She’s Gone

A small, visibly old (lots of gray and white on face) terrier is asleep in brown haired woman's lap. The dog's head is hanging over the woman's arm. The woman is wearing a brown mock turtleneck. The dog is mostly black and white with large ears.

17 year old Cricket having a snooze at the office in March 2013

Head’s up: frank talk of euthanasia and some raw language.

Cricket died on May 31 and I am not OK with that.

Elizabeth Kubler Ross’ stages of grief are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I guess “nauseated, furious rejection” of the whole idea belongs somewhere among the first two.

It’s just not OK with me. I don’t have strong beliefs about the afterlife (though please, those of you who do, I welcome your comments. I can take comfort from that). She is gone from my life here on earth and I’m not OK with that.

I can’t seem to write, except to write about her. Some for public, mostly for me. Folks have been kindly asking when I would blog about it–I guess I’ll give you the raw story.

It’s not OK with me that I remember so much of the past two years–no wait, that is OK–but I’m frustrated that I don’t have vivid memories of her in her prime. I am going through 800+ unnamed Flip videos that are no longer in a library and finding every one that even has her barking in the background. Her “prime” means she was about 12 years old!

Cricket has has dementia for two to three years. She also had extreme neurological weakness in her hind end, and chronic, though not extreme, GI problems. For more than a year she has not had the muscle tone to sit in my lap without my bracing her. Her dementia was so advanced that for the past five weeks she could not figure out how to drink water on her own. Her neurological wires had gotten so crossed that she startled at almost any sensory input.  She no longer had the muscle tone in her rear to sit normally; she splayed her hind legs out or let them both go out to the side, and hunched her back.

Yet she had a great appetite and still had pleasures in life. She was on RX for arthritis just to be sure, but I don’t think she was in much or any pain.

I have known for a year that this dog would not die a peaceful death at home. Her heart, other organs, and general constitution were way too strong. I knew I would have to intervene. In the past few weeks she has taken another step down into frailty and I have been waiting for some sign that the balance had tipped.

It happened on Friday. She threw up, then had an extended seizure. She aspirated vomit. She was with me at my office at the time and my coworker helped me care for her. After two hours she was still sputtering and had not gotten out all the matter, but I had already made the decision. If she had seized once, it could and would happen again. And the next time I might not be with her. Every time I left her home, as safe as I made things, there were ways she could hurt herself or suffer. The seizure was probably related to her canine cognitive dysfunction and she was way too frail to experiment with other treatment drugs.

Just like I have long known I would have to euthanize her, I have also known she was not going to go down easily. She’s just not that kind of dog. The last two animals I had to euthanize were both cats and both were seriously ill. One with cancer with brain mets, the other with complications of diabetes. Both slid away from life with relief, one of them still purring.

In your dreams, Eileen. Everything I knew about Cricket said it would not go that way and it didn’t. I had been trying to prepare. Months before, I had asked the vet for an oral sedative to give Cricket before I ever brought her to the vet for her final visit so she wouldn’t be nervous. We “practiced” with a dose one day and I’m glad we did. Cricket got a paradoxical reaction and got all hyped up and anxious and weaved around drunkenly for a few hours. So much for that idea, and for my fantasy that she could already be relaxed and dreamy when we went.

But on Friday she wasn’t very anxious, at first. But she was completely alert and looking around and not liking the doctor, as usual. I didn’t try to give her treats since I was pretty sure they wouldn’t go down. Though a last meal had been part of the fantasy, too. (She had eaten very well and happily that morning, however.)

I spoke to the vet about giving her anesthesia first before even inserting the IV, and the vet didn’t recommend it, saying it could just lengthen the trauma, so I agreed to the standard procedure. Can’t know if what happened was better or worse than what would have happened otherwise.

The vet first administered anesthesia through the IV in Cricket’s front leg first, as is typical, before giving the drug that stops the heart. Cricket reacted strongly to the anesthetic, startling and whimpering. Damn damn damn. Horror. Then she settled down after it got into her system. After the infusion of the second drug, nothing happened. Cricket sat in my lap looking around. The doctor had given Cricket (who weighs 12 lbs), the dosage for a 30 lb dog and nothing at all happened.

The doctor brought a second dose. This time Cricket didn’t startle, so she must have been starting to get at least a little anesthetized. This dose (we were now up to the dose for a 60 lb dog) made her sleepy and slowed her metabolism. She essentially went to sleep in my lap, although my dear friend who was there said that she was still peeking out at the world. I watched her breathe. It was regular and a little slow, exactly as it was when she slept. And it stayed that way. The vet said her heartbeat was slightly irregular, was all. It was lovely to hold her when she was finally (probably, hopefully!) relaxed and asleep.

The vet got a third dose (up to a 90 lb dog dose now) and injected it directly into a back leg this time. I was desperate that this would startle or hurt her, but she didn’t flinch in the least. I hope it didn’t. I watched her take her two last breaths. I held her close, probably closer than she would have liked were she awake and alive. But her little body felt so right up next to my breast, as always.

I asked the vet, not entirely joking, how she figured to get Cricket’s body away from me.

I asked for her ashes, something I have never done before. I’m an amateur potter and will make a little container.

