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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
HI all, this is my first post here. In fact, I began looking for a maltese forum specifically to share my dilemma / situation with other maltese owners / lovers.

I have a 16 year old maltese, he will be 17 in august. I rescued him 12 years ago. He is not now the same dog he once was... in fact he hasnt been for some time.

When he was around 9 /10 he developed gingivitis and began to lose his teeth. The vet put him on antibiotics to try and slow the process but within a year he had more or less lost all his teeth. Health / eating wise... all this entailed was a change in food. however, that's when the personailty changes really began in him... he went thru a period of depression & even when that seemed to end he seemed to lose quite a bit of his spunk - no longer able to play with his toys the way he previously had, etc.


From that point to this - things i assumed were just old age setting in began to happen. He started sleeping more. He got cold easier (thus a new sweater collection). He quit barking everytime someone knocked at the door, then quit chasing peoples feet out as they left. (lol i know, not exactly a great behavior to begin with) When we would go for walks he'd tire out / begin to pant much quicker than he previously had. A couple times he even seemed to get muscles cramps from trying to over do it running around. At some point it didnt seem to be something he enjoyed as much, so we stuck to our own yard rather than goin on longer excursion. He also lost 90% of his playfulness. I chalked all that up to him being old. The vet more or less said the same - it was normal.

In the last 2 years though he has detriorated... not so much physically but mentally. He was too old to receive vacinations anymore and health wise never had any issues... aside from the above mentioned signs of old age. (which i'd already checked with the vet) So when those same behaviors became worse... i assumed it was just him sliding further into his senior years. But i now have found that his mental slide actually has a name (other than "old age") - cognitive dysfunction & unfortunately he is too old and it is too far progressed for meds to provide much help.

I feel extremely guilty about this. If i had known- maybe the meds would have helped him. If i had a name for it sooner, maybe the vet could have treated it to some degree.... i dont know. I only know where we are now.

My once "big dog in a mini body" who loved to cuddle, would lick puddles when he was happy,was relativey well trained and completey house broken- is gone. This dog has been my baby for a long time, and i feel like i've wronged him already. now, i feel even worse for considering euthanasia... but i dont know what to do for him.

He is rarely responsive even to me at this point. and when i say responsive i dont mean he doesnt 'listen" ... he stopped that a long time ago, what i mean is that he doesnt even seem to respond to my presence at all. (rarely) He pees and poos constantly... and has no qualms about doing so righ tin fornt of me in the house (which has been going on for over a year) he has even peed on my other dog while he slept, on his own food bowl,in his sleep, etc. when he's not sleeping (which at this point is most of the time) he walks around in small circles, randomy barks at things, (the side of the couch for example like it's a door), and i can't seem to pacify him when he's liek this. We recently moved to a 2 story house and the stairs scare me, for his sake, because he jumps from the top set... so he's crated most of the day. I seem to feela lot more gulty about this than he feels bad about it b/c he sleeps this time away anyway.

I dont know what to do.
I knew, like every pet owner that when he got olde rthere may come a day i'd have to make that decision - but i never imagined it would be because his little mind wasnt functioning correctly. I thought , i could neevr out a dog to sleep unless they were in physical pain... and he's not. But he is so far gone mentally that I feel almost as cruel to keep him alo=ive as if he were in physical pain/ suffering. I dont want to do wrong by himm, i dont want to say goodbye , but the dog he was is gone already.

I keep imagining he'l snap out of it. :( I know he wont. I keep imagining he really isnt as bad as he is. I keep wishing there were somethign i could do. But mostly i just feel guilty ... liek that opportunity has already been missed and his current condition is my fault. And now, what? I just give up on him?

it breaks my heart and i honestly do not know what to do.
 

