Recent Dog’s Death

by Kelly Baltzell, M.A.
Dear Karin,

I am having a hard time coping with my recent dogs death. It started back in Feb. when he started becoming sick we didn't know why. Well soon they took an X-ray of his stomach to find out " they thought he had a tumor and wanted to know when they open him up if it wasn't removable do we want to wake him up" I was so upset well I said yes wake him up. The next day they found out he had a piece of carpeting from I don't know where stuck in his stomach. They removed it and he came home a week later. He was back to his old self playing with the Frisbee and his football, he acting like he was 2 not 8.

A couple of weeks later I noticed he wouldn't put his head done to pick up the ball or to drink the water. I took him to the vet and many tests over many weeks were done. Because he was also losing function in his back end. They did everything from Lyme tests to X-rays. Damen then stopped eating. We took him to an internal medicine vet our vet had referred. They thought he was ulcerating in his intestine from the anti-inflamatory's he was taking. They did an ultrasound in his abdomen and it appeared normal. The next day he had taken out his iv and spiked a fever again after they just got it down from 105. They did another ultrasound of his abdomen and saw something in the corner by his esophagus. They X-ray that and saw his esophagus was the largest they had every seen. They called the disease megaesophagus. Which they thought came from a disease that attacked the limbs making them weak. They had said there really wasn't anything they could do because it was so bad.

He had aspiration anemonia too and had probably lost 20lbs. My husband and I came up to see him one last time with our other 2 dogs he was definitely uncomfortable. We decided to stay with him when they put him down. I thought it would make him less nervous. The doctor was trying to get him to lay down but I think it was uncomfortable the way he was pushing on him to lay so I think that made him nervous then the next thing I knew he was gone. That quickly I am having a hard time adjusting since just last month he was running around with so much energy. I am doubting my decision to put him down and having a hard time coping with what he probably was thinking we were doing to him. Please help me.

Dear Reader: So sorry to hear about your dog's death. What a difficult time for you!

Dogs are very intuitive, and although Damen may have seemed like he was thinking unkind, or worried things when you put him to sleep, most likely he was trying to tell you that he would be fine, once this procedure was over. I'm sure he knew that you and your husband loved him very much!

From what you told me, it would seem that you had absolutely NO choice in the matter, and putting Damen down was the very best thing for him. I know it appears harsh from our human perspective, but giving your dog a chance to be healthy and pain free is a wonderful thing. Death is not the end for an animal, and it seems often as if they are able to move right out of their physical body and keep on playing and being happy! It is just us poor humans that don't see that and of course, it makes us sad.

Perhaps in time, you will find some peace in your absolutely correct decision. I hope so. Meanwhile, collect happy memories, and perhaps get a picture of Damen and frame it, and put it someplace where you can see it, and allow it (and Damen) to make you feel more settled about what had to be done. Think as many happy thoughts about him as you can, and I'm sure he will feel how much you still care!

Do let us know how you are getting along.

Karin