My other dogs have much more freedom and will get more of my attention. After while. My life is so much physically easier now. But right now I basically don’t fucking care.

It is not all right with me that she is gone. I had 15 months to get ready for this. I thought we were coming to the end of the line ages ago. Perhaps it should have helped me prepare. But actually I think it let me pretend that I would have her forever. As it should have been. The little Energizer Terrier, who keeps going and going.

Small white, black, and brown short coated rat terrier stand straight and tall and looks straight up at the camera (and her person)

Cricket ready for supper in 2008

Even now as I am sitting here I am waiting for her to walk straight up to me, stiff legged as always, stand straight and tall with those huge ears and look me in the eye, as she always did. Even when she could barely walk and see only fuzzily. (Other dogs hated her body language. Rude little terrier.) Waiting for her to find me wherever I am in the house and bump her nose to my leg just to be sure it was me. She fell away from the other humans in her life because of the dementia, but she always knew and loved me. We were each others’ anchors. And now I am adrift.

Because I remember the old doggie so well and want to remember the little spitfire, I made a video montage mostly from old training clips from when she was about 12. My training skills are rudimentary (why oh why did I repeatedly pull her out of position after the click!), I miss her ears with the camera half the time because I didn’t have a tripod, but it’s worth it to me to watch her. And I hope you all will enjoy seeing what a little ball of fire she was.

Link to the video for email subscribers.

Thanks for reading. Please remember my little girl.

The head of an old rat terrier is resting with her nose on a woman's leg (woman is wearing jeans).

Cricket always touched me whenever she could

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About eileenanddogs

Passionate amateur dog trainer, writer, and learning theory geek.Eileen Anderson on Google+
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108 Responses to She’s Gone

  1. Ines says:

    Im so sorry to read all this 🙁 Hang in there. You are in my thoughts. Don’t know what Im going to do when it’s my turn to lose one…. 🙁 <3

  2. Jeanne Schoech says:

    Watch for her. Not a ghost, but the very real sense of her presense with you. With thoughts and empathy. Jeanne S.

    • I will do it Jeanne. We are so close; she can’t be all gone. Thank you.

      • Hope you will Eileen, it took me a while but I watched and waited and eventually as I knew she would, she made her presence felt, little glimpses, little signs and a feeling of her being there still – always in my heart as Cricket is in yours

  3. Thank you for writing this, which brought tears to my eyes. I don’t know what else to say other than that feeling deep anguish is the flip side of being able to love deeply. I will remember your words, and give my critters a little extra tender care in your pup’s memory. Keep breathing, and let your heart take whatever time it needs to heal.

  4. SarahJ says:

    Thank you for sharing your & Cricket’s story. My thoughts are with you.

    I was faced with a similar situation, my 17 year old dear dog, wound up not only being hand fed, and carried in & out of house to potty, but I too had to put her in my lap and give her water as she would not find the water bowl on her own anymore. But she was strong in spirit to the very end. I was very fortunate in being able to have a visiting vet come to our house the day she would have begun to suffer, and we took Maxine out to one of her favorite spots in the backyard for her final moments and my kids and I were holding her.

    Her ashes are buried next to her companion, who has a blueberry bush now growing on top.

    Your honesty in your writing is welcome to me. The last 18 months of her life were hard, and it can make it difficult to hold those many wonderful years close in memory. Cricket, and Maxine, and all the others, the soul mates & crazy friends, gone, and the loss eases but never goes away.

    • SarahJ I so appreciate your sharing your story about your old girl. You understand about the water! Cricket could still eat out of a bowl, so I gave her baby food well diluted with water several times a day and kept her hydrated that way, but it was a bit nerve wracking. Thank you so much for writing.

  5. Marjorie says:

    Oh Eileen, my deepest sympathy in the loss of your beloved Cricket. What an adorable little spitfire. I really feel for you because I know euthanasia is the hardest decision to have to make. It’s a very humbling experience and my heart breaks for you. I think it’s the fear of everyone who shares their life with a cherished pet. I can understand that you must be in a swirl of emotion right now, but as time passes and the love of others surround you I’m sure you’ll have that clear crisp memory of a sprite little Cricket, and that it will sit in a deep well of gratitude for the experience of all that she was and your special relationship together. From your posts and pictures it’s plain to see that you both have much to be grateful for in that regards. I do believe…pay attention to your dreams over the next few months, as you just may have a special visitor.

    XO
    Marjorie

  6. I’m sorry for your loss Eileen. reading your post brought more than a tear to my eye, but the video was lovely.

    It must be a very difficult time for you, and no-one can blame you for feeling the way you do; we are all here for you – when you want us.

  7. I am so sorry for your loss. Nothing anyone can say right now
    will make it easier on you, I’m afraid. Thank you for sharing this post with us. It’s so
    hard to lose a loved one. Just know that she loved you very much.

  8. I’m sorry to hear about Cricket’s passing. She was a grand old girl. One of my all time favorite videos of her is the one where she is learning nose work. In fact, I’m planning on recommending that very video to a particular family with an older dog. Cricket will continue to touch people’s lives for a long time to come, I think.