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Bless your heart for rescuing this special guy, what a gift you have given him. You are at a really tough spot. For hubby and I, my gosh, the descion to lay two of ours to rest, well, we couldn't do it on her own, with our Flakey and our Tina Marie, it was our vet, that spelled everything out for us. Quality of life is what is best for these babies. Flakey had CHF (which he did have many good years with) and Tina Marie chronic kidney failure. We consulted our vets during their illnessess, and we had him as part of the "team" as to what is best for our little ones throughout their illnesses. When it was time, he cried with us, and gave us the prognosis. Because we loved them so much, it was the most loving thing to do, to let them be at rest. We really relied heavily on his input, as Quality of life for our babies was the most important. So maybe make a vet appt. explain all that is going on, and do just as we did, and ask, if this was your baby, what would you do? Is he/she suffering? That's what we asked our vet, and lovingly he told us the truth.

Your vet could best answer this for you and will help you do the very best for your special guy.

My heart and my husbands heart and prayers are right with you.
 

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I have read your story and you are an amazing person for giving this little one such a great life. I think, in your heart, you already know what the right answer is for you. There is nothing you didn't do for him that you could have done. If we always lived out lives looking at the past and wishing we knew then what we know now - we would be living lives full of regret, sadness, and depression. You gave your baby everything he needed when he needed it. But, most importantly - you gave him that chance that many others had denied him. To me, that means you gave him life.

Please stay on in this forum. There are so many here that could learn from your experiences and I am sure you have plenty to share. When/if you are ready to say goodbye we have a section in our forum where you can grieve your baby and celebrate his life with us.

Bless you for your love for him and please let us know what you have decided. We can offer you support - no matter what you decide.

Hugs! :heart:
 

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I agree with what Erin and Christine have said - what an amazing life you gave this little one. Talk to your vet - quality of life is all we can give them and when it's time, somehow you will know deep inside your heart that all that's left for you to do is to hold him gently and help him to the Rainbow Bridge.

I had to make that decision about two years ago with the love of my life - it is nothing to feel guilty about or to worry that you have wronged him - you haven't. What you have done is to give him a life full of love, and nothing will ever change that.

Please keep us posted, and know that our prayers are with you and hugs are going out to you and your sweet boy.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks so much for the kind words.
I have never had to make this decision before. Polo (my old-pup's name btw) was my first dog - the first dog who was mine and not a family pet iow's. I also have a 3yr old boxer now. (they're cold weather cuddle friends... & a very odd looking pair lol)

I knwo that there is nothing i can do to keep Polo from aging... and he is almost 17 yrs old. I just feel like i should have been able to do something to make the last few years in particular better for him... and especially now - i juts keep reaching for "something" I can do. Pointless maybe, but i can't help myself.

I couldnt even begin to list the life changes this dog has gone thru with me. He's been such a constant companion (since the day I turned 20, and i'm now almost 33) It's diificult enough to think of him passing, and i know the day is coming. I just dont know how to feel about being the one to bring that day sooner than later.

On the one hand i feel like i'm holding on for my own selfish reasons, on the other I ... well, i dont really knwo how to feel.

This is too upsetting for me right now. I will definitely check back in though.

Thanks again.
 

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It's a difficult decision when you have a dog who has gone through so much with you, and you don't want to let go. Many of us here have been through it, and no one can tell you when the right time is. If you have a good vet who will sit down and talk to you, that's a good place to go to understand what is happening inside your dog's body. That's what I did 6 years ago when I had to decide whether to put my beloved best friend down at age 15.

I wish you the best.

Please consider staying here, or coming back when it is comfortable for you.
 

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I agree with everything that has been said here. You have given your baby so many years of love. Just know that the last gift of love that you can give your baby is by allowing/helping them to go to The Bridge, and be free of pain.

Bless you! Jules
 

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As others have said quality of life is the key. Listen to your vet. I kept my first one alive because I couldn't put her to sleep. I knew it was time and our entire family made the decision.
Wishing you the best.
 

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My Amy was deaf,blind and bad kidneys. She's have a few good days here and there but fewer as time went on. I got to the point I was putting her on IV's at home,vet prescribed. I just couldnt' let her go. One week end she just was so bad,could hardly walk and her bowls let loose a horrible smelling poo. I put her on my couch and gently stroked her head,she looked at me so sad. She tried to sit down but just cried in pain. I asked her if she was ready to go and she just looked at me,I knew in all her pain she wasn't going to go on her own,like she didn't want to leave us. It was the hardest thing I ever did,though we've sent many of our pets to the bridge,she was special...well they all are..really.


