When do you know it’s time to say goodbye?

Our dogs are not considered our pets.  Our dogs are integral parts of our family.  For many years while we were battling infertility it was our “fur babies” that got us through the devastating times we were faced with and I often buried my face into my girls fur and cried tears of desperation…

Saffy and Jazzy

Thing is,  our girls are old now.  We’ve been privileged to have them in our hearts and home for thirteen amazing years… and whilst our little Jazz (the energizer jack russel) is still going strong, our beautiful golden lab Saff’s is…. not.  In the past few months we’ve noticed that she is steadily deteriorating in terms of her range of movement.  She is much stiffer when she gets up from a sitting or lying position and she has started losing control of her bowels in the house.  Like a toddler learning to potty train it’s almost like she feels the sensation too late and then “whoopsie” out pop the poops.

We took her to our vet two months ago to get her accessed.  Our vet absolutely agrees with us that Saff’s has deteriorated but what really threw me was that when we did hip and spine  x-rays her bones are still in good shape.  Her blood tests and liver enzyme tests all came back normal.  Our vet suspected from the get go that it was neurological but to have this substantiated it would mean an MRI which is VERY costly.  Now don’t get me wrong I am prepared to spend money on my pets but when faced with a bill of over 8.5 grand for a very old dog (Labradors have a maximum expected life span of 14 – 15 years) combined with a diagnosis that would probably result in a costly operation (20K +) which might or might not add any time to her life span we were at a cross roads as to what to do.  In the end we decided to try to see if medication would assist her in feeling more comfortable and ease the stiffness.

Saffy Young.jpg

After a month of the meds we had not seen any remarkable difference in our beautiful girl.  Chatting to family didn’t really help because they don’t get how close we are to our animals.  They all recommended putting her down but it just didn’t feel right to me.  How on earth could I make this decision?  Especially since “she wasn’t THAT bad”.

A close friend who works in animal rescue suggested a second opinion at an animal hospital that she uses for her rescue dogs.  She also told us that the vets there would be quite clear about whether it was time or not to make the hard choice for our beautiful Saffs.

The appointment was three weeks ago.

Saff old

I cannot tell you how relieved we are to have seen an amazing vet who was practical, caring and who was very honest about how to proceed.  The 2nd opinion vet concurred that the issue with our girl was neurological, she also felt that having the MRI and the operation would be a waste of time and energy and may actually make our girl worse.  She has suggested different meds and has also told us that whilst our Saff is in pain and is battling that the time to euthanize is not here yet.

I cannot wrap my head around having to say goodbye to this sweet girl who has filled our home with helicopter tail wags, and the most incredibly soft brown eyes for the last 13 years.

I am SO glad that for now we get to have her in our family for a while longer, Because I cannot say goodbye.

Saff family

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7 thoughts on “When do you know it’s time to say goodbye?

  1. I feel your pain Sam. It took me 2 years to send my fur baby to Kitty Heaven because I wasn’t ready to say good bye (he was very sick and I just wasn’t being fair to him in the end).

    Enjoy this time with your furbaby, you will know when the time is right


  2. It is a very difficult decision. We have a Yorkie that was handed to us about 7 years ago. He was 8 already then. He has also lost some movement and also has slip ups in the house. The vet wants to pull most of his teeth which he says will help, but not sure at R3000? He still enjoys our company and eats well. He loves eating. My Hubs (who does most of the cleaning after him) wants to put him down, but the rest of us think he can still go on. I am glad you still have your dog around!

    1. Thank you Karen for your comment. We have to admit it is irritating at times to have to keep cleaning up behind our girl as well especially as sometimes the door is open and “there is no excuse” for her to have messed inside. Thing is she still eats well, is happy and loves being with us. If her hip and spine x-rays had been bad or her bloods not quite right or her liver enzymes way off I would have been more at peace with euthanizing her but they were all good – how can I just put her down cos of a few poo’s in my house when she still seems happy-ish? Such a hard one cos I don’t want her to suffer but I am also not ready to have to make this choice for her.



  3. So sad reading this because I am in a similar situation and understand your dilemma. Our Annie had one of her adrenal glands removed after they discovered a tumor growing on it. The remaining gland has been unable to cope so she is on high doses of cortisone every day. It makes her depressed, moody, she’s always hungry and has bad insomnia. It breaks my heart to know that I am keeping her alive because I love her so dearly. But the vet said she’s okay and at least she has a good life. She spends a lot of time at my mom in the retirement home. Constant company, hugs all day and spoiling 24/7. But I do know that the time will come… Hugs to you! X

  4. Ah Sam I am so glad that you got a second opinion. Our dog Milo was going down over time for a long time and then for us the time came when his front legs gave out as well. We just went to the SPCA, the same place he came from. He had been peeing in the house for ages, at least 6mo.
    Tough times, hang in there. I know how it feels to have those dogs with you for the hard times, at least Coff-dog is still here.

  5. This hits so close to home for me. This is something that KB and I avoid thinking about. Our pit bull, Ozzy, is like a child to us. He is a part of our family. We are that family who make effort to book holidays where we can take him with us instead of leaving him at home. Their life expectancy is 8 – 15 years average and he will be 6 in August. It terrifies me to think that he won’t be around forever… Enjoy the time you have with your beautiful Saff and love her extra hard. Biiiig hugs x

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