    I don’t know if your experience will be like mine. Everyone processes things differently. What I have noticed about losses like this is that at first, I just remember the most recent and terrible time. But as the grieving process goes along, I tend to only remember the better things clearly. The bad and sad fade away, becoming less prominent in my memories. Cherished moments are the ones that come to mind….. eventually.

    That doesn’t help for right now though. I know. Sending gentle, good thoughts your way.

    • Ah, thank you Louisa. I’m especially pleased you know about the nose work video. Here it is: A Very Old Dog Learns K9 Nosework. In Cricket’s last weeks, even months, finding her supper bowl was a bit of nose work. But I would also strew some goodies on the rug when I left. She usually found most of them. Thank you so much for your thoughts.

  9. Diane says:

    I’m sorry… so sorry. I’ve been there more times than I want to remember, yet I remember each one vividly and in detail. And every time I read someone’s story about letting a much-loved dog go, I cry again. I hope that soon the good & beautiful memories of Cricket will overcome the pain of her loss. Healing thoughts to you… Rest well, Cricket.

  10. Wendy Oleksiak says:

    Very touching piece, beautifully written. Sending my sympathy and a hug

  11. CK Bales says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. The emotions and sentiments you expressed we’re all the same I felt so very recently when Attitude passed. Though I did not have to euthanize her, I was not okay she was gone and it took over a week before I stopped listening for her daily. There are still times I wait for her at the door, or jump thinking I forgot to medicate her, but the hurt is easing each day and the joy of telling her stories is coming into my life. I have her on my alarm clock and talk to her daily and spent one day just watching any video that had her in it. It was about the same time period you are in now. I wish there was some way to make this easier, but take heart in the wonderful life you gave her and the love she knew through you. Will be thinking of you during this difficult time.

    • Thanks Charlie. I have been thinking much about your little Attitude as well. Your bond with her was so strong, too! Yes, I am strongly into the videos now. That and writing everything down. It seems so very important not to forget anything about her.Thank you for writing and your thoughts.

      • CK Bales says:

        I too found I had to write something about her and posted it on Max’s blog. Here is the link – I hope the tangle of emotions I speak of will give you a bit of comfort when you are ready to read it.

        http://ckbales.blogspot.com/2013/05/attitude.html

        Thinking of you and your crew today.

        • This is wonderful, Charlie. I’m so glad you shared it here. I had missed it before. I hope some other readers will read it if they can take another bittersweet story right now. What a wonderful caregiver you were and are!

  12. Carolyn says:

    So sorry for your loss of Cricket Eileen. Nothing has torn my heart to pieces the way choosing death for my 8 year old poodle did. There is something about choosing for a helpless creature, no matter how right the choice, that makes it oh so difficult. Carolyn (and Molly the PWD)

  13. I’m not an afterlife guy myself, but if there were a heaven it would be reserved for dogs. I’m so sorry for your loss. I think losing a pet is one of the hardest losses we ever experience; we’ve been able to fix just about everything for them…until we can’t, until age or illness or accident or consequence forces our hand. Dogs handle this all much better than we do, that much I know. Hang in there, Eileen, and grieve as long and hard as you feel. If a beloved dog isn’t worth full-on grief, what is?

  14. The honesty of your words is very welcome Eileen, I can identify with them strongly. Its very hard to find any words that might help – just understand if you can that you are not alone in your loss and the devastation you feel. I lost my beloved friend and constant companion on 23rd October last, and its definitely NOT OK, nor ever will be. Totally unexpectedly we found she had advanced aggressive lymphoma and we had to let her go. I thought we would have many more years together, she wasn’t quite 8, my soul friend, never another like her. I can identify with the anger – total furiousness – very difficult to deal with, nothing is ok, the grief sits like a great heavy weight, sometimes if feels as if nothing will be good ever again. I can’t say it gets easier, maybe the anger is less, but it does change though, although there have been times when I never thought it would, but, gradually, hopefully, you’ll start to remember all the good things and the wonderful times you shared and the big heavy lump in your heart will start to ease. Love and light to you Eileen.

    • Thank you so much Annie. You described it so well. I’m sorry you have been through that, but so glad you had what you had with her. Thank you for your wishes for me.

  15. Heartbreaking. Your love for her was palpable. Thank you for sharing this. You are in my thoughts. Run free, Cricket <3

  16. jan wherley says:

    OH, Eileen- it is the very first time I have had the strength to read of another person’s heartfelt loss of their oldest, precious one. It has been a while for me, but I still feel raw. I cannot believe the unfairness of it all. Mine too, a red Australian Cattle dog girl, Bugaboo, she also was strong. She also declined in similar ways. I could not be there to hold her, I did not feel stong enough.

    I keep asking myself, as we both have other dogs, is it worth it? Do we want to , possibly, probably go through it again? No, I wonder if I will find the strength… then again, how do we know what happens after ?

    I hope you can endure and come out stronger. Feel the presence of the others who have gone through it too. I enjoy reading about you, your experiences, as they seem similar to mine.

    Train on !!! I have not seen the video yet, have not done one myself – Now I will look. thanks !

