Living with an Actively Dying Dog

Death, a conversation about it, the word itself, or a thought, use to be hard for me, really hard. I use to call it my life’s lesson, to understand that in death there is completion in the circle of life. It is the finality of it, death is not a side effect, it cannot be changed, it cannot be altered, it is out of my hands. That was hard for me. But over the years, and since we have had our farm, I think that it has become of part of my experience, especially since having a farm. Is it easy saying goodbye? No, not for me, but just like birth, death is not easy, it is complicated in a way that I have no words for. And as I have already said, it is a finality.

My dogs were so important to me, they held a deep place in my heart that very few ever get to enter. We knew each other so intimately, intensely, and lovingly.

Being a part of another beings death is in fact being a witness to their life. And I am learning.

For me, with my dogs, I was there with them until the end, the very end, to be part of their remaining life, and be with them as they entered death. I sit and write this with a semblance of composure, but in those moments, it took every ounce of courage I had to hold myself together. A powerful place to be, a humbling place to be.

So I breathed in and out, and found that courage to support my dogs, honor their life on their terms, give them the comfort that they needed, and to be there spiritually, emotionally, and physically for them. To be present and whole for them, with no other intention.

I have been asked to describe my experiences with my dogs while they were actively dying. There are some good articles out there, please make sure to google them. These were my experiences, not to be judged as good or bad, but what it is like to support an actively dying dog. This is detailed so if death bothers you, or you are not in a good place, I wouldn’t suggest reading any further. This is for those that want to know what it was like for us, for either their own knowledge, or to share with those that might need it.

Dogs go through stages just like we do, developmental stages. From birth, to puppy, to scampy adolescent, growing into a young adult, a full adult, and then senior before you know it, slipping into geriatric, then the hospice stage, and then actively dying and onto death. The complete circle. A soul.



HOSPICE MONTHS – When my dogs entered their hospice months our house became more gentle, more caring, and more attentive. Help was needed when negotiating stairs, and sometimes just getting up from the cushions. There were short walks out and about in our neighborhood, but mostly just to go and sniff and pee on everything.

Extra massages for achy joints, extra time spent basking in the sun, and extra time preparing food that was nourishing but also agreed with their aging system.

We started to change their raw diets to home cooked meals more and more as it seemed ‘warmer’ foods were easier on their system. We also gave them Herbal Aspirin and Inflapotion to help with joint comfort, and a better more restorative sleep. My Gran Dames were never wanting.

We were also attentive to keeping them mentally stimulated. Short sessions of find it games in the yard, some of our treibball games of walk ons and waits, easier tricks, fetch where they could walk on, and time amoungst The Boyz, Story and $eeker.

It is not uncommon for an older dog to throw up a meal or have diarrhea every now and again. More common and more often than when they are younger, but nothing to be alarmed about, just yet.

ACTIVELY DYING – Then one day you notice that your dog didn’t throw up just once this week, but rather most days. And then you notice they are either drinking a ton of water, or not at all. And then you notice that their hind end is super wobbly or they cannot get up at all. And then you look into their eyes, and life’s story about death is right in front of you.

FRANNY started to actively die about two days before her death. She started to slow down, she refused food, drank a bit, but wanted to be very close to us where ever we were in the house. She became quiet, wanted our hands on her at all times, and was slowly and gracefully letting go. I didn’t go to work those last couple of days.

The night before she died my kids had a scary movie night for Halloween with all of their friends. Franny had known these kids since they were 2-3 years old and now they were big full on teenagers. So we carried her into the room were they were, and she sauntered through the group of about fifteen, wagging her tail slowly, and visited with each person. None of them knew she was dying, I didn’t tell them, and it made it even more special to watch each one of them get on the ground to say hello as they always had, hug her, and ask her how her day was going. There was so much love all I could do was watch. Franny laid down in the middle of this group and watched the movie with them as she had done for over a decade. These were her peeps!

The next day she was short of breath, and had a hard time laying down. We built her a slanted platform so she could rest on an incline, and this gave her comfort.

Towards the end of the day and into the night she was relatively comfortable as long as we were close by.

And then she threw her head up, and started looking desperately around the room for us. I was only inches away, but her eyes were longingly looking into a distance that was far beyond me. I put my hands on her face, and my nose on her nose, but she was panicking and looking through me. She couldn’t find me even though I was there.

Her panting started and became labored. We couldn’t reach her veterinary so we drove to the Emergency Veterinary. As they prepared to give her the injection to help her pass, she died in that moment, on her bed, with all of our hands on her.

We drove home, and placed her under the moon, on a cold October night, in her favorite place in the garden. The next day my husband took her to be cremated.

I wish she would not have been in so much pain in the end, but it was short, no more than ten minutes. I was there to honor and witness a life lived fully and without apology. She was a bold and intense dog, and made me the trainer I am today. I miss her each day, it just comes up in different ways.

OCEAN started to actively die about one week before her death. She was such a strong willed dog, that even as she stopped eating, and was becoming weaker with very little control over her hind end, nothing stopped her from playing with The Boyz in the yard or playing fetch.

Ocean’s veterinarian came over and took a look at her in the afternoon. Ocean could no longer stand or move her back end, she had stopped drinking and eating the night before, and was panting from pain intermittently. Her Veterinarian said her heart was still beating like an Olympic athlete, and that she truly believed Ocean wanted to be in control of her own death. She has known Ocean for ten years, and knew her well. She was fully aware of how strong willed Ocean was, and how she didn’t like being messed with.

Ocean did receive an injection for pain and an anti inflammatory. Neither contained a sedative.

For the better part of the day Oceans eyes were bright and full of life even though her body was beginning to shut down. She was on a pillow on the deck in the sunshine on a warm February day. She would gaze out, watch the Boyz play ball, look at birds, and then rest a bit. She did this throughout most of the day.

As the air began to cool, we moved her inside on her bed, in the family room. She seemed to become super agitated as the evening went on and couldn’t get into a comfortable position. This is when the look in her eyes changed. They became distant, dull, and longing. She was still very much awake and aware. It seems like when this happens, a dog is focusing on their own death, their own transition, there own end.

As she became weaker her tongue would fall out of the side of her mouth, and what caught us by surprise was the colour. It was turning a deep blue purple colour from the lack of oxygen, as her body was slowly shutting down. She would then take a breath and have control of her tongue again, and this continued until the end. We also noticed that she smelled different. Her personal scent was always sweet and intoxicating. You could bury your nose in her fur and get lost there she smelled so good. As she was close to death her body went from her normal sweet scent to a deep earth scent.

We gave her some space and this helped. The kids went to bed, Spore slept on the sofa in the same room, and I went into another room. Story went up and smelled Ocean and walked away, $eeker wouldn’t go near her. I’ve always heard that it is hard for a person to die if their loved ones are close by but I have never experienced that until Ocean’s death. As we moved away and gave her space, she settled in better and found a comfortable position. She would pant a bit here and there from what I gather as discomfort or pain. She would lift her head a bit, and then find a comfortable position again.

At 2am my husband came and got me and said that he woke up, she was looking at him, took a deep breath and then died. She died in the very space she spent her first night in our house twelve and half years ago. She had so many concerns in her life and at the same time so much talent. She was brilliant, and she was tender. She was my conundrum. And I loved her to the moon and back. We were there to support her death on her terms, and I am glad that I could do this one last thing for her.

Ocean was also laid out under the moon light, and the next morning as we took her to be cremated it started to rain, her favorite weather for just about everything, a good sign.

STORY – Story was honest and true his entire life, he never complained about anything, and this was him until the day he died. He was our first truly naturally reared dog. He was born, he lived a very full life, and he died of old age, not disease. He laid down on his pillow and slept on and off, peacefully, for not quite two days in the family room where we all were over the holidays, and died peacefully in his sleep. There was no longing or panic or pain. It was a life fully lived that naturally let go.

$EEKER – $eeker was our second naturally reared dog and died on his own terms much like Story. He was doing chores in the morning, and then went to lay on his pillow in the family room under the Christmas tree. He was peacefully sleeping all day, and when my husband came home he wagged his tail but couldn’t get up. My husband laid next to him and they both fell asleep together. He gently died during the night next to my husband, a natural death of old age, not disease.

SOMETHING TO CONSIDER – There are many ways to die, and many ways to help your dog die. It is something to consider as your dog begins to age. What you want to do for them. It is between you and your dog, and this is where you need to find that courage to trust what is best. It is not for others to judge you, because it is about the final parting words, the last chapter, the last good bye between you and your dog. And that is all that counts.

With Love, Nancy

182 Comments Add yours

  1. Samaara says:

    Other than crying my eyes out….great article. My little kangaroo rides shotgun in my car. There are never appropriate words for this. I did not know about Ocean. I am so sorry. All my best!

    Samaara Robbins, CMT, CMLDTBreast Cancer Rehabilitation TherapistServing Truckee & North Tahoe(970) 333-0433

    1. Mary says:

      I cried my eyes when I read your articles. I have been crying for 2 weeks. This is the last week I will have with my Lucky Girl. She has been a loyal and fateful companion. Actually she was more my husbands dog. After my husband passed. She and I become much closer giving each other comfort. Now she is old and sick. Have taken her to the vet, at first we thought it was just a bladder infection. But it was much worse. She started showing around Thanksgiving and has just went downhill ever since. Now she is so lethargic, sometimes eats and sometimes doesn’t. Drinking excessive amounts of water. Sometimes she is so weak she cant get up. I have chosen to have her put euthanized on Friday. I have devoted this last week to be with her and conform and love her as much as I can. I cannot stand for her to go through anymore. She looks up at me with her sad big brown eyes as if to say mom please help me. Her eyes have been watering it may be tears. Do dogs cry? I will miss my companion so much so much. She would be 13 in July. I will always have a place in my heart for my Lucky girl. Thank you for sharing your stories.

      1. Wini says:

        I’m so sorry to hear about your Lucky Girl, I know exactly how you feel. Our stories are so similar, we lost our Quik one week ago today, he was a beautiful pit bull with lovingly large brown eyes. He was almost 13 years old, and he was the center of attention in our home. He was such a very healthy active little fella. He gave so much love to everyone around him and we was lucky to have him in our life for so long. He was diagnosed with a bladder infection, then anemia, then an upper respiratory infection, only to find out he had cancer, an enlarged liver and spleen, and the tumor had moved into his lungs. His breathing had worsened, he would walk every other day, he had stopped eating other than every other day or so, and he was so distressed. We made him so comfortable and loved on him so much before we knew he had cancer. The Saturday things were so bad, we knew it was time so we took Quik in to the vet’s office and made the decision to take him out of his pain and misery. We were devastated and heart broken but even til the that little loving fella was still trying to give kisses and be strong even in all his pain. He will always be missed and loved.

      2. Pandora says:

        Sadly, I am another who is in your shoes. My sweet little baby had been sick for a year and I just lost him two days ago. I still look for him, reach for him, listen for him- I am beside myself with grief and hurt; but I try to convince myself that he is no longer suffering! He was a sweet little thing and was my companion and shadow to the end; and was such a good dog. I am so very fortunate to have been able to take him on an overnight road trip a month ago where he was able to let the wind blow in his face as he stuck his head out the window one last time. May he and all the others we have lost and will lose be received in loving arms 🐶🙏❤️

    2. Chris Moody says:

      Very touching article, My 11 year old female great pyrenees named Snow is slowly dying. We have had several pets go through life, some die naturally, others needing to be put down. it is always hard, but the way it is for everything. Thanks for the encouraging words. GOD bless you.

