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Dog has cancer...how tell kids?

TraceyI
February 6th, 2006, 02:03 PM
I was just told this morning that our oldest dog (9 yrs.) has cancer. I brought her in because she was breathing funny and when I explained it to the Vet last week when we brought our puppy in for her first set of shots, she said it sounds like she may have pneumonia. Well, it turns out it's more than that. I just know the kids are going to be crushed. I haven't been able to tell my husband yet either, because he's sleeping. We put our first dog we ever had to sleep around the year 2000 because he was having problems getting around and was in bad shape (eyes, lips, etc.). That really affected us...it was so hard. Then our next dog died a year ago last October. We found her in her kennel one morning with a pool of blood near her rear. She was our 9 yr. old's mother. She didn't even seem sick. Luckily, I found her and not one of our three children. We now need to make a decision whether or not to have our 9 year old dog put to sleep. What a decision! I don't like having to make these decisions. I don't want to put her to sleep because of the guilt we felt with the dog we did put to sleep, on the other hand, I don't want to find her dead one morning or risk having one of the children find her, because that is my last memory of our second dog. I'm afraid that would stay with the child who would find her forever. I also don't want her to suffer (even though with our first you always question are they really suffering that bad and yet you never really know for sure). I'm struggling with whether or not to put her to sleep and if and how to tell the kids ahead of time. Any advice is so welcome.

Prin
February 6th, 2006, 02:10 PM
I'm so sorry this is happening. I don't have kids, but from my memory of being a kid with a dog with liver cancer, it was much easier being told. We were told that she was sick and was having trouble digesting because her liver wasn't working properly (I was seven). I'd explain the reasoning behind the disease without naming the disease (cancer is a scary word for kids, IMO). I'd definitely tell them now so they have time to say good bye.

cpietra16
February 6th, 2006, 02:11 PM
I really can't tell you what to do but my heart goes out to you. I am so sorry you have to go through that.
What kind of cancer does he have? is it the same that his mother had? Is it curable, can it be removed? I am so sorry you have to go thru this.

TraceyI
February 6th, 2006, 02:16 PM
Thanks for your quick reply's and advice. She has mammary tumors and the vet said there is nothing they can do. We did not know her mother even had cancer or was sick until I found her. Thanks for your support. It means alot.

cpietra16
February 6th, 2006, 02:25 PM
I am sorry. I agree with Prin. Keep it simple and honest. It must be hard to lose so many furbabies within a short time. Tell them about the rainbow bridge and how happy mommy and son will be when they see each other again.

Prin
February 6th, 2006, 02:29 PM
I was also told when I was younger that dogs live shorter lives than us, so we have to love them more intensely while they're here.

Did the vet tell you if anything might have caused the cancer? It's really tragic.

meb999
February 6th, 2006, 02:30 PM
awww, shucks! I'm sooo sorry...:sad:
I agree that honesty is probably the best way to go. Good luck. I'm sending you lotsa positive vibes...

TraceyI
February 6th, 2006, 02:46 PM
Actually Cpietra, the first dog we had (which we put to sleep) was the daddy, the second who I found in the kennel, was the mommy and this is their daughter. She's the last in the bloodline that we've had. I remember when we had actually sold her to a family about 20 minutes away from us when she was a new puppy herself. I found her in our garage one day and ran inside to call the family that took her thinking they didn't want her and dropped her off without saying anything. It turned out she had found her way home, walking past an animal shelter and the way back to us. She had never been out of the yard before that. I said that was a sign..we are keeping her!

Prin - The vet didn't say how she got the cancer, I'm assuming that's what her mom had. We got her mom from my parent's next door neighbor who had a litter. Apparently, one of her parent's died the same way, so I'm expecting it was hereditary.

Thanks meb999, I'll do my best to feel those vibes as I'm breaking the news. Anything helps, I'm such a cry baby myself.

cpietra16
February 6th, 2006, 02:56 PM
Sorry TRACEYI I misread it.

TraceyI
February 6th, 2006, 03:06 PM
Oh, it's not a big deal. Thanks again.

I would appreciate all the advice I can get.

