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So most of my dogs are seniors. I've had my old man since I was a kid. I know that my time with them is running out, and I'm afraid.
I struggle with some anxiety and depression, and having my babies has always been beneficial to me. But this past few months have been really hard. All three of my dogs have needed serious vet care. My GSD has a maximum of two years left, but she could pass any day due to her condition.
I'm stuck with what I feel is an impossible decision. After these leave me, I'm not sure I can handle the grief of losing anymore. I almost want to stop being a dog owner to avoid that. I don't know what's worse. Facing this life without them or having to say goodbye.
All of this doubt may wash away as soon as I meet the one, but it's still a scary thing to think about. Has anyone else dealt with something like this?
feel for you.. I lost 7 of mine over a period of 2 years for being close in age. I knew I had to be strong for the ones left behind and it was a personal choice to move on always having a small part of the ones I lost still in the ones I had, to celebrate them closer then to grieve. It was fitting that my Ra was the the last one and stay'd strong staying with me. Saying good bye when his time was right is what makes it right to let them go, knowing that they don't have to worry about you.. That you will be fine and they can let go with both of yall being brave.. " Now his watch is Done" is so fitting.. especially for GSD's that in their life time would never leave you.. You should be the one to give them thanks and permission to let go. After Ra it was really hard because it hit hard for all that were gone.. that last amber of light was gone... Will always feel good for the choice to wait to grieve, to stay strong for the others to help them move on with the lose of life long friends. It's gonna hurt and it will always hurt... My Heart is with you.... I had the vet come to my home to help them pass over so all my other dogs had the opportunity to know they were gone.. They understand death and do feel there is closure in it for them....
7 over 2 years... I'm so sorry you had to go through that. When the spouse and I lose our two oldest, it will be the first real loss for us. Our pack isn't super bonded, but I know that they will still grieve each other's passing. I'll keep in mind what you said about letting the others know when one passes.
I had a gorgeous Irish setter that came to me in California as a stray - estimated to be about 9 years old. She moved to Wisconsin with me and was very athletic until she was 14. I put her down when she could no longer do any of the things she liked to do and I didn't handle it very well.
For a variety of reasons, we didn't get another dog for 17 years. I had happy dreams about that dog at least once-a-week for 17 years but, when I'd wake up, it felt like losing her all over again. I truly thought I was losing my mind.
The dreams stopped when we got another great dog. I will never forget that Irish setter, but she no longer haunts me at night.
When we lost that next great dog (at age 14) we had another dog within a few months. She's about 12 now, so I'm already bracing myself.
Ron you gave me chills..... Smokey was my first loss, and it was my hardest experience of falling apart going through it. he was 13 years old when I moved to this new place, I promised that dog during my Military time, for so long that we would have our own place with a huge yard some day.... I promise.... Smokey had 5 awesome years of that promise before it was time to help him pass over.. Was not prepared.. But I had that same dream like a month after his passing... seen his fluffy butt trotting out ahead of me out in the pasture. it was right as the Sun was going down behind the mountains and the area was lit up beautifully. In my dream I was so happy that he wasn't gone.. and went to call for him and catch up with him , when Smokey stopped turned around and looked at me ... I woke up and it was so real, he was right there,, hurt so much to have all those feelings back to only have them snatched away from me again... but I took it as Smokey letting me know he had made it over and was ok... still crying lol crying now... it's not fair....
I had a corgi, Gidget, for 9 wonderful years. She was the first dog I ever got that was truly mine, not just a family dog. I pestered my mom about getting a corgi pup until she finally let me have one as my 8th grade graduation gift. We did 4-H together, and she helped me through my awkward teenage years and trying college years. She was my heartbeat at my feet. She was diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy in the spring of 2014, which is the canine form of lou gherig's disease. I had about 4 months to come to terms with the fact that I was going to lose my little girl. She went from being my normal, happy puppy, to dragging her hind quarters around in the blink of an eye. The disease takes over their entire nervous system. The hardest part of letting go for me was that she was still there and young mind wise, just her body wouldn't cooperate with her anymore. It was confusing for her. I still have dreams about my girl, though it did get better when I got another dog. They are never truly replaced or forgotten. And though they do not live with us forever, they live forever in our hearts. <3
I think everyone handles grief differently. Some people go out and get another dog right away. Some people wait months, or years. Some people (few, but they're out there), never get another dog again.
I lost my soulmate dog in 2015 when he was 6 years old. It was devastating. I couldn't look at photos of him for about six months after. I cried every day (I still cry about him on a weekly basis). I had his ashes tattooed into my arm about a month after his passing, and I put some of his fur into a locket that I haven't taken off in over a year. I finally managed to sit down and write about him a year after he passed: https://www.dogforums.com/pet-memoria...7905-loki.html I still dream about him.