      1. My name is Victoria, I live in Salem Oregon. My heart and soul goes out to all of you who have lost your beloved pets. My baby’s name is Gucci. He’s part poodle and part Maltese (maltipoo) . I have had him since he was 6 months old. He is turning 16yrs. I don’t have the money to take him to a vet. I barely have money for rent. I don’t have a car so I walk to work. But when it comes to my little Gucci, I make him fresh chicken and his treats, I soak in water until soft then crush in small pieces. Same with the fresh chicken, I cut it down in small pieces. I’m 59 yrs old with heart problems and high blood pressure and diabetes.. My little Gucci has to wear a diapers so I buy the cheap ones, toddler size from Walmart and make a small hole in back for his tail. I buy the prostate pads for men and use them for Gucci with a wrap. He has poo and pee accidents. He’s lost most of his teeth. His left is is all gone due to severe eye infection and glaucoma. Around his eye its red and swollen . It gets full of black crust and pus. My love for him is immense. I clean his eye constantly and change his diapers. Lately he’s grown extremely attached to me. He wants to be wherever I go. Even to the restroom. He wants to be close to me. In bed he has to be touching me, he wants make sure I dont go anywhere. At night he pants and digs and digs in the covers and it sounds like he’s out of air. And theirs times I catch him just staring at me, and I wonder what he’s thinking. My heart breaks when I have to go to work. He Cry’s. I hold his face tenderly and say ” don’t worry Gucci, mommy will be back soon. Now he has like a whooping cough that doesn’t go away. I can’t afford a vet so I try my best to trim his hair, and more around his infected eye. When you love someone so much , you clean and care for them with so much love. The day he leaves me I want to have him cremated so he can always be by my side. But i can’t even afford that. My sister tells me ” its time to put him to sleep” . I tell her ” how can I kill someone who adores me so much, I just can’t I just can’t. But at the same time I don’t want him to choke on his cough or suffer when the time comes. People tell me its a miracle he’s lasted this long. They tell me its time to let him go… I wish I had a car to take him on rides. Before my car broke down he used to love to put his face out and feel the wind and lay on my lap while I was driving. I can’t picture my life without my little Gucci. Our pets are like our children. Their love is priceless. I pray to god with all my heart, when the time comes, I don’t want Gucci to suffer. Please give me advice, tell me what I should do. I’ve had 2 heart attacks in 2005. I feel like my heart will shatter in small pieces when he goes. I don’t know what to do….please advice me.


      2. Nancy Tanner says:

        while I cannot give you advice on what to do, I can tell you that Banfield Veterinary care at most Petsmarts does have a grant that allows them to offer free veterinary care for those in need – I think you and your dog might just be those in need most right now. Nancy

    3. Kayla says:

      Thanks Nancy you helped me a lot and I’m sorry for what you went through

    4. terlynruth says:

      Nancy thank you so much for sharing your heart.We are going through this but our husky his only 6 1/2 years old and he has a tumor causing his right nostril going into his cranium and into his brain. He seems so normal except for his breathing and stuff at night but when he gets up in the morning he wants to go walk with my husband and walks with such bunk it’s hard to believe he has anything wrong with him. Our hearts are broken. We’re trying really hard to process this and to do the right thing for him. Some would sayPut him down. But we just don’t have the heart yet because he has some activity in him. I think he wants to live. We won’t let him sell for, but his breathing harshly suffering he finally at night settles down but it takes a little while. May the mama, here’s every breath and every little whimper. Although he’s not crying or painWe are giving him something for inflammation and a new product called life gold which is amazing made of herbs. And then hemp at night for him to rest. He is the rockstar Gatlinburg when we were walking down the road everyone yells because he so beautiful. Will miss this incredible gentle giant. He’s of the large breed of huskies and looks a lot like a Mal. But we did his DNA and they said 100 percent Siberian husky but they did say on the Large side

      1. terlynruth says:

        I made several mistakes because of Siri I hope you guys can read what I wrote. I’m so proud of you Nancy for sharing your heart thanks so much it helps. They tell me I’ll know when it’s time because he’ll tell me. The wait is hard.They told us it would be about two weeks and it’s been five so far. We did have a little Christmas together due to my husband’s mom in intensive care. But life is like this and I stay with Oakley constantly. God less you! Terri

    5. Ashley says:

      Thank you Nancy for sharing this. It has helped me to better understand what took place as my dog was dying. She passed on Dec. 29, 2017. She went through all of the stages that you discussed. However, my husband and I were unaware of what all aimed this meant. Your article really helped me to find peace with the decision we made to put her asleep at the vet. Thank you so much!

    6. Monica l says:

      Thank you for sharing. I am
      A wreck right now my 17 year old chihuacha cairn terrier bella is dying. She stopped eating. Moving , looking for us. I am keeping her comfortable . I tried everything. Hospitalization , medications , the vet said she is old and is dying. She has many issues but she is sleeping, but she just lie there. I am heartbroken beyond dealing with the decision to help her pass with the vet or keep her like this breaks my heart.
      Thanks for sharing. This is so hard. God bless you.

    7. Elena Martha Britt says:

      Very nice story
      For us we too have a dog she been with us for 12 years and she has a heart murmur and is losing weight she sleep alot more drinks but doesn’t eat much. Im just lost on what to do for her. And our cat just wont leave her alone to sleep…..

  2. seibertmj says:

    Thank you. This is so lovely written.

    1. Lori says:

      Thank you very much sharing your story. It truly assisted me.

  3. Lesley Mack says:

    Lovely heartfelt article

  4. mtwaggin says:

    You have no idea how timely this is for us. Teary eyed and totally understand all those emotions. I’ve gone through them too many times but you really are helping me get perspective with the 3 I have right now that are approaching their end of life times. I’ve always said though – they will tell you and mine always have. Most I have helped pass but not until I saw in their eyes that they were ‘done’. Bless your heart for writing this – I can imagine how difficult it was.

  5. So very personal and special, thank you for sharing.

  6. Beautiful, beautiful post. Thank you

  7. CONNIE B says:

    Having lost my two girls within months of each other, this story was especially powerful for me. Thank you for your beautiful story.

  8. Heidi Finerty says:

    I am sorry for your losses, but greatful for the post. My furbaby Reaper is in late stage kidney failure and your story is a very big help. I wondered how I would know when it is his time and you have given me great relief by now knowing what to watch for. I know every dog is different but I’m sure he will display similar signs. Thank you for sharing and helping. Heidi

  9. Wonderful post. I was there for two of my cats as they made their transition. The end is not less beautiful than the beginning, it is just different. It was my honor to be with my friends when they left this world, and I can tell from your writing, it was your honor for your friends as well. I am still dealing with the depression part of the loss of my Smokey, as he was my best friend. It was a hard loss, but a most amazing end. I wrote a little bit about his end already, and still have another post to bring forward about it. I am almost ready to write it.

  10. sharon says:

    Thank you. I have 2 elderly dogs that have entered hospice and do not have much longer with us. You have made me feel less alone.

  11. Elizabeth Long says:

    I too lost my oldest dog one month ago and did all the same things and went thru all the same things with mine. They will let you know when it is time to let them go. Still breaks my heart but he is so much better off now than he was. He had heart disease and was unable to take the heart meds. So the vet gave me the choice of quality or length of life. We took the quality of life–got 8 more days with my boy. Hand fed him and bought the food he liked the best. Still sad but I know that all was done that could possibility be done for him.

  12. Sandra says:

    I’ve had many dogs in my life and experienced this painful part of what life is about but never have I seen it expressed so eloquently. Part of loving anyone or anything is knowing at some point you will have to say goodbye. You’ve shown how difficult that is but also how loving it can be when you let your special one tell you how to let go. May you be blessed with the wonderful memories those who have passed have given you and the joys of many more to come. Dogs are loving sensitive creatures who deserve to be loved as you have done. From one old soul who has lost special dogs as well, bless you.

  13. Olwen Turns says:

    beautiful and heart rending. I’ve been through similar, the pet letting me know it was time to go and giving help or just being there for them.

  14. Thank you for this. I’m dealing with a 22-year-old cat at the moment, a feisty old lady who is not one who wants to be “messed with.” I will have to decide, when the time comes, how to honor that. Your post has given me strength and comfort.

  15. Wendy A says:

    Thank you Nancy Tanner, thank you. I am in Hospice stage right now, with more than a year and half of lucky extra time, of good quality life. This week – hospice feel. Your article is very helpful. I promised this dog I would see her through to the end as she had stressful changes in her first two years. I will hold myself together to keep that promise.

  16. Amy Gray says:

    Thank you for sharing. My 13 year old, jasmine is in her final days. She can no longer walk, but I keep her as comfortable as I possibly can. Everyone keeps telling me to have her put down, but I can’t bear to do it. Its easy for people to say that when they have never been through it themselves. I have decided to keep my baby girl home and comfy and if it means a few more sleepless nights to sit with her and pet her. Then so be it. She’s not eating much or drinking much and occasionally cries for me to sit with her. My sweet little jazzy Moe. I will be here with her till the very end…

    1. Allison says:

      Thank you. I’m just heartbroken.
      Our sweet girl is passing slowly. It’s devastating to say goodbye. She stopped eating and drinking 2 days ago. Can’t keep herself up with her legs collapsing under her. I just carry her everywhere.
      We spent all of yesterday outside as my backyard is her favorite place in all the world. When it began to rain my husband stood over us with an umbrella. I cuddle her little body in bed to keep her warm and she sleeps. I so wish there was something to keep her here. She is so loved by so many 💔 I feel better reading your article because I am letting nature take its course because Sugar isn’t in pain she’s just sleeping now. Thank you.

  17. Audrey munro says:

    This is such a lovely story I myself am in this situation my boy who is 14 and has liver failure is close to death I pray the lord will take him peacefully in his sleep vhe sleep all the time his heart also beats like an athelete but your story of ocean is simular i dont know what on ill do when my baby goes its personal to me how ive handled this he does know hes going nit as you said its as if he doesnt want to leave me as much as i dont want him to die thankyou for your story it made me see i have made yhe right decision for bentley

  18. mo says:

    Thank you for sharing this; it means a lot to me. December 2015 we adopted a rescue dog (my very first dog!). He is a lab and great pyrnees mix – so gentle and kind. We found out on Saturday that he has bladder cancer with no cure. We are making him as comfortable as we can; I loved the part of your article how the home becomes more caring and slower. This is so true. Thank you again for writing.

  19. Mark says:

    Beautiful story. I appreciate your perspective. Just last night our 19yr old Terrier mix began her process, and passed fairly quickly. People thought we were unkind to keep her so long. But she was in no pain, loved being with us and we didn’t feel right, it wasn’t her time and we wanted her to go on her own, naturally.

    We had never experienced this before at all, and I am proud that we did what we did…Your story confirms this was correct for us, and our Maggie.

    We noticed a few days prior she slept most of the day and night, and wasn’t eating much. One night she seemed to have some twitching while sleeping, afterward, she never really was fully consious. By the time we brought her to the Vet to help her pass, she was just about gone.

    Thanks for sharing. She brought almost 20yrs of joy to your family, and we to her

  20. Sharon Phillips says:

    I feeling lost for words, for my dog Littlebear. I had my sweet, subborn dog for 13 years this year. He would bark for his special treats when he came in the house. He enjoyed the outside, barking at squirrels, and people walking by. Then he started having join pain in the hind legs. He was determined to get through that. Three days ago, he was having a hard time walking, flopping on the ground. I stooped him up and recognized he was giving up. This was heartbreaking. I was praying to the Lord, take away his pain and take him to heaven. I know that everything has a season, including animals. The bible says so. There is season to born and a season go die. This is a cycle of life. The sooner we accept this, the more easier the transitional process.

    1. Nancy Bogard says:

      Thank you for what you said. Your words mean the most to me right now as my tiny Empress Posey; a Ch. Japanese Chin is fading fast. My Mother loved her so, and my only darling dog that knew her.
      Posey is a rare Chin having unique amber/white coat with black tipping. She is breathtakingly gorgeous, all 4.9 pounds of her. I found this finished champion after six months of searching, and had opportunity to buy her when she was retired at 2 yrs. She’s more like a cat than a dog which is breed appropriate. I’m struggling to accept her life change as my only brother died 7 months ago. I pray God gives me the strength to help her get to amazing grace

  21. Connie says:

    Hi My dog of 13yrs recently passed away almost a week ago.. He died from ear infection that were not able to heal anymore. From November- March we give hin antibiotic and pain killers. Last March 5 he started to ignore his fave chicken and he started to get weak. So we took him to the vet and he had IV and meds for immune system and such.. My mom told us that she thinks our dog is about to die.. But then i was like you I said No! Yesterday he was fine and then now he’s weak (T_T) then he started to look for us everytime.. Then the day he died he had siezures.. We took him again to the vet. While we were waiting for his vet I was beside him talking with my sis then I saw him looking at me. He was moving his head towards me and he stared at me for awhile 😭😭 I just talked to him though we think that he can’t hear us anymore.. The night before he died is very different there was like something in my mind and heart that told me to not to sleep and be beside him. I really don’t know why. Then the next day my sis called me since he had another seizure we stayed again beside him and after more than an hour he started to lightly stretch is legs on the back.. I was taking a video of him then suddenly he had this long stretch then I noticed his chest and ribs to be smaller. That’s when I knew something wasn’t right.. Me and my sis paused for like awhile. We were staring at his body. Then we checked if he is still breathing.. I tried to revive him but noo ^😭😭 we cried so hard. It’s really hard to see him like that😭 i am sorry that I wrote a long message here. But I think we had the same situation 😭😭 how are you now?

    1. Sheryl says:

      It is helping me reading all your stories about your fur babies passing. My 13 year old Olde English Sheepdog passed away at home. I am absolutely devastated and heartbroken! She was starting to show signs of her nearing dying. Her last day was not good. Two days before she stopped eating and drinking, and her hind legs were giving out. The night of June 6th she started breathing very fast and heavy.. I felt the bridge of her nose and under her chin was cold. I felt the time was near. That night I hugged her, caressed her, talked to her, laid beside her on her bed (her bed was right next to my side of my bed). It was getting late, so I got in my bed to go to sleep..Somewhere between 11pm and 3am she passed. I wish I would have laid with her on her bed through her last hours. I feel so guilty that she was lying on her bed by herself in her last hours of her life even though I was beside her in my bed.. But I didn’t think she was going to die that night. I truly regret it and I will never forgive myself for that.. Every minute of the day I think about that and cry! This is one of the saddest times of my life.

      1. Nancy Tanner says:

        sometimes you have to give space in order for a loved one to feel okay about letting go. You may have allowed her to do that. I know it is hard, but always remember that it was part of her journey. ❤

  22. Beverly Jackson says:

    Beautifully written story. I am going to pick up my pen and write about our family pet, Homer, as lovely a description and lovingly as I can because you inspired me to see dying in a fresh perspective. A Soul. Seeing their life and marveling about their life. Ty

  23. Chris Mott says:

    I am sitting here now with my 12 year old German Shepherd, Gabriel. You article lovingly explains so many things that have been happening during the past week. I now know that Gabriel’s earthly life is coming to a close. I can’t believe that my usually wonderful vet did not explain this to me. I love my furry boy so much. I can’t imagine life without him. However, I will do everything I can to make his transition as easy, comfortable and painless as possible. I KNOW if he could, my Gabriel would do the very same for me. My heart goes out to each and every one of you who has lost/is losing a furry member of their families. Nancy, I can’t thank you enough.

  24. Tyrone Scott says:

    I have a miniature schnauzer named Pee-wee just about 11 years old I took him to the vet to have blood work done and find that his red blood cells are not producing he has a lump on the inside of neck also he has lost a lot of weight and the vet tells me he has something on his liver also he has a kidney stone I must admit I never saw this coming this is the first time I’m going through this waiting for him to die basically this is so very hard on me I have not been eating right or sleeping right God knows I never thought I would be in this position I just don’t know what to do right now I know I have no control over what’s going on I am totally helpless I’m just hoping when he died he just died peacefully I basically bought him when he was a very very little small puppies and now it’s time to say goodbye this is the hardest part for me but I know I must let him go because this is how God designed things to be I’ll always have good memories of him . Right now and I just pray God for the strength to make it through this to his end and I will be with him until his end. May 13th 11 p.m. 2016

  25. Michelle Carter says:

    Thank you for your post. I have a 15 year old rescue pit bull “Kiyah”. I have had her for the past 7 years. She has been going downhill slowly, random growths, picky eating, but this week has gotten pretty bad. She lost her barker, is very wobbly, is urinating (in her sleep I think), and forgets she had a treat 10 minutes ago. But i wouldnt put it past her to be smart enough to think she gets another one. I am devastated, as this is my first dog that has made it to the point of old age. She is going to the vet this morning to see if there are any meds to help, as I refuse to let her suffer….but I’m not ready yet. If she is not in any pain she will stay here until the time comes. She lived a hard (horrible breeder life) and I can only hope I made her happy. Please pray for my pups Kiyah……prayers for me won’t be needed until I have to do the unthinkable. I am just glad that I was able to save her from the beginning and give her a “new beginning”. I will update as I know. Thanks for listening. Sometimes it’s easier to find someone to relate to online than in real life.

  26. Anh Nguyen says:

    2:35AM 21st June 2016

    I’m now laying on the floor with my 15 years old dog. He is the first dog that I raised by myself, when he was just a little puppy. 15 years have gone so fast. He has been with me in every happiness, sadness, special occassions in my life. When I come home, I always start looking at the stairs first because I know he always sit there wagging his tail waiting for me. But now everything has changed. The last 2 years were really tough to him. He hardly walking on stairs, slow actions…I were crying a lot every single time he got sick. But this time…I think his end is coming really close.

    He is now breathing really fast – just like usual. Drinking but refuses to eat anything. Only one day go by and I think I must cried about 10 times. It’s just really heartbreaking when seeing my baby like this. He’s still awake but I think only few more days…please keep me & Misa ( his name) in your prayers. Please pray for him finish his life in a peaceful way with his lovers beside. Please pray for me and my Mom can have a strength to let him go!
    After he go, I’ll come back here. Really thankful when I’m stressing out, I found this blog to write down my own feelings.
    So very grateful!

    1. Anh Nguyen says:

      3:50AM 1/11/2016

      He’s gone. No words can describe my pain right now.

      Farewell my baby, my son, my friend, my childhood, my family.

      Farewell Misa!

      1. Nancy Tanner says:

        Peace and love to you … It hurts, this I know. Be kind to yourself and allow this all to happen ❤

    2. Traci Reason says:

      Your article, though three years old, is timeless. I’m on day five of my sweet Rascal’s journey home. He’s a twelve year old Chihuahua suffering from congestive heart failure. I have known this was coming for about three months. It’s been an agonizingly slow process, but I was determined from the start to let him go naturally, unless he was in some kind of excruciating pain, which mercifully, he has not been. The unconditional perfection of his love will remain with me all the days of my life and beyond. Thank you for sharing, Nancy. You have given those of us drowning in our own tears and desperate for answers, a lifeline.

  27. Yumi says:

    The first time I saw my Kody was when I was working at a boarding kennel that also housed rescues for a local rescue group and watched a tangled mess of labs come up the path. I laughed and knew I had to take him home with me. He had been abandoned by his owner, was full of fleas, ticks and had heart worms. We cleaned him up, got him through treatment, neutered and he came home. Such a sweet boy there ever was. Never in a bad mood and so very patient. Always followed us around. Loved his stuffed duck, which later became a pheasant because we could never find another duck. He would parade it around proudly. He came to us before we had kids. He would run with me to and from work or sit shotgun for those rainy days. When we had babies, he was so accepting. As they grew older, they would dress him up and eventually he would seek me out to help him lol. He would eagerly await the kids to come down stairs every morning. Movie nights found us eating popcorn and some would make it into his belly. How he loved to eat popcorn and would make the cutest face so that you would give him more. He loved going to the beach and down to the river. Most mornings, I would go toss his pheasant and he would fetch it and then promptly gator (rub up against the couch or roll around on the floor with a big open mouth)when we came back in. He also was there to comfort us when we unexpectedly lost our 10yo dachshund. And now, it is his time. He is 15ish and it seemed to come out of nowhere. It started a few days ago. Last night was the first time he could not make it up the stairs. So we all slept downstairs and will do so until that moment comes. It is so hard to watch someone who had such a zest for life take a turn and slowly melt away. How I will miss tripping over him, his gator-dogging, his pheasant fetching, even his annoying bark to let him in after I just let him out. And that popcorn face. How he will be missed. Oh my how he will be missed.

  28. Marlene Szep says:

    Our baby girl, Daisy, is only 10 and a half. She is in the end stages of kidney failure. She spent 4 days in the emergency veterinary hospital. While there we fout d out that she has a tumor on her liver and a bad gallbladder. She is currently being treated, at home, by myself and my husband. The past 2 days eaten little to nothing and has been sleeping so much. My, our hearts, are breaking in to a million pieces. We are spending so much quality time with her, while beating ourselves up over not taking her on enough walks, not taking her enough places, not doing enough. We are doing everything we can, while loving her like crazy, and thanking God for every second, minute, hour, day that we have been given with her thus far. I feel like I might die without her, and so does my husband. We will keep brave faces for her sake, and take this one second at a time. Your losses are so deeply felt by us all. Thank you for writing this. As hard as it was to read, it was also a comfort to read. Thank you.


  29. Elizabeth Woolridge says:

    Thank you for this post. It is really helping me put things in perspective. I grew up on a farm, and when that time came, our dogs wandered in the woods. I loved our pets, but what my family and I are experiencing now is so different. We rescued Cookie (part Coonhound and Rottweiler). She was older when we saved her, but we were given 9 wonderful years with her. Since we live in a subdivision, things are different for us. For the longest time she would come in the house during the day, but now she can’t move. I have ambulatory issues so I can’t move her, but I don’t want her alone so before my husband left for work, he made a bed in the garage for her. We are going to take her to the vet tonight, but I don’t know if she’ll make it. Everything feels like it happened so suddenly. I’m sitting beside her crying and my one daughter is softly stroking her. She has stopped eating and drinking. Her tongue has rolled to her side. Her breathing oscillates between fast and slow.

  30. Heidi K. says:

    I have turned to the Internet searching for information to understand and prepare for the eventual demise of my aging sweet Mr. Kip. (He will be 17 years old in 4 days.) By chance I have come across your loving tribute chronicling the passing of your two beloved pets. Your gentle story honours their memory while providing comfort and wisdom to other pet owners. Thank you.

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      Heidi, all the best to you. Please read the comments, there is a lot of love in there from people whos hearts are open … ❤

  31. Chrissy says:

    Thank you for giving us the chance to write on here. My beautiful 16 year old border collie was given 2 months to live 3 years ago due to a poorly liver but amazed everyone by rallying round and living a good life.. She now has declining kidneys and a few days ago she had a stroke or something like it. Yet again she rallied though she stopped eating. But just now coming back from a walk she was panting a lot and now she is on her bed breathing shallowly – a little bit of beef lying untouched by her nose. She is not completely on her bed – as if she lacked the strength to get there properly. Every now and then she looks up to see where I am and I am afraid to leave the room in case she passes when I am not there. There will be no going to a clinic to possibly spend her final moments enduring strange and frightening things. Not at this stage. This is where she will go – either helped on or naturally. Today, tomorrow or the next day.
    I have been stroking her but she likes her space so now I am just here where she can see me. My darling darling girl and best friend of 16 years.

  32. Seeing your words in late September of 2016, and would like to thank you for taking the time to write this. Like most people caring for older pets, I’ve spent a lot of time reading articles about nutrition, medications, etc.; but being able to share in your personal experience through this article is far more helpful. Thank you!

  33. Pam says:

    Thank you so much. Your post really helped me. My cavalier is actively dying as I type this. I noticed tonight that something in his gaze had changed and you hit the nail on the head with your description. It makes it easier for me to recognize what’s happening. Again, thank you. Pam

  34. Tyler says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. My 12 year old shepherd has started actively dying two days ago and blogs like yours have helped give me strength and focus even if I’m chocking back the lump to write my appreciation. I hope my Mishka and family can be fortunate enough to find such a beautiful close to our time together. Thank you.

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      in some way, I hope my words have helped. It is good to have support when everything seems so fragile. ❤

  35. Bart says:

    I have an older black lab.. I hope I have more time with her but I will forever miss her when she is gone. My heart aches already thinking about a life without my best friend.

    Beautiful post, Thank you for sharing.

      1. Seph says:

        Like everyone else I found this article “in perfect timing”. All I want to say is Thank You! Whatever you wrote is not just insightful. It’s healing. I don’t know how to explain this other to say that reading this gave me something magical to leap forward in the healing process of a precious Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Paddington Bear that I had to say goodbye to a few days ago. “They held a deep place in my heart…” especially unlocked something helpful for me. God bless you and thank you for sharing your gift.

      2. Nancy Tanner says:

        Seph, I am glad to meet you, even if only through words. Nancy

  36. Pam Welke says:

    I’m sitting here watching my Buddy my baby dieing ,it is October 16 at midnight my toy fox terrier Chihuahua mix ,was born on November 2, 2002 he almost got to 14 ,held him in my hands when he was two weeks old my heart Is braking watching my best friend passing in front of me ,he’s stop eating and drinking water now ,it hurts so bad God please have him waiting on a cloud For me , to meet me when I pass ,and Thank you for all the happy years I had with him and love he gave me 💔💔💔💔😭😭😢

    1. janet says:

      So sorry Pam I am going through the same thing with my 15 year old jack Russell Sparky he has stopped eating and drinking and just threw up bile he is very weak he mostly sleeps or just stares. I couldn’t bring myself to take him to be put down today because he was sleeping so peaceful I can’t even think about tomorrow. I love him so much he has been my best friend. I feel your pain as it is my own. Love and comfort to you, I will cry with you and for you.

  37. codemanbc says:

    Tough stuff to read. Tougher to write. I adopted Magic one month BEFORE Cody’s passing. Took them both out for hamburgers on the way to the vet. The blogger from the sheep farm in Sacramento who has Rusty and Ginny gave me some very helpful advice when I was searching for guidance…”Better a week too early than a day too late.” Our dogs, our beloved pets, deserve to have us with them at their passing. No doubt about it. Thank you for sharing. Tom and MAGIC

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      ❤ Tom and Magic …

  38. Xandra says:

    Thank you for such an encouraging story, and for everyone else that have shared theirs. I’m trying to get all the info I can to get ready for my 16 year old beagle mix whom I named Socks to go accross that so-called rainbow bridge. She was my first ever dog. I was in the Army for over 20 years, and didn’t want to have to leave pets behind, so never had any, until I retired 16 years ago. Socks was my first. I picked her up from a local farmer that was giving away a litter of 11 pups. I remember her running towards me, scratching my boots like saying: take me, take me! I’m positive Socks was not even six weeks old when I got her. A tiny black fur ball with white paws. After Socks, I have adopted another 3 dogs, all girls, a Weimaraner, a maltizu, and most recently, 4 years ago, a chiweene, who my daughter named Chaka, for her sassines, lol. I love these kids like if they were real children! My husband helps out but will not claim any as “his”. They’re all my girls. All sleep in my room, have their own beds, even though the two younger sleep on my bed…..
    Socks stopped climbing steps about 3 months ago. I don”t mind carrying her up and down 3 or 4 times a day. I owe her that. My back hurts….. She weighs 40 lbs, a little heavy for her size.
    She’s also throwing up a lot, and has fat lumps allover her body. Vet checks those periodically, and assured me that they’re not cancerous, at least not yet.
    She also got really sick about 2 weeks ago, and the vet said she will never walk again, and was near dying, and that I should consider helping her die! I was so mad that day. Stormed out of that clinic! Prayed so much, and about 1 week later, she started walking again! Not like she used to, but don’t need the brace sling I use to take her outside for about the first 20 steps, then she falls on her back, and I pick her up with the sling to help her walk back in the house after she does her business,. Today, she’s been throwing up, and peed in the house! 😢😢 Never done that since her training days! She’s also breathing fast and noisy. She eats a lot less and drinks tons of water! Not taking her to the vet……My poor baby. I will be here with her until the end! Her sisters are also looking sad and I think they’re worried too! I need a lot of prayer to deal with this. I’m very depressed. I need strength. All I do is think about her at work all day, read about dying dogs, and cry. 😭 I have no idea how I’m going to go on after she leaves me. I’m already broken…..

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      Xandra, I am sending peace and love to you.

      It isn’t easy, I don’t think it is supposed to be easy. Sometimes I think the more it hurts, the deeper the love went into our hearts.

      You being there for Socks, supporting needs, and staying strong while she is here is the best way to honor a life well lived ❤

    2. Chrissy says:

      Do you know what is wrong with Socks? It sounds like she is very sick and in distress. You have to know when to fight something and when to let it go and ease the transition. I was told my dog would be dead in 3 months but I joined an online forum for her condition and 3 years on she is still here. But she is gone 16 now and all sorts of issues are cropping up. We have had a couple of ‘close’ moments but she has bounced back. But I feel the time is close. I am hoping she might slip away with ease or go quickly but if she starts suffering – given her age – I will help her along. I owe it to her. Tthere are online quality of life tools that can help. Love and prayers.

      1. Xandra says:

        Thanks so much for your replies. The last time I took her to the vet, about 3 weeks ago, when she wasn’t walking, he said that she will never walk again. Well, she’s walking….. He also said that she was very old, and I needed to start thinking about deciding what to do with her. She’s not in pain! She still eats, a lot less now, though, drinks a lot of water, barks when she sees me walk through the door, and walks slowly, but is walking! Some days are better than onthers. Right now she looks like she’s getting better. I know her so well, I’m confident she will let me know when it’s time. Again, this blog has been tremendous support! I can’t thank you all enough ☺️. Peace!

  39. Anita S. says:

    A very informative article. My Boston Terrier I feel is dying. He does have congestive heart failure but was managing well with meds. Two nights ago, my dog woke me up panting and shaking uncontrollably. Took him to the emergency room. They gave him a lasix shot, stabilized him and I took him home. Last night again, he woke me up panting. Stayed like that for about an hour. I keep my temp at 75. He finally laid back down and slept. What I have noticed is something has changed with him. He does not like to lay flat and he just seems to be staring into space. We sat outside today on a blanket. I spoke to him as he sat staring out at the front yard. I put my arm around him and said “Kingsley” to try and get his attention. He sat stoic. Very unlike him and he is very attached to me. So, I have made the unfortunate decision to put him to sleep on Friday. I always said that once we saw quality of life go, then we would make the decision. I am absolutely crushed and devastated. But remembering the King I know and seeing King as he is today, tells me I am making the right decision for him. God bless you my sweet dog. ❤️

    1. Anita S says:

      Follow-up…we postponed the euthanization. On 12/5,while watching Top Chef, I looked over to the sofa as something caught my eye. Kingsley was in a full blown seizure. He could not gain control of his body. We grabbed King and our keys, ran out the door to the car and raced to the pet emergency room. On the way, we agreed that this was it. King was euthanized. He was such a good dog. My best friend. I miss him dearly. It has now been one year since he passed and I think of him everyday. Miss you Kingsley. 🌅

  40. sue says:

    Finally found this website after googling a dog dying for a year. My beloved fur-son Dawson (13 yrs) (golden) died 7/30/15. Day before my b-day. Complete shock. Arrived home 15 minutes late due to b-day work luncheon. He was already gone but still had pink gums. (I know from putting my Dakota down (due to brain tumor) gums turn blue very quickly.) Dawson had a strong heart, not ill, no symptoms of the end except he didn’t eat breakfast that morning –but it was a hot summer. He was actively fishing (catching them too) days before. This website helped me fill in the blanks about what his final hours were for him. This website helped me by easing the guilt of me not being there the moment he passed. During the day he moved twice from his 2 beds and then moved out of camera view during the last 15 minutes (home security camera); did spit up a little bile; was laying on his side like sleeping; did deficate and did urninate. He wasn’t completely alone, his then 11 year old fur-brother, Hunter (yellow lab) was always curling up next to him. As with all the fur-children on this site, he was the most loving, loyal dog that traveled everywhere with me since he was 6 wks old. Happily, he visits me in my dreams often.

  41. Kim says:

    This so touches my heart. My 12 year old yorkie doesn’t have long left. Your beautiful article and lovely words are such a help. I’m going through a lot of emotions but I realize this isn’t about me. It’s about my Sadie. It’s her journey and I am blessed to have been her momma.

  42. Anatola Wilkinson says:

    Hello everyone, thank you so much for such beautiful, nurturing & compassionate posts of everyone’s love, heartache & grief. I have had this up among my computer tabs for about 3 months now…knowing that my time would come to write. This is the only site that has resonated with my heart & I felt that would be appropriate to honor my boy by trying to share this with those who’ve been vulnerable & shared their stories in such tender ways. I’ve a strong feeling that my beloved friend Charlie is getting ready to leave us – he’s gone downhill rapidly over the past few days – a big part of my boy’s candle has blown out already – his waggy bum has gone, his playfulness & his greeting me every morning is no longer there. My darling 11 year old boxer whom I’ve had since he was a pup…& whom has gone through the hardest times of my life with me. My rock. My constant. My unconditional loving fur-boy.
    My world swirls around me when I think of the decisions upon me this coming week. I feel like a giant is standing on my chest. The enormity of this is all encompassing & I take comfort that I can ease my boy’s pain. So as Charlie comes to the end of his circle I need to ensure that he doesn’t suffer & that he can go with some of that play still in his heart…even if it’s not evident on the outside anymore…I want him to carry this with him on his journey.
    Thank you again…reading everyone’s story’s touches my heart & also some of them hold my feet on the ground knowing that my decision though it will break my heart, will ultimately be the right one for my baby. I too am so so very grateful that I was chosen to walk Charlie’s path with him…such a wondrous life we’ve had together.

  43. Noel Fales says:

    Almost impossible to envision my life without the 4.5 lbs of willfulness, fearlessness, and devotion that lies twitching before me at this moment. Thank you and those who responded for the comforting thoughts and words. Bless you and your departed friends.

  44. Jenny says:

    I’m sobbing right now. What a beautiful story.
    I’m literally typing as my 15 year old girl is passing. she’s showing all the signs. And this is the first story I read that makes me feel it’s ok that she pass right here at home. Not that I have much choice, late at night and no vets around who do house calls here.
    She doesn’t seem to be in any pain, though I can’t imagine how this process could be comfortable. She’s had back leg problems the vet said was spinal arthritis. Some days she could stumble outside, and a few times I had to wrap a towel around her mid section and give her a little extra support. As long as I got that twinkle in her eyes it wasn’t time. Tonight was the first time instead of the twinkle I got the I wish this was over look.

    About two weeks ago she dropped to the ground suddenly. I thought she was dying right there. I rushed her to the vet and by the time we got there she was fine. Likely a mild stroke and I was warned there may be more to come.

    Well one day this week she wouldn’t finish her food. And had a massive seizure soon afterwards. She came out of that, vet said she might. But tonight? She won’t even try to get up. First sign of real pain was when I tried to assist her. So ok, you lie there. I’ve been watching her breathing from heavy puffing to nothing. On one hand I want to just hold her and pet her but I really get the feeling this is only making her try to hang on. So I’m in the room, she knows I’m right here. She seems comfortably resting right now. I’m really wishing beyond believe that she would just slip away peacefully.
    I had a dog go that way. We all knew she was in bad shape. She waited for family to all be home, get her lovin, a tail wag. We laid her on her bed and all got busy doing other things. Then my husband went to pet her and she was ice cold. I never saw an animal go so peacefully. Hoping the same happens tonight soon.