Writing4Fun
February 6th, 2006, 03:31 PM
Tracey, I'm so sorry to hear that you're going through this. My first dog passed away a couple of years ago, and the thought still brings a lump to my throat. I was in your position of having to make that horrendous decision, and it's one of the most difficult decisions in life. I agree with the others, though. Be honest and provide as much information as your child needs. This will depend on the child's age, of course. Here (http://www.pets.ca/articles/article-petloss.htm)'s a good article on helping your children cope with the loss, after the fact. My heart goes out to you and your family. :grouphug:

TraceyI
February 6th, 2006, 03:47 PM
Thank you. Yeah, they all still get me choked up. I think they always will. Thanks for the article link. I've been searching for things like that on the web and found some interesting ones. I know we have to tell the kids ahead of time and let them say goodbye...it's going to be so hard on all of us. Thanks for your wishes.

BMDLuver
February 6th, 2006, 05:53 PM
The hardest thing is to say goodbye to a pet you have loved and known as a small child. The best advice I can give you is to explain it in terms that the kids will understand and answer any questions they have as honestly as possible. They will take a few days to process it and will come up with questions out of the blue. That's how kids process. I would also ask each one of your children to pick something special that they know your dog liked and have that item accompany your dog to the vets office. That way, when they ask about her at a later date, you can say with all honesty that I am sure she is having a good romp in the fields of Rainbow Bridge playing with or snuggling with the item they chose. Don't push them to discuss it, they will ask questions as they are able to do so. I've been through it once already with my girls and even now, after two years, my eldest still asks a question once in a while about Teddy and Selena.

Shamrock
February 6th, 2006, 06:15 PM
Tracey, I also am so sorry to hear of this heartwrenching decision you are facing. My heart goes out to you, and I agree with the excellent advice offered by the others.
Telling your children in advance gives them time to prepare, and share their feelings.
My adult daughter has both her dogs buried on acreage where she keeps her horses. Her 9-yr old came to "visit" Harley and Bailey both, put down flowers at their resting place. A chance for them to talk about her feelings, what great dogs they were, etc.

Its a very difficult thing, a childhood pet is especially precious.:grouphug:

CyberKitten
February 6th, 2006, 07:43 PM
Personally - as somoene who tells children and their families almost daily that they might or do have cancer (tho I also get to be there when we beat it too!!), I highly recommend above all the TRUTH!!!!

Prepare to offer your child or children a lot of reassurance. Children's questions and concerns will probably center on what will happen, will their canine friend- who is someone they love and a fam,ily member after all - going to be in pain, what will happen. That said, it's OK to even say you are unsure what will occue exactly but you might even enlist the support of your vet or a counsellor. Some children are very bonded with their animals and thete are now grief support groups available.These groups offer children an opportunity to talk with their peers about their fears and questions. An adult support group leader often a nurse, guidance counselor or social worker is also there to answer questions and help children find useful ways to cope with a parent's illness. Your fanily doc or oediatrician should have a good list of these,

Try to stay upbeat, but also be realistic and honest with your child or children.

Try to keep your child's routine as normal as possible. Your child needs your attention now more than ever, so continue to spend time together as a family. Set boundaries and enforce rules just as you always have. Ask your child how he or she is handling the dog's illness. If you feel that your child is not coping well, seek help from someone - do not assume they are iover it because they are not talking about it!

I guess I see our pets as members of our families and we need to be able to talk about their illness and loss and learn to mourn and even prepare for the eventuality if a pet is serisouly ill - (I have to admit I am still grieving 2 yrs plus the death of my much beloved geriatric rabbit, sigh!)

Good luck!

