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Euthanasia was anything but peaceful

January 21st, 2011, 09:29 PM
Hello. I am new to the forum and joined because I feel the need to talk about my experience with euthanasia. My beloved lab X Melissa was 13+ with bad hips, knees and ear infections that kept coming back. Once I realized that her constant panting wasn't due to being hot but because she was in distress, I found a mobile vet to come to my house and euthanise her so that she could pass peacefully at home.

This was 6 months ago and I am still haunted by the experience. Faithful as always, she came to me and laid down on the floor. The vet sedated her and she was barely conscious as I sat cross-legged next to her and petted her. First, the vet had a very difficult time finding a vein and after repeated failed attempts injecting the drug into her hind leg, she had to switch to her front paw instead. Melissa didn't seem to mind; she just laid there quietly. But shortly after the vet began injecting the drug into her front paw, she lifted her head up and backwards, landing upside down on my lap with her tongue hanging out, looked me in the eye, growled, whined and howled like I'd never heard from her before. I was absolutely horrified and six months later, I'm still haunted by her final moments. Did she know what was happening to her? OMG the thought of that breaks my heart into a million pieces! I feel as though I've betrayed her trust.

I want to remember the beautiful loving soul that she was but I'm not able to erase the memory of her last few moments.

By the end, even the vet was rattled and bordering on tears. I have no hard feelings against her. She tried to be as gentle and professional as possible. But it was not at all quick and painless like I thought it was supposed to be. I have looked online but haven't come across others who report similar experiences. Has anyone heard of this before? What happened? Is it normal?

January 21st, 2011, 09:40 PM
I wish I could help you. I can't as every time I have had to have a pet pts it has been peaceful. Hopefully you can find the aswers you need but please know you did the right thing for your dog. :grouphug::grouphug:

January 21st, 2011, 09:43 PM
Sadly it isn't always peaceful and I feel so sorry that it was such a bad experience for the dog and yourself. I have 14 of my much loved dogs buried here at home and all went quietly except for poor Rusty, a red cattle dog, who flipped over onto his back after being given the injection. Very upsetting and distressing to see. I doubt if your girl knew what was happening, a vet might be able to tell you, but big hugs, I know how awful it is.

doggy lover
January 21st, 2011, 09:43 PM
I am so sorry you had such a bad experience, that must have been horrible for you. I don't know if the vet did something wrong but I have never heard anyone have that kind of experience. The most that I have ever heard is that they might gasp for air. All the pets I have put to sleep have gone peacefully. My last dog even went with a wag in his tail, honestly that was the last thing to stop on him. Once again I feel so sorry for you I can't imagine what that was like to see your poor dog go through that.:grouphug::rip::dog:Melissa:angel:

January 22nd, 2011, 07:09 AM
I truly feel for you. I experienced a very similar situation when I had to put Boo down after he was poisoned. He did not go peacefully it devastated me as well. I was literally sick after. But it sometimes happens this way it is not always peaceful. I felt such guilt for a long time afterwards.

January 22nd, 2011, 08:28 AM
Thank you for you kind words. Somehow it is comforting to know that others have had a similar experience. The vet mentioned something like "posturing" but like I said, I haven't been able to learn aything about it and that might be the wrong term. I was basically hysterical and so I can't remember exactly what she said. I do remember her saying that Melissa wasn't conscious at that point but it sure looked like she was! I felt as though I was betraying her trust by taking part in her demise. And as I mentioned, I'm having a difficult time blocking out this memory and just holding onto the good ones.

Sometimes at night, I swear I can still hear her curling up on the floor beside my bed.

January 22nd, 2011, 08:47 AM
Sometimes at night, I swear I can still hear her curling up on the floor beside my bed.

