Friday, July 15, 2011

How Do You Say Goodbye

to one of your best friends. To one who has been so faithful for his short life. Short for us, anyway.


I wrote in a previous post that our dog, Gruff, is dying. He has been in kidney failure for the last few months, at least.

We took him in for a routine dental cleaning, and found out about the kidney failure. His lab work at that time was in the "low" range. Meaning he was still in pretty good shape.

We changed his diet. He had to start eating some nasty "special" (aka: really fucking expensive) dog food. He would only eat the dry dog food if we put in the wet dog food too. Unbelievably, the canned dog food is over 2 bucks a can!!

Not the point. Money doesn't matter when you're trying to give a loved one the best quality of life during the rest of their limited time.


The 2nd time we brought him in to check labs, about a month later, one number went up, the other went down slightly. The number that went up brought him into the moderate range of kidney failure.

So we had to start giving him IV fluids under the scruff of his neck twice a week. Not as hard as it sounds, other than it sucked to have to poke that needle in knowing it had to hurt. And sometimes he had to be poked 3 or 4 times to get the required amount of fluid in.

One month later. His labs are now in the moderate-high range for both numbers.

So futile to do everything you're supposed to and the numbers just get worse and worse. And fast.

They just told us to prepare to say good-bye.

We have watched Gruff get progressively worse. Sometimes we were even able to see a huge decline day to day.

But he was still doing okay. Eating. Drinking. Every once in a while he would even get enough sprite to chase around our little Chihuahua/Jack Russell puppy around the back yard. Her name is Hua Hua (aka: The Rat).

But now. Now he won't even greet my husband when he gets home from work. He would always be waiting at the door. He would wait for Mike to come inside, then gently jump up and place his paws on Mike's shoulders. His way of giving a hug. I'm jealous to say that Gruff had a special bond with Mike. Not with me.


He hasn't even gotten off the bed in the last week and a half to two weeks to even stroll to the door to say hello when Mike got home from work.

Today Gruff started doing this tongue thing. He looked like Yoshi. Funny and freaky, all in one. We noticed he couldn't keep his mouth shut. Or even close his mouth to grab a piece of Mike's hot dog bun (apparently in our house, bread is a special delicacy for our dogs, only surpassed by a tasty tidbit of shit from the backyard).

He was able to eat some of his dinner, but can hardly drink water. Rather than try to syringe feed him water, for fear of choking him or having the water accidentally aspirate into his lungs, I gave him an extra IV tonight. He was so thirsty, but just couldn't get his damn tongue to lap up the water. And what little water did make it into his mouth wouldn't stay because he can't shut his mouth.

I did call our vet. Over the phone he said it sounded like it was a condition commonly referred to as "drop jaw." Doing some research, it looks like this can occur out of the blue, because of neurological problems, or trauma. I'm sure it has something to do with his kidney failure. It also looks like it can go away within a few days, weeks, or months.

This would be comforting news. Except. With what he is going through anyway, already looking emaciated and low on energy. And just dying from the toxins that aren't being flushed from his body by his kidneys.

Is it fair to keep him alive? Has he surpassed the stage of having any "quality of life?"

I think he has.


As much as it pains me, I think we will have to help our loyal friend cross over.


I don't know how I'm going to be able to do it.


What I know for sure, is that right now, I can barely breath.



Lin said...

You will know when it is time. Gruff will tell you in his own way and a little angel will whisper in your ear. And when you hear it, you'll know, you'll just know that you are doing Gruff what he deserves--a painless ending.

And while your heart is breaking, just know that you ended his pain and suffering, and you were with him--instead of him dying alone when you weren't home or something.

When you take in an animal, you know that you are there for him in every way, including death. We owe that to them in the end--dignity, love, peace.

Gruff isn't happy this way either. They feel vulnerable being so sick and they don't like all the pills and treatments it takes to stay alive.

You'll know, pally. You'll just know when it is time.

And it's the worst decision and the best decision that you'll ever have to make. My heart breaks for you and your family. Know that you are all in my prayers. Sending love and hugs--and lots of 'em.

Grace said...

Lin summed it up so beautifully - We owe them a loving and peaceful crossing...

Olah Momma! said...

Sorry about what happened - just cherished those sweet moments when he was around.

Following your lovely blog. You may also visit Olah Momma! (, or add your website and deals (coupons/giveaways), and meet more moms at Momma's Lounge (

VetTech said...

As a vet tech, I have had to help owners and their fur companions with situations similar to yours...all I can say is when you know that there is nothing else to be done, and that keeping them going would be more for you then them... it's time to ease their suffering and help them go. Take comfort that the decision is a loving unselfish one. It's a way to thank your pet for all they have given you. When you are ready and not a minute before, pay it forward and offer your home and love to another pet who needs a home. Wishing you the courage and support to do what has to be done.

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