  17. Nancy says:

    I am so sorry for you loss. Thank you for sharing. <3

  18. Gail Anderson says:

    What Gallivan Burwell said!! I do remember Cricket in good times, or better times, at least, and I know she was special to you, and to us, your readers, through your writing. You’ll be OK, I know. Hard times are just – hard. Thinking of you.

  19. Miki Saito says:

    I can’t find any word and stop my tears. Huge hugs to you two, Eileen and Cricket.

  20. Sandy ONeill says:

    That is a wonderful post, thankyou. God bless little Cricket xx

  21. Tegan says:

    I am so sorry for your loss, Eileen. Cricket was lucky to have you.

  22. Linda says:

    Cricket was indeed a lucky lady to own you Eileen, i know from your blogs how much you cared for her, you will be ok in time. I have a springer and we are in the same position now that you have been in with Cricket, we have already had 2 years (extra) with Larry that we never thought we would have, he suffers with CCD also and i dread the day anything finally happens to him, as you said in this post, when he does go life will be easier on us and our other 3 dogs but right now i dont care about that, we do what we have to do to make the best possible life for all of them each day, take care, take love and we look forward to hearing from you in time, when you heal a little.

  23. Sherrell Fick says:

    Sorry for your loss.

  24. Cricket will leave a huge space for such a little dog, won’t she. Be strong, it gets better, but it takes a while.

  25. Clare says:

    My deepest condolences. My dog is my whole world and I’ve only had him three weeks!

  26. Fay says:

    Thank you Eileen for sharing your thoughts and feelings at this very sad time. Your writing touched me deeply.

  27. Kirsten Rose says:

    I am so sorry. Thank you for sharing this.

  28. Melissa says:

    My heart aches for you and Cricket.
    You and Cricket are better for it as a result of your relationship together.

  29. Nif says:

    Oh Eileen, sending huge hugs to you, as you grieve for Madame Cricket. I have only found your blog recently but have thoroughly enjoyed it and feels as though I am getting to know your girls. I have been sending many of my clients to your blog to read. Those ears and that attitude will leave a huge hole in your house, heart and days. I have no doubt you will be looking for her for ages. (Four months after my grandma died, I needed to talk to her, and without thinking picked up the phone and dialed. Only when the phone rang out did I remember she wasn’t there anymore. Sometimes the need to ‘speak’ to a lost one is so urgent….) End if life decisions are always so hard and it makes it even more heartbreaking when they fight the drugs. Thinking of you and wishing that I could find the magic wand I have been searching for to make them all live forever. Have you read the story of the little boy who so wonderfully explained why dogs don’t live as long as us? Hugs again…..

  30. gayle says:

    Dear Eileen – huge hugs to you. I know in my heart that Cricket knew how much you loved her and that she knew you would be there with her until the end.

    Losing our loved ones just sucks – doesn’t matter that you knew for a year and half that this moment was coming – I know that it does not make it any easier.

    I personally do believe that our soul continues on – that it is energy and that that energy will be around us forever. So I believe that she is around you – loving you always.

    Her spirit is free and pain free.

    Deepest sympathies to you.

    gayle

  31. Murielle says:

    I’m so sorry for you Eileen.
    The lost of a dog is a traumatizing and destabilizing experience to live, especially when the decision of euthanasia is required. Alas, I know that no word can really helps you for the moment.
    Two years ago, our pretty Airedale Tara went away. A cerebral tumor affected her motor cortex and her sight, it was horrible. She is still in our heart, like all the others gone before her.
    Today I can imagine your grieve. Dogs, these little characters, take so much space in our life…
    Your tribute to Cricket is great and so emotional. I much appreciate the video, and I smile recognizing the typical Terrier impatience. What a lovable little dog she was!
    Eileen, you are in my thoughts.
    Murielle

  32. BCNerd says:

    I am so very sorry for your loss. It was very difficult for me to read the whole thing as I know how much your dogs mean to you. I have no wise words to make your pain goes away but know that she couldn’t have asked for a better family. Rest in peace.

  33. Kim says:

    My heart breaks as I shed tears for you and your Cricket. I recently lost my 14 yr old girl…my heart, my soul, my 4-legged love…and it pains me that you are going through what I’m still going through with the loss of my girl.

    Be they 2, 5, 10, 14 or 17 years old when they die, it’s never okay and the time we have with them will never, ever be long enough.

    I know losing her hurts, but you hurt because you loved her so deeply. Cherish that 🙂 She was one lucky girl to have found you so long ago.

  34. I am so…sorry. I know, it’s cliche, but what I’m really feeling is this heavy feeling in my chest and my muscles tightening in my back and a lump forming in my throat and my eyes are burning. Anyone who has ever lost a dog knows how you feel and is behind you all the way and shares in your anger for the loss of your Cricket. I was actually really shocked to see this come up on my blog roll this morning, and I hesitated to click on it. I wish I had words of comfort other than to say that I understand, but I don’t. I’m sorry :'( I will say a special prayer for Cricket today.

    • Thank you, yes, that is exactly how it feels. Sorry that any of us have to feel that. I hope reading the post wasn’t too hard on you. I wondered whether I was just selfish to publish something this raw. I hope it was OK. Everyone has been so generous and caring with their comments.

  35. I’m sorry, Eileen. What a great companion you had in Cricket. You really did her justice in your tribute to the essence of her. I love that she always knew you and found safety and comfort in your presence to the very end. It doesn’t matter how long you have to “prepare,” it’s still a shock when that day comes. That was the case with my Betty. I wondered, “How can I be sitting here surprised and still unprepared that today is the day?” When we lost our previous dog to cancer much too young, I repeatedly “found” him in quirky mannerisms other dogs would do just like him – but out of the blue. My husband and I would say, “Look, Mike is here for a visit!” I also remember there was a dog at the humane society where I worked that looked just like him on one side of his face so I got to kiss “him” goodbye one more time. That was about 11 years ago and how happy I was to run into THAT SAME DOG at the beach last year! Cricket was your girl and she always will be. I’m very sorry for your loss.

  36. Neil Aaland says:

    Eileen, I’m so sorry about the loss. Cricket looks like a real sweety. I wish I could have met her.

  37. Jo says:

    All my sympathy. Old age sucks. Euthanasia sucks. Killing your friends sucks, even when it is absolutely the kindest thing you can do for them. I like Edna St. Vincent Millay’s take on death the best, as I also do NOT approve.

    Dirge Without Music
    I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
    So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
    Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
    With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

    Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
    Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
    A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
    A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.

    The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the
    love,—
    They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
    Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not
    approve.
    More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the
    world.

    Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
    Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
    Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
    I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

    Edna St. Vincent Millay

    • Oh. My. Gosh. I am familiar with Millay’s work, but not this one. Thank you, thank you. Even though it is so raw, it is affirming to read. Thanks a million times, Jo.

  38. Wow. Your heartfelt and honest writing pierced my heart. It brought back all the old memories of a dog gone 14 years ago – the love, the joy, the happiness of looking into her smiling face, and also the grief of losing her. The responses of your friends and blog readers has floored me as well. Beautiful and emotional. Cricket’s loss will be felt by many who shared in her life through your blog. One of my favorite pieces you’ve done was “Poop in my Pocket.” Oh how we love our old dogs.
    I’m thinking of you and missing Cricket.

    • Thank you so much, Lisa. I’ve been thinking of your Ilsa, but I guess you are missing yet another one, too. They leave their prints on our hearts, don’t they.

  39. titch990 says:

    I’m so very sorry to hear that Cricket has gone. It’s clear from your writing and photos how very much you loved her, and how much she loved and needed you. I know there are no words that can fill the gaping hole she has left, and I know that you know you did the right thing for her at the right time. But I also know that doesn’t ease the great pain and loss you must feel.

    I hope you can take a little comfort in the knowledge that many of your readers around the world will be thinking of you at this time, and gently holding you up with loving thoughts. I feel privileged to have been able to read about some of Cricket’s life on your blog, so thank you for everything you’ve shared, and for your very lovely and moving account of her last hours too. This comes from far across the Atlantic, from Southampton, UK, with love and hugs for you at this sad time. Marjorie.

    • Oh, thank you Marjorie. I do take comfort from your kind and thoughtful words. Thank you for taking the time to write and say that reading about Cricket made a difference to you.

  40. I have followed your story with your pups since my early days on the Training Levels list. I am speechlessly sorry to hear of your loss. There is no way to prepare and some losses never truly leave you. There are things that still remind me of Meeka, but now, after 2.5 years I smile when I’m reminded. It took 2 years to get there. I have a favorite quote about grief, I hope it’s okay to share a link to it here. It has helped me through some difficult times. http://pinterest.com/pin/277323289525344926/
    Our thoughts are with you and the other pups.

    • Thank you so much Katie! As I have followed yours as well. That is a lovely quote and it describes grief so perfectly. I think the waves are subsiding a little for me now. Thank you for caring about my pups and me.

  41. So sorry for your loss. My sister lost Bandit, half Rat / half Jack Russel, not long ago to “doggie dementia.” It’s difficult. Please accept my deepest condolences.

  42. Ann-Dorit says:

    Dear Eileen, I love your youtube channel and have followed you for quite a while. I loved your video on dogs and dementia. In Denmark there is tradition for euthanizing dogs when they are elderly and the slightest physical/mental issues appears. It was enriching for me to see that of course a dog has the right to live even though its mental abilities decreases. Recently when I was walking my dog I was thinking about Cricket. Thank you so much for sharing her final days. I really empathize with you and hope that soon you will be able to remember with joy. Ann-Dorit

    • Thank you so much, Ann-Dorit. It means so much to me that you were thinking about my little girl. That is very interesting about the different attitudes about when to euthanize. No matter what framework you have, though, I guess it’s hard. I’m glad you thought it was good that she could live on even as she failed in so many ways. Of course now I am looking back to see if I “agree” with myself and my decisions. So far I still do.