What I regret most is waiting so long to do what I should have..
We got our 2 Malts,that's when she really went down hill fast,I think she was waiting for them to take over in a way. She was stable and not too bad in the last 4 days she was here,the 4 days she was here w/ the Malts.Maybe that was humanizing a dog,but it sure seemed that way. Been 6.5 years,we still cry,crying now as I type this.

We took her in,even the vet cried...I kept asking him to tell me if it's time,that I might not be able to see it...not to let me let her linger too long.
My dalamatian was slowing down and thin,she was in pain,not like Amy,so I took her in to see if he could give her a little more time,I didn't see that it would be her time that day. Al said it,he knew. But she's with our other fluffs.

You gave him a piece of heaven on earth for many years,it's time for his turn to be at peace and he'll watch you from the bridge and be whole again,waiting for you...

We'll be praying for you and your little guy and you're always welcome to share and heal when you're ready.
Hugs,Michelle
 

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It's such a hard decision but I've seen a lot of suffering in my human family members this year and some of them, physically and mentally are so miserable that I wished there was a way to stop the pain. Luckily we have that choice with these pets who we love as much as people. You have been an amazing mom. I hope you have no regrets because you took in your Polo when no one else would. And you gave him food, shelter and best of all, love. Age-wise he really has lived a very long life and you shouldn't feel guilty about anything. Just think of how many people are mis-diagnosed too. Please know we're all here to support you and anytime you want to talk, share photos of Polo and even your boxer :thumbsup: we're here to look and listen and support you. :grouphug:
 

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I'm watching my mom deteriorate w/ Alzheimers,physically she's pretty good but mentally,the mom I knew is gone. All that's left is this poor shell that is scared,confused and wondering. She's a wheel chair since she's forgotten how to walk,she's incontinent and cannot feed herself.. No joy for her now. She's got a stong heart and could go on for years like this,grandma lingered like this for 8 years,aunt Carolyn for 14 years...

I hate to say it but dogs are lucky,they're allowed to have someone help them on their journey to the bridge... We have to watch our loved ones linger and suffer... It truly is the ultimate display of love,to love enough to let go.

We're here to laugh,remember and to cry if you need us.
Pets,they drive us nutts the first year and break out hearts the last year... but I wouldn't trade any of the wonderful "in between" for anything...even nowing it always ends the same.

Hugs,Michelle
 

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I promised our old Jack that I would not let him suffer. Life was not good for him and all he did was sleep, rarely came out of his bed. He did not even enjoy going outside to lay in the sun.
He woke up one morning and was in pain.....I called our Vet and she met us at her office.
I held him, sang to him and cradled him peacefully in my arms and he just went to the bridge knowing how much Bob and I loved him.
I kept my promise to sweet Jack.
 

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I went through the same thing with my 15 years old bichon (who I had since she was 7 weeks old). She was deaf, couldn't see, missing most of her teeth, incontinent, bad back and we went to the vet's office most every week trying different things to make her feel better. Finally one day I asked the vet when would I know when the right time to finally "let her go" would be. He said the time had come...he was just waiting for me to figure it out. :(

It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. .....but I guess it's a part of life. After something like this happens some people swear they'll never have another pet. I feel sorry for them because they miss out on all that love for so many years.

You've done a wonderful job, maybe it's time to let him have some peace.
 

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Ok ladies, this isn't good to have one sobbing and wiping away tears at 10 am!

Everyone gave you great advice and my heart breaks for you.16 yrs old! WOW I must say I am simply amazed. You have given him a life full of love and joy and I am sure he knows that. I went through the same thing with our beloved 14 yr old Maine ****, Katie, who after 9 days of trying everything to save her(for my husbands sake, more than anything, as I knew in my heart she wouldn't get better) I took her to our vet and held, sang and talked to her and she crossed over. Do what you feel is best in your heart for your lil guy. And welcome to the forum and I do hope you will stay.