For those of us who believe in the "Rainbow Bridge" or a special place for our loved pets after they pass we would believe she is. She would feel your unrest and she is there to comfort you. She does not want you to feel this pain over your decision. Some may phhshaw that idea but others take comfort in it.
A little story if I may. This past April 26 I had to put one of my cats to rest. He was only three years old. I questioned my decision for quite some time. After all, he didn't "seem" sick even though I know he was. He purred right up till the end as I held him, tears flowing. The guilt I felt stayed with me. It's still there when I allow it in. The following day at work during a minute of silence I was thinking of my boy, missing him and again, near tears. Then I felt a brush against my leg. No one was around. I wasn't near a draft. There was nothing that I could have brushed up against. I think Brownie came back to tell me he was ok. It's something I hold onto when the guilt gets to be too much.
So - open yourself up to those feelings. When you hear her settling down beside your bed talk to her. I'm pretty sure she will hear you. :grouphug:

Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown...

January 22nd, 2011, 10:06 AM
I just wanted to let u know how sorry I am that u went thru such a horrible heart breaks for u and your pet...I had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes just reading it. I just had my beloved dog put to sleep in December, he was 14 years old. His final moments were very peaceful, however, he did do one thing that bothered me a great deal, and upset me for weeks after. After the vet declared him 'gone', his tongue kept moving, and the vet warned me this was completely normal. However, this bothered me horribly. I stayed with him for a while after he had passed, and found this tongue movement very upsetting. Even after I had left, I found this very the point that I wondered if he was even really deceased. I couldn't get the vision out of my head. I was extremely thankful however that his passing was so very peaceful...I sat on the floor, with his head in my lap, as he was a large German Shepherd. Please know dear friend that u did nothing wrong, and that your friend is at peace, and loves u. Your friend isn't in any pain...and will see u again someday. You did what was right for your friend.... Sending u warm thoughts....

January 22nd, 2011, 11:17 AM
I am so sorry that you had a bad experience. I have worked at a shelter years ago and I did witness what you are describing in a very few dogs, and quite a few cats.

I was terribly disturbed as I tried my best to comfort the animal during this process. I asked the vet about what was going on and I was told that the older ones that have ailments take longer to pass due to the blood flow and size of the veins. I was also told that during the sedation, the animal is not conscious and therefore the stretching that you witnessed is the muscles contracting. There is no pain.

I wish you strength and peace. I am certain that your loving girl would want you to remember her in her prime, when she was living a wonderful, loving and carefree life. :grouphug:

January 22nd, 2011, 06:10 PM
Wow. Thank you for all your comments and words of support! I do feel as though she is still with me, right by my feet where she'd always be. I've fallen on bad financial times and am fighting to stay at my current address, because I do feel as though her spirit is here. Hopefully I won't have to move, of if I do, that her spirit follows me.

The comments about low blood flow ring true as well. The vet couldn't use the hind leg and she did mention thin veins and low blood flow. She had to switch to the front and even then it took some effort.

I appreciate all of your input. This is a most caring and supportive group!

January 23rd, 2011, 02:55 AM
Namaste mourningdogluvr,

I hope the caring from the members of this good forum helps sooth your pain. It takes time to come to terms with such a loss of a pet under any circumstance so be with others as much as you can.

When we choose to become caregivers to a pet, we take on the very important responsibility for the health, safety and protection of our pet. The most stressing times come round when our pet is ill, hurt or aged and in the process of dying. During the time of stress and especially in the final phase of our pet's life we can lose sight of the good times and the death experience can become a haunting experience that is difficult to forget, at the expense of all the good time. You must fight this.

My little dog Moh was part corgi and about the same size. Moh had short legs, was pure white and she had a long beautiful sweeping tail. I loved her pink nose. She became ill about a month or so before her 14th birthday. She was lying on my bed and I heard her whimper. She was a quiet dog, rarely barked, was never vocal. I got her some glucosamine and chondroitin thinking that maybe her joints hurt. She seemed to settle down and slept through the night but after work the next day I took her to the vet. He suggested he examined her and suggested she have an x-ray and I agreed.

When I came back at the end of the week for the results they were terrible. My regular vet was away and his assistant vet had to go over the results. She began by showing me Moh's enlarged heart but I was in a stunned state over a massive white area in her belly. My pet had liver cancer.