  43. Colleen says:

    Dear Eileen,
    I am so sorry to hear that Cricket is gone. I read about your loss when you posted it that Sunday earlier this month. It was touching and sad and helpful. My mom was in town visiting that day and she’d brought along her Shih Tzu Sam. Sam is 16, almost 17 actually. It’s just the two of them now. She worries about Sam. Of course she doesn’t want him to die. And she doesn’t want him to suffer. She worries about how she’ll know when it’s time. We talked about these things, about when, and how, and even whether euthanasia was right at all. And about after. Perhaps odd to say, but your post helped with the conversation. As you so eloquently portray it isn’t easy and I know Mom will not be okay with it either, when the time comes. But maybe she’ll be a little better prepared. Thank you for sharing your story and your lovely video and photos of Cricket.
    Take care

    • Oh Colleen that is one of the nicest possible things to say to me. I have worried that my post was a little too raw, too selfish. I’m so glad it could help a little. Thank you for your kind words. I wish absolutely the best to your mom and little Sam.

  44. I’m so, so sorry. Your post reminded me of this quote by Nicole Krauss, which I hope you find comfort and truth in. “She was gone, and all that was left was the space you’d grown around her, like a tree that grows around a fence. For a long time, it remained hollow.”

    They shape our lives, and when they leave sometimes it feels like the space we’ve made for them is too empty. It gets better, but I don’t think it ever totally goes away. I take comfort in thinking that in making that space and letting them in, we keep part of them with us forever.

  45. Steph B says:

    I lost my funny, smart, handsome soul-cat, Yuri, on March 22, 2013. Like your baby, he didn’t go easily. In my case, he clearly told me that he wanted to go on HIS terms rather than be euthanized, even though it would be much harder for both of us. My husband and I respected his wishes even though he really wasn’t himself in his final two weeks. He eventually died laying in my arms while resting on my chest. He fought and fought for several hours on his last day until his little body just couldn’t do it anymore. In the end, he stretched, and thrust his head, snuggling under my chin one last time, and was gone. No amount of words can convey my sense of grief, but you certainly came close. It is most certainly NOT FUCKING OK. I had his ashes put into a cat-shaped urn, which I hold and caress when I need to. I can assure you that your baby is hanging around. I know this because Yuri has visited me in dreams, and I feel his presence when I hold his urn. I am certain that Cricket is hanging around you as well. The bonds we have are too strong not to transcend the physical realm. Know that you are not alone in your grief, and I’ll keep you and Cricket in my prayers. Wishing you peace in the storm.

    • Steph, your words about your beloved Yuri are so touching. Thank you so much. I had that strong sense from one of my cats long ago and helped her die at home, even though it was hard. I knew she had to do it herself, just as I knew I would have to help Cricket. Thank you so much for writing.

  46. Pingback: It Would Have Been 11 Years | eileenanddogs

  47. Maysie says:

    Somehow reading your Cricket’s story has brought some peace to my heart. I had to put *my* Cricket to sleep last night. He had kidney disease and other serious health ailments. He was a chihuahua terrior mix and 17 years old too. Thank you for sharing your story…Cricket was a spunky dog.

  48. Fran says:

    I just discovered your blog while desperately searching for some comfort that I am doing the right thing planning to put my sweet Harry to sleep this week. He is a large Maltese (@ 15 lbs) and at least 15 years old (he’s a rescue). He has struggled with CCD about 2 years, is deaf and 90% blind. He has reached the point where he barks constantoy and does all the typical CCD things. In the past couple days he has become so miserable and agitated that in addition to the constant barking he cries, wails and screams and cannot be comforted. He still eats, tho less and still knows me, his devoted mama. He seems miserable. My gut says to let him go but I am terrified I’m doing it too soon. It’s so hard when it’s not a physical illness. Thank you for your insights in this entry.

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Fran, I’m so sorry you are having to struggle with this. It is just so much harder, in my experience, to euthanize an animal that is in pretty good shape physically but falling apart from cognitive dysfunction than it is with one who has a bad physical prognosis. But you have described him as miserable and not being able to be comforted. Those are pretty strong words. You are in the position to know best, and it sounds like you know in your heart what you feel you need to do. But I know–it’s horrible to have to do it.

      I have another website just on dementia, and some of the resources and comments there might help: http://dogdementia.com .

      Hugs to you. I’m so sorry.

  49. Gary Gibson says:

    Thank. You for your candid post. My Willie is 17 1/2. We’ve been through a lot together since I got him as a puppy at 6 weeks old. He looks like Crickets brother. Your article has helped me in dealing with the inevitable. I guess it may be very soon as he can’t maneuver much anymore. I’m noticing his balance I has gotten much worse only compounded by his blindness and accelerated hearing loss. His little tail still wags but not very well. He doesn’t display any pain and I’m grateful for that. Again, thank you for your story. Sincerely, Gary & Willie.

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Hi Gary, thank you for sharing about Willie. I’m so glad he is not in pain. I hope you have some more good days with him. Take care.