Praying for you and your lil Polo :grouphug:
 

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I understand what you are going threw. This reminds me of our Beloved Sam. He was 18yrs old and part Malti. He had gone blind many years before his passing but seemed to still enjoy life. Then one day he had a seizure, he walked in small circles for an hour. He seemed to go back to normal, a year past. The we noticed he was getting lost in the house, he peed and pooped where he pleased. It was almost like he had dementia. Then one day my husband had enough, tired of the messes, He had been talking to me for months about the "right time". Now the pressure was on.....He was right it was time. Sam had been the most loyal, well trained dog and it was clear it was Sam's turn to have peace. My Vet says there is no right time or wrong time....it is when you are ready.
My thoughts are with you and your guy!
 

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First of all I have to tell you to NOT burden yourself with guilt about what what you did or didn't do!! It's unfounded. my gosh you gave a wonderful life to this little guy by adopting him and it's obvious you've done everything possible to care for his well-being.
It's also very obvious how very much you love him!! I've had to say good bye to my beloved babies in the past and yes, it's a heartwrenching decision. but do keep in mind.. that this decision when made is for 'them' not us'.
There's a saying:" we take on the pain so they may be relieved of theirs" and that is so very true. It truly is an ultimate act of love. Now, as to 'when' that should be.... that, nobody can advise another, one way or another. I truly believe one needs to follow their heart... I do believe the answer is there. Does that make it easier on us??... no, the pain of loss is very hard. But I will say from personal experience, that when I indeed followed my heart... it was a mixed emotion ..I somehow DID find comfort in knowing it was best for them.. even though I didn't feel it was 'best' for me.
I will pray you find peace and comfort in whatever decision you make for now and /or any that may come.
 

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:'( im crying while i read all these , i havent gone thru this but i can only say u gave him a terrific life, and his deterioration is in no way ur fault. please let u know what u decide and know we r here for u !
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I can't thank you all enough for your kind words, but mostly for opening your hearts and sharing your own stories with me...

Miraculousy enough Polo has had a few good days in a row - more alert, active and a little closer to his own self. In the past, when these "good" spurts would come it wouldn't necessarily give me hope that he'd get better, but would almost pacify me... put off my thinking of the inevitable.

One of the reason I have struggled with this so hard is b/c he isnt in physical pain. His mind is suffering but his body isnt. It was a possibility that had never occured to me... untill it happened. I guess i just thought "ok he's a little crazy but that doesnt mean he's suffering"... as rediculous as that sounds it's truly what my thought process was. I would never wish him physical pain, but if he were in physical pain , deteriorating physically... i think the realization may have come sooner for me.

Instead , as he began to deteriorate mentally... i felt like i'd be giving up on him , treating him as expendabe just because he was old and a little defective. again, i know how backwards that must sound... but it's how i felt.

The "idea" that he can't be happy only really began to hit home with me in recent months... having him put to sleep has only become more than a "future possibility" even more recently. Actually - it came from my sadness and frustration with not being able to comfort him on his worst days. Days when for hours he will bark at nothing - his bossy bark- when he needs nothing and nothing i try makes him happy. days when i get so frustrated and sad that i dont know how to give him what he's asking for.

Now that i'm coming to terms with the idea... i have to be honest and say it's going to take a little longer for me to come to terms with the action.
I'm getting there, but right now i'm trying to spend some extra time with him, loving him a little more ... saying my very long goodbyes I think.

Sorry for cutting out on such a short note last time.... (i was crying so hard i couldn't put sentences together any longer) and thanks for letting me ramble - it's me working thru it as i type.
 

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I'm glad Polo is having some good days. Just listen to him, he will tell you when it's time.

Gentle hugs, Jules
 

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This is just a thought. Maybe he is hanging in there because of you. That you cannot let go. Maybe if you tell him that you love him and that it is ok for him to go if he is tired of this life, he will go from himself and you won't have to take the decision.:grouphug::grouphug:
 
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