When my vet got back I asked about surgery. He said that if the cancer wasn't extensive he might be able to cut the cancer out. It turned out the whole liver was affected and "boiling over" with cancer (his word). One doesn't always think clearly in times of stress. To this day it haunts me that I allowed my pet to go under the knife. Now she was not only struggling with cancer, she had a major operation to heal from.

When I asked the vet for some kind of dog pain killer, he told me there wasn't much to be had for animals. Their chemistry and nervous systems are different from humans and their response to human medicine wasn't good. He did give me some strong aspirin liquid which did seem to help. I also know a fair amount about health foods and that Milk Thistle is good for liver function and regeneration. I fed her this and other vitamins and minerals that the vet approved.

All this took place in the third week of June, 2000. I was living in northern BC and I would have the next two summer months off and would be staying with family in Calgary. She became more lethargic over the summer and on into the fall. I had determined that I would have her put to sleep when she refused to eat any more. I would carry Moh in her doggy bed to my good neighbours in the morning on work days, come back at lunch time to be with her and pick her up as soon as I got home from work.

Then one day in the last week of September we went out for one of our short walks and we just got a little past the driveway and she sat down. She couldn't walk any further. I went back to the house to fetch her little bed to carry her to the house. Her eyes were on me the whole time. It was our last walk. When we had returned home at the end of August I had set up a foamy mattress in the living room and that's where we sat or slept until our last day together.

It was the second Monday in October that she tried to take a bite of food but then pushed it out of her mouth with her tongue. She turned her head every time I offered her food there on. I had decided to have her put to sleep on the Saturday when I didn't have to be at work. On her last Thursday she tried to take a bite of food from my hand but pushed it out with her tongue. She was so gentle, so weak. I stopped offering her any food after that though she continued to drink a lot of water.

I took her to the vet at 11 am that Saturday. It was not good planning. The place was so busy. I should have had him come to my home on Sunday. I know he would have, but this thought came after the fact.

She was very stressed going into the animal hospital. She had suffered so much through her operation and since then had not been happy on one previous visit. She cried and I couldn't comfort her. She just wanted out. I sat with her in the examination room trying to comfort her. I don't remember how the first needle was used, in her leg or her tummy. It was to calm her down and make her drowsy but she was so scared and though he is a caring man, the vet wasn't very gentle. He didn't have the Nightingale Touch. Then I sat on the chair again holding her while the drug made her groggy. I believe I was in a state of shock. I just kept telling her show good she was and I said her name over and over. He left for a while and when he returned he put a second needle into her tummy and she quietly died. He told me to stay with her as though she wasn't breathing, there could be some element of consciousness. I stayed about half an hour and then left. She had lived almost four months to the day after I found she had the cancer.

On our way home to northern BC we stopped into Quesnel to visit a lady who raised Corgis. They were the closest breed of dog that looked like my Sadie. I am Buddhist and though we don't believe in an eternal soul there is life energy (a very difficult concept to comprehend and explain). I wanted to introduce Sadie to the Corgis who would be bred around the middle of November. I planned to get one of the pups during Spring Break and the thought of her meeting the pup's parents comforted me. This may sound cold to think of another pet at this time; I don't think it was. I was practical enough to know I would be ready six months after her death. A pet brings so much to those who care for them.

I have Moh's ashes. The people who took care of this for me sent her back in a little porcelain bowl that I can hold in one hand. The top is sealed with wax with little purple and yellow flowers on top. She sits in my living room bookshelf. Her and Sadie's ashes will accompany me on my final journey when my time comes.

My Sadie has just turned ten and I understand that 11.3 years is the average life span of Pembrook Corgis. However, she is not as fat as all the Corgis I have seen and I have her on the BARF diet which should help her stretch beyond the point of averages.

I had planned on telling my story on this forum at some point as I think there are lessons to learn from death. I did everything I could for my Moh but the operation to cut out the cancer was clutching at straws and has caused Moh so much pain and me so much regret that I forgot or repressed so much of the good times Moh and I shared. But I have come to terms will my errors and the memories are coming back and I can now look at her pictures without anger and regret.