  50. Jenny says:

    Thank you for writing this. I can relate to so much in your experience. I just said goodbye to my little old man Marti. Marti was my second dog who suffered from cognitive dysfunction. My first, Molly, was laid to rest just a year ago. I’m feeling devastated tonight as I write this. Molly’s euthanasia went better than Marti’s did. In part I think it was because I was better prepared. Molly grew extremely nervous going in the car, visiting the vet, and meeting people, so I knew I needed to have it done at my house. I was lucky enough to have worked for a vet who made house calls. I also knew that a sedative needed to be done. I held Molly in my arms as the vet gave her the shot, all the while I was distracting her with my voice and touch. Molly peacefully relaxed and the rest of the meds were given with no issue. I felt like it was a lift off of my heavy heart knowing she died so peacefully. I’m with you on the after life. I’m not religious, but I want to take comfort hoping that our kids are once again healthy and happy somewhere. Towards the end Molly was constantly doing slow, tight circles, getting lost, staring at the floor, and even appeared to have a flat/depressed mood. She was just there physically. Not responding to much besides food. I carried her around the house. Up and down the stairs to go outside and lifting her onto a cushioned bed, so she’d try to sleep. I worked my college classes around her. Making sure I didn’t leave her too long. It was difficult to let her go, but i knew it absolutely was the right time. Unfortunately I moved to a new city and I opted to not drive Marti 7 hours in the car to have the same person help him pass on. Instead I took him to my trusted vet clinic. Marti didn’t like the car, he was restless, but he actually enjoyed the vet (treats gallore). I think I’m feeling regret and anger partly because I’m still questioning if it was his time. I’m still angry that I had to make the decision for Molly and Marti. I think ‘what gives me the right to make that choice for them?’ I was torn on Marti partly because I think he still had a little spark. He wasn’t depressed. He was more energetic than Molly was. He kind of was an aged version of the energizer bunny. He was certainly doing the circling, staring at the floor and got lost constantly, but he did it with a pep in his step and sometimes with wags of his tail. What made me take him in was the fact that I could see him following Molly’s exact regression. The only difference was that Marti was blind and deaf. Complete darkness, he relied on touch and smell. With a compromised mind he often didn’t do too well with just the 2 senses. He was a roomba vacuum, walking into a wall, then turning around and either hitting the same wall again or finding another one. With that pep in his step all I heard was thump, thump, thump as he ventured into things. His poor little head wasn’t doing too well. I had been closely watching his good days and bad. I planned his time a few days ahead, so I could take some time off to adjust/grieve. When it came time I felt sick and emotional. I canceled the late morning appointment and instead got one towards closing. I hadnt expected to be this upset, since Ive been slowly letting my emotions out for the past year. I knew he was on Molly’s same track. I should’ve walked out as soon as I stepped into the clinic. My slow tears turned into loud gasps of air. A worker eventually got me and Marti into a room. At this point Marti was being fed treats gallore, so he had even more pep in his step, which in turn made me gasp even more. Once in the room I filled out the paperwork and awkwardly paid for my kid to go to sleep forever, the vet walked in and explained the familiar procedure to me. Remembering my positive experience with the sedative on Molly I encouraged the vet to do the same on Marti. Unfortunately, and I do understand that this is good in some cases, they took Marti in the back to place the iv catheter and give the sedative. As I sat there alone in the room I tried my best to compose myself (I really wanted to let it out when this was done and I was alone in my car, snotty tissues and all). I heard Marti’s heartwrenching cry. Nothing is worse than to hear an elderly animals cry. I lost it now. Or at least what little I had left. Did he cry out in pain from the sedative, the catheter or did something else happen? Did they forget he was confused and blind? Did he fall? Finally after what seemed like an eternity, they brought back my boy. All 4 legs were dangling as they carried him back in to me. His mouth was open-breathing harder, eyes wide and even the strangely, uneven hairs on top of his head were up. All indicating to me that he was stressed. I asked if he cried because of the needles, but the vet said no. He had moved his leg to put the iv catheter in and the movement was what he cried about. Marti doesn’t have painful front legs, but I can understand at his age moving it just right might not be comfortable for him or perhaps it was sore from the spill on the wooden floor yesterday. Not a big deal I thought, but very sad. I will distract him now with the comfort of my touch. Surely a belly rub will help as the sedatives kick in. I sat on the floor and placed Marti on his side on top of a blanket. The vet left the room to allow us some time together as the sedative kicked in. This is when the whimpering started. My heart just sank. I talked to him sweetly (though he couldn’t hear) and rubbed his belly, sides, neck and the top of his head. The whimpering seemed to only improve. I thought what do I do? Should I leave him and get the vet? He may try to get up and injure himself. Time slowly went by. I hoped for the vet to come back in, so that he could quickly give him the final meds and stop him from experiencing whatever it was that he was experiencing and causing these sad whimpers. I thought should i stop at this? Maybe he is not ready and he’s scared? What did they give him? Can I back out now and just take him home? It felt like forever, but I’m sure it was 3 or so minutes before the vet came back. I relayed that he was letting out these awful sounds, but the vet either didn’t understand me (understandable given I had the full waterworks going) or he ignored it. He had the end of life drugs in hand. He explained that I could stay exactly how I was- with Marti’s head on my leg and my hand gentley giving belly rubs. The vet would slowly push the meds in. I thought do it quickly I can’t bear to hear his sad noises anymore. It was all over with rather quickly now. In fact, I thought too quickly. I sat there for some time still gently rubbing Marti’s belly and wiping debris from around his eyes. He was gone. I couldn’t believe it. It seemed to be not real. This moment. Marti was gone? I stood up and looked at him laying motionless on the floor. Is this real? I got Marti in the 7th grade, he was my first true dog. My sole responsibility. He was the one who taught me love and compassion for animals. He was the one who got me interested in animal care. He almost died at the age of 8 when he came down with an autoimmune disease (IMHA) and since kept me on my toes with glaucoma and numerous, but much smaller health scares. Marti was there when I was lost in life and contemplating not going any further. He was my reason to keep going. He needed me I thought. Really though I needed him. Wherever he is, I hope he knows how much he is missed and loved. I hope to see him and all of the other fur kids at some point. I feel regret tonight. Wondering if I did the right thing. How I could have done it differently. Though it was heart wrenching to read about Crickets experience, I think it does help to know that we all are some times facing the same tough decisions.