TraceyI
February 7th, 2006, 10:27 AM
Thanks so much veryone for the support. I just thought I would follow up and update everyone. Yesterday I went back to the vet so we could review the xrays she took. It turns out the cancer has spread into her lungs and they are really covered. She told me we could try a mastectomy and chemotherapy which at first I was thinking it would be cruel to put her through that. She told me that she could go into epileptic type fits and to let her know if she starts bleeding from the nose. My husband and I decided last night to let her stay at home and wait it out, she seems most comfortable here. Although I was thinking we'd keep her in the house and baby her, but she is an outside dog and does not feel comfortable in the house, she just wants to be outside. As wierd as it seems to me and as much as I'd prefer she be inside, I'm granting her wishes. This morning she had two drops of blood from her nose and had not gotten up since last night(she also would not take her cheese with the medicine), so I called the vet to let her know and once again she said we may want to consider euthenasia. Well, my husband and I discussed it and we will forever regret doing it with our first dog because we don't know....he could have lived another two months, two years...who knows. So, when I got back from dropping the kids off at school, she was outside with our other two dogs, wagging her tail and I was able to give her the cheese with her medicine in it. Well, that encouraged me to find out more about the chemotherapy and mastectomy. I'm awaiting a return call from the vet clinic who can do it. My husband said to me this morning what if it was you, what would you want to happen? So I started thinking maybe I'm taking what the vet says too seriously...I'm not going to give up...she's not giving up...I'll keep everyone posted. Thanks again...By the way, we did end up telling the kids. They cried and they understand..but we'll all always cry now and again, as we still do from our first who died in 2001...they are all special in their own way..each unique...and will always be remembered.

jawert1
February 7th, 2006, 12:07 PM
If the cancer has spread to her lungs, and is continuing to progress, you need to be realistic. It's sad, it makes you angry, you don't want to think about how hard it's going to be not seeing her wag at you, but honestly, this isn't about you. It's about her and doing what's best. Dogs respond far better to chemo than humans it's true, but you have to seriously consider why your vet would suggesting euthanasia. I know it's tough, my parents just made the decision on Friday to have our pup of 14 years put to sleep due to kidney failure amongst other things, and let me tell ya, I'm 28 and that phone call reduced me to a heap on the floor. Don't let your sadness overwhelm you to the point you drag out her suffering and have to watch worse happen to her. I'm so sorry you're in this situation, believe me, I've been hugging my babies even more every day knowing that they're lives are significantly shorter than ours and I don't ever want to let them go.

TraceyI
February 7th, 2006, 12:10 PM
If I thought she was that bad, I would do it. I just don't believe she is that bad. She's alert, eating, seems happy, walking around, etc. Believe me, I do not want to see her go through what she can go through, if it comes to that, we'll do what's best for her.

HunterXHunter
February 7th, 2006, 12:50 PM
:sorry: that all this has happened to you. :sad:

I agree with the others that you should tell you children the truth. Especially if you plan on having more pets in the (near) future as these sort of things will occur.

TraceyI
February 8th, 2006, 09:37 AM
Well, this will be the last update. I had an appointment scheduled for this morning with another vet to get another opinion on whether or not anything further would help, but Samantha passed away in her sleep last night. I found her curled up in a little ball this morning, sleeping peacefully. My youngest daughter covered her up in her sleeping bag until we can bring her to the vet tomorrow morning. Luckily it's winter here and she's at peace now. I'm so thankful she didn't suffer much. It is really calming to see her in a sleeping position with her face looking very much like a puppy's, restful. Thank you everyone for your support. This is the only bad thing about having dogs. They bring so much happiness to our lives and hopefully we bring happiness to theirs. We are all heartbroken but I'm confident we can get through it together. The kids will survive and will very much enjoy loving the two dogs we still have. Thanks again.

jawert1
February 8th, 2006, 09:48 AM
Tracey I'm so sorry for your loss, thank you for doing everything you could for her and my thoughts are with you and your kids :grouphug:

cpietra16
February 8th, 2006, 12:34 PM
I am so sorry for your lose.

jessi76
February 8th, 2006, 01:06 PM
I just wanted to pop in and give you my condolences... I'm very sorry for your loss. Please know that you & your family are in my thoughts.

TraceyI
February 8th, 2006, 01:57 PM
Thanks everyone so very much.