    My husband, an over the road trucker, stopped by earlier, gave her a pat. This was before it was clear this is probably the end. I called him and said tomorrow morning I would take her in to be put down. My daughter said I shouldn’t. Leave her be, she’ll go when she goes. If she were in visible pain the decision would be easy. But she’s not. Besides I haven’t got a clue how I would get her to the car. 75 lb lab mix and hurting when I try to move her?
    She IS in pain when I try to pull, life, push, or do anything. I hope this is quick.

    The saddest part still… her sister won’t be far behind. No turning back the clock. It won’t be long I’ll have to go through this again.

      1. Michele Burnette says:

        I’m going through the same thing at this 💗 goes out to you….I hope by now, things are getting better for you…

  45. Elizabeth says:

    I found your article very touching. I just felt that maybe you should’ve step in when their health started to deteriorate and had both of them humanely euthanized. There is no need to let them die on their own when we have the power to make it easier on them. I feel that not stepping in an helping them in these difficult moments is a bit selfish. Death is very painful and our loyal companions should not have to go through this horrible pain if we can spare them. Sorry to be a bit judgemental but you knew they were dying and it seems like you let them suffer. I just don’t agree with that. They should never have to suffer.

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      And as my article states this is not for anyone to judge, as each relationship is individual and each act of dying individual. Every person will know what is right for their dog, and it is not for another to judge. Nancy

  46. Sam says:

    Beautiful story Nancy. Thank you for sharing it. We lost our sweet greyhound 3 days ago. I cannot believe the mixture of emotions. Logically, we knew it was the right thing to do, she was 13 and in the last 48 hours, she went from being helped to walk (and falling down), to not being able to get up or lay down on her own. The final day, she refused all food and drink and was looking uncomfortable. When the vet came to the house, she said that her heart rate was irregular and her breathing was a little raspy and that she felt her body was shutting down. I was a blubbering idiot before the vet came because I already knew what was happening and I feel at times I let her down at that point.

    I should have sat with her more but I kept blubbing and didn’t want to share that energy with her so I had to leave for 10 minutes and come back again. My son was constantly with her so she wasn’t alone at all. When the vet came I was relieved that at least she would be able to help her. Then my son fell to pieces so I took over and sat with her stroking her head and telling her “it wont be long baby girl, it wont be long”. When she had the sedative she just looked so relaxed and relieved that she actually looked normal for the first time in 24 hours. We sat with her for a while before the final injection. I cant believe how quickly her body shut down. I know she was well looked after, I did fuss over her, she was my little girl! I miss her so so much and it feels like it wont stop. She was never away from us and it feels so alien that she is not here.

    I miss looking after her, I miss nursing her, I miss the smell of her fur as I used to cuddle her, I miss her googly eyes and the satisfaction I felt that I had managed to make her something to eat that she actually enjoyed. Logically I know I don’t miss watching her fall down, watching her unable to get up, unable to even lift her head and shoulders without help, watching her refuse food, watching her distressed and not knowing if she was in pain or just confused or trying to tell me something. Those things I will not miss. We watched footage of her before the cruelty of the aging process took over, we had forgotten how sturdy and energetic she used to be and how alert she was on the walks. When we saw what she was to what she had become, we knew it was the right thing to do.

    I just wish I could stop hurting every time I think of her. I know we did right but I just want her here with me. I’m sure it will fade, its only been 3 days and she was with us as a rescue from the age of 4 till 13 years so it will take time.

    Thank you Nancy for sharing your experience. It made me feel less alone.

  47. Diane R Brodeen says:

    Thank you for this. I’m a retired hospice nurse. My dying 21-yr-old terrier mix is lying across my chest on my bed. Serenity essential oil is in the diffuser, and lullabies are playing from the computer. Little Sally sleeps several hours, then gets frantic and yelps.Massage and Bach Rescue Remedy for pets get her back to sleep. She has periodic breathing, and heartbeat is a mess, with a huge murmur. Her legs no longer support her. When she cries, I hold her and tell her what a good buddy she has been.

    Sally was medicated for sinus infection about 4 months ago, when she started having nosebleeds. There was the possibility of tumors in the sinus area as well, but I couldn’t afford the CT scan to find out. She has been her usual frisky self until last week. The long sleeps and occasional restlessness just started 2 days ago. I’m thinking she may be having headaches. We have a final vet appointment on payday March 1. Until then, I’m doing everything I know to bring her comfort and peace. Hoping we won’t need that appointment next week.

    I love my little friend, and have enjoyed being home with her more since my retirement. She would always follow me from room to room, and sit at my feet while I cooked. I’m glad for this opportunity to be of comfort and service to her, to thank her for her many years of companionship.

    1. Chrissy says:

      My collie was given 2 months to live but went on another 3 years thanks to TLC and diet. But as she approached 17 she started to fail. She had 3 seizures 3 months apart. But to the amazement of vets she pulled round. A while later however the steep decline started. She became more and more unsteady and wobbly and spaced out. Even just walking became difficult and she was refusing most food. Then she started showing signs of distress. I had the vet come round to the house and we both agreed it was time. My girl had been laid there some hours and didn’t even get up. I was frightened she would pass with a seizure – thrashing around and shrieking as she did with the last. The vet gave a sedative first and she actually tried to get up and fight it. We held her and stroked her as it took effect. I hope she forgives me. RIP my beautiful one.

    2. Chrissy says:

      Diane I have been where you are. I hope Sally passes peacefully so that you don’t have to ‘call time’ yourself.
      Hugs from Chrissy

  48. Jordan says:

    Such an amazing but so sad article. Thank you for sharing this experience! I’m sorry for your loss, I have Holly my Jack Russell who is 20 years old… she’ll be 21 this year in October! She’s been with me since I was 12 years old, we have grown up together! She was with me when I got my first ATV, First Car, First house etc etc. She’s probably in the hospice stage now… luckily I work for myself so she goes everywhere with as she always has but it’s much different now as I care for her 24/7. Trying to prepare myself! Thanks again for sharing your story!

  49. Candice says:

    Thank you very much for sharing your personal stories. They have provided me much comfort as I sit here with my dying dog, Payton. This moment is so bitter/ sweet because as a mom the most living thing I can do is put him out of his pain but at the same time I want this last 30 hours I have to last forever. I will miss my dogs unconditionally love. Again, thank you!

  50. Greg says:

    Keko is on his dog bed beside me and for the past number of hours I have been learning more about those final moments. I thank all of the people who have commented before me as I grapple with the questions of what to do and as I manage my tears. I have come to understand that dogs are so wise and have their own way of facing their final moments. They further define the meaning of unselfish as they move into a quiet world of self-determined composure, taking responsibility for their own final days, quietly seeking to avoid the fuss, ending their nutritional intake to manage their own organized shut down. I am coming to understand that Keko has much more completely come to grips with what is happening and is probably managing it better than me. I know my presence and a gentle touch must be a comfort, but I also know he is on a journey that he has resigned to take, and it is not my place to do anything except support it and tell him it is OK. My love should give peace and not create anxiety or make him feel that he is disappointing me by leaving. A friend who has always given and never taken deserves my final approval. He shall have it . . . with gentle words that hide a sting in my throat that he must never feel.

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      Greg your words are beautiful and heartfelt, ❤

    2. Anita says:

      Beautiful comments and really puts things in perspective. Good bless you and Keko. He was lucky to have an owner like you.

  51. Thank you for sharing. I have a border collie. His name is Shadow and he is my best bud. He is so faithful and dedicated even at age 14 1/2. Your story is very insightful and will help me prepare for when Shadow walks across Rainbow Bridge and bids me farewell. It will be a sad, sad time for me.

  52. Victoria says:

    Thank you so very much for your wonderful article. It could not have come at a better time. My 11.5 year old 85 lb. Pit mix has osteosarcoma. She was diagnosed 2 weeks ago. She has been my constant companion and has endured so many life tragedies always by my side comforting me. She licks my tears away and loves me unconditionally. I keep saying I will know and my wonderful vet says to call her anytime. I, too, keep thinking she will just pass in her sleep, peacefully. She is such a trooper! Still smiling, eating, hobbling outside to potty. I am crying writing this. I am managing her pain with steroids and pain medication but I know the time is near. Although I will never be ready, I will be here for her all the way over the Rainbow Bridge. We love you Spudz McKenzie, you are a courageous, loving and special baby.

  53. Gail says:

    Your story helped me through the loss of my fur baby girl Tibby. Thank you so much.

  54. Mel says:

    Thankyou Nancy for your article. This week i have lost my first pet at 11yrs , Kita. She had suffered from a tooth abcess in early january this year .upon removal our vets had stated she was 85% sure it was an abcess. That 15% gave me the feeling that it wasnt. My dog has been a long time sufferer of sarcinomas since she was 7. Along with other complications such as lipomas and joint issues. She had been lucky enough to participate in a trial drug ebc46 which gave her an extra 4 years of life. She did so well to hang on that long and many a times i considered putting her to sleep but she was very much determined to do it on her terms.
    Never losing that sparkle in her eyes until her last day. There was no loss of appetite just a weakness of the back legs and i could see she looked a little dizzy and couldnt get comfortable. She gradually slipped in and out of conciousness during the day .We as a family were there all day for her and were able to say our goodbyes but i could see she needed to do this on her own. Once the kids went to bed she could finally get the peace she needed We both woke around 20mins ( her death and we figured it was her way of saying her last goodbye. The grief is very raw and she is sadly missed by all. Her sister is 12 and also in her hospice days. We hope too she will be in control of her death and go peacefully.
    Thankyou for giving us the best insight on how to care for our animals in their final hours.

  55. Karen says:

    Thank you Nancy. Your experience and everyone else’s are so very comforting to me right now. My little Nickie dog is actively dying at 14. She’s been eating but very little up to today. Today she threw up twice and won’t eat anything I try to hand feed her. I want to hold her and love on her so bad but she is more comfortable in her bed so I just stay close or lay down next to her. I don’t feel she’s in pain so can’t bring myself to assist in her passing and you and others here have made me feel better about feeling this way. I want her to be comfortable in her home and in her little cheetah print bed that she’s loved since she was born. I feel she will go very peacefully and that is what I pray for. My heart is breaking and I can’t imagine life without her. 💔

  56. Karen says:

    I just wanted to let you know my prayers were answered on May2nd, less than 24 hours after I first posted. My sweet Nickie dog went peacefully in my arms at 5:55 on Tues. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever been through in my 54 years but I am so grateful I was able to hold her and love her and tell her its ok to let go and leave me. I was conflicted about keeping her home or taking her to the vet for assistance in letting her go but after reading your post and others I felt better about the feeling in my gut that keeping her home and comfortable was the right thing to do for us. My vet called the next day and she agreed I did the right thing. It is just not necessary in every case to have your pet put down. I feel very blessed that my sweet Nickie went quickly and in my arms. I have never felt so sad and missed anything or anyone so deeply but I know time will help get me through, never get over. ❤ ❤

    1. Anita says:

      God bless you and Nickie. It’s tough in the beginning but gets easier with time. It is important that you feel you made the best decision for Nickie. Our dogs are precious to us. I lost 3 in the span of 1.5 years. They were our family (our kids). Now, we have a new family- a Frenchie and 4 cats. Family #2. I will always look back fondly on Romeo, Kingsley and Miss Ruby. We miss you guys!

  57. Shelly says:

    As I sit here barely seeing through my tears over your special article and all the heartwarming and compassionate posts, all I can say is thank you all for sharing your experiences. I am with my first senior pup who just turned 13 and is in hospice right now. He is on daily pain meds but his vet said he is hanging on strong and his pain is well managed while on the meds so I am just doing all I can to keep him comfortable. I, too, pray God will give him a peaceful transition when the time comes and that I don’t have to “make that call” myself as that would be so hard to do, but for his sake I will if he shows me that is what he wants me to do. Everyone’s strength on these posts and your article give me strength and encouragement to go through this stage of life with him. I am so thankful for you all sharing what you have been through. It is websites like this that help us get through these tough situations. Thank you and God bless all!