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Dear Jenny,

      I can’t begin to say how sorry I am for the decision you had to make, and how it went at the vet’s. I want you to know that I did experience some of that horror as well. I know what you are talking about. I too, wanted to stop the process. I too had to let them take my baby in for the catheter. (I don’t remember if I told that in my story above–I definitely didn’t tell everything that was so difficult about that day.)

      I think you did the right thing. Many people say they would rather let their animal go a week too early than a day too late, and I’m starting to agree with that. I believe it’s OK that you let Marti go when he was feeling OK. It really is.

      Hugs to you. I’m so so sorry it was that hard.

    • Kim says:

      Oh, Jenny, this hurt my heart. Part of being a dog owner is making the hardest decision, the one to let a dog go. I am crying as I read this because I know how unfair it is to us to have to end the life of a best friend. But there are worse things than death and it sounds like you offered a chance to stop the suffering. I am so sorry, and I know there are no words to ease your pain, but know you are not alone. We all grieve deeply when we let a loved one go.

    • Stephbo says:

      Oh, Jenny-
      I’m so sorry that you and your baby had such a traumatic experience. It’s never easy to let them go, and if anything goes amiss in the process, it makes it that much harder. I lost my sweet cat a little over two years ago (comment is above) and earlier this year, I lost my three other very old babies. My remaining cat and one of my two dogs left me within 10 days of each other in January, and my last old lady left in April. The last 6 months of my dogs’ lives were filled with lots of struggles, and lots of accidents, both from their losing their ability to control their potty muscles as well as due to their increasing inability to walk. My husband and I had decided that as long as they seemed interested in life, we would keep them around. Although my girl, Molly, wasn’t quite at that point, she suddenly became very sick. While we could have worked to settle whatever was acutely wrong with her, we knew that in the end, she would still be in a severely depleted condition. We made the decision to euthanize her right there at the vet’s office rather than waiting until we could get a house visit very to come see her. We figured it would be easier to let her go when we could clearly see how miserable she was. I don’t regret that decision at all. However, by the time Sarah left, she was a shell of herself, walking in circles, and falling down. Normal things that my usually brave, funny, and independent dog loved made her completely freak out. Looking back, I realize that I waited too long with her, and I regret that terribly. I guess I just say all that to say that the time will never be right to let them go. We will never be ready, regardless of the circumstance and timing. Be kind to yourself. I wish you peace in the days and months ahead.

  51. Anne says:

    Jenny,

    It is, without a doubt, the hardest decision we ever make for these beloved creatures. None of us who are entrusted with the care of a well loved dog are immune from the uncertainty or the pain of it, and thus we understand… <<>>

  52. Blanche Axton says:

    Jenny:
    I just went through this. I let my shih tzu mix go on Monday morning. I’ve always requested sedation for my dogs when I am letting them go–and never had a negative experience. This time, however, my already anxious dog became very anxious as the sedation kicked in. I was very fortunate that my vet realized this and we moved onto euthanizing him quickly. But it shook me. And made me feel badly that something I did to try and make him less stressed ended up making him more so.
    This is not the first time I’ve euthanized a dog with CCD–but it was the first time I’ve had that reaction to the sedative. I totally feel your anguish and questioning.

    I know that it was time to let Ty go. I don’t have any questions about the timing. I just had wished that we could have eliminated the extra anxiety….it was the last thing I wanted for his already over taxed brain.

    Much love and sympathy to you. It’s a lonely road, sometimes, this walk with our aging dogs. We can’t always see all the others who trod a parallel road to ours. It just feels lonely. Know that I read your post with a nodding head and aching heart.

    Blessed be.

  53. Blanche Axton says:

    And for what it is worth, Jenny, I’m one of those folks who would rather let my dogs go earlier rather than later. I don’t want my last memories of them to be just a shell, a husk. I want to still be able to see the dog I knew so well. And with CCD, I know that we aren’t going to see any improvement. Once the quality of life starts to skid, then I let them go. And am always touched by honour of being able to be there. It’s the last great gift of love we can give them….to let them go with as much dignity as possible.

  54. Jenny, your story is heart breaking. I’m so sorry. I’m sure your dogs had great comfort being with you, regardless how the sedative may have felt. They knew your touch and smell and comfort. I’m sure if there is another world, they’d say thank you.

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