Beautygirl
February 8th, 2006, 03:10 PM
So sorry for your lost Tracey. When our first dog passed away it was so hard. We explained that she was sick and we didn't think she would get better. I went one morning to put down fresh water and she had passed away throughout the night. It was hard, but we knew she was better off. Last year we had to put our other beloved dog down, so sad. I was a mess, in tears for days. My dh and the kids were very upset too, but we knew that it was what was best. Just wanted to extend my condolences to your family. :grouphug:

TraceyI
February 8th, 2006, 04:06 PM
Thank you. Sorry about your loss also. This makes 3 dogs in the last 5 years for us. Sometimes you tell yourself you don't want any more because it's too hard to go through that...but when you think of the joy you bring each other, it's worth it. Thank you again.

jesse's mommy
February 8th, 2006, 04:11 PM
I too am sorry for your loss.

doggy lover
February 8th, 2006, 04:33 PM
Sorry to hear of your loss. I too lost a dog to cancer 2 years ago. At least your friend is at peace now. I had my dog pts as he had bone cancer and it would have been to painful to let him go out till the end. My kids had a week with Travis knowing that he would be pts it gave them time to say goodbye, it was hard but it gave us time to accept what was going to happen. The best thing I find with children is always honesty, if I know something is going to hurt them I tell them the truth. I think I have had the hardest time accepting Travis's death, but maybe that is because I was with him in the end, stroking and talking to him until he was gone. It is kind of nice that you don't have to make that decission now, she made it for you.:angel:

TraceyI
February 8th, 2006, 04:41 PM
Thanks. Yes, it is a comfort knowing she went in peace. I'm sorry, I feel kind of selfish going on and on about this. I know everyone else has had losses also. I know it's hard on all of us.

We've always been very honest with our children about everything and this was no exception.

doggy lover
February 8th, 2006, 04:58 PM
Hey I still cry for my dog and that is what friends are for. I don't think anyone here minds you going on, we have been there and know how it feels.It helps to have someone to share it with.

Here is a pic of my Travis in his younger years he was 9 and a half when he was pts. Send us a pic of your Samantha.

TraceyI
February 8th, 2006, 05:12 PM
Here's Samantha, the one we just lost, with her pups in 2003. You dog is adorable.

TraceyI
February 8th, 2006, 05:16 PM
Here's our latest addition we got in December just before Christmas...."Cookie"

TraceyI
February 8th, 2006, 05:18 PM
And here is our now oldest - about 3 years now since this pic. when he was a puppy, but it's my favorite..."Wookie"

doggy lover
February 8th, 2006, 05:21 PM
they are lovely dogs. Here is a pic of the dog I have now, Tucker and believe me there are enough pic's of him on this forum. LOL

Prin
February 8th, 2006, 07:26 PM
Samantha had babies too? Is there anything to help them live longer?

TraceyI
February 8th, 2006, 11:24 PM
Your dog is adorable. He is looks playful and friendly.

I don't know if there is anything to let them live longer. Her mother who was our last dog that died before her lived until she was about the same age, actually.

doggy lover
February 9th, 2006, 09:28 AM
Prin I believe the babies are from years ago, she didn't have babies now.

Tracey1 The average life span for bigger dogs is about 10 and most dogs like people just don't die from old age something happens to them or they get sick, I guess its just a part of life. So we must enjoy the time we are given with us.

CyberKitten
February 10th, 2006, 05:02 AM
Just saw this now and am so very sorry for your loss!!!! :grouphug: :grouphug: to you and your family!!!

catsnatcher-CDN
February 10th, 2006, 08:41 AM
TraceyI
I'm so sorry for your loss. I can't imagine how bad it must feel. Max is my first dog and I've never gone through the decisions you had to make or the loss that you've experienced.

How are your children coping now?

Luvmypit
February 10th, 2006, 02:23 PM
Tracey, I am truly sorry for your loss. YEs we all have went throught it that is why we incourage you to keep 'going on'. It helps to talk to people who love their animals the way we do and when we lose them only God knows the pain we feel and well other dog / cat / animal lovers.

Again I am soooo sorry. All the best to your kids, hubby and yourself. Take care of yourself! :sorry:

Writing4Fun
February 10th, 2006, 02:49 PM
Tracey, I'm so sorry for your loss. :grouphug: to you and your family.