      1. REGLOIS says:

        My CKC of 12 years has a slow growing mass in her throat, she has severe heart condition so operating is out of the question, this hot weather is playing havoc with her because when she pants her mass get dried out and is uncomfortable, she is such a gentle dog I can spray her throat with cool water to aid her and she has a fan on, she instinctively turns her back to it so as not to dry out her throat, I know I will have to assist her passing as not to would result in her suffocating to death no way will I allow that. I don’t know how much longer she has, I have decided that when she can no longer eat her regular food, she is very greedy, that I will make the decision then.
        This will not be the first dog I have lost , I have had three pass this year, one with liver cancer, my 18yr old was unstoppable bleeding from a burst vein in her rear end, as she was tiny, 2kg didn’t take much loss to be beyond help, and the last one had nasal cancer, all I had to assist. The 2 CKCs are old and both have serious problems now.

  58. sue says:

    Interesting that your dog also was bright and cheery before it died. My dog was shining like a puppy the night i euthanized her to put her out of her acute pain. I couldn’t understand why.
    For all dog owners:
    Hoping i made the right decision. Just saying this so when the time comes for anyone else, they can be more prepared. Most of Amika was in incredible shape for her age. I think she was actually 17, equivalent to a human over a hundred. Her back end was a mess. She had hip displasia and had been using a ramp for almost a year to get in the car, had a torn meniscus which healed pretty well without surgery. She was walking pretty well, and then within 5 days!!!!!!! her legs went limp!!!!!!!!and stopped working. There are about 8 different possible causes for this so it is complicated, many dogs get it, and the vets really just didn’t know what caused it. The scariest part was she just started really being in pain when she moved a certain way. The drugs carprofen and gabapenton did not do shit for her just for the record!! So i had to go back and get Tramadol, which did a great job. BUT it took 30-60 minutes to really work and that was the one that made her like a cheech and chong character- all dazed out and not able to function. You may all know about this stuff, but i never needed to give her any .When she was in pain, she would whine and i gave her strong natural painkillers, a massage, and muscle relaxers. That had always done the job til now. So one day i went to the store and 20 minutes later she was continuously barking ( i saw it from my phone on the security video). She was in a lot of pain. i drugged her all up.And then it happened another day. I’m talking about the important issue of quality of life that i never had to think so deeply about before. I panicked and couldn’t think straight and felt like i had to make decisions soon because she was in so much pain and because i had a vet sitting there waiting for an answer. So if a dog can’t walk, is in severe pain unless very drugged up but it could be temporary, has a few serious malfunctions in the back end, yet they still love eating, playing with toys, want to go for a walk, and aren’t incontinent, then should they be euthanized or not??? When i took her into the vet to be euthanized, she looked incredible to me- like a puppy. So was that a sign that when she’s all drugged up, she’s fine and she should live? Or was that a sign that she is already at peace just THINKING about being euthanized??? There are so many issues involved!! Yes, she couldn’t walk, but i’ve seen some damn happy dogs in those doggy wheelchairs. And the pain might be fixable by finding the source. And severe pain can be drugged up. I had 3 ppl at the vet saying i should put her out, yet the vet i trusted most said she might have more time. In retrospect, now that i can think clearly, i wish i kept her drugged up until i could make a more informed decision.Just one of the possible causes of losing limb strength was herniated disc, which you need an mri to see and then the surgery costs $8k+? And surgery at 17 yrs old?? I think the best option would have been to take X-rays and take them to the best dog chiropractor you can find first. And then there are all these options that i didn’t even think about like some vets do hospice, where they can monitor her all day, or even try a pet rescue place that might be able to help with monitoring her for pain. Or find a damn drug that kills the pain without making your dog a zombie!! And then take the dog to the beach to hang and do things really fun for a week with her all stoned. And get second, third, 18th opinions from vets. After your dog dies, you have extreme clarity. Kind of like when i go on vaca, i get really clear on my life. It’s like i have to leave it to see it clearly. Here is my advice:
    1. Get a dog you can lift. I lucked out, but if Amika ever got injured on a hike, i would have been screwed.And big dogs have no rights. They can’t go anywhere. Even most apartments that say they take dogs only take them up to 20lbs.
    2. if you get a “scary breed,” the prejudice is wide-scale. I couldn’t even bring my dog to most daycare centers because of her breed, even though she probably would have been the safest dog there.
    3. when approaching another dog, ask if they are friendly and listen for how the person answers. If they hesitate at all, keep your dog away. i never had this prob til i moved to CAlly but several ppl would hesitate while letting their dog go right up to mine. I actually started saying “STOP!” to protect my dog. And some ppl lie about the friendliness of their dog.
    4.Kids can be so rough on puppies and many parents are clueless about this. Watch the limbs!!
    5. Most dry foods are junk. I gave my dog a lot of sardines, grass-fed meat, eggs, and healthy veggies like broccoli and creamed kale in the blender. They eat a lot of acidy foods, so they need alkaline stuff like produce. I put all this healthy stuff in her yogurt in the blender with mangos, banana, apple, or cucumbers… Cooked food is dead. Raw food is alive and gives you energy.
    6. Once in a while, i’d catch myself being in a hurry and just say hi and go on my computer after work. Your dog has been sitting there waiting for you to come home all day! Give him a huge “Hey baby!!!!!” and tons of hugs and kisses and then play ball with him or something. At the worst, put pb in a kong toy. Stimulus, Stimulus, stimulus. And i started doing my computer right near my dog. It almost made it like were doing something together. Made all the difference.
    7. Go for health problems full throttle. Research it til you fall asleep. Ask every dog owner you know if they know about it. Get 10 vet opinions. And then give your dog all the things in needs to get better every day. Because one day, the small problem could turn into a big problem and it’s too late.
    8. Try to really understand animals. I even watched a vet on youtube and he was showing things with this puppy. He kept saying the dog was just playing. I felt like the dog was hurting!! And at the dog park, i see bullies chasing scared dogs. Everyone there laughs. oh they’re just playing. i don’t know the dog looks really scared to me!!! i feel like the voice of animals is limited, so we need to pay better attention.
    I always see dogs thirsty and their owners don’t notice. My dog used to greet ppl with her butt at times. It was because she had hip dysplasia and she needed a massage, not that she wanted one. And i always call the cops on ppl that leave dogs in their cars unattended. Even in the shade on a hot day, it can kill them. And it is illegal for a reason. I need to make little posters speaking of the dangers of it too- and put it on their cars. Because sometimes it takes the cops forever to get there.
    9. Extra weight is a huge burden on their legs, even though most ppl think it’s ok.
    10. Maitake is great support for tumors and chlorella is great support for fatty tumors.
    11. have a plan for emergencies. I couldn’t lift Amika to the emergency room so i found a service that came and took her out on a stretcher.
    And i learned that the emergency rooms here are cheaper than the regular vet!!! And when they get older, have a plan for ashes or whatever. I was clueless. It turned out to be well-done, but i probably spent hundreds more than i should have. Her ashes are arriving in my mailbox next week. Sounds like that is a California thing. I’m sure that will initiate another huge cryburst.
    12. know the signs of a dog that is almost ready to go. I watched 4 doggy friends die this year. This is what i saw before they died:
    heavy panting (can be a sign of pain!), not walking as well as usual, incontinence-type stuff, back legs start to go, they go deaf and a little spacy.
    13. With my dog, health probs came and went. Some things would just go away. Know what might go away and what might get worse.
    14. Supposedly animals r good at masking their pain because in the wild they would be road pizza if they showed weakness. Not my experience with my dog. She would whine to complain and bark to yell at me.
    15. i had ppl tellling me i should give her this and i should give her that. One drug i looked up was notorious for causing seizures in dogs.
    Research, research, research.
    16. There are sooooooo many unwanted rescued dogs. Why buy any other?
    17. i always try to think of dogs as humans. It has really helped me out. If i sat all day every day inside, i’d go insane! Some dogs are ok with it, but most really need to be walked. The less they socialize, the less friendly they often are. i’ve met so many ppl whose dogs can’t see other dogs because they’ll bite them. Get a professional trainer to fix it. IT’s possible. And some ppl said i should just put Amika to sleep because she has trouble getting up. Well my dad has trouble getting up, but i’m not putting him to sleep!!!!!!
    Hope this helps someone someday.

  59. Caroline says:

    Thank you for this. Found your blog post in Google while waiting for the vet to come and attend to our beloved dog Georgie who is failing. I appreciate the details you provided even though I know it was hard to write. You are helping others who are sad and scared and second-guessing themselves. Thank you for sharing your deeply personal feelings.

  60. Lisa says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. This was so reassuring for me right now xx

  61. Very touching article, I currently have a senior dog on her way to gereateric years she just turn 14 in July, I’ve had he in my life since she was 7 an a half week old. Her hearing n vision is starting to weaken and I believe she is developing a heart cough or congestive heart failure, n it’s ripping my heart into pieces.. I know when her time is up it’s up.. but ur story gave me some comfort tho I’m still crying, I wanted to personally thank u for sharing it.. so thank you Nancy so much..

    1. Anita says:

      Cherish the time left with your dog. I lost 3 in a span of 1.5 years. My two Bostons (10 and 11 yrs) had brain tumors and my pug died of old age (17). I took so many pictures and videos on my iphone. Pics/videos of me walking them, running around in the back yard and just overall interacting with them. I have videos of me singing to them and they would look back at me sweetly. Some days I sit and watch them all. I cry and I smile. I’m so happy I have them. Good luck to you and your baby.

  62. Marie says:

    So thankful I found these words, since my world stopped this past Sunday evening (9/3/17) I have been struggling with the decision I had to make for my “almost” 14 year old Jack Russell…her name was Cleo, short for Cleopatra because she was the queen of my heart. Never have I felt such profound loss, such a deep deep ache that cannot seem to be eased…we were right there with her in our family room, in her spot on her comfy bed with her blankets. I wanted to be strong, I wanted her to know it was okay…but sadly, I was wrecked. I soaked her little head and face with my tears, I kissed her nose, kissed her ears, held her paws…I told her how much she was loved, told her I was so sorry…then I remembered she has for the most part lost her hearing, so now I’m left to wonder if she even could hear me. My hope is that she felt overwhelmed by love. In reading your article, I was just this moment able to have a glimpse of peace, peace in knowing she was at that point, it was time, and she was ready…I don’t know how to keep going, but I will, just as you and your family have, just as so many others have before me. I keep all of us in my prayers, praying for peace and comfort, thanking God for blessing me with the sweetest little pup I ever knew. Thank you Nancy, and God Bless.

  63. David says:

    Thank you…..

  64. MONIKA says:

    My wonderful dog Angelina has changed within the day …She is 11 years old. Normally up and happy to go out, come to me for treats. I am looking at her lying down and she has a look in her eyes that is distant. She still wags her tail and loves me petting her..but I am worried that her time has come. I adopted Angelina from a local rescue at the age of eight weeks. She has lived in different settings, home, apartment, RV, mobile home and always adjusted to life.. as long as she was with me. She has been a wonderful loyal dog and a huge part of my life. I know my other dog, Gizmo, a rescue I adopted four years ago will greatly miss her.

  65. Rachel says:

    We just lost our beloved, kind, gentle, sweet, “Nana Holly” as I’d call her as she basically raised my little girls. She passed away in my arms in the waiting room before she got the injection, with my husband, 5 and 2 year old daughters. I’m struggling right now…we all are. She was 14.5 but

    Thank you so incredibly much sharing your amazing stories. I just read them out loud to my crying husband. Such similar stories to ours and makes me feel better knowing we were there for her while we comforted her in her final days and hours.

  66. Pam Schmidt says:

    Yes…crying my eyes out…yet compelled to read this over and over. I am going through goodbyes with my sweet Golden Lucy…my funny Valentine, after losing her beautuful brother last year, my Golden Raleigh. My boy. I could not have expressed my feelings for them better than you did. Thank you for sharing this…and thank you for the love you had for your Franny and Ocean. XOXO

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      Pam, there are so many heartfelt words and love in the comments, please read those as well, they are beautiful ❤

  67. Susan in CT says:

    As I wait patiently for my beautiful miniature Eskimo to say goodbye, I want you to know how reading these wonderful stories of love, heartfelt dedication and never ending devotion from your readers about their furbabies continue to help me stay strong!
    From my hurting heart to your insightful healing, I thank you.

  68. Donna R Bartley says:

    I just went thru this with my girl Trixie Lynn, a spunky little beauty, 13 year old min pin. She had always been a source of joy for me with her silly antics.
    A couple of months ago she had started having problems standing and would fall over and cry. I found out she had vestibular disorder but she just seemed to give up. I gave her grain free food and satin balls a recipe to keep weight on her but even with all of the extra care, handfeeding etc she was withering away in front of my eyes. Due to finances I had to go thru this with her and let nature take its course. On Dec 29, she had several bouts of vomiting and then refused food and water. I knew that my time with her was almost at an end. I kept her close to me all evening wrapped in her favorite blanket and stroking her sweet head, telling her it was OK to go. At 11am on Dec 30, my baby took her last breath. I have other fur babies to love but this pain is so intense, so surreal that I feel like it takes on a life of its own. The grief has my mind suspended in an animated state, remembering the 7 years of love and life we shared. We buried you under a beautiful tree in our backyard. Trixie, you will always be in my mind and my heart and my love will travel with you thru eternity. I love you and will never forget you.
    To those of you who shared your stories of love and devotion, it helps me to realize I am not alone. Thank you.

  69. Kristiine says:

    Thank you so much for writing this! It helped me to understand that the end is near and gave me the curage to be by her side till the end.
    Our dog Reti was 9,5 years old and passed away at home.


  70. Melinda says:

    Thank you so much for your wonderfully written article; it was just what I needed at this time. We think our beloved yellow Lab, Blue, is in her last days. This is the first time I have owned a dog as an adult. I am beating myself up for missing signs that maybe I should have had her put to sleep earlier. Now it really is out of the question as it would be too stressful for her and we don’t want that at this late stage. Yesterday she didn’t eat all day but this morning she did. About a week ago she stopped coming around to the driver’s side of the car to greet me when I park in the garage. If she lives until March she will be 15, such an sweet old girl. She has been the perfect addition to our family, grew up with our girls and has even met 2 grandchildren. This dog is loved by all our neighbors, friends and family who have met her. Her personality has been perfect for us – and I think us for her. The knot in my throat threatens to come out as I am reminded of all the memories through the years. Her youth went so quickly I guess I had forgotten parts of it. Sadly I am at work when I wish I could be home with her but my husband is there taking her out to enjoy the sun and spending time with her. I waiver between hoping she’ll hang in for a while and wishing she would quickly and peacefully slip away. I guess this is the price we pay for true love.

  71. Thank you,
    i probably have a decision to make..
    and i hope its the right decision and for the best (:

  72. Kelly says:

    Thank you Nancy for your story. My dog of 15 years just passed within the presence of loved ones at home. I still debate over letting him go there or taking him to the vet sooner was a better option, because I would never want my sweet boy to suffer. After reading this, I feel much more comfort in the decision that I made. Thank you for sharing, and helping others who have to experience the same situation in one way or another.

  73. Reagan Brigman says:

    I know how everyone here is feeling, . My chihuahua has not been eating, barely drinking, and has went from 9.5 to 6.8 pounds in a span of a month on tuesday. Prissy is almost 3 years old and i can barely take it. whenever she looks at me its like shes asking, “please fix it reagan” or to my mom, “please fix it mommy.” shes so young experiencing this, and so am i. Im only 13 and losing my best friend. my baby. we’ve spent over $950 to see whats happening and they’re now saying it might be terminal. That ”might” has given little hope, but not a lot. This is really rough and I’m sorry to everyone out there who is also going through this.

  74. Susan Rock says:

    Thank you.

  75. Lilith Werner says:

    So beautifully captured. I felt like I knew your dogs’ last moments. Thank you for sharing. Has brought me solace as I navigate my own puppy’s imminent departure of life with us. I know that good exists in the world because I have had dogs. Thanks again.

  76. Mrs.Mt says:

    Thank you for your post. Our Jake was diagnosed in January 2018. Here we are going into July and his health has deteriorated tremendously. He is still moving about slowly and he is skin and bones. We can’t bring ourselves to let him go just yet. However lately his smell has gotten so bad it’s unbearible. We feel so bad for him but he still moves about. Sleeps a lot and wants our hands on his back at all times. This is my first dog and he has brought so much joy to our family. Thanks again for the post.

  77. Jeffrey says:

    I lost my fur baby yesterday. He was such a huge part of my heart. One day he was fine then Tuesday night he was not. He started to have the labored breathing with his tongue hanging outside of his mouth yesterday morning. Then when we got up he strolled acrossed the bed, looked out the window came back. Kissed my nose curled up in my arms and took his last breath. Shattered my heart to be honest but at least he went with love. Your article moved me to tears, not only because of my emotional state, but because I can relate.

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      you were there to witness and hold in your arms a life well lived – that counts for everything Jeffrey, ❤ Nancy

  78. Jenny says:

    My beloved will die soon, I don’t know when but it surely will come soon – we have been together since early May 2001 when she arrived, just two months old, weighing less than a bag of sugar, unsteady on her legs, with the spirit of an angel and a character of such seetnessness, a loving heart that has always drawn everyone to her. She’s now nearly 17½ years old, frail, scarcely eating, scarcely drinking – still willing to make friends as she did yesterday when we met friends and someone who didn’t know her came to greet her, talk to her, stroke her, cuddle her – and she wagged her tail. I’ve always known since I fell in love with her that her leaving would be so unbearable, I’ve known that all her life – we are lucky to have good support, she and I, we have friends for our souls, friends who understand, who also have been on this journey with their own beloveds – it helps a lot, and I have a younger dog who is learning to be gentle with her much older sister, will lie near her, inspects her very thoroughly after a visit to the vet, has called me to come when her older sister has fallen and can’t get up on her own, seems to understand that she mustn’t interfere with her – she sometimes is overcome, mind you, by oh, what about meee meeee meEEEE… but more often, she will wait, watch, and just be close by. These long weeks, these long days together, this time matters so much. It feels that she is getting more familiar at each point of increasing frailty with knowing there’s support for her, and little by little the call of home is safer too.

    1. Jenny says:

      thank you, nancy, for your article. thank you enormously.

  79. This is a great article. We just went down this road for the 6th time in our life a week ago today. Our 10 year old dog all of a sudden started slowing down, vomiting, and just generally not her old self. In the end she could not even keep water down, nothing. To be fair though, she still was able to greet the new neighbor dog. To make a long story short, we lovingly helped her cross over Rainbow Bridge with the help of our compassionate vet. We received a sweet sympathy card from the vets office with two stickers with her paw prints. Our pet insurance company sent us a sweet card yesterday, five employees not only personally signed it, but each added a heartwarming message to us. In time we will be looking for our next doggie companion. My heart goes out to anyone who loses a pet. It is one of the most sadly intense feelings ever!

  80. Melanie Schlievert says:

    Thank you for this! My 13 1/2 year old lab is actively dying and we don’t expect him to make it even another week. We have struggled with end of life decisions since he has never liked going to the vet. This has definitely helped me make the “right” decision for Garfield! He wants us around hands on him at home. We are providing comfort care. You are a blessing!

  81. Sonoranwoman says:

    Thanks, Nancy, for sharing so transparently your journey with Franny and Ocean as they died. This post is over 3 years old but is still touching so many of us. As a hospice nurse, I’ve been in the “death business” for decades and have assisted many people with the transition from life to death. Now, my beloved dog Ruby is dying. I am committed to caring for her until her death unless her symptoms can’t be managed at home. Most vets in my area (Tucson) are not comfortable with my decision and recommend she be euthanized. Hospice care for pets is not widely offered. In any event, your post is “just what the doctor ordered.” A balm for my soul, and Ruby’s. Much love, Ana

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      xoxo to you and Ruby ❤

    2. Anita says:

      Prayers and peace for Ruby. My Ruby (pug) passed away in 2016 on my birthday. She lived to be 17. Btw, Hospice is the best. You all do wonderful work. Thanks for all that you do.

      1. Pauline says:

        Thank you. Bless you. 🙏❤️

  82. Liz Baker-Prosa says:

    I am going through a protracted goodbye right now with our dog Cody. He has always been strong-willed and pushes to be the alpha dog of our pack on occasion just to test the boundaries. He is 11 now, and losing his battle with lymphoma. 2 days ago I stayed home from work assuming it was the end because he had let himself out to pee ( he knows how to open all sliding glass doors in the house) and had collapsed on the back porch and we were unable to get him up without 15 minutes of calling, petting, assisting and bribing with his favorite lunch meat. he was too weak to raise his head more than a few inches so we had to hold a shallow water dish at an angle so he could drink. For 6 hours he barely moved from the bed we created for him on the floor by the back door.
    But he has since waivered back and forth between exhausted and looking near death, to suprising us by climbing the stairs to come join us in our bed/sitting room. I feel like he’s close to leaving us, but these rallying moments are confusing. He is a big dog, around 80lbs before he started wasting away from this cancer, and he still is eating occasionally though not with any kind of vest for eating. This has been a very hard few days.

  83. Marisa Holladay says:

    Thank you, Nancy. This is helping me come to terms with and understand my loss of Honey just days ago. I appreciate your sharing the experience more than words could ever describe.

  84. Julie says:

    Your article has helped me immensely as I just lost a sweet little foster Pomeranian, Twigs, two days ago. She passed, what I assume, peacefully in bed next to me. I knew her time was near because of her age and her previous life’s history, but it was sudden, within two days of quick decline. I wonder if it has been anyone else’s experience that they almost act like they are nesting. We went to bed around midnight and she was so restless throughout the night — similar to what your Ocean was doing — she would get up and spin in a circle, looking for a place to get comfortable, but before flopping down she would stand up what would seem like she was trying to sleep in that position, butting her head up against me. She acted as though she was actually fighting death. Do dogs ever innately do this, I wonder? She never made a peep the entire night, not one. She was blind and mostly deaf, but I know she knew I was near. I just hope she wasn’t in any pain. I made sure to tell her what a good girl she was and petted her throughout the night, never leaving her side. I left a dim light on in the bedroom all night long so I could watch her breathing patterns and her fur move with them. At about 9a I we were still lying in bed and I decided to read. I kept glancing over at her, she was literally inches away, watching her breathe. Somewhere between 9-10a she passed — curled up next to me. I suppose I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I just hope she was free from pain. I found great comfort in your article and it most definitely will prepare me for when it comes time for my other dogs.

  85. Dawn Heiden says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your stories. I am spending time with my sweet cha cha (chihuahua) as she passes. She has not eaten for days now, her last meal was a cookie eaten on my 94 year old dads lap 3 days ago. Now she is even refusing the water I try to squirt in her mouth. This has been going on for days. I am not sure what is keeping her alive but I feel I don’t want to interfere with the process. She does not seem to be in pain. She loves to hear my voice. When my last chi died at 13 yrs, she stayed with me in spirit for about a year. I could feel her sleeping on my lap and in bed at night. I am telling cha cha she can let go of her body but still stay with me. Thank you for your support.

  86. Erica says:

    This is such a beautiful heartfelt story, that you can’t help but tear up a little! My mother is going through the same thing right now with her 15 year old Cocker Spaniel. She’s very much in the hospice stage of her life, and my mother chooses to let nature take it’s course instead of putting the dog down because of multiple health issues. I own a mixed Border Collie named, Oscar.. and he kind of resembles the dog in the second picture. I don’t know what I would do if anything happened to him! Thank you, for sharing your story and giving us some insight on the stages of death.

  87. Sharon says:

    Thank You so much Nancy for this article. Just in time to help me understand & cope with the signs of my tiny Chi cross who is nearing end of her life. She went of her food 2 days ago but had managed up until yesterday to eat a tiny amount, alas no more. She is still drinking and has diarrhoea, and is wandering quite disorientated at times, she then finds her bed & settles again for a while, then she’s back up to do it all over again. I have her on a liver tonic for her liver disease which has helped up until now. It’s so hard to watch her life come to an end & I feel like rushing her back to the vet (she was only there 2 days ago & all seemed OK). After reading your article we have decided to let nature take it’s course keep her comfortable shower her with lots of love & hold her paw til the end if she lets us. She has a little mate who is also going to miss her terribly. Crying bucket loads right now as this is something we can’t fix for our precious little girl.

  88. george00x says:

    Thank you so much for your article Nancy. I have lost two much loved canine companions in recent years but both of them were suddenly taken ill and passed in the animal clinic within a day or two of being admitted to the Emergency Room. This time my beloved Meesap, who has been with us for nearly 16 years, is now dying slowly. She has been an incredibly strong dog all her life and hardly ever needed to go the vet until she was 14. A few weeks ago she started to get serious skin infections and was admitted for 4 days and treated by the vet successfully. After another week the skin infections started to erupt again and we took her back to the animal clinic. The vet found it harder to treat the skin infections the second time and kept her in the clinic for 10 days. During this time she developed eating and breathing difficulties and her walking and ability to stand up, which were already in decline, deteriorated markedly. The vet suspected a gastric disorder but said she would be unable to survive the anesthetic that would be required for invasive tests to diagnose it. He also discovered with X-ray that her walking difficulties are caused by bone spurs that have grown downwards from no less then 10 of the discs in her spine which are now pressing on her nerves and may puncture her lungs. We took her home and found that after the first day she would hardly eat or drink, although she was still sometimes able to stand up and walk around unassisted. Other times we had to help her by guiding her with a harness in front and blanket around the belly held up with the other hand so that her hind legs don’t wobble too much or collapse completely. So we took her back to the vet after two days and he said she was badly dehydrated and wanted to keep her in for 3 days to rehydrate her with IV drip. I know that the end for Meesap is nigh. The vet can only prolong her life with IV sustenance and force feeding and, as she is so tough, he might be able to do that for some time. But he cannot cure her or improve her quality of life. I live in Thailand, a Buddhist country, where euthanasia is not normally an option, as vets generally refuse to do it. My wife is also a Buddhist and won’t hear of it. Good vets are not cheap in Thailand and I have now spent over $4,000 in medical expenses for Meesap in the last few weeks. I can’t bear it but I can’t afford to keep her in the clinic any longer more or less on life support. We wiil have to take her home and make her as comfortable as possible for her last days. Your article helps give me strength to do what has to be done in her last days.

  89. Elena Ortega says:

    Thank you for this article, my furry old baby is dying right now. This gives me comfort that I’m doing the right thing. God Bless you

  90. Jessica R Sernau says:

    Nancy Tanner, thank you. Earlier today I read your article about living with an actively dying dog. Over the past few months I likely have read hundreds of articles. Yours was different. You have a gift in your ability to so eloquently express the big picture in a beautifully moving, guiding and spiritual way. Your words have helped me, my family and our beloved Toby.

    Thank you.

  91. Fil says:

    Thank-you so much for writing this article Nancy. Over the years as I’ve said goodbye to my pugs, I’ve come back to this article to help me get through the heart wrenching pain of saying good-bye….

  92. ideasforl8r says:

    Thank you so much for sharing.. My sweet girl Nance’s experience with end of life was similar to Ocean’s. I’m comforted by the fact that another strong willed dog had the bravery to face death life that and I’m so proud of them. Can’t wait to see and feel my girl again

  93. george00x says:

    My beloved Meesap, whom I wrote about on May 3rd 2020 lived for another three months after that. She could not walk, stand up, drink by herself or bark, had no hair except on her head, lost half her body weight but she could still eat and remained responsive to all she knew and loved till the end. She was diagnosed with Cushings Disease and pancreatitis in addition to bone spurs gowing inwards from her spinal discs and a host of other ailments. I took her to the vet for IV rehydration every two or three days and for dressing of her skin infection wounds that went to the bone on her hip but improved before she died. She was a real fighter and hung on as long as she could. Sometimes she had stomach pains after eating due to the pancreatitis and would kick her legs in pain for a while while we comforted her. On her last evening we propped her up to eat her dinner as usual and she eat more than usual displaying a hearty appetite. She lay down to take a rest afterwards and died peacefully without pain about five minutes later a few days short of her 16th birthday. We took her to a Buddhist temple for a proper funeral and cremation with monks chanting. I ended up spending around $10,000 on medical expenses on Meesap in her last few months. I probably would have had her put to sleep during one of the periods she was experiencing regular pain, if that had been an option but it wasn’t due to the Thai Buddhist aversion to taking life which includes vets. So I determined to do the best I could to make her as comfortable as possible in her dying months. I don’t regret spending the money as I know I couldn’t have done more for her. It was a tough and traumatic period nursing a dying dog for months like that but I feel I have learned a lot and am a better person for it. Nancy’s article and the other experiences shared here help me get through. Thanks to Nancy and everyone else who has contributed.

  94. Tatianna K Oliver says:

    It’s January 2nd, 5 days after Beatrice’s 11th birthday. My sweet girl is actively dying and so is my heart. Bea is all I have in this world. It’s just her and I. I am a widow and found Beatrice at a “pet” store and brought her home with me. She’s a beautiful white fluffy West Highland Terrier. She has been the love of my life. We eat our dinner together, go bye bye together ; chase the big birds and howl at the little dachshund who runs in to our yard daily giving Beatrice a thrill! She understands everything I say and I understand her. I’ve dreaded this moment for a very long time. Bea has a pretty bad heart murmur but we’ve managed and she’s done well.. Now her little heart is just too tired and giving out. If I could breathe for her, I would. I stay with her constantly and wrap her in a warm heated blanket which seems to bring her comfort. She’s been very restless over the past two days and slept little. Tonight she is finally resting well and comfortably. In all of her 11 years we’ve only spent one night away from each other due to my being in the hospital. I cried myself to sleep that night missing her so very much. Now I am facing an ocean of nights without my baby girl and I can’t fathom how I am going to deal with her loss. All I know to do is trust God as he’s never forsaken me. I know all things are possible with God and thus I know one day soon, I will see my Baby Bea again and we’ll never part. I truly believe that. Thank you so much for this page Nancy.. it’s a special gift at a time so desperately needed.. I’ve been searching and searching looking for answers and God led me here. You are my gemstone.

    With special love 🐕💞 Tat

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      Tat – your love letter to Beatrice is just that – thank you

    2. george00x says:

      Stay strong for Bea, Tat. You did all you could for her and she had a wonderful life with you. I am sure you will be united with her again one day. Rainbow Bridge will be there for both of you.

  95. Dogmom says:

    So sorry for your loss. I am trying to prepare my heart 😦

  96. Andrea says:

    Many of your stories resonate with what we’re watching Quin go through. A 14 year old staffi who was full of life and now lost his way in our apartment to eat he has 3 yummy meals a day, cooked meat and brown rice, tuna and his raw beef dog meat,. He’s walking but doesn’t pee on trees any longer and sways when he’s standing. It’s been months and my heart breaks but I think it’s close and feel so comforted with other stories. Bless our best friends and the life they keep living for us when they’re so tired 😓

  97. Tina T says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I read it to my husband as we dealt with our dog little Terrier/Shi Tsu rescue Sarah Lee (10.75yrs) lay dying or a battle with health for 3 months… then struggle the last 4 days especially. What you shared helped us a lot. Sweet Sarah died in our living room with us around her… just 30 min later. Sooner than I expected… I expected she might not make it through the night… but didn’t know it would be so soon. It was mercy for her not to suffer anymore and mercy on us (especially me) not having to monitor her all night, I was so afraid she would pass all alone and I did not want that!… she wasn’t alone. I LOVE 💘 that dog so much. My Baby Puppy… my heart. Best dog I ever had.

  98. Ana says:

    Thank you very much for sharing what you went through my senior puppy is going through kidney disease we have her on a special diet but she has quickly gone down hill. I read your article because yesterday she didn’t want to eat and she definitely didn’t want to eat meds even with a little peanut butter and today she didn’t want to eat either . I wanted to know what to expect and your article was just what I needed. She has been extra clingy more like a shadow near me than her regular Velcro dog self. I do think she’s tired I don’t think the kids get how close she is to the end. Thank you for writing about your own families experience it’s incredibly hard to let dogs go but you made it a tiny bit easier today.

  99. Tanya says:

    Nancy thank you for your article. I’m currently sitting with Reilly my 15 Yr old Irish terrier as he passes. I have desperately been gooogling the stages of dying to try and work out what he’s going through and what can do to support him. We moved from the UK to Sri Lanka and to my horror they do not euthanise pets here as its against religion. Your article is walking me through what is happening to Reilly. The wild eyes, agitated movements laboured breathing. I’ve put him on an incline. Your words were the only thing that has guided me through. Thank you. We have found a vet who I’m hoping will help us as I think he’s in pain and he’s fighting it. So thank you, Nancy. Your words were vital in getting us through this.

  100. Melissa Milligan says:

    My dog just died Saturday and you have given me tremendous comfort with your stories. . I can’t thank you enough. I had been wondering if I’d done the right thing. The old guilt and regret starting to eat away at me. I swore to let her go out on her own terms and she did. After reading about your experience with Franny which was quite similar, I am content in having honored her life until the end.

  101. Magdalena says:

    I know this is several years later, but i want to thank you for this post. I was reading it last night looking for comfort in knowing my beloved boy of nearly 17 years was passing, I had just finished the article while laying with him when he took his last breathe. Knowing that someone understood and has went through similar was comforting, I too, lost two of my beloved dogs within a year of one another. My heart hurts and my eyes are puffy from grief, but I know death is a part of life and my old man went with dignity.

  102. Pauline says:

    Thank you. Bless you. 🙏❤️

  103. Mary Barth says:

    My Reba died yesterday and I feel like I have failed her. I didn’t know she was dying Ibhust thought that her leg was hurting because she was biting it. A few nights before she died she had head bobbing and quivers on the back of her neck. She recovered from that.

    I watched her over the next couple of days and outside of weakness in her rear left leg she was eating and drinking, voiding and pooping without event. Tuesday, February 21, 2023, I got up and noticed that she didn’t come when I called. I told her we have to go outside, and she was able to go but I did notice weakness.

    I’m when I brought her I. The house she climbed the 6 steps to the living room and kind of collapsed. I caled my son who is a physician, and asked him if he could take a look at her. I also called my vet if33 years and they could only give me a. Appointment at 3:20 pm and that was a crazy I thought. I tried to contact a mobile vet, who also had an emergency number but when U called it no one answered. At this time my son was in his way and little did I know Reba was dying. I pet her spoke with her and just tried to make her comfortable until my son arrived. I could not of ft her properly as she weighed 65 pounds. My son showed up and we took her to the nearest animal hospital. I feel horrible that I didn’t sit in the back seat with her, my son took her out and we were on our way, and I said I should be in the back but I wanted to get her evaluated and treated so we were on our way when Reba started getting vocal and her breathing was what sounded to me very painful. She was crying and thrashing a little and I spoke to her but I couldn’t see her face being in the front. At one point her breathing was a gasping sound and a pause and a gasping sound and I realized she was probably unconscious.

    We arrived at the vet and my son carried a limp, lifeless Reba inside. I told them was coming and I expected them to be there to take her from us. We laid her in the cold floor and the vet tech or vet did an evaluation and said there was a faint heartbeat, but that she was gone. They put us in a room with her and told us to take our time. There I just wept and cried more because this was my Reba, Reba who was always there when I got home from work, when I was sad she made me smile and such a sweet being. She was gone. B feel like I failed her because she was in pain and my vet didn’t help me. We had to take her further away. It was so painful and tonight whe I came home from work it was the realization that she wasn’t there. It heart wrenching and so hard. She was everything to me and I don’t know how to get past this guilt of f having failed her. 😢

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