In short, losing him was the hardest thing I've ever gone through and I mourned him for a long time, but I also got another dog within 3 months of Loki's passing. For me, Titan wasn't a replacement. He was a distraction, a way to motivate myself to keep living, to feel like I had something that relied upon me and looked forward to me getting home from work every day. In many ways, Loki's memory is honored by my relationship with my current dogs - Loki and I grew up together and learned a lot from each other. His loss taught me to be patient, to love my dogs whether they're laying on my lap or vomiting on my pillow, and to appreciate every day with them.
We lost Toby at 12 1/2 years old this past summer. He was the love of my life and I hated to let him go. But he'd reached a point where he wasn't enjoying life and keeping him longer would have been cruel rather than kind. I cried for months watching him deteriorate and I still cry when I think about him now. The thing is, I don't regret letting him go. It was the most loving thing I could do. We love them for years and give them the best possible life. In turn they give us everything they have. What could we owe them more than an easy, gentle death?
Since we lost him it's been very hard for me. I am totally failing doglessness. We will be getting a puppy, hopefully in the next few months, and I'm looking forward to it very much, even though I know I will probably outlive that dog, too. The joy I get from a dog more than makes up for their too short lives.
One thing to consider is how "catastrophizing" thoughts can be a part of depression. Hence a focus on death, illness, inevitable loss, etc., even when things are currently basically okay. It might be worth asking yourself whether removing dogs from the picture would remove that worrying, or whether you'd just worry about something else instead, you know? Dogs can be of huge daily therapeutic value, since they force the owner to do daily tasks, and offer/receive uncomplicated affection, so I think you'd need to weigh those benefits against the negatives.
So getting the next dog helped you move on? I'll think of that when I'm going through whatever it is I'll be facing.
For me, moving on had a much to do with the circumstances of the dog's passing as it did with getting another dog.
My father, who loved that Irish setter as much as I did, took her to the vet on that horrible day to spare me. They weren't ready for her and asked hm to just leave her, so she died without anyone with her that loved her. That haunted my father for the rest of his life and me for 17 years.
When it was time to say goodbye to the next great dog, the whole family was there with him. He walked in under his own power, though he hadn't been able to walk for days. He was ready and it was a very peaceful passing, though incredibly sad. We went home and grieved separately for a while and then, almost on cue, all came together and told Cubby stories for hours. It was a completely different experience for us and, I'm sure, for the dog. I miss him every day, but I've never regretted what we did or when or how we did it.
I just lost my black Lab, Eddie, Oct. 29th. Man, it was painful. I didn't handle it very well at all.
I don't regret at all the decision of having him put to sleep. The day we found out he had cancer was the day we let him go. Before we took him to the vet, we made the decision, as a family, that if it was something like cancer, something that we had no hope of him recovering from, we'd just let him go right then. We didn't want to bring him home and then watch him slowly die just so we could have a little more time and THEN take him back to have put to sleep. By the time he was put to sleep he was already having difficulty breathing and it would have been cruel and unnecessarily painful to him and US to drag it out. I thought I was prepared for the worst but when it came, it literally felt like my heart was ripped out. It was a very physical pain. I hurt and I was sick. After, I missed him and thought of him every single second of every day. Even when I was sleeping I dreamed of him. It very seriously sucked.
Now its 7 weeks later. I feel ok most of the time. I don't feel that sinking depression and bone deep sadness constantly anymore. I can think of other things besides Eddie. I can talk about him and laugh about the silly things he did. I can look at pictures of him and not be upset. However, still...when I think too deeply about the fact that he's gone and I'll never have my dog, my boy, back again...well, I have trouble. I wish he was still with me and healthy.
Anyway, I know now what I was so scared of before Eddie passed was how it was going to feel after Eddie passed. I knew it was going to hurt. You think you prepare, you think you're ready but you never are. I think the way it was with Eddie was the least painful way for our family but still...it hurt unbelievably. Knowing that it gets better doesn't help in the moment. But believe me, in time it DOES get better. You still miss them, you still think about and wish with your whole heart that they were still with you but you eventually accept that they are gone.
As for getting another dog after...honestly grief is different for everyone. I think nothing of the fact of someone getting another dog after one passes. For some people it does help. Personally, after Eddie passed, I wanted nothing to do with getting another dog. Even now, I have no desire whatsoever to adopt a dog. I'm concentrating on Uallis and what he needs from us now. After he passes, which I hope isn't for a long time, we'll think about it but right now? No. No desire whatsoever.
The Dog: Uallis the Mastiff
The Cats: Max, Gus, Lexi and Gabi
Always my boy and forever in my heart: Eddie, the Lab 2006 - 10/29/2016
In many ways, Loki's memory is honored by my relationship with my current dogs - Loki and I grew up together and learned a lot from each other. His loss taught me to be patient, to love my dogs whether they're laying on my lap or vomiting on my pillow, and to appreciate every day with them.
This is EXACTLY true. Eddie was a difficult dog as he had several issues; namely fear-aggression toward strangers, epilepsy, food aggression toward other dogs. He was destructive and could be a very VERY anxious dog... BUT what you said is true. Because of Eddie I've learned a lot. All stuff that will make me a better dog owner in the future. I made a million mistakes with Eddie but I never, in all the time I had him, stopped loving him. I did the best I could. Because of him, with my next dog, I'll be able to do even better. There is no better tribute to Eddie than that, in my opinion.
The Dog: Uallis the Mastiff
The Cats: Max, Gus, Lexi and Gabi
Always my boy and forever in my heart: Eddie, the Lab 2006 - 10/29/2016
My friend gifted me my first dog 31 years ago on my birthday. She was a German Pointer, I still dream of her until today and the last dog i had to send over the rainbow was in 2006, she was a Cocker Spaniel, aged 15. I only had the courage to adopt another dog, Smokey, this year in February and she's now 11 months old. The pain never goes away and they are family forever whether they are with you or in heaven. Take your time.....
My dog, Shep, was 16yo when he passed away after Memorial Day. His mind was sharp to the end, but his mobility was deteriorating due to arthritis and nerve degeneration for the previous two years. So, I had been looking at puppies online.
Even though it was very painful to put Shep to sleep, from previous experience, I knew that, for me, getting a new dog would help me through the grief. Although I can't replace Shep, Mikee helped fill that hole in my heart, and sped me through the grieving process. Six months later, I still grieve a little for rare moments, and I sometimes call Mikee, "Shep" ... but I'm happy that I waited less than two weeks to adopt Mikee...
My older girl is 10 1/2 and I know that there are more years behind than ahead and that breaks my heart. I honestly cannot imagine my life without her. She's my heart dog. But to help with that, we adopted a friend for her and for us. Ben is 3ish. So the hope is that we'll always have one dog who is older and one younger, thus always having a dog in the house when one passes.
I remember losing my childhood dog. She was a bit over 14 and when she was gone the house seemed so empty. I'd come home and there would be no sound of dog nails on the kitchen floor, no dog rushing to greet me. I can't do that to myself again.
I'm 53 years old and most of my animals were put to sleep due to old age issues. I don't know about how other people dealt with it, but I can say this for myself:
As much as I loved my pets, after they were put to sleep, there was a feeling like a large weight was taken off my chest.
It was there, just due to the stress of anticipating their loss, and in seeing them finally at a point where it was a mercy to put them to sleep rather then see them struggle daily just to do the basic things, like getting up, walking, eating, or having to go outside to go to the bathroom.
Of course, that lifted weight was replaced by a deep grief, but I've found that over time, that grief fades and more often than not one can remember a past pet with more smiles than tears.
I've always said that losing a pet wounds the heart...wounds heal, but the do leave scars. Some pets leave a larger scar than others. My first dog, Sampson who I had from the 6th grade until I was 25 years old, and my cat Ashley, who I had for 21 years were two that really left me hurting for a long time - Sampson passed on in the early 1990s and Ashley passed in 2005. I can now think about them and it doesn't hurt anymore. I miss them...but I miss them now without the pain.
Unfortunately, I am going through the loss of a pet that was even worse than those two...which I thought could never happen, especially since I only had him for 3 years. On November 7th, I had to put my 5 year old, mentally handicapped dog, HaHa to sleep, he had cancer.
He was a golden retriever, and in just those 3 short years, he found that special place in my heart that for years only Sampson and Ashley occupied. I'm still sobbing daily over his loss. With most of my pets, I cried hard for a week, maybe 2 weeks and it trailed off from there...that's not happening with HaHa, the scar he's going to leave on my heart is going to be a huge one.
I have loved all of my pets, and not including Sampson, Ashley and HaHa, I've put to sleep 5 dogs and 1 cat, plus lost 1 cat who went outside and never came back. I had a really hard time with Shayle, the cat who was lost...as not knowing what became of her was just emotional torture.
For me though, I would rather feel the grief, and cry the tears rather than never have had these pets in my life. All of my pets enriched my life, and taught me to be a better person and to sometimes re-think things I had learned about training. I especially learned patience when I took on an abused cat - it took 2 years of working with her before she could come to me and be comfortable around me. I also took on an abused dog that was mostly feral...I've had her for 5 years now and she still doesn't totally trust me. And of course, HaHa...he was mentally slow, and would forget things and he ALWAYS felt like he had to next to me when I moved around the house...I couldn't do anything without him in my way.
These are the kind of things to think about when it comes time to let your pets go. It's easier said than done....trying to tell oneself that the pain can be turned into a positive thing. The more pain you feel just proves the love you had, and the scars on the heart are worth it in the end. And those thoughts are what gets me through the grieving process and also into thinking about getting another dog or cat within 3 months to a year after losing one.