Saying Goodbye to a Dog - The Hardest Part of Having a Senior Dog
Sasha relaxing on her favourite mat
Our dogs are part of the family, and it really breaks my heart when they age faster than us. We can give them the best retirement, but there will come the day that a decision may have to be made.
Not everybody gets that choice. Some dogs will die in their sleep which is better all round but then you don't get to say goodbye, or accidents can happen too. Our last dog was hit on the highway and although it was quick we didn't get to say goodbye.
We had to make the decision March 4, 2016 to say goodbye to our best friend, Sasha. She was 12.5 years old and had been showing signs of slowing down the last year or two. That is why I created this website as I researched for ways to make her life and ours easier so that we could have some more happy years together. The senior dog aids worked very well and I have donated much of them to the local humane society so that they can be used to help other dogs.
That fateful day, we got up as usual to follow our usual routines, and she didn't rouse very well. When we were coaxing her to go outside for her morning routine, she was very confused and began trying to go to places of the house she never has bothered with. I knew something was wrong. She wanted to then lay in the snow for the rest of the day which bothered me, but she is a winter dog. My hubby put a blanket on her and we made an appointment to visit the veterinarian later that day. She did not appear to be in pain, just very tired and weak.
We had a feeling this was it, so called our adult children to come and we all went together. At the Veterinarian office, the Doctor felt she may have had a stroke, and said we could do expensive tests or make the decision as she was not right at all. We made the decision and we all held her close as she peacefully slipped away.
It was the hard. But we felt it was best for Sasha. Her breed combination usually survives 10 years at most (perinese/husky) and she had 12.5 great years with us. In the last couple of years we used senior dog aids to help get in and out of cars and up the stairs, her tail was always wagging and she seemed to appreciate the help. In the last few months, her walks were just down the street and she just loved to go for car rides without getting out for a walk. But her tail still wagged and her eyes shone which was always our indicator.
That last day on earth for Sasha her tail did not wag. As much as I wanted her still with us, I felt it was selfish to put her through tests and have the same outcome. Also, as much as I wanted her to live, we couldn't afford expensive tests, and we had to be realistic.
I found it hard the next few days, as in my brain I knew she was gone, but in my heart she was still here, and I looked for her everywhere from habit. I work from home so I was with her everyday. She was always on our couch, and she had her favourite spots and on her bed.
I found it hard to watch the snow melt erasing her footprints (she loved the snow). It was like she was being erased from our life. I didn't want that so I made a special frame with her baby pictures and her at her best at a local park, and her tag. So now I can see her everyday on my wall.
Saying goodbye to a dog is hard, but sometimes you have to make that decision from love to help them move on and be free of pain.
It does take a while for your heart to stop looking for those familiar sounds, so don't think you are going crazy. Grief affects us all in different ways. I needed to pack up her things right away, but others may like to see them for a bit longer. Just follow what feels best for you. This is real grief and must be dealt with on your own terms.
I am really happy we made some changes and purchased some senior dog aids, because she may not have made it to this age otherwise or would have been in pain from sore joints or very isolated in the house all the time. We included her in everything up to the last day. I feel good for that because her tail was always wagging and she was a part of the family.
I found it comforting to look through the albums and make this frame. It is a happy picture and I will cherish it always.
Create a Family Memorial
I found making this frame very soothing, but we are also going to plant a shrub in her name in the spring. What I found helped with the loss of a pet was creating ways so that they will not be forgotten, such as a plant dedicated for them in your garden, or a frame as I did above, or anything to celebrate their life with you. Saying goodbye to a dog or any pet needs to be addressed. You need time to grieve and time to celebrate their life with you. Your life is better for having known them right? That is what I concentrate on. We gave Sasha a wonderful long and happy life, and in return she loved us unconditionally and that is what I remember.
If you do not wish to find your own frame and would prefer to get something online, there are many kits I have found after the fact. I never thought at the time to get her paw print... now I wish I had done. When I saw this kit I thought it was very fitting for a beloved doggy.
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