I have now planned for Sadie's death. There will be no operations. Old dogs do not heal as quickly as they did when young and I fear that they are conscious and cognizant through operations. I give my Sadie milk thistle and follow a good BARF diet. She has always been well exercised though I do less vigorous play with her as she has aged. I only smoke electric cigarettes so there is no second hand smoke and no chemicals for her to breathe. I have a very caring, gentle vet who does house calls. He put our neighbour's dog to sleep and the owners said he took his time comforting the dog and he did not suffer.

Death is a part of life and I am prepared to say good-bye to my Sadie. I find I have more pleasure in my life with my pet now. I think of the pain she might some day have so I treasure every day with her and I do what I can to keep her healthy and happy. Being aware that the end will come some day helps focus the mind and helps us think for future events. That's the best we can do.

Regrets and sadness are states of mind. We can consciously refuse to be sad and instead recall the good times. Doing so enhances images and memories and brings our friends back to us for moments that can sustain our pleasure throughout the day. I will carry the good times and sweep away the sad so the tears I have will be about the fun we had together, the quirks to Moh's natures that made her so special.

I have to add two more stories. My mum died suddenly when Moh was about eight years old. I flew to Calgary for the funeral and when I returned I remember sitting alone on the chesterfield feeling terribly sad. After a short while, Moh came over to me and jumpt up beside me. She sat next to me and put her head against my shoulder and just stayed there quietly until I took her for a walk. She'd never done anything like this before. She would lie beside me, but to sit with her head on my shoulder, never.

We had visited Calgary each summer for about 6 weeks. When I came down the summer just after mum's death, Moh bolted into the house running from room to room and upstairs looking for her. Stories like these tell me that dogs love and understand their guardians and that there is a consciousness that goes beyond their quest for food and treats. Remember the good times. Your pet deserves it.


January 23rd, 2011, 09:12 AM
Mhikl, thank you for sharing your experiences with me. I love the concept of the rainbow bridge and sincerely hope that one day I am reunited with Melissa.
I am not ready for another dog yet, but I have gotten to the point where I can be around other people's dogs without breaking down. Melissa's collar and tags hang on the "wall of honour", where all special photographs of family are displayed. There is also a picture of her in better times. I will try to post a pic of her in the virtual cemetery, if I can figure out how.

Once again, thank you very much.

January 23rd, 2011, 09:30 AM
Well I tried to upload a pic but I can't see it so I probably did something wrong. Sorry about that.

January 24th, 2011, 12:27 AM
We said goodbye to my yellow lab Lucy (14.5) this past summer. It was not quite the peaceful passing I had envisioned :(. Lucy had taken a bad turn for the worse after being managed for quite a while with her liver disease. I was holding her in my arms and when the vet administered the drug she actually struggled and gasped a bit for breathe before letting go. I know our vet quite well as she is my client and we both were crying. She said that she used to think the ones that did that were the ones with poor blood pressure (which Lucy did have) but the longer she practices the more she thinks that it is the fighters. That was my girl :lovestruck:. She fought for a very long time and gave us many more happy quality years then we had expected so in a way it makes me smile cause she was stubborn to the end :lovestruck:. I know my decision was right and she was surrounded with love in her life and when we said goodbye. I stayed with her for quite a while afterwards and found much peace in that because she felt incredibly peaceful to me then.

She will always be in my heart and I sometimes am sure I hear her stomping around the house. Our remaining dog sometimes does behaviours that were sooooo Lucy but not really him so I just smile and say "Hi Lulubelle, nice to see you" :).

I hope you find peace soon. I have days where I look at pictures and smile with the happy memories and other days where those same pictures make me weep. I have other animals which have helped to heal my heart but she will always have a very special place.

January 24th, 2011, 01:59 PM
Thank you for sharing that with me.

January 30th, 2011, 03:13 AM
:rip: sweet :angel2: Melissa :candle: She is playing at the Rainbow Bridge ( with those who've gone before :candle: :grouphug: