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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I posted before, but I am still having difficulty with grief and regret. My 16 1/2 yr old chihuahua mix passed last month. He had developed an immune disorder that caused his body to attack his platelets (thrombocytopenia) 3 years ago. After 6 months of many vet visits and strong meds, he went into remission. The following year he developed chronic pancreatitis, gall bladder disease, and kidney disease and then to top it off in Nov 2020 he developed bladder cancer (because of his kidneys he couldn’t have any meds for it and surgery wasn’t an option). I think the strong meds he was taking for the thrombocytopenia contributed to all this but I don’t know. This is in addition to mild hydrocephalus with seizure disorder he had from birth. In August of 2020 he had another attack of pancreatitis and I had to change his food to a different prescription kibble. These kibbles were fairly large, but I never had given him small breed dog food and some of his previous kibble were a bit larger. At first I put broth on it, but when he eventually wasn’t eating all of it, I put a bowl of dry next to the bowl with the broth in it. He ate all the dry and did not touch the one with the broth, so I started feeding it to him dry. He was eating like he normally did, not fast, but it appeared he wasn’t really chewing them. He wasn’t having any difficulty or distress and finishing it all so I didn’t think much of it. (He had chewed a little bit bigger ones in the past though.) Well, a few months after the cancer diagnosis he started to not finish his meals, so I began leaving food out for him all the time and gave him a few extra treats (oatmeal, fruit, veggies). I couldn’t feed him the wet prescription food because it was too high in fat. I also tried mixing oatmeal in with the kibble but after a few times he would not eat it like this and I then tried veggie baby food in it but he just licked it off. I couldn’t give him anything high fat or protein because of his other health issues. He was losing weight even though he was always excited for his people food but eating less of the kibble. He still looked pretty good up until August (he had a little extra padding at the start of this). In August (he was going to the vet every couple months) the vet did an ultrasound and saw that the tumor was bigger than a golf ball and saw spots on his other organs indicating the cancer had metastasized but his blood work showed that his kidney and pancreatic enzymes looked better so that was being kept in check. In the next few months he progressively deteriorated, losing more weight, becoming more unsteady, straining to pee more, pacing, and showing neurological signs (circling and at the end twitching). He ate less and less of the kibble (but was still eating it) but was still excited about his “people food” (until the last week of his life when he stopped eating and drinking anything). He really needed higher calorie food for the cancer, but couldn’t have it because of the other issues. He was still swallowing the kibbles whole but eating slower than before and every once in awhile he would drop them, but most of the time it didn’t appear he was having trouble, no choking or vomiting. He had most of his teeth including all his molars and the vet said he had a little gingivitis but they looked ok, but couldn’t see everything without an xray. I did tell him he was swallowing the kibbles. I did brush his teeth but he wasn’t very cooperative. He was too sick for a dental. I don’t understand, if possibly his teeth hurt, why he wouldn’t rather eat the kibble softened with the broth, oatmeal, or baby food. Also, why would he be so excited for other food indicating he did have an appetite but not eat enough kibble? Do sick dogs do this? I am so sad and having so many regrets. One thing I didn’t do is break down the kibble but I thought he never really chewed them and he is at least still eating and I was afraid to change anything (faulty thinking, I know). It kills me thinking he may have eaten more of it if I did and that he progressively ate less because it was not comfortable. My vet is great but he never offered any guidance on feeding and I regret not asking if I could add chicken or turkey to his diet (he had told me when he was diagnosed with the kidney disease not to give him any extra protein foods). I was in denial that he was going to die. I probably waited too long to let him go. I am going to counseling but still having trouble thinking I hurt him somehow and maybe he was hungry and I caused his weight loss. Also, wondering if I prolonged his suffering by waiting too long to help him pass.
 

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As on the other thread, your dog was seriously ill and dying. What good does second guessing yourself do?

It is good you are going to counseling.

There are seven stages of grief:
1. Disbelief and shock​
2. Denial​
3. Guilt and pain​
4. Bargaining​
5. Anger​
6. Depression​
7. Acceptance​

It appears you are at the guilt stage and are maybe subconsciously looking for validation of your guilt. Which you won't find here. No reasonable person would EVER blame you for a terminally ill dog's death - especially when that dog was already very old.

You may want to ask these questions of yourself (perhaps including your counselor) - how long do you think you could have prolonged your dog's life? Would your dog have benefited from that? Would he have been able to complete his bucket list? Would he have been able to settle his estate? Or would he just have continued as he had been?

You were required to make a very difficult decision for your dog. He does not blame or hate you for it. He does not think about "you should have done it sooner" or "you should have tried harder to avoid it". He is grateful that you loved him enough to go through the trauma of making that decision.
 
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You weren't stupid - you did everything you knew to do. You just have to accept that all your "if I had just done this" "or that" wouldn't have made him better or go more easily.
 

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No one can tell you how to grieve a loss. I can say that obsessing over a loss being stuck in self blame for a lengthy time may be indicative of other pain in your life.

It is good you are in counseling.

You need to believe this:
Dogs live in the moment. They do not think about what they will do tomorrow or what they will feel tomorrow. They also do not think about how they felt yesterday or even during the previous hour.

They only know what they are experiencing in the here and now. Your dog would not want you to suffer like you are. You did nothing wrong.

I have seen very ill dogs beg for and eat human food while turning down their regular food. This does not mean they were hungry or deprived.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I appreciate your comments and I am really trying to work on this because I know I can’t change anything now. I adopted my dog at the age of three from a shelter and they said he had been abused and then adopted twice and returned. They were keeping him by himself in an indoor area (they usually use to store things) without access to the outdoors as he did not get along with other dogs. When I adopted him I promised him he would never have any more pain and all his life I kept my promise (until the end) and it just hurts me that I couldn’t keep my promise and he got so sick and I may not have done the best for him.
 

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I appreciate your comments and I am really trying to work on this because I know I can’t change anything now. I adopted my dog at the age of three from a shelter and they said he had been abused and then adopted twice and returned. They were keeping him by himself in an indoor area (they usually use to store things) without access to the outdoors as he did not get along with other dogs. When I adopted him I promised him he would never have any more pain and all his life I kept my promise (until the end) and it just hurts me that I couldn’t keep my promise and he got so sick and I may not have done the best for him.
Just remember this.
Your feeling this way is normal.
It is part of grief.
It DOESN'T mean that it's true!
It's just something that human do when someone dies. We find things to feel guilty about. I don't know why we do it, but trust me, almost everyone in the world has experienced this kind of guilt and much of the time it's manufactured by a grieving brain rather than being real guilt over a real bad thing.

When my soul-mate died I felt terrible I went around feeling I had failed him because I couldn't save him at the end. But the fact is NO one could have saved him. We want to have the power to keep our beloved animals with us forever but we don't have that power.

You gave that dog a wonderful life. Remember that. And when those guilt feelings come up, put them into a box in your mind and slam down the lid, and instead think about all the happy times you had with your beloved dog.

One of these days another dog may come to you. sometimes a new dog is the best medicine for loss, when you are ready for that.
 

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When I adopted him I promised him he would never have any more pain and all his life I kept my promise (until the end) and it just hurts me that I couldn’t keep my promise and he got so sick and I may not have done the best for him.
Can you promise "no pain" to anything or anyone? Sure. Can you guarantee it? No. Sometimes outside factors interfere. Whether it's a bee sting or cancer. We can't shield anyone or anything from all pain.

What you actually promised to guarantee is that he would never be abused again and would always be treated humanely and with empathy. You kept that promise.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
It does help to write to this forum to hear your opinions. Even though my vet, counselor, and friends have said what you said, I know they probably wouldn’t say anything to hurt me. Not that you would, but it is helpful to hear it from people who don’t personally know me. Thank you.
 

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It does help to write to this forum to hear your opinions. Even though my vet, counselor, and friends have said what you said, I know they probably wouldn’t say anything to hurt me. Not that you would, but it is helpful to hear it from people who don’t personally know me. Thank you.
not only that but we have personally been where you are. You can take our words at face value.
 

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There are support groups specifically for grieving pets. You may look for a local one. You might also consider volunteering with a local shelter - you don't have to foster. Many of them have a dog walking program for the dogs not in foster homes. Focusing on something positive may help you through the process.
 
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