzzbudget in the pic (I call him "Hairy Potter"). His equally adorable little brother Jack Bean is slightly off camera.

    Thanks again for all your positive energy and prayers, and for understanding my crazy dog mom-ishness. ((hugs))
  9. Butchie is absolutely adorable. My darling Rocky had to be put to sleep last march and it was the single most difficult thing I've ever had to sit through. I really hope that you can have more time with Butchie. He seems like a wonderful doggy. <3
  10. ZasuArt

    ZasuArt Well-Known Member

    I'm so sorry about Rocky. :( It's so hard. Why can't they have a lifespan closer to ours? And Butchie thanks you for the compliment... he IS a wonderful doggy! He's still doing much better than expected. I've had to start sleeping downstairs on the couch since the stairs are way too much for him, and his senior bladder requires help getting up and out every few hours, but it's so worth it to have this time with him. Have a nice weekend, Sweetie. Hugs and Friendship...T :hug:
  11. ZasuArt

    ZasuArt Well-Known Member

    Well, our Butch Aroo is still with us, but he continues to struggle and deteriorate. He hasn't been able to get up on his own for a couple of days now, and I think that having to give up even more independence than what little he already has is discouraging for him. Since stairs are absolutely out of the question, I've been sleeping downstairs on the couch to be near him and available if he needs to go outside or change positions. I didn't think it was possible to get less sleep than I usually do, but if there is a blackbelt level insomniac, I think I've reached it. It breaks my heart to see my boy running out of steam. But his appetite is still good and he's loving all the extra love and attention we're all lavishing on him. Even his mutt-brother Jack Bean is taking time to lay down with him and shower him with stinky old-mutt kisses (which in case you didn't know, have magical healing properties). I don't think he's quite ready to go, but it won't be long until he is. I'll never be ready to let him go, but I'm committed to doing what's right and ending his suffering as soon as we feel that HE is ready to be done.

    Thanks once again for indulging me in a crazy-dog-mom moment. :dog:
  12. ZasuArt

    ZasuArt Well-Known Member

    Well, as is typical of my boy, Butchie has surprised us and made it weeks beyond what we expected. But his condition has rapidly declined in the last 24 hours, and as much as our hearts are breaking, Honey and I know that it is time to let him go. Thankfully, he is not in much pain, but his upper body is now too weak to do the work that his paralyzed lower body requires for him to have the tiniest measure of independence. Even with assistance, he hates to get up, and clearly dreads the 2 steps to go potty outside and back in again. We have a couple of different harnesses to help us help him get around, but he can't tolerate either one, so my arms and legs are his harness when he has to go out. He is still eating like a horse and loves cuddles, attention and his favorite treat, pig ears ((blech!)), so we're filling his every waking moment with all of the above until it's time to say goodbye. Honey wants to try to wait until Thursday so that she can just take Friday off and have 3 days before she has to deal with her grief away from home. But we both agree that if he gets any worse, we can't and won't make him wait. So Thursday at the latest. At our regular vet's recommendation (since he won't do housecalls), we've decided on a vet who will come to the house so that he can let go in the comfort of his own home, surrounded by his family who love him more than life. It is my hope that being there when he goes will help his brother, Jack Bean, understand why Butchie won't be with us anymore. It would be more than my heart could bear to have Jack think that we just sent his big brother away. Jack is also elderly (14 y/o, Butchie is 15), and it hurts even more to know that it won't be long before we have to do this again for him. I can't fathom life without either one of my babies, and I can't stop crying. I found a ceramic artist who makes these custom pet urns (for his ashes): http://www.etsy.com/listing/70662886/custom-pet-urns-any-breed?ref=you_recently_viewed_this_item, for far less money than a traditional urn. I'm sure this will sound crazy to some of you, but we're already planning a little table top shrine that we will put in place of his food and water dish (which are in the carpeted family room, since he can't stay upright on the bamboo kitchen floor), with his urn, photos, candles, a scrapbook and other artifacts. We are also going to separate a small amount of his ashes for me to incorporate into memorial pendants for Honey and I, a memorial tag for Jack Bean and a tiny amount to scatter where we will plant a tree in his honor this summer. I have to honor him and keep him with us in this way, or I won't be able to survive losing him. If any of you have any other suggestions, I can use all the help I can get right now. I won't be on SF much today, but I will respond tomorrow. Thanks everyone for your love, friendship and support. I don't know what I would do without my SF friends right now. :grouphug:
  13. 1Lefty

    1Lefty Well-Known Member

    Dear ZasuArt- I am sorry for Butchie's pain. I'm also sorry for the pain of you and your partner. He sounds like a much cherished member of the family.It sounds like you're being responsible companions to him, and that alone may bring him a measure of comfort. It also sounds like you have found meaningful and appropriate ways to remember him. With many hugs, and my friendship,
  14. Speedy

    Speedy Staff Alumni

    Dear Tam,

    I write this message with sorrow for the pain you must be feeling....I am thankful he has lived beyond his estimated prognosis, and I wish you and your loved ones much strength, healing and comfort. :hug: Know that I will be thinking of dear Butchie for a long time to come....he will be fondly remembered as an intimate and integral part of your family.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 8, 2012
  15. MoAnamCara

    MoAnamCara SF Artist

    I feel your heartache and I do understand. For many of us, our pets are our families. It is difficult to watch them struggle and be in pain and immobile and I would not doubt your decision to let Butchie go. It is such a tough decision but for all they give us and have given us throughout their life, I feel letting them go with dignity and painless is the least we owe them.

    I've lost two puppies in the last couple of years, and I've a couple of photos of them in the house. Its sad to see them when you walk by, but it also brings back the good memories and their individual personalities when you think of them.

    One thing I struggle with at times is the loss, not only for the dog, but for the times that dog saw me through different stages in my life. Its a little mourning, for me, for other good things that are no more.

    Will be thinking of you. :hug:
  16. ZasuArt

    ZasuArt Well-Known Member

    Thanks so much (((((Mo, Alex and Lefty)))))...

    This morning is awful. I'm utterly wrecked. I can't stop crying. I can't even begin to imagine our family without our Butchie. I lost 2 very close friends in 2011, both unexpectedly and far too young (38 and 54). You would think that with these recent losses, this would be easier. But it feels a lot like I imagine having a limb amputated without anesthetic must feel. I'd gladly give up a limb to make him well. It hurts so much, but I know that I owe it to him to let him go.

    Thank you again for your support and friendship. :grouphug:
  17. ZasuArt

    ZasuArt Well-Known Member

    Bad day. A little more than 48 hours away from saying goodbye to my baby. The fact that he isn't in excruciating pain and still has his appetite makes it harder at times. His last days are peppered with truly good moments, where he is on his feet for a few minutes, or enjoying a special treat; and seems almost like his old self. At these times, Honey and I question our decision. We want to believe he's better and we worry that we're jumping the gun. Then moments later, he'll be down for the count and desperately struggling to find a remotely comfortable position. Then he'll look at us with those pleading, exhausted eyes, and we'll feel like the worst moms in the world for keeping him alive and with us until Thursday. I try so hard to keep it together for him, and for Honey and Jack, but I'm a complete mess. So I just keep spoiling him and his brother in any and every way I can. I spend hours and hours laying on the floor, massaging his neck and limbs, showering him with kisses and reminding him over and over again how much I love him, how much we all love him. I just wish I could make him better and keep him alive, healthy and happy. I love him so much.
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